As the dogs ran through obstacles, caught frisbees and leaped in the air, the crowd erupted with applause and cheers for the Purina Incredible Dogs.
MU’s College of Veterinary Medicine hosted the annual open house event Saturday, and this year’s theme was “Purrassic Bark.” The student-led event is funded entirely by donations and is an opportunity for students to educate the public on various topics.
“This event is basically opening our doors to the community to let people in Columbia come and see what we do,” second-year veterinary medicine student Alex Mandi said.
He said that it’s a great opportunity for students to get involved on campus.
Attendees were able to learn about various topics and enjoy entertaining presentations from nearly 40 vendors.
Lizette Somer, a Raptor Rehabilitation Project volunteer, answered questions for children while holding a turkey vulture on her arm named Grimm. Raptors are birds of prey including eagles, hawks, falcons, owls and vultures.
The Raptor Rehabilitation Project is one of four raptor rehabilitation organizations in Missouri.
“Our main mission is to rehab raptors and get them back out into the wild,” Somer said as Grimm flapped his wings.
Vendors demonstrated their contributions to the community, like the partnership between MU’s College of Veterinary Medicine and the Boone County Fire Protection District.
The two groups work together to rescue large animals, such as horses and cows, when they’re in dangerous situations like getting stuck in mud or a creekor falling through ice and other situations.
Chuck Leake, assistant chief of the Boone County Fire Protection District, said vets teach the firefighters about animal psychology so firefighters understand what a large animal’s reaction is in a stressful situation.
Animals both large and small were represented at the open house. Budweiser Clydesdale horses pulled people on carriages, and energetic dogs showed off their talents at the Purina Incredible dog show.
For six years Jessica Wilmes, assistant dog trainer at Purina Farms, has trained her own dogs for shows. Her dogs are trained to run through obstacles and do tricks with frisbees upon command.
“I love interacting with the crowd,” Wilmes said. “I love seeing them laugh, seeing them smile, seeing them get excited and cheer. Basically just sharing what I love to do with my dogs and making other people happy.”
Leah Cohn, interim associate dean for academic and student affairs at the MU College of Veterinary Medicine, said that she has been a part of the faculty for 27 years, and the very first thing she did was come to the open house.
“I think it gives students a great chance to interact with the public, and show off what they’ve learned and what they do,” she said.