The LIU Post College of Veterinary Medicine is graduating its...

The LIU Post College of Veterinary Medicine is graduating its inaugural class Tuesday. Credit: Howard Schnapp

The LIU Post College of Veterinary Medicine is graduating its inaugural class Tuesday, addressing a nationwide shortage of vets and making it the second veterinary school in New York.

The school is graduating 101 students enrolled at the university since 2020 and completing the first class for the veterinary college since its inception in 2017.

Students studied through the COVID-19 pandemic, completing hands-on work with animals ranging from dogs and cats to horses, cows and exotic animals, said Dr. Carmen Fuentealba, dean of the veterinary college in Brookville.

Students have been working with clinicians, veterinarians and farms on Long Island to learn how to treat the animals, Fuentealba said. The school annually has about 1,200 applications wait-listed and has a total student class of about 450 students in the program. The veterinary school began taking applications in 2019, she said.

“It’s very rewarding and seeing how the whole thing started and when they arrived. They said behind each student is a story and we came to be aware of those stories to know that all of these students are able to make their dreams become a reality,” Fuentealba said. “We started at a time when we were aware there are not enough veterinarians. Our students have been successful in finding jobs and it’s been a very good story.”

LIU was accredited in 2019 to begin taking students. Previously, Cornell University was the only other veterinary school in New York out of just over 30 veterinary schools in the country, Fuentealba said.

Shortages of veterinarians caused by the pandemic are waning, but demand for new vets remains and more colleges are opening to meet it, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association.

The AVMA also cited “unprecedented growth” in enrollment and opportunities at newly opened colleges. At least two veterinary colleges have doubled their graduation numbers and a dozen new veterinary colleges are in development, according to the veterinary association.

“The cumulative effect of these changes will be a significant increase in the number of veterinarians entering the workforce into the 2030s,” the AVMA says on its website.

A survey by the AVMA last year found that about 76% of pet owners said they were able to find an appointment for their animals within about a week.

LIU’s College of Veterinary Medicine has matched its students with clinicians in veterinary offices and also at Marion Carll Farm, in Commack, where they work with horses and cows.

The veterinary college has also helped train students to work with companion animals while others have focused on equine medicine.

Frank Auletti, 33, of Deer Park, is the valedictorian of the inaugural class. He worked as a veterinary technician for seven years while completing a bachelor's degree in biology. Auletti said he was born and raised on Long Island and wanted to go to veterinary school close to home.

"Being part of the inaugural class was a roller coaster, but a good one. It’s crazy to think we’re going to be doctors tomorrow," he said. "I think pets are a part of people’s family, so we're not just helping the animals but the people attached to them."

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