JAVMA News Digest

When domestic violence arrives at the clinic door

Veterinarians and other practice staff members have the potential to play a lifesaving role in the prevention of and response to domestic violence. Although their primary responsibility is to the animal, they also have an opportunity to be both educators and witnesses.

In fact, veterinarians, veterinary technicians, and front-office staff have a unique advantage in ensuring successful prosecution of domestic violence perpetrators, according to Michele Laaksonen, PhD. She is executive director of Madeline's House, a nonprofit in Virginia that provides services for individuals and families experiencing domestic and sexual abuse. She gave a presentation at AVMA Convention 2018, July 13–17 in Denver, on domestic violence and how veterinary practices can address the issue.

Years ago, when Dr. Laaksonen was running a domestic violence shelter in New York, she helped create a task force on animal abuse. The task force looked at the inter-sectionality of pet abuse and various forms of domestic violence. One of the reasons the task force came about was because Dr. Laaksonen found that perpetrators of abuse weren't being convicted or even prosecuted, with a unique exception.

“Judges and juries do not like when Fido is hurt,” Dr. Laaksonen said. “While it's a little easier for people to question why a person didn't leave or acted the way they did, animals are innocent, and people get emotional when someone is cruel to an animal. Those cases often got the victim away from the perpetrator more successfully than a sexual assault case.”

Animal cruelty and protection laws can sometimes result in greater success in having cases go to court, as well. Felony animal cruelty provisions exist in all 50 states. And frequently there is a mandated psychology assessment and treatment for those convicted of pet abuse, although that's not necessarily the case for those convicted of domestic abuse.

With regard to preventing domestic violence in the first place, education has an important role. According to a 2017 JAVMA article (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2017;250:42–45), in an ideal world, staff members would receive formal training in recognizing and addressing domestic violence and animal abuse. Short of that, veterinary practices can take three approaches that could save human and animal lives by potentially reducing the amount of time women experiencing domestic violence delay in seeking help.

“Veterinarians and others could be of assistance in this area by helping to disseminate information about (intimate partner violence) and local resources that help victims and their pets, developing a relationship-centered care model, and establishing partnerships with local violence protection agencies,” the authors wrote.

Veterinarians also can prevent and address domestic violence by making screening a part of their everyday work. Dr. Laaksonen recommended starting with intake of new clients.

“If you do it later on, the victim might be defensive about being labeled a victim,” she said. “It's also nice to show evidence of behavior beforehand than just evidence of what's happening later” with regard to animal abuse.

Dr. Laaksonen recommends referencing the Power and Control Wheel when there is suspected abuse. The wheel is based on the Duluth Model, which is a program developed to reduce domestic violence against women. She said clinic staff could have the wheel handy and ask the client if any of the categories apply to her.

“When you ask, make sure it's face-to-face in a confidential space. Be direct and nonjudgmental. Give resources and referrals” to other agencies that can help, Dr. Laaksonen said.

In addition, she encourages veterinarians to reach out to domestic violence shelters to form a collaborative relationship. Veterinary professionals could train shelter staff on screenings for pet safety, putting together safety plans for pets, and how to spot signs of pet abuse.

Condensed from Sept. 15, 2018, JAVMA News

Pets to live in apartments at new domestic violence shelter

When a pet is part of a family shattered by domestic violence, the pet's life is in peril and the family faces yet another obstacle to survival.

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence cites research that found 71 percent of domestic violence victims said their abuser threatened, harmed, or killed their pet. Yet, only about 3 percent of domestic violence shelters accept pets. The result: 48 percent of the family members being victimized choose to remain in the abusive situation rather than escape without their pet.

The Urban Resource Institute in New York City has been providing services and shelter for domestic violence survivors since 1980. It created the People and Animals Living Safely program in 2012 as a safe place where survivors with pets could recover.

Since then, URI has adapted existing apartments in certain URI shelters to accommodate pets.

The planned October opening of a seven-story domestic violence shelter in Brooklyn called PALS Place represents a new benchmark. Every apartment and common space was designed and built specifically for family and pet co-living.


A rendering of the rooftop recreation space at PALS Place, an emergency domestic violence shelter in New York City that accepts pets and is scheduled to open this fall (Courtesy of Urban Resource Institute)

Citation: American Journal of Veterinary Research 79, 10; 10.2460/ajvr.79.10.1012

Nathaniel Fields, URI president and CEO, said, “PALS Place allowed us to really think about pets and how to design more intentionally. It will be the first of its size in the country where pets can live directly with victims of domestic violence.”

A 2015 URI white paper, available at https://jav.ma/DVwhitepaper, highlighted the steps a domestic violence shelter can take to become pet-friendly. When PALS Place opens this fall, URI plans to release a resource toolkit to further assist other shelters.

Condensed from Sept. 15, 2018, JAVMA News

Street medicine reaching pets of the homeless

Pets of the homeless and near homeless were the center of attention July 15 at AVMA Convention 2018 in Denver. These cherished companions received free medical care from veterinary volunteers outside the Colorado Convention Center.

The first AVMA Street Clinic was part of the new AVMA Cares program designed to give back to the local community. It was a partnership with The Street Dog Coalition, which launched the first street clinic in 2015 for pets of the indigent in Fort Collins, Colorado.


Dr. Cathlin Craver puts a flea-and-tick collar on a dog at the AVMA Street Clinic in Denver as part of his visit. Dr. Craver plans to start a street dog team in Grand Junction, Colorado, where she is a shelter veterinarian and works with the national nonprofit Target Zero, which mentors shelters on best practices. (Photo by R. Scott Nolen)

Citation: American Journal of Veterinary Research 79, 10; 10.2460/ajvr.79.10.1012

Street clinics, or pop-up clinics, offer services such as basic examinations, rabies and core vaccinations, parasite control, microchipping when requested, and treatment of minor skin, eye, and ear problems. Medication is dispensed when needed. The veterinary care relies heavily on clinical skills and resourcefulness rather than technology. Diagnostic tests range from simple blood tests to free-catch urine dipsticks to running an ECG on an iPhone.

The past few years have seen an expansion of the coalition's street clinics as well as the wellness clinics and emergency services provided by the national organization Pets of the Homeless.

With the AVMA clinic's successful debut in Denver, the Association plans to reprise the clinic at AVMA Convention 2019 in Washington, D.C.

Dr. Jon Geller, Street Dog Coalition founder, was on-site to oversee the AVMA Street Clinic. Two days earlier, at his convention session on street medicine, Dr. Geller had posed the question: Homeless pets and pets of the homeless—what is the difference? He said, “Home isn't necessarily a place. It's being with a loving person or family.”

Condensed from Sept. 1, 2018, JAVMA News

$2.8M grant to aid access to veterinary care

A nationwide initiative aims to help low-income pet owners gain access to veterinary care and has received nearly $3 million in funding to get started.

Dr. Michael Blackwell, director of the Program for Pet Health Equity at the University of Tennessee College of Social Work, announced the creation of AlignCare on July 13 during a session at AVMA Convention 2018 in Denver.

Then the university announced on July 30 that the college has received a $2.8 million grant from Maddie's Fund to support research and development for the proposed health care system.

AlignCare is a three-year project that will provide community-based financial support so selected families' pets can receive basic care from enrolled providers. Through social services, public health programs, and nonprofits, pet owners will be screened to identify those who need priority support because of the mental and emotional health aspects of the relationships they share with their pets and their economic need. Once these owners are identified, their information will be passed along to AlignCare.

Participants will pay a co-pay for provided veterinary services calculated on a sliding scale. A subsidy will then be paid by the AlignCare fund directly to enrolled providers, who deliver the services at a discounted rate. Funding is anticipated from private sources, including foundations, corporations, and individual donations.

Dr. Blackwell said this first year will involve building the framework, including developing policies and procedures, defining what services will be covered, creating a 501(c)(3), and getting other professionals on board.

Condensed from Sept. 15, 2018, JAVMA News

AVMA Convention had plenty to offer, from beginning to end

AVMA Convention 2018 had plenty new to offer this year, between a diversity and inclusion jam session; demonstrations in the exhibit hall on telehealth, augmented and virtual reality, and 3D printing; and even a street clinic for low-income and homeless pet owners.

The annual meeting exceeded expectations with a total of 9,154 attendees. That figure includes the most veterinarians in attendance ever, with over 4,900.

The convention took place July 13–17 in scenic Denver and offered over 1,000 CE sessions, with some of the most-attended sessions focused on dermatology, cardiology, and anesthesia.

One change this year by the AVMA Convention Management and Program Committee was to shift the schedule so that the first day would have sessions all day rather than half a day.


AVMA Convention 2018 had plenty to offer attendees, both in the way of education and entertainment. A brass band (pictured) opened the keynote speech by Shiza Shahid. (Photo by R. Scott Nolen)

Citation: American Journal of Veterinary Research 79, 10; 10.2460/ajvr.79.10.1012

Attendees responded and filled registration and CE sessions that day, which will mean further refinement for next year's convention, taking place Aug. 2–6, 2019, in Washington, D.C. The plan is to expand registration to the Thursday of convention and earlier that Friday. Convention organizers are also looking to prevent overflow sessions, potentially by livestreaming lectures so people can watch on their devices.

Attendees enjoyed this year's keynote address, “When Passion Meets Empowerment,” which was given by entrepreneur, investor, and women's rights advocate Shiza Shahid. The Meet the Experts roundtable and the poster sessions also had good feedback from attendees, who said they appreciated the chance to interact with speakers and researchers one on one, said Dr. Christine O'Rourke, chair of the CMPC.

Condensed from Sept. 1, 2018, JAVMA News

AVMA presents Excellence Awards

During AVMA Convention 2018 this past July in Denver, a number of individuals and groups received AVMA Excellence Awards for contributions in a wide variety of areas. The awardees are as follows:

  • • The AVMA Award—Dr. R. Wayne Randolph, a small animal practitioner of 44 years who has been involved in organized veterinary medicine throughout his career.

  • • AVMA Meritorious Service Award—Dr. Glen F. Hoffsis, who served as dean of the veterinary colleges at The Ohio State University, the University of Florida, and Lincoln Memorial University.

  • • Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year Award—Dr. Cynthia Otto, founder and executive director of the Penn Vet Working Dog Center at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine.

  • • AVMA Animal Welfare Award—Dr. T. Robert Bashara, chief financial officer of the Doris Day Animal Foundation.

  • • AVMA Humane Award—Amanda Arrington, founder and director of the Humane Society of the United States' Pets for Life program to address the needs of pets in poverty.

  • • AVMA Public Service Award—Dr. Candace A. Jacobs, a food safety consultant who previously worked for the Washington State Department of Agriculture and the Nebraska Department of Health.

  • • AVMA XIIth International Veterinary Congress Prize—Dr. David E. Swayne, director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Southeast Poultry Research Laboratory.

  • • AVMA President's Award—Veterinarians and nonveterinarians working in constituent allied and principal veterinary organizations of the AVMA House of Delegates; veterinary technicians, medical technologists, and all support personnel; and families of veterinarians.

Condensed from Sept. 1 and 15, 2018, JAVMA News

AVMA president works to raise veterinarians' profile

As the “worldwide standard of excellence in veterinary medicine,” the AVMA should be a household name, as well known as the American Medical Association or American Dental Association, said Dr. John de Jong, who plans to use his platform as AVMA president over the next year to make his vision a reality.

Dr. de Jong was installed as 2018–19 AVMA president July 17, the final day of AVMA Convention 2018 in Denver. Four days earlier, the small animal practitioner from Newton, Massachusetts, laid out his presidential agenda in a speech during the regular annual session of the AVMA House of Delegates, also in Denver.


Dr. John de Jong

Citation: American Journal of Veterinary Research 79, 10; 10.2460/ajvr.79.10.1012

“It is my desire to work with our dedicated and talented AVMA staff to optimize our visibility using every means possible—print media, social media, radio, and television. I will harness my energy and enthusiasm and love of veterinary medicine to do so,” said Dr. de Jong, who writes a weekly column for the Boston Herald called “Ask the Vet” and has participated in local talk radio for many years.

Dr. de Jong said the current and future financial picture for animal care in the United States is “outstanding,” yet veterinarians are not reaping the benefits they rightfully deserve. “It is time to collectively speak up, to take action, and reclaim what we deserve. It is time for veterinarians to earn better incomes and not always lag behind the rest of the health care professions in this regard,” he said.

Condensed from Sept. 1, 2018, JAVMA News

Education council schedules site visits

The AVMA Council on Education has scheduled site visits to five schools and colleges of veterinary medicine for the remainder of 2018. Comprehensive site visits are planned for Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine, Sept. 30-Oct. 4; Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, Oct. 14–18; University of California-Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, Oct. 28–Nov. 1; University of London Royal Veterinary College, Nov. 4–8; and Seoul National University in Seoul, South Korea, Dec. 9–14.

The council welcomes written comments on these plans or the programs to be evaluated. Comments should be addressed to Dr. Karen Martens Brandt, Director, Education and Research Division, AVMA, 1931 N. Meacham Road, Suite 100, Schaumburg, IL 60173. Comments must be signed by the person submitting them to be considered.

From Sept. 15, 2018, JAVMA News.

American College of Veterinary Anesthesia and Analgesia

The American College of Veterinary Anesthesia and Analgesia welcomed 16 new diplomates following its board certification examination that was held June 1–3 in Chicago. The new diplomates are as follows:

Molly Allen, Wauwatosa, Wisconsin

Barbara Ambros, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

Julie Balko, Raleigh, North Carolina

Lauren Duffey, Philadelphia

Kristen Fizzano, Houston

Jennie Haan, Ames, Iowa

Chiara Hampton, Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Ayako Oda, Raleigh, North Carolina

Diego Portela, Gainesville, Florida

Denise Radkey, Madison, Wisconsin

Rebecca Reader, Middletown, Connecticut

Hilary Shipley, Saint Paul, Minnesota

Alicia Skelding, Guelph, Ontario

Chris Smith, Knoxville, Tennessee

Melissa Smith, Athens, Georgia

Sharon Tenenbaum, Tallahassee, Florida

From Sept. 1, 2018, JAVMA News.

Delegates send Howe and Bransford to high office

The AVMA House of Delegates elected Drs. John Howe of Grand Rapids, Minnesota, and Grace Bransford of San Anselmo, California, as AVMA president-elect and vice president, respectively, during the regular annual session of the HOD, July 12–13 in Denver.

Dr. Howe completed his term as District VII representative on the AVMA Board of Directors this past July. He is a 1977 graduate of the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine, former owner of a multi-doctor mixed animal practice, and an aquatic veterinarian certified by the World Aquatic Veterinary Medical Association.

“A person does not get to this position by themselves. I've had a lot of people encourage me along the way,” Dr. Howe told delegates. “That's why I think it's very important that we encourage people to become active in state and national organized VMA.”

As vice president, Dr. Bransford will serve a two-year term as the Association's official liaison to the Student AVMA and its chapters. In addition, she is a voting member on the AVMA Board.

“Thank you for giving me this very special opportunity to serve the profession—and what better way than to serve the future of our profession, our students,” she said to the HOD.


Dr. John Howe

Citation: American Journal of Veterinary Research 79, 10; 10.2460/ajvr.79.10.1012

Veterinary medicine is a second career for Dr. Bransford, a 1998 graduate of the University of California-Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. She previously worked in advertising and now owns a small animal practice.


Dr. Grace Bransford

Citation: American Journal of Veterinary Research 79, 10; 10.2460/ajvr.79.10.1012

Condensed from Sept. 1, 2018, JAVMA News

American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine

The American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine certified 40 new diplomates following the certification examination it held July 1 in Bethesda, Maryland. The new diplomates are as follows:

Brianne Ball, Ames, Iowa

Grace Barnett, New Brunswick, New Jersey

Jennifer Booth, Hershey, Pennsylvania

Jessica Buchta, Silver Spring, Maryland

Alicia Cawlfield, Silver Spring, Maryland

Sarah Clark, Hershey, Pennsylvania

Cassandra Cullin, Beaverton, Oregon

Cecilia Dyer, Philadelphia

Suhrim Fisher, Cleveland

Abbas Fotovati, Vancouver, British Columbia

Logan France, Baltimore

Andrew Gorman, New York

Jennifer Hubbard, Minneapolis

Glenn Jackson, Ithaca, New York

Christopher Janssen, Houston

Kimberly Jen, Wilmington, Massachusetts

Eleanor Karlsson, San Francisco

Andrew Kocsis, Boston

Jennifer Kopanke, Fort Collins, Colorado

Scott Korte, Columbia, Missouri

Mila Kundu, New Brunswick, New Jersey

Jennifer Kylie, Mattawan, Michigan

Michael Lammey, Alomogordo, New Mexico

Melissa Nashat, New York

Samantha Peneyra, New York

Kristina Pugh, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland

Julita Ramirez-Komo, Seattle

Cara Reiter, Bethesda, Maryland

Kathleen Scott, Ames, Iowa

Gregory Simonek, Davis, California

Briony Smith, College Station, Texas

Jimmie Paul Spurlock, Worcester, Massachusetts

Rachelle Stammen, Atlanta

Ryan Stoffel, Houston

Joseph Sullivan, Madison, Wisconsin

Jody Swain, Houston

Cassandra Tansey, Atlanta

Chelsea Wallace, Philadelphia

Chuanwu Wang, Wilmington, Massachusetts

Morika Williams, Raleigh, North Carolina

From Sept. 15, 2018, JAVMA News.

  • A rendering of the rooftop recreation space at PALS Place, an emergency domestic violence shelter in New York City that accepts pets and is scheduled to open this fall (Courtesy of Urban Resource Institute)

  • Dr. Cathlin Craver puts a flea-and-tick collar on a dog at the AVMA Street Clinic in Denver as part of his visit. Dr. Craver plans to start a street dog team in Grand Junction, Colorado, where she is a shelter veterinarian and works with the national nonprofit Target Zero, which mentors shelters on best practices. (Photo by R. Scott Nolen)

  • AVMA Convention 2018 had plenty to offer attendees, both in the way of education and entertainment. A brass band (pictured) opened the keynote speech by Shiza Shahid. (Photo by R. Scott Nolen)

  • Dr. John de Jong

  • Dr. John Howe

  • Dr. Grace Bransford