Turtle Love


Now, a lot of people don’t know much about turtles, but they do know that Patrick is a Red-Eared Slider. His species is pretty well known and is easy to identify thanks to the red markings on the side of his face. Now for Shelly, don’t be fooled by the name, we just recently found out Shelly is a boy, and Neo, they are both African Side-Necks. There are many different species that fall under this category, but unless you’re a turtle breeder, they usually just go as Side-Necks. They are from different areas of, surprise, Africa. Their anatomy doesn’t allow them to tuck all of themselves inwards, so instead their necks turn, another surprise, to the side. Neo is different than Shelly because his plastron is hinged, meaning it bends when he goes to hide and that basically covers him from outside predators. Shelly doesn’t have this so he’s more exposed, but he’d probably fight the enemy to the death anyways because he’s crazy aggressive – puberty, it does that to kids.


Enough fan-girling over my turtles ladies, I know they’re cute, but let’s get down to business. So one day, I see this weird discoloration on Shelly’s arm, it’s white where it should be brown, as well as little pits are beginning to form on Patrick’s shell. This isn’t good. There could be a number of issues; too much ammonia in the water, too many nitrates, oil formation, bacteria populations, algae growth and much  more. So I do the smart thing first and panic. After a few days of mass hysteria, I decide to take them to the Vet Clinic. I walk right up to the receptionist and say, “Here are my babies, now what?” I fill out the information sheets and get to the species, so naturally I put down ASN ( African Side-Neck) and the receptionist looks at me like I came into her yard and kicked her dog (can you believe that video is 8 years old? Classic). “What is that?” she asks. To my surprise, they had no option for ASN turtle since they had not had one brought to the facility before. Now, I know they aren’t that common, but they aren’t THAT rare. That was the first sign. She manually fills it in and continues with her day. I have a short consultation with the students who will be working with my children and they tell me due to overbooking, I will need to leave them at the hospital all day.

Leave my babies? Whoa there. When I called you said there were plenty of open spaces and that the consultation would be quick. That was the second sign. I walk back over later in the day through the pouring rain with a box and some towels to keep them warm, since I don’t have a car and that’s what dedicated mothers do, only for them to tell me, here’s some general medication, that’ll be $150 oh and by the way, we don’t know what’s wrong with them.

I just gave you my flesh and blood for 8 hours and you couldn’t just figure it out? I walked in with ideas of what it might be, and you still don’t know? That was the third sign. I can’t believe this, let me wrap my babies up and walk my butt home already.

Days go by and the medication is at least working. It’s a general antibiotic used by people for burn wounds that help eliminate contamination from other bacteria, but I guess they can use it in other places. I pack up my stuff, kiss them goodbye, not really, I don’t need salmonella, and head to work. While there, I’m of course complaining to my professors about how I thought my service was sub-par, but all in all, at least the med is working, I’ll just live off of ramen cause I’m so broke now. My professor, an Equine Surgeon at the hospital mentions that his students are having a hard time with classes. This is what puts it all together. Your fourth year of vet school, you begin your clinical work, practicing on live animals and dealing with actual patients. However, since a lot of people don’t come since we take a long time to diagnose, they get less practice time, so it’s a never-ending circle. What it all comes down to though is funding. With the lack of state funding that the whole campus has been unfortunately feeling, the Veterinary School has not had enough money to purchase the equipment that will keep them up to date with the growing industry and other colleges. Without this equipment, the students can’t be properly trained to meet the needs of the community, so less people come in which leads to an even larger decrease in experience for the students. That means that:

  1. The limited number of clients meant a limited selection of animals – the reason why they didn’t know what a side-neck was.
  2. Lack of proper training meant longer diagnostic times involving more people – the reason that overbooking was a common occurrence.
  3. No funding means the inability to own machinery that will lead to quick procedures and more accurate conclusions – the reason they didn’t know what the problem really was and prescribed a general antibiotic.


As members of the College of Agriculture, many of us know that we are much different than the other colleges. It’s commonly seen for engineers to turn around and drop large amounts of money to give back to their colleges, but please show me the farmers that are cranking out enough to give back to our college as well as live comfortably themselves, it just doesn’t happen. K-State is a land-grant university and is here for us, but without the proper funding, we will begin to see the implementation of more student fees to try to overcome the obstacles we shouldn’t have to be facing. Hopefully by staying up-to-date on the happenings of our college, we can better prepare ourselves for the future and hopefully one day give back to the school that has already given us so much.


In Sisterhood,

Alaina Littlejohn


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April 30, 2014 · 4:16 PM

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