PLANT CITY – A dachshund adopted by a disabled Army veteran is healthy, thanks to the local veterinary technician program at Hillsborough Community College.
Dr. Vincent Centonze, the head of the vet tech program, along with his students, fixed an eye problem for Oscar, a dog that was eventually adopted from Hillsborough County Animal Services by former Army Spc. Charles Lemon, who lost his legs in combat.
Centonze, with the help of three vet tech students, surgically repaired a condition known as cherry eye in an hour long operation. The gland disorder creates a red bulge in the corner of the eye, and can cause scarring of the cornea and other problems if not corrected.
Lemon, who lost both legs in an explosion while serving in Afghanistan. couldn’t be reached for comment. But Centonze and his students say it was satisfying knowing that the disabled vet who lives in Tampa ended up with the dog.
Oscar was one of many animals taken in by the county shelter that end up in the care of the vet tech program on HCC’s Plant City campus.
“We do a lot of volunteer surgeries with our students. We were especially glad to do it for a disabled vet,” said Centonze, a retired U.S. Air Force veteran.
He was assisted in the intricate surgery by vet tech students Lindsey Dowling, 21, Amy Scott, 23, and Ashley Smith, 20.
Centonze had to use a magnifying glass to perform the delicate procedure because of the dog’s small eye. The students monitored vital signs, held the eye open and did other tasks to make sure the operation was a success.
“He was a good little dog and it went pretty smoothly. We all fell in love with Oscar,” Smith said.
Centonze said the vet tech students play a vital role in surgeries.
“You can’t have an operation without vet techs,” he said. “We couldn’t do it without them.”