JAVMA News Digest

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AVMA Board elects Donlin as new CEO

When Dr. Janet Donlin became AVMA executive vice president and CEO on Sept. 12, it marked the first time a woman has held the highest staff leadership position in the Association since the office was created in 1922. In August, the AVMA announced the Board of Directors had elected Dr. Donlin, a former executive staffer with the AVMA, to succeed Dr. Ron DeHaven when he retired as the Association's chief executive after nine years.

AVMA President Tom Meyer cited Dr. Donlin's decades-long service to the veterinary profession and her extensive professional achievements as key factors in her being named AVMA CEO. “Dr. Donlin is one of the true champions of veterinary medicine and all it stands for,” Dr. Meyer said. “She is a skilled strategist with a proven background of diverse AVMA experience and a known reputation for working with leaders from all segments of the veterinary profession, key stakeholders, and staff members to drive innovation, growth, and success.”

Dr. Donlin had been CEO of the AVMA PLIT since April 2013.

The Women's Veterinary Leadership Development Initiative hailed Dr. Donlin's election as a tremendous milestone for veterinary leadership. “We believe that she is an excellent choice for the association and will help with the AVMA's investment in leadership development,” the WVLDI board of directors said in a statement.

Dr. Donlin returns to the Association where she first started working in 1991 as an assistant director in what was then the AVMA Scientific Activities Division. Over the next 17 years, Dr. Donlin was an interim division director, associate executive vice president, and assistant executive vice president. She was also, from 2000–2001, interim CEO of the National Commission on Veterinary Economic Issues, where she oversaw the establishment of the commission as a nonprofit organization, and for which she received the AVMA President's Award.

“My time at the AVMA and my experiences across the profession have reinforced for me time and again that our membership is very diverse, our needs are constantly evolving, and our profession continues to face new challenges and opportunities,” Dr. Donlin said. “That's why I'm committed to making certain we continue to build on the AVMA's core strengths so that we are even more responsive to the needs of our members, and that we advocate with a strong, clear voice on behalf of our entire profession.”

Before joining the AVMA staff, Dr. Donlin was director of the veterinary technology program at the University of Minnesota-Waseca campus and was assistant professor of veterinary technology for two years. Previously, she was director of the veterinary technology program at the Medical Institute of Minnesota. Dr. Donlin graduated with a DVM degree from the University of Minnesota in 1981 and worked in practice for 10 years while teaching veterinary technicians.

After she left the AVMA staff, Dr. Donlin was chief veterinary officer in the Global Veterinary Business Channel of Hill's Pet Nutrition from August 2007 to March 2013, providing veterinary insights to drive development of innovative products and services to meet the evolving needs of the veterinary profession and pet owners.

In 2006, Dr. Donlin became the first veterinarian to obtain the “certified association executive” credential from the American Society of Association Executives. She is a former trustee of the AVMA Group Health & Life Insurance Trust (now known as AVMA Life), and she is a former board member of the American Association of Industry Veterinarians.

Condensed from Sept. 15, 2016, JAVMA News

Ringling moves elephants to Florida for retirement, breeding, research

Eleven elephants moved to a retirement home in Florida after their circus's final elephant performances May 1.

The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Center for Elephant Conservation, which is between Tampa and Orlando, housed 39 elephants as of July. The company also had two elephants on loan to zoos in Fort Worth, Texas, and Tulsa, Oklahoma, for breeding.

The 200-acre center is a retirement home, breeding center, and research center for the company's Asian elephants.

Twenty-six calves have been born at the center since 1992. Staff at the center have been breeding Asian elephants to supply North American zoos and learning how to care for their own aging herd.

Ringling conducts its own research but also allows outside research organizations access to the herd, with internal and external studies together covering subjects as varied as potential genetic causes for the low cancer incidence in Asian elephants and the use of pheromones to deter wild elephants from villages in their native countries.

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Dr. Dennis Schmitt, head veterinarian for the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Center for Elephant Conservation in southern Florida, looks at a white spot on an elephant's cornea. (Photo by Greg Cima)

Citation: American Journal of Veterinary Research 77, 10; 10.2460/ajvr.77.10.1048

Stephen Payne, vice president of corporate communications for Ringling's parent company, Feld Entertainment, said the circus retired the elephants because of the increasing difficulty of navigating local regulations such as Los Angeles’ ban on using bullhooks, or elephant guides. The circus traditionally used these tools to direct the elephants and could not conduct shows without them, according to Payne.

AVMA policy describes the devices as consistent with practicing good animal welfare when used by trained individuals.

Condensed from Sept 1, 2016, JAVMA News

AAHA releases oncology guidelines for dogs and cats

The American Animal Hospital Association has released oncology guidelines for dogs and cats. The 2016 AAHA Oncology Guidelines for Dogs and Cats appeared in the July/August edition of the Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association.

The abstract states, “Because each oncology case is medically unique, these guidelines recommend a patient-specific approach consisting of the following components: diagnosis, staging, therapeutic intervention, provisions for patient and personnel safety in handling chemotherapy agents, referral to an oncology specialty practice when appropriate, and a strong emphasis on client support.”

Dr. John Berg, chair of the guidelines task force and a professor of surgery at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, said, “There is a constant flow of new clinical research coming out in veterinary oncology. It can be difficult for busy practitioners to keep up with all the information coming out in all fields, not just oncology, and the guidelines are intended to give practitioners a broad overview of how oncology specialists—medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, and surgeons—currently approach cancer diagnosis and treatment.”

Dr. Berg said the guidelines include basic information on principles of medical therapy of cancer, radiation therapy, and surgical oncology. The document provides in-depth tables of information about the behavior, clinical evaluation, common treatments, and prognosis for the most common cancers of dogs and cats. The document also offers recommendations for discussing cancer with owners and overviews of newer cancer treatments such as targeted molecular therapies and metronomic chemotherapy.

The guidelines are available at www.aaha.org/guidelines.

Condensed from Sept. 1, 2016, JAVMA News

All the happenings from AVMA Convention 2016

Not many other veterinary meetings or conventions have had so much packed into such a short time as AVMA Convention 2016. From Aug. 5–9, the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio hosted nearly 1,000 hours of continuing education. Among the many notable speakers were Temple Grandin, PhD, who gave a presentation on religious slaughter; Dr. Richard M. Linnehan, one of only two veterinarians to have gone into space; and Dr. Jennifer McQuiston, deputy director of the division of high-consequence pathogens and pathology for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who provided the latest data concerning Zika virus in the U.S.

Prior to convention, Dr. John de Jong, outgoing chair of the AVMA Board of Directors, announced his candidacy for 2017–2018 AVMA president-elect Aug. 5 at the Candidates’ Introductory Breakfast.

The AVMA House of Delegates elected Dr. Michael Topper to the office of 2016–2017 AVMA president-elect. Delegates also elected Dr. Stacy Pritt as 2016–2018 AVMA vice president.

During the Aug. 9 Board meeting, Dr. Tom Meyer was installed as AVMA president. In addition, Drs. Mark Helfat and Michael Whitehair were elected and installed as Board chair and vice chair, respectively. Nebraska delegate Dr. David Ylander is the new House Advisory Committee chair.

In the meantime, a video of convention highlights is available at http://jav.ma/2016avmaconvention.

Condensed from Sept. 15, 2016, JAVMA News

AVMF narrows its focus on supporting veterinary profession

In the past year, the American Veterinary Medical Foundation has taken a harder look at its mission and has started to focus more on what it does well.

Part of the change had to do with anticipated unrestricted dollars for 2015 not reaching original projections. So, the AVMF board of directors decided this past November where to spend the limited unrestricted dollars among nearly 20 programs. Ultimately, the AVMF board eliminated its portion of the funding for the AVMA Veterinary Medical Assistance Teams, the AVMF disaster relief and reimbursement grants, and the America's Favorite Veterinarian contest, among other things.

“It was a thoughtful process with incredibly dedicated individuals who looked at the value of our programs to AVMA members and the value to the public and the animals served,” said Debborah Harp, AVMF executive director. “It was important for the Foundation to narrow its focus and align its mission with the AVMA's mission more closely.”

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Debborah Harp (Photo by R. Scott Nolen)

Citation: American Journal of Veterinary Research 77, 10; 10.2460/ajvr.77.10.1048

Dr. Jan K. Strother of Hartselle, Alabama, was recently installed as chair of the Foundation's board. She says she's pleased the AVMF has made positive strides, and she hopes to continue that progress.

“My vision for our Foundation is bright and reflects our veterinary community's compassion and commitment to help animals in need. We also have a commitment to develop strategic scholarship programs, which will provide financial relief to students and young graduates. Further, I believe that the AVMF's cornerstone for research programs helps to create an excellent future for our profession (and) one health, and makes our world of animal and human health better,” she said.

Condensed from Sept. 15, 2016, JAVMA News

Work continues to improve veterinary education worldwide

In numerous countries, the quality of veterinary education is failing to meet the requirements for delivering highly competent veterinary services, according to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).

“A well-educated veterinary workforce is key in providing scientifically sound risk assessments, credible reporting of diseases, and effective delivery of services to producers and consumers,” said Dr. Monique Éloit, director general of the OIE, during the fourth OIE Global Conference on Veterinary Education, which was held June 22–24 in Bangkok.

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Dr. Ron DeHaven, outgoing AVMA CEO, speaks during the second day of the proceedings. (Photo courtesy of OIE)

Citation: American Journal of Veterinary Research 77, 10; 10.2460/ajvr.77.10.1048

Dr. Ron DeHaven, then AVMA CEO, now retired, chaired the OIE ad hoc Group on Veterinary Education, which defined the day-one competencies four years ago. He said more work is needed, however, as substantial disparity remains among veterinary colleges across the world in the implementation of OIE guidelines and recommendations. He said, “The one piece that we still need to work on is a mechanism or ‘tool’ to assess how well individual schools are actually teaching the day-one competencies. It's one thing to say they're being taught; it's another to do a formal outcomes assessment and impartially evaluate the effectiveness of that teaching.”

In fact, that was one of 14 recommendations that came out of the June conference. Another key recommendation from the 2016 conference was for the OIE to consider expanding its work on the quality of veterinary services to better cover veterinary paraprofessionals working under the responsibility and supervision of veterinarians.

Member countries will consider endorsing the recommendations at the 85th World Assembly of Delegates of the OIE in May 2017 in Paris.

Condensed from Sept. 1, 2016, JAVMA News

For-profit veterinary technology programs continue to close

The trend of for-profit universities closing their doors continues to impact veterinary technology programs, as more than 30 are in the process of shuttering.

The AVMA Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities, at its April 21–24 meeting in Schaumburg, Illinois, withdrew accreditation from six programs on the basis of voluntary closure; all were located at for-profit institutions.

One of those veterinary technology programs was at Brown Mackie College in Michigan City, Indiana, but it likely won't be the last from the system of more than 26 for-profit universities in 15 states. There are currently 13 Brown Mackie campuses with CVTEA-accredited programs, and 11 of those campuses are no longer admitting students.

Another for-profit institution, the Globe Education Network, has three universities that currently have a total of 14 CVTEA-accredited programs—at Globe University, Minnesota School of Business, and Broadview University. Five Globe Education Network veterinary technology programs had their accreditation withdrawn—again for voluntary closure—at the committee's most recent meeting.

And finally, Sanford-Brown College, which has 18 campuses across the country, announced in August 2015 that it will cease enrolling students and close all its schools while undergoing a teach-out. Sanford-Brown had 12 veterinary technology programs in eight states. Currently, four have been placed on terminal accreditation, and eight have already had their accreditation withdrawn.

The CVTEA has a process outlined for programs that voluntarily close. Specifically, they must place a moratorium on new enrollment. In addition, all standards must continue to be met during the closing phase of the program. More information is available at http://jav.ma/cvteapolicies.

Condensed from Sept. 1, 2016, JAVMA News

Animal shelter to be built on LSU campus

An animal shelter organization planned at press time to break ground in September for a new facility on Louisiana State University's campus.

Christel C. Slaughter, PhD, chair of the board of directors for Companion Animal Alliance of Baton Rouge, said construction of the 31,000-square-foot facility should be completed between June and September 2017. The alliance plans to lease about 7 acres of LSU land near the School of Veterinary Medicine.

The new facility will cost about $8 million, which was raised through private donations. That figure does not include donated labor, services, and other nonmonetary gifts, Dr. Slaughter said. It will include an emergency animal evacuation center that could hold about 200 animals in a covered outdoor area during a natural disaster, and it gives the shelter organization room to isolate animals that are ill or quarantined for possible rabies infection.

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A concept drawing of the new animal shelter on the Louisiana State University campus (Courtesy of Christel C. Slaughter/Companion Animal Alliance of Baton Rouge)

Citation: American Journal of Veterinary Research 77, 10; 10.2460/ajvr.77.10.1048

Dr. Joel Baines, dean of the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine, wrote by email that he and fellow administrators had advocated for an animal shelter on LSU land. The close proximity of the planned alliance shelter to the school will give students opportunities to examine animals that do not have a presumptive diagnosis, a clinical skill critical for private practice, as well as provide training for the shelter medicine program.

The LSU Agricultural Center and the alliance have a 30-year lease beginning at construction, with potential to extend the lease up to 20 years, Dr. Baines said. The rent is $12,000 annually, indexed for inflation.

Condensed from Sept. 15, 2016, JAVMA News

APHIS launches new website devoted to international pet travel

The Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service launched a new website in July dedicated to international pet travel and helping travelers and accredited veterinarians easily determine country-specific requirements.

The previous APHIS site was designed for accredited veterinarians and other animal health professionals who are familiar with interpreting technical regulatory language. Therefore, hundreds of people called APHIS each month seeking information on pet travel. The new site is designed to be easy for anyone to use.

“We know pets are members of the family, and our goal is to ensure pets meet the requirements to relocate with their families internationally—whether temporarily or permanently,” stated Dr. Jack Shere, deputy administrator for APHIS Veterinary Services, in an announcement about the new site. He said the department recognizes each country has different entry requirements, and the new website makes it easy to understand and meet those requirements so travelers can avoid last-minute problems.

The site provides information about taking pets from the United States to other countries and bringing pets into the United States, applying to the following pets: dogs, cats, birds, ferrets, rabbits, rodents, hedgehogs and tenrecs, reptiles, and amphibians. The address is www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/pet-travel.

From Sept. 1, 2016, JAVMA News

USDA proposes new rule to crack down on soring

The Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service announced proposed changes July 26 to strengthen enforcement of the Horse Protection Act. The goal is to end soring—the deliberate infliction of pain to exaggerate the gait of horses, thereby gaining an unfair advantage in the show ring—by placing USDA APHIS in charge of enforcing the law. The changes would also eliminate action devices, pads, and foreign substances that may be used to sore horses but are not currently prohibited. The AVMA and American Association of Equine Practitioners have previously called for these two actions.

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Soring can cause a horse to adapt a “standing in a bucket” stance or develop laminitis, among other long-lasting effects. (Courtesy of USDA)

Citation: American Journal of Veterinary Research 77, 10; 10.2460/ajvr.77.10.1048

The HPA, a federal law passed in 1970, prohibits horses subjected to soring from participating in shows, sales, exhibitions, or auctions. The HPA also prohibits drivers from transporting sored horses to or from any of these events. APHIS works with the Tennessee Walking Horse, Racking Horse, and Spotted Saddle Horse industries to protect against such abuse and to ensure that only sound and healthy horses participate in shows.

Currently, horse show managers can voluntarily hire USDA-trained lay inspectors, known as designated qualified persons, chosen by certain horse industry organizations. The USDA also has its own veterinary medical officers who perform inspections at some venues, but they attend fewer than half of these events. The new rule would have the USDA train, license, and screen all horse inspectors.

The proposed rule was published in the July 26 Federal Register. To view the proposal and a summary of the major provisions, visit http://jav.ma/HPAamendments.

Condensed from Sept. 15, 2016, JAVMA News

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