Child-sized veterinary clinic opens at Discovery Center Museum in Illinois

A new exhibit allows children to play doctor and learn important lessons about veterinary medicine.
Jul 01, 2012

Aspiring veterinarians can put on pint-sized lab coats, grab a chart and take on the role of doctor, groomer, trainer or pet owner at the Tot Spot Vet Clinic at the Discovery Center Museum in Rockford, Ill.

Heart sounds: Three-year-old Irelyn Nye examines her patient before she makes a diagnosis. Thousands of children are expected to visit the Tot Spot Vet Clinic at the Discovery Center in Rockford, Ill. (Photo courtesy of Ann Marie Walker)
Now through Aug. 5, children can examine and treat stuffed patients using such tools as stethoscopes, otoscopes, radiography machines, bandages, syringes, scales and more. The mini kennel gives overnight "patients" a place to rest and future equine veterinarians can practice their skills in the corral, complete with horses, sheep and pigs.

Pretend pet owners can pass the time in the clinic waiting room with animal books and puzzles. They can also test out pet carriers and learn how to transport pets safely. Faux groomers can bathe animals in the pretend sink and dry patients' fur with the flexible hose.

The Tot Spot Vet Clinic is designed to teach children these five lessons about veterinary medicine, the Discovery Center Museum reports.

1. Pet owners need to partner with a veterinarian in order keep their animals healthy.

2. Veterinarians treat a variety of pets including dogs, cats, rabbits, turtles and so on.

3. Sick or injured pets are surveyed on an exam table and veterinary staff members use a variety of tools to examine patients.

4. Equine veterinarians travel to farms to care for large animals.

5. Pets need to be bathed and brushed on a regular basis in order to stay happy and healthy.

The child-sized veterinary clinic is sponsored by the Greater Rockford Veterinary Medical Association and the Northern Illinois Veterinary Medical Association Auxiliary in memory of Alicia McEniry. McEniry served on the Northern Illinois Veterinary Medical Association board and helped create lab coats and gather stuffed animals to make the original Tot Spot Vet clinic possible in 1994. She believed children are never too young to learn about responsible pet ownership and proper preventive care for pets.