PLANT CITY, Fla. - "So what you're hearing is basically his normal lungs," whispers veterinarian Vince Centonze with a stethoscope held close to the side of a dog.
Centonze is keeping his students on their toes.
"You hear that when he's panting?" he questions one of the students.
Inside this Hillsborough Community College lab in Plant City, students from the veterinary technology program are preparing a dog named Edissia for surgery.
"Animals are what this program is all about," said Centonze, who's the program's director.
And the vet tech program's new partnership with Hernando County Animal Services helps them both.
"This is definitely a win, win situation for the county, for our students and of course for the animals as well. So it's a win, win, win situation," explained Centonze.
Last year, Hernando County Animal Services was the subject of outrage and criticism after a dog named Zeus was euthanized shortly after being dropped off by its owner.
Just a few months ago, Lisa Centonze, Vince's wife, was hired to be the lead vet for Hernando County Animal Services. She had worked previously at Hillsborough County Animal Services, where a similar agreement with HCC was in place. A short time later, the partnership was born.
"So they're learning from our animals and our animals are benefitting from the pro-bono services that they're providing; which are really valuable," Lisa Centonze said.
For students, the chance to learn real-life skills, while helping to heal a community and its animals, is invaluable.
"Being able to provide that care, and maybe save that animal, throughout the whole program it mean so much to us," said HCC vet tech student Jessica Algenstedt.
"I hope that the public and all of the citizens of Hernando County are happy with the changes at animal services," said Lisa Centonze.
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