Story by McKenna Dosier Staff writer
The Breathitt Veterinary Center, one of two diagnostic labs in Kentucky, is set to move to its new location and will be ready for classes in Fall 2016.
The new $36 million, 53,000-square-foot facility, located behind the Hopkinsville regional campus, will double the amount of lab space available at the current facility and will include a large lecture hall.
The Breathitt Veterinary Center (BVC) – accredited by the American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians – sees a large number of poultry and other food animal cases while the University of Kentucky Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory sees a larger number of equine cases.
Last year, the center saw around 11,000 cases ranging from tissue samples to entire dead animals for necropsies (autopsies for animals), said Debbie Reed, director of the facility. She said about 60 percent of the cases were food animals and 40 percent were pets.
Since the center became part of Murray State in 1977, it has been used as a hands-on tool for students studying pre-veterinary medicine and veterinary technology.
“I believe hands on learning is vital in veterinary technology,” said Aurora Laslie, senior from Ekron, Kentucky. “We can take lectures and read about laboratory procedures, animal handling and different diseases all day long, but actually working hands-on with different animals, perfecting different skills is where all of that classroom information gets utilized.”
The center’s primary mission is diagnostics for the agriculture and companion animal world, Reed said, but education and outreach is also part of that mission.
“Just based upon being in Breathitt already for half a semester, I can already tell how much it has impacted my education,” said Elizabeth Fisher, senior from Boonville, Indiana. “Breathitt sort of ties together everything we have learned from previous classes and is adding more laboratory skills along with that.”
BVC staff is a very well-educated group, Reed said. There are 33 staff members – eight have PhDs or DVMs and the other 25 have a bachelor’s or master’s degree.
The current center received funding from the legislature two years ago to build the new Breathitt Veterinary Center.
Gov. Matt Bevin’s budget proposal could leave the center, along with other higher education tools, such as the Gatton Academy at Western Kentucky University and Craft Academy at Morehead State, with a loss of funding.
Rep. Kenny Imes, R-Murray, said his primary mission is getting the Breathitt Veterinary Center into a separate appropriate category so the center will not lose state funding if Bevin’s new budget passes.
The Breathitt Veterinary Center currently receives some of its funding through the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, federal funding and charging for their services.