MU College of Veterinary Medicine welcomes guests to ‘Purrassic Bark’

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Tails of all sorts were wagging Saturday at the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine in a welcome return of its open house after a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Held for the first time since 2019, the day featured a full schedule of events, including mule wagon rides, tours of the Veterinary Health Center, various demonstrations and presentations, and a visit by a Budweiser Clydesdale from Warm Springs Ranch.

There were performances throughout the day from the Purina Pro Plan Performance Team, which had its dogs and trainers showcase a variety of acrobatic skills.

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Under a student-led theme of “Purrassic Bark,” there was one booth where children could excavate “dinosaur eggs” that would grow into a toy or break into clay egg-shaped objects to find a small dinosaur toy inside. The goal of the open house event was to celebrate and educate the public on the college’s mission, the college said.

Victoria Smetana and Saide oversee the Dino Eggscavation Station on Saturday at the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine's

To have the open house back was wonderful, said Dean Carolyn Henry.

“I think we are kind of in a hidden part of campus,” Henry said of the veterinary school’s location on the southeast portion of campus. “A lot of the community doesn’t even know we are back here, unless they have a pet that they bring to the hospital.”

The six-hour open house allowed an opportunity “to showcase what we have here,” Henry said.

Nearly 40 groups, from the veterinary school, around Boone County and beyond, led various activities, the college noted in a program for the event.

There were vendor and education booths set up for participants to enjoy — from families with young kids to high school students interested in veterinary medicine. Among other offerings were a student panel; an admissions presentation; and talks related to veterinary anesthesia, the school’s diagnostic laboratory and equine medicine.

Current veterinary medicine student Jack Murray, who won an entrepreneurship contest earlier this year, was featuring a new prototype of his foldable dog crates. The Murray Kennel Co. will start to take pre-orders in August, Murray said.

A primary purpose of the event is to get youth interested in veterinary science.

Many veterinarians, vet technicians and people in other related positions within the field developed an interest at a young age, Henry said.

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“We want to get kids out and get them interested or at least familiar with what we do and the breadth of what we do,” Henry said.

Spot, a Boston Dynamics robot dog used at the University of Missouri's Autonomous Systems Lab, makes an appearance Saturday at

A new feature for this year was Henry’s “Tent Talk.”

“I wanted to be able to answer any questions the public has,” she said. “I am seeing people that used to go to school here, parents, people from the community.”

Henry was joined at his tent by one of the Boston Dynamics robot dogs “Spot,” a popular project of the university’s Autonomous Systems Lab.

Charles Dunlap covers courts, public safety and other general subjects for the Tribune. You can reach him at, or CD_CDT on Twitter. Please consider subscribing to support vital local journalism.