Many people think of animal shelters as a place where unwanted animals end up, but at the Pet Resource Center in Hillsborough County, veterinary students from all over the country are getting top training as well.
TAMPA, Fla. - Melissa Webb is learning how to save and care for what could one day be your family's pet.
"My goal is to become an emergency and critical care vet," she said.
A senior from the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, she came to Hillsborough County to get the hands-on experience she believes will make her an excellent veterinarian.
Recently, a puppy named Pogo was on her operating table.
"I'm right in the middle of it. It's pretty amazing," she said. "He came to us with a femoral fracture."
The injury was so serious that Pogo lost a leg.
"I never thought as a fourth year vet student I'd be performing an amputation," Webb said.
Like most of the 21,000 animals that come through the Pet Resource Center every year, they don't know how Pogo got hurt, but thanks to Webb and the team, they do know he's getting better.
"We really let them do a lot of procedures and play doctor, with supervision," Veterinary Medical Director, doctor Lisa Centonze said.
She explained the externship program at the Pet Resource Center is unique. Students don't just observe. They operate and treat up to 100 animals every day with all kinds of issues.
"We really feel blessed and grateful that we have the opp. to imprint and mentor this new gen. of vets," Dr. Centonze said.
Pogo is now up for adoption and Webb can soon head home knowing she's made a difference for the pets of the Tampa Bay area.
"Helping these animals that are homeless and in desperate need of help to go to a family is awesome," she said.