Pet Day is Back!

OSU’s annual Pet Day event is back on May 4, so get your pets’ ‘Star Wars’ costumes ready
Story by Molly Rosback, sources: Kristen Bird and Meghan Schuster, Photos compliments of OSU/Jens Odegaard

Oregon State University’s popular Pet Day event returns this year on Saturday, May 4, and humans and animals alike are invited to don “Star Wars”-themed costumes in honor of “May the Fourth.”

Students and faculty in the Carlson College of Veterinary Medicine will show visitors around the Lois Bates Acheson Veterinary Teaching Hospital, provide free dog washes and nail trims and teach community members of all ages about the clinical care and scientific research happening at the college. The event is free and open to the public.

In addition to giving the community a peek behind the scenes, Pet Day is also a great opportunity for anyone considering veterinary medicine to learn more about the process to get there, students say.

First-year veterinary student Meghan Schuster, one of this year’s event organizers, attended her first Pet Day in 2022.

“Two years ago I was in the middle of applying for veterinary school, so at Pet Day, I was able to talk to veterinary students and see the school from a different angle,” Schuster said. “I got some tips and advice from current students on ways to strengthen my application, which I thought was really helpful.”

The practical applications of the event can extend beyond OSU, as well: Fellow first-year event organizer Kristen Bird got a job with a local veterinary clinic after talking with clinic staff at Pet Day.

“I’ve been going to Pet Day forever and ever, and it’s only solidified my love of veterinary medicine,” said Bird. When she was younger, her family drove from Portland to attend; in high school, she started driving herself and friends down to Corvallis. “I think it’s a really good way to make connections.”

One of the highlights for Schuster was observing the veterinary students practicing sutures in the teddy bear surgery tent.

“Next year, I’m excited to have some more surgery skills so I can help with that,” she said. “It’s a cool idea and a fun way to use the skills that we’re learning.”

Beyond enjoying the fun activities and cute animals, Bird hopes that community members who attend Pet Day will gain a greater understanding of the challenges veterinarians face in their day-to-day work — and maybe some empathy, as well.

“We get a lot of anger, especially in emergency medicine, from people not understanding the costs, the wait times or how understaffed we are,” Bird said. “I think it’s a good thing for people to understand the commitment we make and how much we truly love what we’re doing, and to see that even when costs are high or the wait times are long, we are doing everything we can for you and your pet.”

Alongside teddy bear surgery, Pet Day includes a full schedule of activities, starting with the Purina 5K Fun Run at 9 a.m. Entries in the cat photo contest will be displayed and voted on during the day, and the all-pet costume contest will be judged from 12:30-2 p.m., with a special “Star Wars” category. (Fans celebrate May 4 as Star Wars Day based on the wordplay of “May the Fourth be with you.”)

Event booths and activities will be open from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. on May 4 at the Carlson College of Veterinary Medicine, 700 SW 30th St. in Corvallis.

Students will be leading tours of the veterinary college every 30 minutes, and the dog-wash and nail-trim station is open throughout the day. There is also a Kids Zone, with a small fee to play. Food will be available for purchase from local food trucks.

New this year are two reptile ambassadors from Chintimini Wildlife Center, a nonprofit rehabilitation and education facility working to protect local wildlife.

For more information, visit the Pet Day website.

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