Practice; AVMA; Issues; Community

Partners for Healthy Pets program reaches out to veterinarians, pet owners

The new Partners for Healthy Pets program offers a free online Practice Resources Toolbox to help veterinarians overcome barriers to preventive care for cats and dogs.

The program also will receive $1 million from the AVMA in support of a forthcoming national multimedia campaign educating pet owners about the importance of routine veterinary care and the role of veterinary professionals in maintaining pet health.

The Partnership for Preventive Pet Healthcare launched the Partners for Healthy Pets program Aug. 6 at the AVMA Annual Convention in San Diego with a full-day symposium, a press conference, and a lunchtime session. From Aug. 4–6, the partnership's booth in the exhibit hall provided demonstrations of the comprehensive resources toolbox.

“Where we want to go with the partnership is creating this connection between the pet owner and the veterinarian, where they're working together in partnership to develop a lifelong plan to maximize the health and life of the pet,” said Dr. Ron DeHaven, AVMA chief executive officer and chairman of the partnership, speaking during the overview session of the symposium.

The AVMA announced the formation of the partnership at the 2011 convention. The members are the AVMA, American Animal Hospital Association, other veterinary associations, various animal health companies, and other organizations. The mission is “to ensure that pets receive the preventive healthcare they deserve through regular visits to a veterinarian.”

The partnership invested in extensive research and development in the intervening year to create the Partners for Healthy Pets program. The program's toolbox offers The Opportunity, an in-depth survey tool, as well as resources in five other areas—guidelines for preventive care, package plans for preventive care, Internet marketing, communications, and feline-friendly practice.

The Practice Resources Toolbox is available at by inputting an AVMA or AAHA member number.

The AVMA Executive Board, while meeting Aug. 1 in San Diego, approved the $1 million contribution to Partners for Healthy Pets to support a direct-to-consumer campaign encouraging pet owners to visit their veterinarians regularly.

The AVMA Office of the Executive Vice President proposed the $1 million contribution, which then–Executive Board Chair Ted Cohn said the board approved in response to Association members. “The Member Needs Assessment we received the results of a couple of months ago indicated that about 97 percent of our members wanted the AVMA to do some sort of public outreach program to promote veterinary medicine,” Dr. Cohn explained.

“This is a way of trying to get the public to pay a little more attention to their pets and to make sure they're taken care of, preferably before they get sick,” he added. The campaign is expected to launch in mid-2013.

Relations strained between practitioners, animal welfare organizations

In the world of companion animal medicine, many private practitioners are worrying about competition from animal welfare organizations that provide veterinary services.

Private practitioners say they fear losing business to full-service nonprofit clinics, which are somewhat rare but can charge less because of tax breaks and charitable contributions. They also worry about losing starter services that help establish a relationship with clients, such as spay-and-neuter operations, to limited-service nonprofit clinics and animal shelters.

Veterinarians and others at animal welfare organizations that offer veterinary services to the public generally say they focus on providing care for companion animals that otherwise would not receive any, such as pets belonging to low-income clients.

“It's a pretty good issue to have, when you have all these people who care so much about taking care of animals,” said Dr. Nancy Turner, a private practitioner who is a member of the AVMA Council on Veterinary Service. “We need to turn this on its head and take it from the approach that we can make this better for everyone involved. Obviously, the pets are the most important.”


Dr. Linwood A. Starks III performs a spay operation at one of the three clinics that the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Texas maintains in the Dallas area. (Courtesy of SPCA of Texas)

Citation: American Journal of Veterinary Research 73, 10; 10.2460/ajvr.73.10.1497

The Council on Veterinary Service wrote the AVMA policy “Delivery of Veterinary Services by Not-for-Profit/Tax-Exempt Organizations.” According to the policy, “Veterinary not-for-profit and tax-exempt clinics and hospitals provide access to important medical and surgical services for animals owned by the indigent and otherwise underserved populations.” The policy encourages means testing to determine eligibility for services.

Background documents conclude that federal tax law appears to allow tax-exempt animal welfare organizations to provide veterinary services for a fee. The revenue is subject to taxation if the services are unrelated to the organization's public purpose. That public purpose might be to reduce dog and cat overpopulation through low-price spay-and-neuter operations or to offer low-price veterinary services to low-income pet owners.

Dr. Turner said the Council on Veterinary Service has concerns about nonprofits that are expanding veterinary services to help pay for the organizations' public purposes.

“We want them to hold true to their charter and what they advertise to the public during fundraising,” Dr. Turner said.

The Association of Shelter Veterinarians supports high-quality, high-volume spay-and-neuter clinics, noted Dr. Natalie Isaza, ASV president. She believes the tension with private practitioners is worse with full-service nonprofit clinics.

Dr. Isaza doesn't believe private practitioners are losing business to full-service nonprofit clinics that target low-income pet owners, however. She said, “There are people who really love their animals, and they just don't have the money to care for them.”

Shelters need to reach out more to private practitioners, said James Bias, president of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Texas and chair of the board of directors of the Society of Animal Welfare Administrators.

The CATalyst Council, a coalition that advocates for cats, recently helped facilitate an alliance between SAWA and the American Society of Veterinary Medical Association Executives to launch Top to Top, an initiative to enhance relations between shelters and private practitioners.

Top to Top includes an effort to promote the concept of the handoff, or the transition of veterinary care from shelters to private practitioners during an animal's adoption.

Karlene Belyea, ASVMAE president and Michigan VMA chief executive officer, observed that relations are variable between private practitioners and animal welfare organizations that provide veterinary services.

“There are significant problems in some areas of Michigan, and people are very upset,” Belyea said. “But there are other areas where they have learned to cooperate. We want to help these groups to find ways to work together.”

New AVMA officers forge ahead

On Aug. 3, the final day of the AVMA House of Delegates regular annual session in San Diego, incoming Association president Douglas G. Aspros shared with veterinary representatives his view of the current state of the veterinary profession.


Dr. Douglas G. Aspros

Citation: American Journal of Veterinary Research 73, 10; 10.2460/ajvr.73.10.1497


Dr. Clark K. Fobian

Citation: American Journal of Veterinary Research 73, 10; 10.2460/ajvr.73.10.1497

AVMA delegates also unanimously elected Dr. Clark K. Fobian of Sedalia, Mo., 2012–2013 president-elect and chose Dr. Walter R. Threlfall of Powell, Ohio, from among three candidates to serve a two-year term as vice president. Earlier that day at an event held in conjunction with the HOD session, former AVMA Executive Board Chair Ted Cohn of Littleton, Colo., announced his candidacy for the Association's 2013–2014 president-elect.


Dr. Walter R. Threlfall

Citation: American Journal of Veterinary Research 73, 10; 10.2460/ajvr.73.10.1497


Dr. Janver D. Krehbiel

Citation: American Journal of Veterinary Research 73, 10; 10.2460/ajvr.73.10.1497

And in other AVMA governance news, the Executive Board on Aug. 7 elected and installed Dr. Janver D. Krehbiel as its chair for the upcoming Association year and Dr. Thomas F Meyer as its vice chair. Dr. Krehbiel is the Executive Board's District V representative and a professor in the Pathobiology and Diagnostic Investigation Department at the Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Meyer, the District XI representative on the board, is co-owner with his wife, Dr. Jean Meyer, of an American Animal Hospital Association–certified mixed animal practice in Vancouver, Wash.

Charles Dickens' classic “A Tale of Two Cities” offers an apt description of the current state of the veterinary profession, according to Dr. Aspros. “He wrote, ‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness.’ It pretty neatly sums up where we find ourselves today,” said Dr. Aspros, who succeeded Dr. René A. Carlson as AVMA president Aug. 7.

State funding for veterinary colleges is declining. Practitioners are confronted with a stagnant economy and a rapidly evolving world of service delivery. New equine veterinarians face the lowest starting salaries among all private-sector practitioners. Companion animal practices reliant on drug sales, vaccinations, and spays and neuters are seeing greater competition from low-cost providers. Consolidations within the animal agriculture industry have resulted in decreased demand for veterinary services.

These are but a few of the challenges Dr. Aspros said today's veterinary profession must deal with. But does this mean veterinarians are currently living in the worst of times? “Not by a long shot,” he countered.

Veterinary education is more sophisticated and research-driven now than at any other time. Veterinarians are willing to champion animal welfare even when doing so discomforts clients or colleagues. Pain management has been embraced as an ethical obligation. Veterinary specialization has helped raise standards of practice, to the benefit of patients and clients. Veterinarians hold key government positions, including in the departments of Agriculture and Homeland Security and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as demand for veterinary expertise grows. The one-health movement that brings veterinarians and physicians together to enhance our understanding of health and disease is gaining ground.

Taken all together, Dr. Aspros has “great expectations” about the future of the profession. “Veterinary medicine survived its first great dislocation in the last century when the horse stopped being the main source of transport, and many city-based veterinary colleges closed,” Dr. Aspros said. “With the surviving colleges in the land-grant system, we turned to animal agriculture and food production as our primary charge.

“Today, we look to biomedical research and public health to recast our mission for the future. These are important endeavors for which we are uniquely qualified, and society would benefit from our increased participation in these spheres.”

Dr. Aspros has practiced small animal medicine in New York state since graduating from the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine in 1975. He was the District I representative on the AVMA Executive Board from 2006–2010. Previously, Dr. Aspros served six years on the AVMA Council on Education, including a year as chair.

The votes are in for AVMA councils and HAC

In San Diego, the House of Delegates filled vacancies on AVMA councils and the House Advisory Committee. The results are as follows.

Council on Biologic and Therapeutic Agents

Dr. Edward Wakem, Chesterfield, Va., representing members-at-large

Council on Education

Dr. Mary Beth Leininger, Lawrence, Kan., representing members-at-large; Dr. Patrick Farrell, Russell, Pa., representing private food animal clinical practice; and Dr. Billy Martindale, Denison, Texas, representing private clinical practice

Council on Public Health and Regulatory Veterinary Medicine

Drs. Joanna Davis, Tifton, Ga., and Stephan Schaefbauer, Raleigh, N.C., representing agricultural agencies

Council on Research

Dr. Sreenivasa Donapaty, Chamblee, Ga., representing private clinical practice

Council on Veterinary Service

Dr. Gay Gira, Ada, Mich., representing private practice, exclusively small animal

Judicial Council

Dr. Beth Thompson, St. Paul, Minn., representing members-at-large

House Advisory Committee

Dr. George Bishop, Carmel, Calif., representing predominantly small animal; Dr. Kenneth Bartels, Stillwater, Okla., representing teaching and research; and Dr. Michael Topper, Harleysville, Pa., representing membersatlarge (temporarily reclassified from private practice, predominantly food animal)

AVMA recognizes contributions to profession

The AVMA bestowed the following awards during the AVMA Annual Convention in August for efforts to advance veterinary medicine, animal welfare, and public health.

  • AVMA AwardDr. James F. Peddie, past treasurer of the AVMA and current trustee of the AVMA Group Health and Life Insurance Trust, who worked with Hollywood animals during much of his career.

  • Leo K. Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year AwardDr. Thomas E. Catanzaro, practice consultant, who has promoted the human-animal bond and veterinary teamwork.

  • Student AVMA Community Outreach Excellence AwardDr. Vicki L. Wilke, University of Minnesota assistant professor, who co-organized a veterinary student group that treats pets of homeless and low-income families.

  • Student AVMA Teaching Excellence AwardDr. Heather L. Wamsley, assistant professor, and coordinator of residencies in clinical pathology at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine.

  • AVMA Animal Welfare AwardDr. Philip A. Bushby, Mississippi State University professor, who brings veterinary students to animal shelters to provide well-ness care and spay-and-neuter procedures.

  • AVMA Humane AwardCamie R. Heleski, PhD, who co-developed the annual Intercollegiate Animal Welfare Judging and Assessment Contest and participates in efforts to promote equine welfare.

  • American Veterinary Medical Foundation/American Kennel Club Career Achievement Award in Canine ResearchDr. Edward Feldman, professor, who established the University of California-Davis as a center for the treatment and study of dogs and cats with hormonal disorders.


    Dr. James F. Peddie accepts the AVMA Award during the AVMA Annual Convention. (Photo by R. Scott Nolen)

    Citation: American Journal of Veterinary Research 73, 10; 10.2460/ajvr.73.10.1497

  • American Veterinary Medical Foundation/Winn Feline Foundation Research AwardDr. Niels Pedersen, University of California-Davis professor, who studies feline diseases and directs the university's Center for Companion Animal Health and the Veterinary Genetics Laboratory.

  • Charles River PrizeDr. Kathryn Bayne, global director of the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care International, who previously studied laboratory animal behavior.

  • AVMA Lifetime Excellence in Research AwardDr. L. Garry Adams, Texas A&M University professor, who studies infectious diseases and is active in initiatives in biodefense and in research on emerging diseases.

  • Royal Canin AwardDr. Randall Acker, medical director of Sun Valley Animal Center in Idaho, who developed a canine elbow replacement system.

  • AVMA Public Service AwardDr. Russell W. Currier, Iowa state public health veterinarian, who has worked on a variety of problems in public health.

  • AVMA Meritorious Service AwardDr. Margery Hanfelt, Army Veterinary Corps lieutenant colonel, who provided veterinary support following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

  • AVMA Advocacy AwardDebbie Stabenow, U.S. senator, who champions veterinarians as chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee.

  • XIIth International Veterinary Congress PrizeDr. Cleon V. Kimberling, retired Colorado State University extension veterinarian, who traveled the world to improve livestock health in developing countries.

  • Karl F. Meyer–James H. Steele Gold Headed Cane AwardDr. Bruce Kaplan, who has promoted public health as primary contents manager for the One Health Initiative website and through other efforts; Dr. Donald L. Noah, Air Force colonel who has promoted public health through military service, currently as deputy commander of the School of Aerospace Medicine.

  • World Veterinary Association honorary membershipDr. Leon H. Russell, Texas A&M University professor, who contributed to the World Veterinary Association as a councilor and president.

  • AVMA President's AwardJ. Karl Wise, PhD, AVMA associate executive vice president, who has been with the Association for decades; Wisconsin VMA Residue Task Force, for working with the Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin on outreach to reduce drug residues in beef from dairy cattle; U.S. Army veterinarians and military working dogs, for working side by side in defense of the nation.

  • 1991 AVMA President's Award—Dr. Geoffrey Broderick, who provided medical assistance to people who were aboard a South American airliner that crashed near his home. Dr. Broderick did not receive notification of the award at the time.

Villagers had rabies antibodies without vaccination

Some villagers in Peru have survived exposure to rabies virus and developed antibodies without vaccination, a recently published article states.

Researchers with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found rabies virus neutralizing antibodies in six unvaccinated people and one previously vaccinated person after taking sera from 63 residents of the Amazonian villages of Truenocha and Santa Marta, according to an article published in the August 2012 issue of the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.

A CDC announcement indicates the six who had antibodies but no known history of vaccination were unlikely to have received medical care following previous bat bites. The researchers could not determine when or how rabies virus exposures occurred, but histories of bat bites among people in the area suggested vampire bats as the source of exposure.

The report is available at

Using an indirect fluorescent antibody assay, the researchers also found rabies virus binding antibodies in four of the 63 people from whom samples were taken, two of whom also had virus neutralizing antibodies. Including the five others who had virus neutralizing antibodies, all nine individuals seropositive for anti-rabies antibodies said they had been exposed to bats, the report states.

Amy Gilbert, PhD, lead author for the report, said in the CDC announcement that the study results support the idea that some populations regularly exposed to rabies virus could have an enhanced immune response that would prevent clinical illness.

New Wisconsin dean comes from faculty

Dr. Mark D. Markel, a University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine professor of medical sciences and associate dean for advancement, has been chosen to lead the school.

Dr. Markel assumed his new role as dean Sept. 1. He succeeds Dr. Daryl D. Buss, who led the school for 18 years and retired in June.

Dr. Markel joined the UW-Madison faculty in 1990 as an assistant professor of large animal surgery. He currently chairs the veterinary school's Department of Medical Sciences and is the UW-Madison Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor.

A native of Long Beach, Calif., Dr. Markel studied wildlife biology as an undergraduate at the University of California-Davis and received his DVM degree there in 1983. He received his doctorate in physiology and biophysics in 1990 from the Mayo Graduate School of Medicine.


Dr. Mark D. Markel

Citation: American Journal of Veterinary Research 73, 10; 10.2460/ajvr.73.10.1497

Since joining the UW-Madison faculty, Dr. Markel has taken on a number of roles on campus. In addition to his faculty appointment and administrative roles at the veterinary school, he holds faculty appointments in the UW School of Medicine and Public Health, is an affiliate in the Institute on Aging, and is a member of the Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine Center. He is a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons.

Dr. Markel noted in a university press release that as global trade and issues of animal and human health and emerging disease become more prominent, veterinarians will play an increasingly important role internationally. These challenges and others, he argues, will continue to create demands for veterinary medical services, research, and outreach.

Hoover, ‘Young Investigators’ honored

Dr. Edward A. Hoover received the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges' 2012 Merial-AAVMC Excellence in Research Award on Aug. 4 during the Merial-National Institutes of Health National Veterinary Scholars Symposium at Colorado State University.

Dr. Hoover, whose work led to the development of a vaccine against FeLV, is a University Distinguished Professor at the Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences.


Dr. Edward A. Hoover

Citation: American Journal of Veterinary Research 73, 10; 10.2460/ajvr.73.10.1497

The AAVMC board of directors established the annual research award in 2010 to recognize outstanding research and scholarly achievements in the field of veterinary medicine. It recognizes an individual who, over the course of his or her career, has demonstrated excellence in original research, leadership in the scientific community, and mentoring of trainees and colleagues in any discipline of veterinary medicine.

For three decades, Dr. Hoover's laboratory focused on the pathogenesis of retrovirus and prion infections—in particular, infection with FeLV and the feline and simian immunodeficiency viruses, and chronic wasting disease. These diseases also serve as models for human diseases such as aplastic anemia, leukemia, and HIV/AIDS.

Research in Dr. Hoover's laboratory led to development of the first successful and most widely used FeLV vaccine, now used to immunize cats worldwide against leukemia. More recently, Dr. Hoover has performed pioneering research on CWD in deer and elk. His current work focuses on the mechanisms of transmucosal prion infection and excretion, detection of prions in body fluids of live animals, the CWD species barrier in cervid and noncervid species, and experimental vaccines for prion and protein misfolding diseases.

Dr. Hoover received his DVM degree from the University of Illinois as well as master's and doctoral degrees from The Ohio State University. He is also a fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology.

Winners of the 2012 Young Investigator Award co-sponsored by the AVMA and the American Veterinary Medical Foundation also were announced Aug. 4 during the Merial-National Institutes of Health National Veterinary Scholars Symposium.

The Young Investigator Award is given to graduate veterinarians pursuing advanced research training through doctoral or postdoctoral programs. A total of 57 applications were received for the 2012 competition and reviewed by a group of veterinarians and faculty at several veterinary schools. The AVMA and AVMF covered the expenses for five finalists invited to present their research at the Veterinary Scholars Symposium.

Two members of the AVMA Council on Research—Drs. Kent Lloyd and Harm Hogenesch—were part of the panel that judged the presentations according to three criteria: scientific merit, quality of presentation, and responses to audience questions. After the presentations were concluded, the winners of the Young Investigator Award were announced as follows: First place—Dr. Todd Strochlic, postdoctoral trainee at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, for “Ack1 regulates a macromolecular complex involved in nucleotide synthesis.” Second place—Dr. Theresa Alenghat, instructor at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, for “Epigenetic regulation of intestinal barrier function and susceptibility to inflammation.” Third place—Dr. Sarah Hamer, assistant professor of epidemiology at Texas A&M University, for “The complex interface among wild bird populations, tick-borne pathogens, and human health.”