AnimalFitness™ is more than a common veterinary service. We know that human lives can be enriched by interactions with animals, and we live that philosophy. Our outreach programs aim to make a difference in the world. Here are a few news stories about them:


Brattleboro Reformer (VT)

November 29, 2009

Taking The Reins


HINSDALE, N.H. -- This is one classroom where the students are encouraged to "horse" around.

Since Oct. 26, four Hinsdale high school students have traveled twice a week to Animal Fitness Farm on Middle Oxbow Road to develop life skills while working with horses and other barnyard creatures as part of a new extended learning opportunity through the school's administration.

The husband and wife duo of Carlton R. "Jack” Kibbee, DVM, and wife Paula Fitzpatrick run a country veterinary practice called AnimalFitness on their 55-acre property, servicing both small and large animals with a focus on integration (which Fitzpatrick calls a combination of allopathic medicine and holistic remedies).

Broken into two sessions for a total of five hours a week, the Hinsdale students meet with Fitzpatrick to learn about animal science and veterinary practices. On Friday afternoon, three of the students took time away from friends and family to lend a hand on the farm, braving the cold rain to care for the five horses on site.

"The kids want to be here on their own time, which is awesome," said Fitzpatrick. "They have a lot of fun with the animals, but they learn how to care for them, and not just in a superficial way, they can learn how to read them."

In order to receive credit for their work, the students keep logs of the work they complete and are expected to make a presentation to the administration at the end of the school year.

"Even if I wasn't getting credit, I would still be here every day," said 11th-grader Andres Collazo, who said he has a passion for agriculture and working on the farm.

Hinsdale Middle/High School Principal John Sullivan, who approached Collazo for the program, said the course is an extended learning opportunity available for Hinsdale students.

"It is done in addition to the required courses the students have during the traditional school day," he said. While the school has offered similar off-site classes in the past for dance and martial arts, this is the first time it is for a credit, he added.

Fitzpatrick credits Sullivan for working hard to establish a program specially designed to offer students the chance to get out of the classroom and begin to pursue a career at such a young age.

"It's a hands-on learning experience, which is very different than the traditional science classes that students take," said Sullivan. This extended learning opportunity has many real world benefits that students would not receive in a classroom, the principal added.

And the students agree, saying the chance to work at AnimalFitness provides a great learning environment for their interests.

"I love working with animals, its just something I've always been interested in," said 12th-grader Megan Dowley. All of the students involved are thankful to have this course and hope it continues to blossom in the future, she added.

Dowley hopes to move on to an agricultural school and take pre-veterinary courses.

According to Fitzpatrick, she encourages the students to use common sense while around the large animals, but also welcomes any suggestions, observations and new ideas when it comes to caring for them.

"Sometimes in this arena with animals, people get very dogmatic in their methods," she said, but there are all different ways to try and solve a problem.

A typical day for the students begins usually with feeding the cattle or checking on the horses, removing their blankets and moving their hands on the animals' bodies to search for any new bumps or scars. They also do a great deal of outdoor "ground work" designed to allow the horses time to exercise or relax in the fields.

Recently, Fitzpatrick taught Collazo the proper way to clean a horse hoof, which Collazo executed flawlessly. After spending time with the horses, the Hinsdale junior is interested in pursuing a career as a farrier, a specialist focusing on horse hooves.

Fitzpatrick says it is important for the pupils to learn with their eyes open and try to find something that not everyone might catch.

"They get to bump ideas off each other, besides me," she said. It is amazing how much they have learned to work as a team in the short time they have started on the farm, she added.

Additionally, working in a tight-knit atmosphere has created a special bond between the students, who say they feel much like a family.

"For me, it's just amazing how close we all are now," said Josefine "Josie" Bertholdt, a 12th-grade exchange student from Germany. "We spend all our time together, eat together, it's become like a family."

The partnership has also been very beneficial to Fitzpatrick and Kibbee as well, who welcomed the chance to share their six decades of combined veterinary experience with a younger generation.

"My husband and I are really honored to be a part of this," she said. "We feel really privileged to be a part of this program with the school."

Chris Garofolo can be reached at or 802-254-2311 ext. 275.

(c) 2009 Brattleboro Reformer. All rights reserved. Reproduced with the permission of Media NewsGroup, Inc. by NewsBank, Inc.Record Number: 13891241


New Hampshire Keene Sentinel

November 20, 2009

Animal Classes

Hinsdale students put in work hours with veterinarians

By Sarah Palermo

HINSDALE — Amanda Wood admits she slacked off last year.

Standing in front of the Hinsdale School Board, she made the brave confession: “I got all bad grades, and I didn’t care,” the Hinsdale High School 9th- grader said.

This year? She’s passing all her classes, even science, which her mom, Janice Woods, said has never happened before.

“She is 100 percent into her schoolwork. She doesn’t give up if she doesn’t get it, she tries until she completes it,” Woods said.

“I want to better my future,” Amanda said.

She’ll be on track by the end of this year, with an extra science credit under her belt thanks to an after-school class with some horses, dogs and cows.

She and the three other participating students attended the board’s meeting on Tuesday night to explain the program, which started on Oct. 26, and what they’ve gained from it.

“What you put into this is what you get out,” senior Megan Dowley said. “I’ve learned about responsibility, commitment.”

Every week, they spend two and a half hours working with horses, cows and other animals at Animal Fitness, a mixed-practice veterinary clinic in town, run by husband-and-wife team Dr. Carlton R. “Jack” Kibbee, DVM, and Paula J. Fitzpatrick. Mixed-practice vet care for both large animals — like horses and cows — and small ones — like dogs and cats.

The students will earn credit for an animal science class, after keeping journals noting what they did during each session, and writing a summary paper at the end of the year.

An average lesson might involve a conversation about the importance of hoof health, and how to tell by sight if a horse has healthy feet.

Or they might learn to move a steer using body language, and then teach a horse to do it, too.

Fitzpatrick started working with the school when she heard it needed a field hockey coach last year.

Spending time at the school, she “saw a number of children coming from broken homes, just tough circumstances, looking for ways to see the shiny side of the coin, the half-full glass,” Fitzpatrick said.

She asked Principal John F. Sullivan if there was a way some students could work at the farm.

Sullivan then applied for a grant to fund the program, but he set money aside in the instructional training budget in case it’s not approved, he said.

Running the program has been “an honor and a privilege,” Fitzpatrick told the school board.

“The kids are learning how to learn,” she said. “They learn to really pay attention to what’s going on with their horse, and that translates to paying attention to every living being that’s around them — other students, teachers — and what the task at hand is.

“Then they learn how to think on their feet. Stuff changes in the moment, so they have to be present in the moment.”

The students also learn from their mistakes. One afternoon, they spent hours working with the steers to little avail. Fitzpatrick saw what they were doing was wrong, but waited until later before questioning them.

The next time, the students remembered what hadn’t worked, adjusted their approach, and found success.

The program does not replace any of the three required science courses, Sullivan said. Instead, it’s an addition to what students are already learning, something the state department of education encourages schools to provide.

Called “extended learning opportunities,” these programs connect schools and community members and help students see how classroom lessons apply in the real world.

“We acknowledge that students learn throughout life and in many circumstances,” said Paul K. Leather, a department of education administrator for adult education and career technology.

The idea had been gaining steam for about five years, but came sharply into the spotlight last year, when the N.H. Legislature raised the dropout age from 16 to 18.

“Extended learning opportunities were specifically named as one means to address the needs of students over 16 who are not traditional learners and have had trouble succeeding in the traditional classroom but are still interested in learning,” Leather said.

Extended learning means “moving away from seat time and towards mastery of learning,” Leather said.

Andres Collazo, a Hinsdale junior, is part of the program at Animal Fitness. He knew years ago he wanted to own animals and work in agriculture, but now he also wants to work as a farrier.

“Learning is more than memorizing something, then writing it down or typing it up,” he told the school board. “Our nation is making all sorts of people with business learning, and we need that, but we need people who want to learn a trade, too.”

Students have already asked if there will be spots at the farm next year, and the school may begin other extended learning opportunities, such as connecting construction work to geometry and math concepts, Sullivan said.

“It’s exciting to see kids excited about learning,” Sullivan said. “That’s what we’re all in the business for.”

Sarah Palermo can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1436, or

© J. Fitzpatrick 2015