By Cat Smith, Volunteer Database Coordinator, Dumb Friends League

Staff and volunteers at the Dumb Friends League are well familiar with the “CSU Spur Vida project,” a recent extension of the veterinary hospital at Yuma that will provide the community with access to donor-subsidized veterinary care and feline spay/neuter services. However, some might be surprised to discover that this new center in the Elyria-Swansea neighborhood will also have a large emphasis on education.

“Not only is [the Veterinary Hospital at CSU Spur] going to be a huge resource for pets in the community, but it will also be an incredible educational tool,” says Amanda Kludasch, the League’s Humane Education Manager. Starting in February, her team will be hosting classes at the CSU Spur Vida building to engage our younger patrons. These classes will cover a range of topics from caring for a pet to careers in animal welfare, the latter of which will be a big focus for the Humane Education Team. 

At Spur, the team will also introduce a new bullying prevention class to the humane education curriculum. “[Bullying] prevention is not something people automatically think of when they’re thinking about animal welfare, but both topics really encompass this theme of compassion and empathy,” says Kludasch. “Humane education is very much about teaching the importance of how we are all interconnected – people, animals, and the earth. I love how this lesson can incorporate that, and I believe that it will be a completely unique program.”

Kludasch also points out that the CSU Spur Vida building is designed to create an exciting and unique experience for visiting patrons. “What we are creating with Colorado State University (CSU) is really all about interaction and providing a very kinesthetic experience for our visitors,” she says. An exciting feature of the Veterinary Hospital at CSU Spur is the opportunity for the public to watch veterinarians perform surgeries live. “Interestingly enough, we are the first animal shelter ever to do something like this. There are only two other organizations that will allow visitors to watch live surgeries on animals. One of them is the Denver Zoo, and the other is Disney’s Animal Kingdom,” says Kludasch.

In the future, Kludasch hopes to see the CSU Spur Vida building become a popular destination for school groups. “Our hope is that in the next two to three years – when COVID is hopefully in the rearview mirror and schools are able to commit to more field trips – CSU Spur Vida is going to be the next Denver Zoo or Denver Museum of Nature and Science,” she says. “Kids in the metro area have been going to the same institutions for years, and there hasn’t been anything new like this in the community in the last few decades. So, I think teachers are really going to be excited.” Kludasch points out that CSU Spur provides the opportunity to create an all-day experience for students because the campus will also include the Hydro building, which will be dedicated to water conservation, and the Terra building, which will focus on agriculture.

While it’s true that one of the goals of the League’s Veterinary Hospital at CSU Spur is to shape and inspire young minds, the fun is not just for kids. Visitors of all ages will be welcome to experience first-hand the incredible work the League does to support animals and people in the community. Veterinary students from CSU and recent veterinary school graduates will also gain practical knowledge and experience at the teaching hospital as externs interns.

League volunteers excited about the programs at CSU Spur can keep an eye out for possible opportunities to support the new facility later this year!