Art is not only a way of expressing oneself; it can also be used to bring attention to noteworthy topics. “Paws & Effect — Animals in Education,” on view in Gallery at Truax, 1701 Wright St., A1005, through Feb. 28, is an exhibit of candid pet portraits created to raise awareness about the veterinary technician program at Madison Area Technical College (MATC) and its pet adoption partnerships with area humane societies.

Second-year students in MATC’s photography program volunteered to take photos of the animals in the veterinary technician program for the collaborative project. The student photographers are Morgan Beck, Skylar Berry, Martilynn Castle, Rachel Fancsali, Lisa Eisenberg, Matthew Fisher, Toccara Kimball, Marcel Klemetson, Olivia Madden, Haley Noonan, Lacey Olson, Kevin St. John and Megan Toman.

“Most of the students involved expressed a deep love of animals, and were gratified that their images were helping get animals adopted, and bringing attention to a worthy cause,” Mario Quintana, MATC photography program director, said in an email.

Cats, dogs, horses, goats, cows, guinea pigs, rats and mice who were residents, or “furry faculty,” at the MATC veterinary technician program during the fall 2017 semester, are featured in the photographs.

“Our animals are critical in the instruction of the students to help them learn and practice the skills they will need to practice as a certified veterinary technician,” Theresa Kleist, Lead Laboratory Coordinator for the MATC veterinary technician associate degree program, shared through an email.

Horses, goats, and cows are leased from long-time vendors and return home for winter break and the college’s summer vacations.

Cats and dogs come from humane societies that partner with the program, and laboratory animals, such as guinea pigs, rats and mice, are purchased from commercial vendors. These animals are then put up for adoption to “forever homes” after the semester.

“The adoption program is run by the second-year veterinary technician students with close supervision/oversight from the Lead Laboratory Coordinators of the program,” Kleist said. “The dogs and cats, when adopted, have been spayed or neutered, updated on required vaccinations, evaluated and treated for internal parasites as well as external parasites (fleas, ticks, etc.) and have had heartworm preventative (dogs only) for the months they have been at Madison College.”

The press release emphasized “This program is publicly listed as a ‘research facility’ with the USDA, however NO research is done in our program nor on our animals.”

For more, visit madisoncollege.edu/pet-adoption.

— Robyn Norton

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Robyn Norton is a features assistant for the Wisconsin State Journal.