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Speaking different languages

Foreign veterinary school accreditation stirs debate

The Universidad Nacional Autonoma de México Facultad de Medicina Veterinaria y Zootecnia has pursued an important goal for nearly 15 years: AVMA Council on Education accreditation (see page 1033).

The Mexico City-based veterinary school has made great strides in that time, but as of the council's most recent meeting, has apparently not yet reached its goal.

Meanwhile, a handful of U.S. veterinarians have criticized the council for even considering granting the school accreditation. This unprecedented backlash, however, hasn't set well with supporters of international accreditation by the COE.

“Anybody who's anybody”

Like many other foreign veterinary schools, UNAM operates differently from its U.S. and Canadian counterparts.

Veterinary students enter the university following high school and complete a five-year program. (Certain other COE-accredited programs, such as those at Murdoch University in Australia and the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, are similarly structured.)

Mexican students pay a nominal fee to attend UNAM, which relies heavily on federal funding. (This is similar to the situation for Massey University in New Zealand and the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands, where tuition fees for domestic students are subsidized entirely or partly by the government.)

UNAM does take an uncommon approach with its admissions. Dr. Carlos F. Rodriguez, an associate at Tulare Veterinary Hospital in Tulare, Calif., and a 1993 graduate of the veterinary school, explained.

“A lot of people get accepted, but few walk away with a degree,” Dr. Rodriguez said. Typically hundreds of students enter a class each year, but a sizeable percentage do not graduate. “It does have a good filter system. It's just a different way of doing things.”

Dr. Rodriguez emphasized that “anybody who's anybody” in Latin America studies at UNAM, because it is considered one of the premier schools in that region—if not the best.

“I think it's getting better, but when I went there, we were behind the times compared to U.S. schools,” he said. “With the basic sciences like pathology, immunology, and all the stuff that comes from books—it is a top-notch kind of education. But when it comes to putting everything in practice, I believe it lacked a lot. But that was more than 15 years ago. Lots of money has been going into developing those areas as far as training students.”

UNAM is currently accredited by Mexico's National Council of Education for Veterinary Medicine and Zootechnics, or CONEVET. Sixteen veterinary schools are accredited by the organization, which also certifies veterinarians. The school first expressed interest in COE accreditation in 1996, a year after CONEVET was formed.

Dr. George H. Cardinet Jr. is a former COE member who served on the council from 1997–2004. He served on site visits to schools and colleges in Australia, France, and Mexico during his term. Dr. Cardinet also participated as an observer on three CONEVET veterinary school accreditation reviews and an unofficial visit to UNAM; his last visit was in 2003. He echoed Dr. Rodriguez's assessment that the veterinary school continues to improve.

“(UNAM has) many facilities that are not significantly different than what you would find at an average veterinary school in the states, such as laboratories and lecture halls, as well as the rudiments of a clinical facility,” Dr. Cardinet said.

He said he didn't have sufficient time to get a good sense of the clinical program but that at the time, it appeared it wasn't at the same level as U.S. colleges with regard to caseload.

“I've heard secondhand they've improved their clinical facilities and program with monies granted by Banfield and the like, so that my comments that date back to things in 2003 may not reflect the situation today,” he said.

Building a foundation

Banfield, The Pet Hospital, has aided UNAM's efforts to comply with COE standards in the area of small animal medicine.

The Portland, Ore.-based small animal veterinary hospital network built a full-service, 12,000-square-foot small animal teaching hospital on the school's campus, completed in 2005. The primary care facility is designed to handle a high volume of patients and offer 24-hour care. It has nine examination rooms, an in-house laboratory, and a large surgical suite.

Banfield also funded the renovation of UNAM's teaching hospital, which was developed into a specialty hospital, and a language laboratory for the school's students to learn English as a second language.

John Payne, CEO of Banfield and former president of Bayer Animal Health North America, said Banfield's interest in helping UNAM dates back to when he first met the school's dean, Dr. Francisco Trigo Travera, in 1996. (Dr. Trigo declined to comment for this article.)

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(Courtesy of Banfield)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 236, 10; 10.2460/javma.236.10.1030

“I had a very favorable impression of what Dr. Trigo wanted to accomplish, and I strongly recommended to Banfield at that particular time that they get involved and help UNAM get accredited, and so that's how it all came about,” Payne said.

He continued, “Obviously our board was very interested in expanding our practice in the United States and also in Canada and Mexico. Of course, Canada has very adverse laws that prohibit, in a lot of instances, our type of practice, but Mexico does not, and we wanted to expand in Mexico, and so the first natural thought was, ‘Well, let's help UNAM with a facility.’”

Banfield's dedication to cultural and ethnic diversity also made the decision a natural one. Its veterinary hospitals are staffed by veterinarians from well over 100 veterinary schools.

Payne cited the ever-increasing Latin American population in the United States but the continuously low enrollment of Spanish-speaking students in U.S. veterinary schools as a real problem that can't be resolved without serious work.

Payne applauded the AVMA for “not being protectionist, but reaching out to the world and saying we believe we have the highest standards in veterinary medicine and we'd be happy for you to meet those standards and be accredited. I think that's a fantastic goal.”

Differences of opinion

Graduates of COE-accredited foreign veterinary schools who wish to practice in the United States are generally not required to go through the AVMA Educational Commission for Foreign Veterinary Graduates program or the American Association of Veterinary State Boards' Program for the Assessment of Veterinary Education Equivalence. However, they still must pass national and state licensing examinations and must adhere to all U.S. immigration laws.

Yet, not everyone agrees accreditation of UNAM would be a good idea.

Dr. Paul D. Pion is president and co-founder of the Veterinary Information Network, a Web site dedicated to the veterinary profession. On the site, specifically VIN's message boards, Dr. Pion and others have lambasted the COE for considering UNAM for accreditation.

In an interview with JAVMA, Dr. Pion explained that although he hasn't yet visited UNAM, he's been told by colleagues who have lectured at the institution's veterinary school that it's unrealistic to expect UNAM graduates on the whole to be equivalent to U.S. veterinary school graduates in the field of small animal medicine.

He is concerned that AVMA-COE accreditation, “backed by millions of dollars from Banfield, is meant to encourage UNAM students to pursue a career in small animal medicine in Banfield clinics” in the United States.

“If I believed this would raise the level of small animal practice in Mexico or increase opportunities at home for our colleagues in Mexico, I'd not be as concerned,” Dr. Pion said. “But it is not possible to find employment practicing high-quality small animal medicine there, other than in a very small number of practices serving the very wealthy or tourists.”

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(Courtesy of Banfield)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 236, 10; 10.2460/javma.236.10.1030

Consequently, he predicts that UNAM graduates wishing to pursue small animal medicine of the standard that is practiced in the United States would be encouraged to emigrate here with the help of Banfield, which needs personnel to staff its growing practices.

“AVMA accreditation makes choosing to cross the border much easier. And in today's job market, if (UNAM graduates) come here to work for Banfield, they're basically indentured servants, because they will need that job to stay in this country. In addition, they don't have the debt our kids have. That creates an unlevel playing field.”

Payne countered that Banfield has had no problem hiring quality veterinarians.

Dr. Pion's comments haven't been limited to UNAM. Tuskegee University officials circulated to its alumni a remark made by Dr. Pion in late January that, with regard to the COE standards of accreditation, “Tuskegee would never pass if truly held to the standard (I've never been there, so can't speak from personal experience).”

Dr. Tsegaye Habtemariam, dean of the Tuskegee School of Veterinary Medicine, said, “When I read his statement, I was surprised and deeply disappointed, because it was basically untrue and an exaggeration and misinformation at best.”

Tuskegee veterinary graduates have excelled in many areas of the profession, Dean Habtemariam said, from academia to government to private industry.

“I do not know Dr. Pion or what his motivations are, but I know the outcome of his statement. It indicates he is a closed-minded person who is not in the 21st century, and he does not see what I consider are the underpinnings of the profession, which are ethical and moral activities,” Dean Habtemariam said.

Dr. Ruby L. Perry, associate dean for academic affairs at the Tuskegee veterinary school, was equally dismayed.

“When you make third-party statements, it can be very damaging, especially in an area where it's been read by such a large audience. People take that information to be true. It just fosters miscommunication and shows ignorance of the roles of the Department of Education and the COE,” Dr. Perry said.

Global perspective

The AVMA and COE also haven't taken Dr. Pion and his followers' criticism lightly.

The AVMA Executive Board will focus on the topic of foreign veterinary school accreditation during strategic discussions at its June 10–12 meeting at Association headquarters.

In addition, the board plans to vote on a recommendation to reaffirm the AVMA's existing policy that states the Association will accept a leadership role in international veterinary medicine.

The AVMA Committee on International Veterinary Affairs submitted the recommendation, which was supported by the COE at its spring meeting.

In the recommendation's background, the CIVA responded to Dr. Pion's accusations that, among other things, accreditation of UNAM has the potential to negatively impact the U.S. veterinary profession, in part, according to Dr. Pion, because of a perception that educational standards would be lowered and veterinary jobs would be lost to foreign-educated veterinarians willing to work for lower salaries.

“The CIVA believes that it is beyond the purview of an accrediting entity to withhold the opportunity for accreditation based on an unknown potential negative economic impact on any given profession. So doing appears to the CIVA to be unethical and unfair,” according to the background.

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(Courtesy of Banfield)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 236, 10; 10.2460/javma.236.10.1030

The recommendation's background also notes “that regardless of where a veterinary school is located, the COE applies the same 11 standards of accreditation and assesses each school's compliance with those standards in the same manner. Moreover, all accreditation decisions are made by the COE alone, with no influence from other AVMA entities, including the Executive Board and House of Delegates, or outside entity.”

Dr. Cardinet said in his time on the council, there were external influences relevant to issues the council made decisions on; however, as a council member, he felt quite shielded from that.

“It may have been going on at other levels, but I felt the group of people whom I was working with were independent, free-thinking, and motivated to apply the accreditation standards as they understood them, and acted accordingly,” Dr. Cardinet added. “I wasn't aware of folks operating under the influence of external forces. I didn't feel anyone was telling me what to do or encouraging me to do something.”

Back then, the council generally felt it was worthwhile to consider accrediting foreign veterinary schools, Dr. Cardinet said, in that it could open an equal opportunity to U.S. graduates as well as foreign graduates to practice where they'd like.

“It would seem to me that the yardstick for Mexico shouldn't be any different from Lyon or Melbourne or on our other border with Canada … we have accreditation standards that need to be applied equally and equitably. Not everyone will agree,” he said.

On several fronts, there have been various attempts to create common international standards for veterinary education, and the AVMA is a key player in those efforts. One such effort is being led by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), which is hoping to create minimum global standards for veterinary education (see JAVMA, April 1, 2010, page 712).

AVMA CEO W. Ron DeHaven said, “Ultimately, we can either let these efforts evolve on their own and potentially be subject to international standards created by others, or we can work to establish AVMA-COE accreditation as the gold standard for others to strive to attain.”

—Malinda Larkin

Mexican veterinary school appealing COE decision

A Mexican veterinary school is appealing an adverse decision made by the AVMA Council on Education at its Feb. 28–March 2 meeting in Schaumburg, Ill.

Word of the appeal came within the required 30 days after the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de México Facultad de Medicina Veterinaria y Zootecnia had been notified of the council's decision.

Accreditation decisions are confidential until they become final; however, an appeal is considered a matter of public record.

An appeal by a foreign veterinary school not already accredited by the COE can be interpreted two ways: the school was either denied initial accreditation and is petitioning for reconsideration or was granted limited accreditation and is petitioning for full.

Now that UNAM is petitioning for review, the school has 60 days from when it was notified of the adverse decision to submit information supporting its petition, according to the council's accreditation policies and procedures.

Meanwhile, the AVMA Executive Board will appoint a panel that will hold a hearing on the matter within 120 days after receipt of information supporting the petition.

The last time a veterinary school or college appealed a COE decision was in 2000, when the Western University of Health Sciences filed an appeal.

For more information on the appeals process, visit www.avma.org/education/cvea/coe_appeal_decisions.asp.

UNAM first expressed interest in COE accreditation in 1996. Since then it has been working to bring the school up to COE standards.

In spring 2006, the COE made a consultative site visit to Mexico City, and, afterward, laid out recommendations for UNAM to implement to work toward accreditation. The school sent a video more than a year later for the COE to view showcasing the completion of curriculum and facilities upgrades designed to meet conditions cited by COE officials in the 2006 consultative site visit report.

Additional interim reports provided by UNAM and reviewed by the COE resulted in the council granting a request from the college for a comprehensive site visit, which occurred in November 2009.

—Malinda Larkin

Past is prologue

For more than 60 years, the AVMA Council on Education has accredited foreign veterinary schools and colleges. They now constitute a third of all COE-accredited schools, with most located in the United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada.

The Faculteit der Diergeneeskunde, Rijksuniversiteit te Utrecht in the Netherlands was the first veterinary school outside the United States and Canada to receive COE accreditation, in 1973.

By the mid-90s, the growing international demand for COE accreditation required additional staff, volunteer time, and expertise. The council recognized that an assessment was needed to address the impact on the domestic accreditation process and educational standards in general.

The COE and the AVMA Executive Board also believed the potential impact of a further increase in international accreditation activities had not yet been fully understood. So in July 1997, the COE suspended consideration of any new applications for evaluation and approval of veterinary schools outside the United States and Canada.

The council spent a year discussing its role in international accreditation. In April 1998, the COE submitted three recommendations to the board that were subsequently approved:

  • • Establish a task force to study the approval process for veterinary colleges outside the United States and Canada charged with discussing AVMA's future roles and responsibilities with regard to enhancing the educational process.

  • • Modify the “Approval of Veterinary Colleges Outside the United States and Canada” as it appeared in the then-current COE Polices and Procedures Manual to introduce full cost recovery for accreditation expenses and for site visit and annual administrative fees.

  • • Send a COE member to participate in a 1998 meeting at the Center for Quality Assurance in International Education titled “The Foundations of Globalization in Higher Education and the Professions” to ensure the council stayed fully informed on issues impacting professional education.

The Task Force on Foreign Veterinary Medical Education had two recommendations for the board in April 1999: Resume accepting applications for approval from veterinary colleges outside the United States and Canada, and accept an AVMA leadership role in international veterinary medicine. These were also approved.

In the background for the recommendations, the task force reasoned that the council had established mechanisms for full cost recovery associated with international accreditation and that resumption of the approval process is “consistent with trade agreements, which call for mutually acceptable objective criteria for recognition.”

Also, the task force believed that global economics, expansion in the trade of animals and animal products, and the continuing emergence and spread of diseases without respect for national borders mandated an increased role for the AVMA and its members on the international veterinary scene.

Following these board actions, the COE developed enhanced policies and procedures for international accreditation in accordance with the best practices of the Council on Higher Education Accreditation, Association of Specialized and Professional Accreditors, and other U.S. Department of Education-recognized accrediting agencies that conduct international accreditation activities. These policies and procedures remain in place today.

—Malinda Larkin

AVMA Council on Education accreditation

What agencies certify the AVMA Council on Education to establish its authority and legitimacy?

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Dr. David E. Granstrom, director of the AVMA Education and Research Division, responds:

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 236, 10; 10.2460/javma.236.10.1030

The council has been continuously recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and the Council on Higher Education Accreditation for more than 50 years. Recognition by the USDE and CHEA obligate the COE to follow strict guidelines specifically designed to provide assurance that appropriate standards of accreditation have been developed and are being applied fairly and uniformly to all colleges seeking accreditation.

The COE is a member of the Association of Specialized and Professional Accreditors, which serves to advance the knowledge, skills, good practices, and ethical commitments of accreditors. The council adheres to the ASPA's Code of Good Practice.

What's the nature of the AVMA's relationship with the COE?

USDE recognition provides assurance that accreditation decisions are independent of the AVMA and not influenced by partner organizations or recognized affiliates. The council submitted extensive evidence demonstrating compliance with USDE guidelines during the recognition renewal process in 2006. The relationship is completely transparent. Any attempt to provide false or misleading information to the USDE or CHEA would be unethical and irresponsible.

Would you elaborate on aspects of the COE accreditation process that sometimes give rise to misconceptions?

The COE is dedicated to its mission, which includes assuring the public that accredited programs provide a quality veterinary education, protecting the rights of students, and assisting schools in improving veterinary education. Council members are dedicated to continuous improvement of the accreditation process. The United States and Canada continue to be world leaders in veterinary medical education, largely thanks to the diligent efforts of the COE and its predecessors at the AVMA for over 100 years.

The guidelines published in the COE's Accreditation Policies and Procedures (available at www.avma.org/education/cvea/coe_pp.asp) are followed with great care throughout the accreditation process. Council members spend hundreds of hours annually gathering, validating, and studying information related to the accreditation of veterinary colleges and schools. The council, which includes a balance of private practitioners and academic veterinarians as well as three public members, weighs all the evidence and thoughtfully applies the standards of accreditation in accordance with the provisions of the COE manual. Consistent application of the standards is a primary concern; however, the interpretation and application of the standards is a dynamic process. The standards of accreditation are reviewed regularly and updated with input gathered from across the profession.

The COE believes that accrediting veterinary colleges outside the United States and Canada supports and encourages higher standards for veterinary medical education worldwide, thus improving animal and human health globally. The desire of these foreign veterinary colleges for input and program evaluation by the COE recognizes the high standards of veterinary education in the U.S. and Canada and the substantial role the council plays in setting the standard for international veterinary education.

Such schools are required to meet the same standards of accreditation as U.S. and Canadian schools, without exception. The council attempts to acknowledge social, cultural, and educational diversity in a fair and equitable manner, but program quality, as measured by the standards, is non-negotiable. Graduates of all COE-accredited veterinary colleges are expected to be firmly based in the fundamental principles, scientific knowledge, and physical and mental skills of veterinary medicine.

The COE does not solicit foreign applications and charges only enough to cover expenses. The council does not generate income for the AVMA and accepts no sponsorship from outside entities. Initial or continued accreditation of a veterinary school outside the United States or Canada is contingent on the licensing body in the country recognizing that graduates of COE-accredited veterinary schools in the United States and Canada have met the same educational standards as graduates of the COE-accredited veterinary school in that country. The licensing body must confer licenses to graduates of COE-accredited U.S. and Canadian veterinary schools by a process that is no more difficult than the process required for graduates of the COE-accredited veterinary school in that country.

—Interview by Malinda Larkin

FDA allows propofol imports to address short supply

The Food and Drug Administration is temporarily allowing APP Pharmaceuticals to import an unapproved propofol 1 percent product to help address a shortage of the anesthetic agent.

APP previously received FDA approval, late last year, to import and distribute Fresenius Propoven 1% after recalls of propofol injection by other U.S. manufacturers—Hospira and Teva Animal Health. The FDA reinstated permission for APP to import Fresenius Propoven 1% following continuing supply issues with other U.S. manufacturers.

APP's parent company, Fresenius Kabi of Germany, manufactures Fresenius Propoven 1% in FDA-compliant facilities.

APP, with FDA agreement, is temporarily introducing Fresenius Propoven 1% in a 20-mL glass ampule. Health care providers should use a 5 micron filter when withdrawing the product from the glass ampule. APP is shipping a Becton Dickinson 5 micron blunt filter needle with each 20-mL glass ampule of Fresenius Propoven 1%.

Fresenius Propoven 1% is also available in 20-mL, 50-mL, and 100-mL vials. APP will continue to offer its own brand-name propofol 1% product, Diprivan, and increase the supply of its generic product.

Additional information and a Q&A about the propofol shortage and Fresenius Propoven 1% are available from the FDA at www.fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety/DrugShortages by clicking on “Current Drug Shortages” and scrolling down to the propofol entry.

Health care providers may contact APP Customer Service by calling (888) 386-1300 or contact APP Medical Information by calling (800) 551-7176 or e-mailing appmedicalinfo@APPpharma.com.

Merial closer to restoring full supply of Immiticide

Merial has found an alternative source for the active ingredient in Immiticide, a treatment for canine heartworm disease, in a step toward returning to a full supply of the product.

Immiticide is in short supply because the active ingredient, melarsomine dihydrochloride, is no longer available from the only U.S. source of the compound (see JAVMA, Feb. 1, 2010, page 260). Merial is seeking approval from the Food and Drug Administration to obtain melarsomine dihydrochloride from a manufacturer that already produces the compound for the European and international markets.

In the meantime, the FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine is allowing Merial to distribute Immiticide containing melarsomine dihydrochloride from the alternative manufacturer directly to veterinarians with an immediate need to treat a dog with heartworm disease. Veterinarians who wish to purchase the product can call Merial Technical Solutions at (888) 637-4251, option 1.

Carlson wants to inspire as AVMA president-elect

Would bring years of leadership experience to job

Dr. René A. Carlson has been involved in AVMA leadership for several years, having represented Wisconsin in the House of Delegates for eight years and serving two terms as AVMA vice president. She currently represents private clinical practice on the AVMA Council on Education.

So it's no surprise the small animal practice owner from Chetek, Wis., and former Wisconsin VMA president is now seeking the Association's highest office. If elected—she is currently running unopposed—Dr. Carlson would be only the third woman in the AVMA's 147-year history to be president.

JAVMA News recently spoke with Dr. Carlson about her vision for the AVMA and the challenges and opportunities facing the veterinary profession.

Why are you running for president-elect?

I chose to run for AVMA president-elect because I have broad and extensive volunteer experience with AVMA that would contribute to leadership at a time when we have several challenges facing veterinary medicine. In addition, we have a general membership of almost 50 percent women and a veterinary medical student population of nearly 80 percent women, with relatively few women in high leadership positions. If I can inspire more women and more underrepresented minorities to become actively involved at these levels, it will be rewarding for them personally in their veterinary medical careers and benefit AVMA and our profession as well.

What skills do you bring to the job?

I am a positive person with what has been called an infectious enthusiasm for AVMA and our profession. I am a person who thinks about the future, who likes planning for the years ahead so we can continue to position this profession favorably for service to animals and society rather than let the dice fall where they may. I am a team player, willing to advocate for the overall cause unless it is in direct conflict with my personal beliefs. My previous experiences as Wisconsin VMA president, AVMA delegate, American Veterinary Medical Foundation board member, AVMA vice president, and AVMA Executive Board member; on a variety of task forces; and currently as a member of the Council on Education give me a lengthy résumé to bring to this position.

What would you hope to accomplish during your term?

I don't have a specific agenda that will become my legacy in one to two years' time, but rather, I look forward to having input at Executive Board strategic planning sessions. Our current critical issues are economic viability, veterinary education, veterinary workforce, animal welfare, and veterinary services. They are being reviewed with input from our membership. I am particularly interested in helping shape the future of veterinary medical education so that it meets the needs of a local and global society at a cost that rewards our profession and does not burden it. I intend to support efforts to keep the AVMA-COE-accredited college degree the envy of the world. I look forward to the recommendations from the (North American Veterinary Medical Education Consortium) with hopes for a collaborative effort to effect educational change for our future.

For a long time, veterinary medicine was a male-dominated profession. Today, more women than men are veterinarians, and data suggest the profession will continue attracting more women than men. What are your thoughts on this?

There are more women in the workplace in general than 30 years ago, so this has contributed to the influx of women into veterinary medicine. However, I believe a more equal balance between men and women would be healthier for our profession, our service to society, and the AVMA. It is well-documented that women still earn less compensation than men do for equal work. I believe we must improve the financial profile of our members to sustain a healthy, diverse, and balanced applicant pool and workforce. That means cutting educational costs, improving loan forgiveness programs and remuneration, re-evaluating the models by which we educate, and continuing to increase compensation with increased services, compliance, and fee structures to match the value of our services.

Earlier this year, the House of Delegates approved a membership dues increase for 2011. The Executive Board is considering asking delegates to approve an annual dues increase of up to $5. Would you support this latest measure?

The dues of an organization should be determined based on the operating costs of the organization, the cost of delivery of programs beneficial to the members for their success, and future plans and programs in alignment with the strategic goals of the organization. I would support an annual incremental increase of dues for the same reason I implement increases in fees regularly to match rising costs in my practice—although, if a regular dues increase were discussed, I would suggest a clause stating that if reserves reach a certain level of the operating budget, say 150 percent, then the annual dues increase would be reviewed and, possibly, waived for the coming year.

The AVMA is in the process of evaluating its veterinary student programs. As a former vice president, do you feel the Association's student outreach efforts benefit students and the AVMA?

Yes. The AVMA gives tremendous support to the student population through the Student AVMA, student participation on councils and committees, the AVMA convention, and legislative advocacy programs. Support of the AVMA Veterinary Leadership Experience has inspired hundreds of veterinary students and faculty representatives in planning a more collegial orientation and environment at their individual veterinary colleges. However, AVMA currently has appointed a Task Force on AVMA Programs for Students and Recent Graduates to reassess ways to more fully engage our veterinary students and recent graduates so they become and stay AVMA members, participate as leaders for our profession, and help them develop their veterinary careers.

You attended the first meeting of the North American Veterinary Medical Education Consortium this past February. What do you think about that initiative?

I support the concept of NAVMEC. Veterinary medical colleges and students have major challenges with the high cost of maintaining clinical resources (animals) for teaching veterinary medical students, keeping highly qualified faculty in academic positions, and the ever-increasing tuition to support those costs with decreasing state appropriations to the colleges. It is time we look at some sharing of resources among colleges and look at new models for instruction that might be more cost-effective. We need to reassess veterinary medical education so that we remain cutting edge, relevant to a global society, and economically sound in the training of veterinarians for decades to come.

There is controversy over whether the AVMA Council on Education should be accrediting foreign veterinary colleges. How do you see this issue?

I understand the concerns some members have expressed with the AVMA Council on Education consulting with and evaluating foreign school veterinary medical programs for accreditation. Let me say it is always a challenge to balance the needs and concerns of our members with the importance of continuing our involvement and influence in global veterinary medicine. The purpose of evaluating foreign schools is to encourage and support high standards of veterinary medical education and practice. The AVMA Council on Education is considered the gold standard in the world for veterinary medical school accreditation, and with that mantle comes a responsibility to help other programs achieve great heights. As the world becomes smaller, with rapid and extensive travel and the potential for more infectious and zoonotic disease outbreaks, it is to our benefit to raise the bar of veterinary medicine everywhere. However, the COE may reconsider its role of consultation to foreign veterinary schools regarding AVMA accreditation, as it can be difficult to manage the roles of consultation and accreditation simultaneously. The AVMA COE's primary responsibility is accreditation.

Animal welfare, political advocacy, and food safety are areas in which the AVMA has stepped up its efforts in recent years. Are there other areas in which you'd like to see the Association increase its focus?

I see the rising cost of a veterinary medical education in comparison to the compensation as a major threat to our profession's future. We need to continue to look at a comprehensive strategy to help bring these numbers in better balance.

The AVMA needs to take a stronger lead in consistent messages to our state VMAs on issues to help the grassroots membership become more visible and vocal on all veterinary-related topics. We need more veterinarians to be confident and active with local advocacy, public speaking, and media relations. Unless a person is directly involved in leadership, many DVMs don't get those training opportunities.

We must continue our efforts to strengthen our profession's ethnic diversity.

Finally, as we become more specialized in advanced care, there seems to be a developing difference of opinion between the level of care given by generalists and by specialists. We need to remember we are all veterinarians, all proud of our profession and our work, all dedicated to helping animals and the people who care for them, and all part of this veterinary medical family. Generalists play a vital role in caring for the whole animal in cooperation with specialists.

What challenges and opportunities is the veterinary profession facing?

The challenges continue to be a higher than desired educational debt-to-compensation ratio, legislative bills that affect veterinary medicine and practice, inadequate funds to support new research and discovery, the unbalanced gender demographics, lack of ethnic diversity, and not having enough veterinarians choose careers in food production areas. We continue to work on strategies to improve those situations.

Our opportunities continue to be high credibility with and respect from the public. We have more tools available to us from veterinary partners to provide high-quality patient care and management. The human-animal bond continues to strengthen. We have both the medical knowledge and the emotional dedication to reduce animal suffering and improve animal and human health. We just have to get that message out there sooner rather than later. It is up to all of us to become more visible and vocal as the animal health experts.

—Interview by R. Scott Nolen

VP candidate would stress AVMA commitment to students

Strother is passionate about veterinary students, understands their struggles

Dr. Jan K. Strother wants to help shape the future of veterinary medicine, which is why she's running—unchallenged—for AVMA vice president. In that capacity, she would spend two years as the AVMA liaison to the Student AVMA and student chapters and as a voting member of the AVMA Executive Board.

The founder and hospital director of a Hartselle, Ala., companion and exotic animal practice believes that, given the diverse career paths available to veterinary students, there's never been a more exciting time to be a part of the profession.

JAVMA News recently spoke with Dr. Strother about why she wants to be the AVMA vice president and about the Association's relationship with veterinary students.

Why are you running for vice president?

I am running as a candidate for AVMA vice president because this position encompasses communication and outreach opportunities to students and veterinary schools that I am passionate about.

I believe there has never been a more exciting time to become a part of the veterinary profession. The possibilities and opportunities for students to strategically plan their career paths are now very diverse. The future for our students today is based not only on societal needs for veterinary medicine in clinical practice and academia but also on public health and environmental needs.

AVMA currently has numerous successful student programs in place and has maintained a sound strategy to engage student member involvement with our Association, leading to a high conversion rate of graduating students to AVMA membership. The recently approved and appointed Task Force on AVMA Programs for Students and Recent Graduates is a continuing step in the AVMA commitment to develop a strategic plan and bridge for the Association's involvement with veterinary students.

AVMA has long recognized that membership of our students and recent graduates is the essential key in the development of the future leaders of our profession.

What skills do you bring to the job?

Most of my career has been devoted to clinical practice and volunteer leadership. My volunteer leadership includes community, state, and national VMA experiences. Serving as president of the Alabama Veterinary Medical Association taught me organizational skills, patience, the ability to really listen to others' ideas and concerns, to problem solve, and, most important, to bring value and satisfaction to volunteer experiences.

I was honored to be elected to the (former) AVMA Council on Public Relations and served for six years. I have been privileged to serve in the AVMA House of Delegates as alternate delegate from Alabama since 2002. These experiences have provided me with a wealth of valuable reasons to continue my volunteer opportunities with AVMA. Combined with business skills gleaned from owning and running a multidoctor companion animal/avian/exotic practice, I truly hope that I can serve as a valuable resource to those students who will step into future AVMA leadership roles.

What would you hope to accomplish during your two-year term?

I hope I can continue to promote the relevancy and necessity of organized veterinary medicine to our veterinary student population. I look forward to the findings of the new Task Force on AVMA Programs for Students and Recent Graduates and to the implementation of that strategic plan.

I want to continue to promote the opportunities for student participation in AVMA activities, including many of the new social media conversations provided by AVMA. Social media is about interaction and information gathering, which are two areas that students are very interested in. Communicating information through AVMA blogs, Facebook activity, Flickr and Twitter networking, YouTube, AVMAtv, and NOAH encourages interaction and instant connection to the veterinary community. Social networking is an integral part of many student communications and will make AVMA more personal, more approachable, and more relevant to this audience. It will also provide ever-increasing value to our Association by promoting advocacy, grassroots support, insight generation, and informal market research.

The AVMA is in the process of evaluating its veterinary student programs through the task force you cited. Do you feel the Association's student outreach efforts benefit students and the AVMA?

The many students that I have spoken with do feel that AVMA student outreach is extremely important.

Current AVMA programs include student chapters at all U.S. veterinary schools, a national student organization—SAVMA, annual school visits by the AVMA vice president and staff, sponsorship of the annual student symposium, student externships, scholarships, and the AVMA Veterinary Leadership Experience. Student members currently have access to most AVMA member benefits as well as free advance registration to the AVMA Annual Convention. Students are represented in the AVMA House of Delegates and are invited to sit at the table at Executive Board meetings as nonvoting members. The AVMA student membership rate is currently 94.2 percent. The conversion rate of graduating students to AVMA membership for 2009 is 96.3 percent. Clearly, the AVMA leadership recognizes the value of student mentorship and involvement with our future members and leaders.

It's been said veterinary student debt load has reached a crisis level. Do you see it that way? What can be done?

It has been said that veterinary student debt is increasing about four times as fast as veterinary salaries are. Although the cost of education is only one part of the student debt crisis, it cannot and should not be ignored. This problem of debt versus salaries will eventually become unsustainable and will likely shrink the pool of college applicants.

Many stakeholders are looking at this complex situation, including the North American Veterinary Medical Education Consortium. This group of more than 100 representatives from many venues of veterinary medicine is hoping to reshape veterinary education into a more responsive and flexible system that will graduate veterinarians who will satisfy the dynamic, changing needs of society, including areas of the food supply, public health, and biomedical research. The ideas generated by NAVMEC and others will hopefully lead to implementation of a more efficient veterinary education process and broader opportunities for veterinary services.

Besides a massive debt load, what other challenges do recent grads face?

Veterinary students and graduates face a number of complex challenges. Developing strategic road maps for their evolving careers is often at the top of the list. Learning and developing business and communication skills are essential in every aspect of veterinary medicine. Budgeting time for careers as well as family life can be a daunting balancing act. The pressures of a full-time veterinary career, family responsibilities, church, and community obligations can create real stress for graduates and their families. The need for wellness training and learning how to deal with everyday stresses are also common challenges for many recent grads.

Why do veterinary students and recent grads need to be part of the AVMA?

Becoming a part of the AVMA is one of the most important and career-enhancing decisions that a student or recent graduate can make. Currently, our Association represents over 80,000 veterinarians working in private and corporate practice, government, industry, academia, research, and the uniformed services. AVMA is member-driven and structured to work for its membership. AVMA today serves as a collective voice for its membership and for the veterinary profession.

You're a Tuskegee graduate. Why did you attend this historic black college, and what did it teach you about diversity?

I am a 1986 graduate of Tuskegee School of Veterinary Medicine. It was an honor and privilege to be a part of the Tuskegee family. This college is rich in history, tradition, and a legacy of diversity. The small class size in school encouraged friendship, curiosity, and exchange of ideas. Having an opportunity to explore each other's differences also allowed students to discover how much we had in common. Encouraging real diversity in the veterinary profession is a moral and ethical responsibility. I believe that the AVMA is committed to this premise. Today's veterinary students and recent graduates will play a major role in making this happen.

Today, more women than men are veterinarians, and it would appear the profession will continue attracting more women than men. What do you think about this trend?

The role of an ever-increasing number of women in veterinary medicine is an evolving story. Male enrollment in U.S. veterinary schools made up approximately 22 percent of students for 2008–2009. National trends in many health professions also show female students in the majority. There are various economic, social, and cultural reasons why women have taken the lead in previously male-dominated professions. The conversations about this trend continue to produce various opinions and ideas about how the future of our profession may be influenced by this gender shift.

The House of Delegates recently approved a membership dues increase for 2011. The Executive Board is considering asking the HOD to approve an annual dues increase of up to $5. As an HOD member, how would you vote for this latest measure?

The House of Delegates recently approved a dues increase of $50 for regular AVMA members beginning in 2011. The AVMA last increased dues in 2004. Many of us within the veterinary population have increased our own professional service fees substantially since 2004. The last several years have been tough economically on many members and on the AVMA as well. This much-needed dues increase will ensure that our Association can continue to provide services, address professional issues, and remain financially sound. The proposal from the Executive Board for HOD approval of a $5 annual increase sounds like a reasonable request and great value for the money, considering the quality and quantity of services provided by the AVMA.

—Interview by R. Scott Nolen

Convention-goers can reciprocate Southern hospitality

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Volunteers work on a beautification project at a Seattle animal shelter during the second AVMF “Our Oath in Action” Voluntourism Project, in 2009.

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 236, 10; 10.2460/javma.236.10.1030

This year's AVMA Annual Convention will offer more opportunities for conventiongoers to explore the local community. Attendees, their families, and the public can volunteer, get some exercise, or enjoy an Atlanta landmark through the AVMA and American Veterinary Medical Foundation “Convention to Community” events.

“Convention to Community” serves as the umbrella initiative for three events that promote the missions of both organizations.

The third annual AVMF “Our Oath in Action” Voluntourism Project will once again have volunteers work on animal shelter rehabilitation projects. A variety of tasks will be available to meet each volunteer's particular shelter interests. By mid-April, more than 50 people had signed up, with plenty of spots still available. This one-day event is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, July 31.

On Sunday, Aug. 1, the 5K walk/run will kick off at 7:30 a.m. The course will take participants through historic Olympic Centennial Park, and the event will include a warm-up and brief awards program. Prizes will go to the top three finishers in four age groups for men and women. Proceeds from the event will be shared among Atlanta animal shelters yet to be named and the AVMF's animal rescue programs.

On Sunday evening the Foundation, in conjunction with the Auxiliary to the AVMA, will host its regular fundraising event, at the renowned Georgia Aquarium. The aquarium is home to more than 100,000 aquatic animals of 500 species, including beluga whales, penguins, and whale sharks. This private event will begin at 7 p.m. with hors d'oeuvres and beverages, and the chance to explore the world's largest aquarium. Tickets are $50 each, and proceeds will support AVMF programs and activities.

Anyone interested in the voluntourism project, 5K walk/run, or aquarium event can register via AVMA convention registration at www.avmaconvention.org.

In addition, the Foundation will host estate planning workshops for the second year. In 2009 more than 400 individuals attended sessions presented by financial and legal professionals. The initial workshop is geared for those beginning to create an estate plan and will be held Saturday and Monday. Sessions for those who attended previous workshops will be held Sunday and Tuesday. All sessions will take place from noon to 12:50 p.m. Preregistration for the estate planning workshops is not required.

More information on these events is available in the AVMA Convention Preview or by contacting Cindy Rutkowski at crutkowski@avma.org (voluntourism project), Jodie Taggett at jtaggett@avma.org (5K event), Lora Vitek at lvitek@avma.org (fundraising event), or Michael Cathey at mcathey@avma.org (estate planning workshops).

—Malinda Larkin

Charities, pets to benefit from awareness campaign

An online survey is giving seven worthy charities, including the American Veterinary Medical Foundation, a chance to win $25,000 to benefit pets.

Novartis Animal Health is sponsoring the Million Dog Search campaign to raise awareness of canine osteoarthritis.

At the campaign's Web site, www.milliondogsearch.com, participants complete a five-question checklist to learn some of the signs of arthritis and find out whether their dogs are at risk. An e-mail address is requested at the end.

Every person who fills out the survey has a chance to choose one of seven charities, among them the AVMF, to receive a $1 donation from Novartis.

The campaign began April 1 and runs through Nov. 30.

Each charity that reaches 5,000 checklists/supporters will receive $5,000.

The organization with the most checklists completed at the end will receive an additional $20,000.

Canine osteoarthritis affects 14 million dogs every year, but only 1.4 million dogs are currently receiving treatment, according to the site.

New tool to help students find externships

A student externship locator is now available from the AVMA.

Using the tool, which became available April 7, students can browse listings by state, college or university, interest area, and sponsoring organization.

Dr. Patricia L. Wohlferth-Bethke, assistant director of the AVMA Membership and Field Services Division, said students and AVMA volunteer leaders had requested a way to easily find externship opportunities, particularly because some veterinary colleges require externship participation.

“Finding adequate, quality positions has been difficult in the past, and this locator is a way to make the search easier,” Dr. Wohlferth-Bethke said.

To use the student externship locator, go to www.avma.org/vcc/ and click on either the “Student Externship Locator” box on the right side of the screen or the link on the left side.

Clarification

An article in the April 15, 2010, issue of JAVMA indicated incorrectly that veterinarians who are currently accredited by the Department of Agriculture would be required to participate in education modules if they allow their accreditation to expire under the existing system, which ends Aug. 2. At press time, the USDA was still developing protocols for veterinarians who allow their existing accreditation to expire. Under the new tiered system, veterinarians will need to meet supplemental training and renewal requirements beginning in the next three to five years.

AAHA COVERAGE: AAHA conference spans spectrum from Puppy Bowl to 9/11

Meeting features AAHA advertising campaign, speaker who survived terrorist attacks

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The AAHA commercials on Animal Planet feature these dog and cat characters as well as Dr. Elisa M. Mazzaferro, director of emergency services at Wheat Ridge Animal Hospital in Wheat Ridge, Colo. (Courtesy of Animal Planet)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 236, 10; 10.2460/javma.236.10.1030

Millions of TV viewers who watched Animal Planet's Puppy Bowl this year learned an acronym already familiar to veterinarians: AAHA.

Serving as a sponsor and advertiser for Puppy Bowl VI, the American Animal Hospital Association kicked off the public phase of a campaign promoting the AAHA accreditation program for veterinary practices.

Leaders of AAHA touted the campaign during the association's 77th annual meeting, March 18–21 in Long Beach, Calif. The conference also highlighted other AAHA initiatives, such as the release of standardized diagnostic terms and development of new guidelines on subjects ranging from diabetes to nutritional assessment.

During the meeting, Dr. Gregg K. Takashima assumed the office of president (see profile, page 1046). The association honored three individuals with awards, designated the first AAHA-Accredited Practice of the Year, and recognized the first three practices to achieve 75 years of accreditation (see page 1056).

The general session featured a riveting account by a blind man whose guide dog helped lead him out of the World Trade Center during the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Educational programming covered not only technical topics but also managerial matters, including a number of sessions that delved into the economic state of small animal practice (see page 1044).

AAHA initiatives

Dr. John D. Tait, outgoing president, began the “AAHA Takes Action” session by describing progress on the AAHA Accreditation Awareness Campaign. The association unveiled the $1 million campaign last year. Most of the funds came from the sale of the AAHA MarketLink supply outlet to MWI Veterinary Supply.

The association's advertisements on Animal Planet—addressing pain management, parasite control, wellness, and nutrition—will run more than 3,000 times and make more than 130 million impressions.

“Part of our goal in getting this awareness out to clients and potential clients is to drive them to our HealthyPet.com Web site,” Dr. Tait said.

The site, which AAHA redesigned in January, offers information for pet owners on subjects such as animal care and AAHA-accredited hospitals.

Dr. Michael R. Moyer, AAHA president-elect, said the association has committed to spend any increase in revenues from the AAHA Preferred Business Provider Program on campaign funding.

Dr. Takashima, the new AAHA president, announced the availability of standardized diagnostic codes for electronic health records in small animal practices. Volunteers spent years developing the diagnostic codes and mapping them to the Systematized Nomenclature of Medicine.

“[SNOMED] is arguably the most comprehensive clinical vocabulary in the world, in any language,” he said. “We wanted to create the most robust standard terms.”

The AAHA board voted to release the standardized diagnostic codes for free to vendors that supply software for small animal practices.

Dr. Takashima also highlighted the new AAHA Universal Pet Microchip Lookup Tool at www.petmicrochiplookup.org. The tool helps match a pet's microchip number with the registry containing the owner's information.

Dr. G. Timothy Lee, AAHA secretary-treasurer, spoke about several new guidelines for veterinary care that are now available or under development.

Earlier this year, the American Association of Feline Practitioners and AAHA published the AAFP-AAHA Feline Life Stage Guidelines in their journals. Also this year, AAHA is releasing the AAHA Diabetes Mellitus Guidelines for Dogs and Cats and the AAHA Nutritional Assessment Guidelines for Dogs and Cats.

In addition, AAHA is updating its guidelines on canine vaccines.

9/11 with a guide dog

Michael Hingson, keynote speaker for the AAHA meeting, held up his relationship with guide dogs and his experience surviving 9/11 as lessons in teamwork.

Blind since birth, Hingson has had seven guide dogs. On Sept. 11, 2001, accompanied by his guide dog Roselle, he was working on the 78th floor of Tower 1 of the World Trade Center as a sales manager for a company that made data backup systems for disaster recovery.

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Michael Hingson, keynote speaker at the AAHA meeting, describes how guide dog Roselle, now retired, helped lead him out of the World Trade Center during the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 236, 10; 10.2460/javma.236.10.1030

Hingson and a colleague were preparing for a presentation when they heard a distant explosion and felt the building shudder. The building tipped about 20 feet in one direction, before coming back upright, but then dropped about 6 feet.

Hingson's colleague, looking outside, saw fire and smoke. Hingson could hear pieces of paper falling past the windows. Roselle, who had come out of Hingson's office, remained calm, so Hingson believed they could evacuate safely. His colleague escorted guests to the stairway, and Hingson called his wife to tell her what little he knew.

Hingson, his colleague, and Roselle headed down the stairs with another group of people. They moved aside for other people helping burn victims to evacuate.

“Soon after the second person passed us, we realized how bad it had to truly be above us. A woman near us on the stairs stopped, and she said, ‘I can't go on. I can't breathe. We're not going to make it,'” Hingson said. “We all stopped—there were about seven of us—and we just all turned and faced her and had a group hug. We just touched her, surrounded her, and said, ‘Look, we're in this together. Come on, you can do it.' She was able to continue down the stairs.”

Then Hingson's colleague despaired. Hingson snapped that if he and Roselle could go down the stairs, so could the colleague. The colleague rallied, and he went ahead to call out that the way remained clear. Hingson focused on reassuring Roselle so she wouldn't respond to the fear around her.

The group eventually escaped from the building. Only after both towers collapsed did Hingson manage to reach his wife again by phone, and she explained that terrorists had crashed planes into the towers.

Educational programming

After the general session, the AAHA conference offered several days of educational programming on multiple tracks.

Electronic health records were the focus of one of the management tracks. Dr. Tina S. Neel, chief of staff at Neel Veterinary Hospital in Oklahoma City, and Scott Buchanan, her son and practice coordinator, delivered three presentations regarding electronic records and electronic communications.

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Attendees at the recent conference of the American Animal Hospital Association, March 18–21 in Long Beach, Calif., enjoy a break between sessions outside in the sunshine.

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 236, 10; 10.2460/javma.236.10.1030

In a session on Web sites, Dr. Neel emphasized the importance of practices developing a user-friendly Web site for new and existing clients.

“In veterinary practices across the country, I've seen a couple of really good Web sites,” Buchanan said. “But by and large, there's a lot that either don't exist or they're impossible to find or they don't provide a lot of good information for the customer.”

Dr. Neel said her hospital's Web site offers information about services and procedures. Buchanan added that the site includes options to contact the hospital and make payments.

Nutrition and dentistry were among the topics of the numerous tracks for veterinary technicians during the AAHA meeting.

Dr. Joseph W. Bartges, a professor of medicine and nutrition at the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine, gave several presentations for the veterinary technicians' nutrition track. He concluded by discussing obesity management for dogs and cats.

“It is and should be a team effort,” Dr. Bartges said. “It involves getting the owners convinced and convincing yourself to treat this as a disease.”

Veterinary technicians can help explain the benefits of weight reduction to clients, he said.

Dr. Bartges recommended that obesity management for dogs and cats include conducting regular weigh-ins, feeding special diets rather than simply less food, feeding meals instead of allowing free access to food, minimizing but not eliminating treats, and increasing exercise.

Vickie Byard, president of the Academy of Veterinary Dental Technicians, gave presentations on various aspects of dentistry and concluded with a talk about how to develop a thriving dental program.

Byard said cost is not the primary reason that clients don't schedule dental appointments for their pets. Often, no one makes the recommendation for a dental appointment, the client doesn't see the importance of dental care, the practice doesn't send a reminder, or the client fears the effects of anesthesia on the pet.

To educate clients about dental care as well as anesthesia, Byard now offers seminars at her practice.

“We have a wonderful time. It's an hour and a half with my clients—guess what?, now they know me,” Byard said. “And it bonds them to the practice.”

Recordings of many of the sessions from the AAHA conference, including Byard's presentations and the “AAHA Takes Action” session, are available for purchase at www.prolibraries.com/aaha.

—Katie Burns

by the numbers

AAHA

Conference: 3,340 attendees—including 1,058 veterinarians, 170 veterinary technicians, and 131 veterinary students and veterinary technician students

Membership: about 3,200 AAHA-accredited hospitals and almost 2,400 nonaccredited hospitals comprising more than 45,000 individual AAHA members

The economic state of small animal practice

Speakers at AAHA meeting address recession, mergers, layoffs, profit margins

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Attendees at the recent AAHA meeting discuss staffing issues during the session on “Workforce Strategies for Challenging Times.”

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 236, 10; 10.2460/javma.236.10.1030

During the recent recession, small animal practice as a whole has survived rather than thrived.

Revenues increased 1.4 percent overall from 2008 to 2009 in a sample of 2,012 practices, according to a new report from the American Animal Hospital Association.

The first AAHA State of the Industry Report was the subject of an address by the association's new executive director, Dr. Michael T. Cavanaugh, during the recent AAHA meeting. Many other conference sessions tackled topics relevant to the current economics of small animal practice—including consolidation, downsizing, and profit margins.

State of the industry

“The companion animal veterinary practice community is not recession-proof but for the most part has not been as severely impacted by the economic downturn as have other sectors of the economy,” according to the AAHA report.

The report, appearing March 23 in the online version of the association's Trends magazine, draws on a study of practices across the continental United States. The authors are Dr. John W. Albers, who recently retired as AAHA executive director and started a consulting company, and Dr. Cavanaugh.

Of the practices in the study, 68 percent had an increase in revenues from 2008 to 2009, but 32 percent had a decrease. The average transaction charge for all practices increased 0.8 percent, to $109.20. As for patient visits, 51 percent of practices had an increase and 49 percent had a decrease.

The study found, furthermore, that many dog and cat owners have not been purchasing a full year's supply of heartworm preventives or flea and tick products.

“There are clearly two opportunities to provide increased levels of care and to grow revenue: patient visits and compliance,” Drs. Albers and Cavanaugh write. “As the economy improves, practices need to be positioned to urge clients to return for the care that may have been missed during the past year or two.”

The authors add that the pet patients in the study included more than twice as many dogs as cats.

“Even modest increases in the number of feline patient visits would add substantially to the companion animal practice economy,” Drs. Albers and Cavanaugh write.

The authors note that AAHA anticipates producing the State of the Industry Report on an annual basis.

Too many practices?

During the AAHA meeting, a four-member panel made a case in favor of consolidation of neighboring small animal practices.

Dr. Thomas R. Kendall, director of Arden Animal Hospital in Sacramento, Calif., described how he merged two practices with his own and built a new clinic to house the conglomeration. Dr. Hal H. Taylor Jr. of Healthy Pets of Ohio, a Columbus-area group of four hospitals, recounted how he expanded his father's practice by building new clinics that share computer systems and business staff.

Dr. Richard A. Goebel of Simmons Veterinary Practice Sales and Appraisals said the United States has about 20,000 small animal practices, and about 40 percent are solo practices. Solo practices can be efficient and profitable, he said, but many of them do not make enough profit to be valuable on the market when the owner wants to sell.

“When I think about consolidation, I think about efficiencies that come in two ways. One is really the efficiency of systems, and that's things like Hal has done,” Dr. Goebel said. “And then the other is the concept that Tom was talking about, and that is merging two practices under one roof. The efficiencies that you realize there, they can be dramatic.”

Philip R. Homsey II, JD, who represents veterinarians in practice sales, believes that the veterinary industry has 40 percent too much capacity in the number of practices. He also thinks that fewer new veterinary graduates want to become practice owners.

Similarly, Dr. Kendall has found that many veterinary students are seeking a position at a practice with multiple veterinarians—partly to have the option of working part time.

Practice management

“Workforce Strategies for Challenging Times” was the topic of another session at the AAHA meeting. The speaker was Marla Bradley, chief executive officer of Bradley/Lambert, a provider of corporate training.

Bradley said veterinary medicine has not escaped from layoffs and hiring freezes during the current economic downturn. She said communication is key to downsizing strategies as well as plans for growth.

“It's almost impossible to over-communicate during times of change,” she said. “Yet, what do we do? We often communicate less because we're busy, because maybe we're uncomfortable with some of those discussions that we need to have, maybe we don't like some of the messages we have to put out.”

During layoffs, Bradley advised being clear about why the practice has to downsize and how remaining employees will fit into the new organization.

Profitability was the focus of a presentation by Dr. Karen E. Felsted, CEO of the National Commission on Veterinary Economic Issues.

Dr. Felsted noted that the NCVEI and VetPartners, an association of practice consultants, recently have developed a profitability estimator for practices, available on the NCVEI Web site at www.ncvei.org.

“Increased profit margin is going to give you increased cash flow to invest in your practice to practice better medicine, to do the things that you want to do personally, and ultimately it's going to drive practice value,” she said. “Most owners don't have any idea what their profit margin is, and many of them are unhappily surprised when they find out. But this is a very correctible condition.”

Dr. Felsted emphasized the importance of increased productivity and thriftiness as ways to address revenue and expense problems, instead of simply increasing fees.

Along with the profitability estimator, the NCVEI Web site offers a variety of benchmarking tools and communications aids for practices—plus an economy tracker to help measure the impact of the recession on veterinary medicine.

—Katie Burns

AAHA COVERAGE: Takashima seeks to advance profession

AAHA president promotes practice team, human-animal bond, global collaboration

Dr. Gregg K. Takashima learned about the American Animal Hospital Association because of its accreditation program for veterinary practices, but he joined because of its overall commitment to quality in small animal medicine.

The new AAHA president, owner of Parkway Veterinary Hospital in Lake Oswego, Ore., said the association's leaders want to push the veterinary profession forward on all fronts to improve animal care at the local and global levels.

President's profile

Dr. Takashima always knew he liked working with animals, large and small, but he started out in oceanography rather than veterinary medicine.

After earning a bachelor's degree in biology from Oregon State University, he entered a graduate program in marine ecology at San Diego State University. He conducted research at SeaWorld and Scripps Institute of Oceanography. Soon, though, he found that he missed working with people.

For a while, he worked for a veterinarian for free, cleaning kennels. He became a veterinary technician and then a supervisor. Eventually he attended the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine, graduating in 1983.

Dr. Takashima spent time as an associate veterinarian in Brainard, Minn., and as a relief veterinarian in the Portland area before opening his practice near Portland in 1986. The solo practice grew into an eight-veterinarian operation.

Since joining AAHA, Dr. Takashima has served on committees relevant to the practice team as well as hospital accreditation. He has served on the board since 2005, becoming an officer in 2008.

Dr. Takashima also has been active in other organizations. He has been president of the Portland VMA, board president of the Dove Lewis Memorial Emergency and Critical Care Animal Hospital, chair of the Portland Community College Advisory Board, and board chair of the Delta Society for the improvement of human health through service and therapy animals. He currently serves as a board member for the American Association of Human-Animal Bond Veterinarians.

“This is a profession that I've grown to think is one of the best professions there is, and I want to take care of it,” he said. “To do that, you need to take part and have a voice—and a constructive voice.”

Dr. Takashima is the current U.S. delegate to the World Small Animal Veterinary Association. Just as AAHA seeks to improve small animal medicine in North America, he said, WSAVA seeks to improve small animal medicine around the globe. The two associations have partnered on projects such as adapting AAHA guidelines for other regions, Dr. Takashima said.

“Through collaboration, we can effect positive change more than we could by ourselves,” he said.

As AAHA president, Dr. Takashima plans to promote the importance of the practice team and the value of veterinary professionals as caretakers of the human-animal bond. Within the association, he will be seeking more input and participation by members.

Dr. Takashima also hopes to increase the involvement of veterinary students and recent graduates in AAHA. The association has created a special Web site for students at http://student.aahanet.org with sections for career planning, financial planning, life balance, and other resources. This year, the annual meeting featured a daylong session for recent graduates, “Career Launch Pad: Empowering Performance & Satisfaction.”

Regarding animal welfare, Dr. Takashima said, AAHA recently recommissioned its Animal Ethics and Welfare Committee to revisit all of its existing position statements. The next step is to scan current issues in animal welfare to determine which are relevant to small animal veterinarians in North America.

For the future, Dr. Takashima said, the profession should re-examine the model of small animal practice. He said the practices that will survive—especially in this economy—are those that can respond to changes in demographics, technology, lifestyles, and how society views animals.

Other officers

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Dr. Michael R. Moyer

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 236, 10; 10.2460/javma.236.10.1030

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Dr. Mark Russak

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 236, 10; 10.2460/javma.236.10.1030

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Dr. G. Timothy Lee

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 236, 10; 10.2460/javma.236.10.1030

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Dr. John D. Tait

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 236, 10; 10.2460/javma.236.10.1030

Joining Dr. Takashima as AAHA officers are Drs. Michael R. Moyer, Bensalem, Pa., president-elect; Mark Russak, Starkville, Miss., vice president; G. Timothy Lee, Anderson, Ind., secretary-treasurer; and John D. Tait, Guelph, Ontario, immediate past president.

Dr. Larry R. Corry, AVMA president and AAHA member, offered comments at the recent AAHA meeting. He began by remarking on the economic challenges facing small animal practice.

“I would suggest that you consider this a golden opportunity to reassess your practice situation,” he said. “This is going to take a team approach. Just as every member of your hospital is part of a team, I want you to look at the AVMA as being part of your team.”

Dr. Corry said the AVMA advocates for legislation benefiting veterinarians and small businesses, conducts research on subjects such as pet demographics and consumer attitudes, and participates in the National Commission on Veterinary Economic Issues to provide financial benchmarking tools for practices.

—Katie Burns

For veterinarians, Iditarod is all about the sled dogs

Veterinarians' involvement in race includes competing and conducting research

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Dr. Tamara L. Rose of Fairbanks, Alaska, drives her sled in the ceremonial start of the Iditarod, which helps raise money by allowing the public to bid on rides. Riding in the sled bag is Dr. Jocelyn Mott, a veterinary internist from California who won the spot through a lottery by the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine Foundation. Driving the second sled is Dr. Sarah B. Love, a veterinary internist from Fairbanks.

Courtesy of Julie Guth-Schwab

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 236, 10; 10.2460/javma.236.10.1030

The Iditarod is one of the world's greatest endurance races. Each March, teams of sled dogs and their mushers set out to trek more than 1,000 miles through the Alaskan backcountry.

This year, not for the first time, a veterinarian was among the competitors. At the start and finish was a veterinarian who has led studies to improve sled dog and human health. Along the trail, as usual, several dozen veterinarians examined and tended to the immediate medical needs of the sled dogs.

The Iditarod commemorates a1925 relay by sled dogs and mushers to deliver diphtheria antitoxin to Nome to prevent an epidemic. The race also serves another purpose: maintaining the tradition of mushing.

The musher

Dr. Tamara L. Rose moved from California to Alaska about five years ago, and a friend soon introduced her to mushing.

“It was just an instant attraction—I love dogs, I love the outdoors,” said Dr. Rose, a mobile solo practitioner out of Fairbanks.

She said racing sled dogs is an adventure for her rather than a serious competition. She keeps 19 dogs in her kennel, including some that have retired, and she also has borrowed a few young dogs that a friend wanted her to train.

Dr. Rose is in her third year of racing. She started with shorter races to work up to the Iditarod this year, completing about three times as many qualifying races as she needed.

The ups and downs of racing the Iditarod still weren't what she anticipated, however. The trail was easier than she expected, but dog management was more difficult.

The trail groomers had paid particular attention to the route through a treacherous river gorge, she said, and enough snow had fallen to provide extra traction so sleds did not fall into the river. The route was rougher in an area full of tussocks where less snow had fallen.

For the most part, the weather was clear and cold—down to 40°F below zero. The problem came when the temperature rose. Then Dr. Rose had to stop often to prevent the sled dogs from overheating, allowing them to roll around in the snow. Mostly, Dr. Rose and her team alternated between six-hour runs and six- to eight-hour rest stops at checkpoints or along the trail.

Dr. Rose began the race with 16 dogs, seven of which were forward leaders. Trail veterinarians examined the dogs whenever the team stopped at one of the checkpoints, and Dr. Rose dropped dogs that had pulled muscles or sustained other minor injuries from competition.

“It's up to the individual how much we dote on them,” Dr. Rose said. “I'm probably a little more cautious than some mushers.”

Dr. Rose dropped seven dogs along the way, including two leaders. By the end, four more leaders did not want to lead, although they continued to run enthusiastically.

Twelve days after starting the Iditarod, Dr. Rose crossed the finish line with nine dogs. Her team was 43rd out of the 55 teams that completed the race. Only one of her leaders was left, Hailey.

“You couldn't do this with regular dogs,” she said. “They're bred to go, and to want to go, and they're bred to have this athleticism that's just amazing.”

The researcher

Dr. Michael S. Davis has been studying sled dogs for years at the Iditarod and elsewhere. His recent research has focused on trying to understand sled dogs' endurance and helping prevent the gastric ulcers that exercise induces in them.

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Dogs that mushers dropped from the Iditarod await a ride back to Anchorage by bush plane. Mushers will drop dogs from the race for reasons such as orthopedic injuries, diarrhea, and pneumonia.

Courtesy of Dr. Caroline H. Griffitts

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 236, 10; 10.2460/javma.236.10.1030

“It was identified pretty early on that gastric ulcers were about the most serious health concern that these dogs had,” said Dr. Davis, director of the Comparative Exercise Physiology Laboratory at the Oklahoma State University Center for Veterinary Health Sciences.

Dr. Davis and other researchers recently developed a practical medication scheme that appears to be effective at preventing the ulcers. They published a report in the March/April 2010 issue of the Journal of Internal Veterinary Medicine, but the editors allowed them to release the information to the mushing community before the 2009–2010 racing season.

Neither the Yukon Quest nor the Iditarod, the 1,000-mile-plus sled dog races, had any dog deaths due to gastric ulcers this year. One dog died during the Yukon Quest of silent cardiac disease, but no dogs died during the Iditarod for the first time in memory.

The researchers might never determine the causes of the gastric ulcers, Dr. Davis said, because they decided preventing the problem was more important.

“The other work that we've been doing is trying to break down and unlock the metabolism secrets of sled dogs, basically how they manage to run as hard and as long and as far as they do without getting totally fatigued,” Dr. Davis said.

Most recently, the Diabetes Action Research and Education Foundation has provided funding for a study of the insulin sensitivity of sled dogs under various training conditions. Dr. Davis believes that sled dogs can run the way they do because they have an effective way of oxidizing fat for energy.

At the Iditarod this year, Dr. Davis also measured electrolyte concentrations and body water content of sled dogs before and after the race.

Trail veterinarian

Dr. Caroline H. Griffitts began volunteering as an Iditarod trail veterinarian in 1993, and she was among the first members when the International Sled Dog VMA formed in 1994. Now she is ISDVMA president and three-time winner of the Golden Stethoscope award for most helpful Iditarod veterinarian.

Dr. Griffitts keeps volunteering at races mostly because she really enjoys working with sled dogs.

“The sled dogs are definitely different,” said Dr. Griffitts, a mobile solo practitioner in Loveland, Colo. “They're very easy dogs to work with. They're generally extremely nice-tempered.”

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Dr. Caroline H. Griffitts, a longtime volunteer veterinarian for the Iditarod, examines a dog during the race. Dr. Griffitts won the Golden Stethoscope award for most helpful Iditarod veterinarian for the third time this year.

Courtesy of Dr. Caroline H. Griffitts

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 236, 10; 10.2460/javma.236.10.1030

Dr. Griffitts enjoys the Iditarod in particular because the race allows her to see the beautiful backcountry of Alaska and to visit friends she has made at the villages along the trail.

During the Iditarod, groups of three to four veterinarians cover the checkpoints, some of which are simply a cabin or ghost town. Once the last musher passes through a checkpoint, the veterinarians there fly to a checkpoint ahead of the first musher.

At each checkpoint, the veterinarians set up shifts. Because the dogs run day and night, the teams can arrive at any time.

“Ideally, when a team comes into the checkpoint, we watch as the dogs run in—look for anybody who is obviously limping, holding back, not pulling, any issues,” Dr. Griffitts said. “Obviously, if we see the musher is carrying a dog in the sled bag, we might have an injured dog.”

The mushers don't stop at every checkpoint, but the veterinarians examine each dog whenever teams do stop. The veterinarians also care for the dogs that the mushers drop from the race for reasons such as orthopedic injuries, diarrhea, and pneumonia.

Aside from the Iditarod, Dr. Griffitts has been a trail veterinarian for a number of other races. She is chief veterinarian for a race in Wyoming. She also has visited Russia for the past two years to help with a new race there that is organized by an orphanage that keeps sled dogs.

Dr. Griffitts said she's seen many changes in the veterinary care of sled dogs since she began volunteering at races.

The ISDVMA has worked to promote research and share findings regarding the health of sled dogs. Research has found, for example, that sled dogs need about 10,000 or more calories per day while racing. Also according to research, vitamin E supplementation helps prevent myopathy in sled dogs.

Since the late ′90s, the ISDVMA has organized a mandatory training seminar for rookie trail veterinarians during the week before the Iditarod. The seminar includes a day of hands-on training that includes pre-race physical examinations.

Dr. Griffitts said veterinarians who would like to volunteer for the Iditarod must have clinical experience and need to have graduated from veterinary college at least five years earlier. Information is available at www.iditarod.com/learn/vetcenter.html. Information about the ISDVMA's 2010 symposium, Sept. 30–Oct. 4 in Duluth, Minn., is at www.isdvma.org/events.html.

—Katie Burns

Data emerging on racetrack injuries

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(Courtesy of Horsephotos.com/NTRA)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 236, 10; 10.2460/javma.236.10.1030

The first information released by The Jockey Club from the new Equine Injury Database showed 2.04 horse deaths per 1,000 starts.

The statistic comes from a preliminary analysis of a year's worth of data beginning Nov. 1, 2008, for 378,864 total starts in Thoroughbred flat races at 73 racetracks participating in the database.

Although The Jockey Club did not release the actual number of deaths, the figure of 2.04 deaths per 1,000 starts suggests that there were about 773 horse deaths, or an average of nearly 15 fatal injuries a week.

The March 23 announcement marks the first time an accurate national statistic on racing injuries has been made available.

The Equine Injury Database grew out of a need identified at the first Welfare and Safety of the Racehorse Summit in Lexington, Ky., in October 2006 (see JAVMA, Dec. 1, 2006, page 1705).

Industry professionals gathered to develop an action plan to improve the well-being and safety of racehorses. One of their recommendations was to develop a standard method for reporting the nature of on-track injuries.

A pilot program began in June 2007 with more than 30 racetracks implementing a uniform, on-track equine injury reporting system (see JAVMA, July 15, 2007, page 190). The system was developed Dr. Mary Scollay-Ward, who was a veterinarian at Calder Race Course and Gulfstream Park, both in Florida. More than 3,000 injury reports were received and recorded in about a year's time.

The goal of the injury reporting pilot project was threefold: to record the frequency, type, and outcome of racing injuries in a standardized format that would allow generation of valid composite statistics; to develop a centralized epidemiologic database that could be used to identify markers for horses at increased risk of injury; and to serve as a data source for research directed at improving safety and preventing injuries.

The official launch of the Equine Injury Database followed in July 2008. During the first year, about 120 participating tracks ran Thoroughbred flat races, with 17 of those conducting 20 or fewer days of racing.

For the current year, 81 tracks and the National Steeplechase Association are participating, representing 86 percent of the flat racing days in North America. A list of racetracks participating in the Equine Injury Database can be found at www.jockeyclub.com/initiatives.asp.

An agreement with the participating racetracks allows The Jockey Club to occasionally publish certain summary statistics from the Equine Injury Database, but it will not provide statistics that identify specific participants, including racetracks or horses.

The Jockey Club, through two of its for-profit subsidiary companies, InCompass and The Jockey Club Technology Services, has underwritten the cost to develop and operate the database as a service to the industry.

The analysis was performed by Dr. Tim Parkin, a veterinarian and epidemiologist from the University of Glasgow, who serves as a consultant on the project. Dr. Parkin is scheduled to discuss and report on additional analyses of, and insights from, the database during the third Welfare and Safety of the Racehorse Summit at Keeneland, Ky., June 28–29.

—Malinda Larkin

Mexico, Canada increase horse slaughter production

Nine states take sides on the issue

The number of U.S. horses slaughtered in North America has dropped nearly 40 percent since its peak in 2007—the last year horses were processed in the United States after a federal district court ordered the Department of Agriculture to stop inspecting horse slaughter facilities.

According to the USDA's latest figures, released in March, 88,276 horses were slaughtered in North America during 2009—a decrease of 38 percent from the decade high of 140,911 horses processed in 2007.

From 2001–2009, the mean number of horses slaughtered each year was 97,954. So while this past year's total is below average, the number of horses slaughtered in Mexico and Canada is historically high, making up for the lack of production in the United States.

This divisive issue continues to inspire legislative actions on both sides of debate, which is being played out at the state and federal levels.

The Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act—H.R. 503/S. 727—is still pending in Congress. It would prevent any horse slaughter facility from operating in the United States as well as prohibit the shipment of horses to other countries for processing.

As of mid-April, three states—Idaho, Wyoming, and South Dakota—had adopted bills or resolutions relating to this issue while six other states continued to consider their own pro- or anti-horse-slaughter legislation. Tara Southwell, state policy analyst in the AVMA State Legislative and Regulatory Affairs Department, compiled a list of these measures. They are as follows:

California

California Joint Resolution 22 would petition Congress to support federal legislation to protect American horses from slaughter for human consumption. This resolution was adopted in the California Senate and is pending in the House.

Florida

Florida H.B. 765 and S.B. 1708 would make it a felony to knowingly transport, distribute, sell, purchase, or possess horse meat for human consumption that is not clearly stamped, marked, and described as horse meat for human consumption, or horse meat that is not acquired from a licensed slaughterhouse. These bills are pending in the Florida Senate.

Idaho

Idaho S.B. 1316 amends existing animal cruelty laws to provide that specified laws should not be construed as interfering with the humane slaughter of equids. This bill has been signed by the governor.

Idaho Joint Resolution 104 would urge Congress to oppose federal legislation that interferes with a state's ability to direct the transport and processing of horses. It would also encourage Congress to discontinue language in the yearly appropriations bill that has effectively ended the processing of horses in the United States. This resolution was adopted in the Idaho Senate and is pending in the House.

Illinois

Illinois H.B. 4812 would remove the prohibition on horse slaughter and require that horses entering the state for immediate slaughter be accompanied by a consignment direct to slaughter at an approved equine slaughter establishment. This bill is pending in the Illinois House.

Illinois House Resolution 1022 would urge Congress to oppose bills that would criminalize the possession, shipment, transport, purchase, sale, delivery, or receipt of any horse with the intent that it be processed for human consumption. This resolution is pending in the Illinois House.

Illinois House Resolution 1058 would urge all members of Congress to oppose the continuation of horse slaughter in the United States. This resolution is pending in the Illinois House.

Kentucky

Kentucky Concurrent Resolution 47 would urge members of Congress to oppose legislation that interferes with a state's ability to direct the transport or processing of horses and to support horse processing facilities. This resolution is pending in the Kentucky House.

Missouri

Missouri H.B. 1747 would require the Missouri Department of Agriculture to register and pay for USDA inspections of all establishments that process or sell horse meat for human consumption. This bill has passed the Missouri House and is pending in the Senate.

Oklahoma

Oklahoma Concurrent Resolution 1045 would urge Congress to oppose federal legislation that interferes with the ability of a state to direct the transport or processing of horses. This resolution passed the Oklahoma House and is pending in the Senate.

South Dakota

South Dakota Concurrent Resolution 1003 urges Congress and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to reinstate and fully fund the USDA's horse slaughter and processing facilities inspection program and to enact legislation facilitating the resumption of horse processing and slaughter in the United States. This resolution has been adopted by the South Dakota House and Senate.

South Dakota S.B. 151 would provide for a study of the feasibility of establishing an equine processing facility in the state. This bill is pending in the state Senate.

South Dakota Concurrent Resolution 4 opposes the Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act and urges Congress to defeat the measure. This resolution has been adopted by the state House and Senate.

Wyoming

Wyoming H.B. 122 provides that livestock and feral livestock, including horses, may be sent to slaughter as an alternative to taking animals to auction. It also provides for the state's livestock board to set up agreements with licensed meat processing plants to process the meat from slaughtered livestock. The meat is to be sold to a state institution or to nonprofit organizations for no more than the board's cost for disposal, processing, and delivery, and to for-profit entities at the market rate of processed meat. This bill has been signed by the governor.

—Malinda Larkin

Oklahoma equine dentistry bill approved

An Oklahoma bill signed into law April 16 by the governor establishes a certification mechanism for “nonveterinary” dental providers. It also allows these trained laypersons to perform teeth floating on horses and other livestock and removes “animal husbandry” from the definition of veterinary medicine.

The AVMA and Oklahoma VMA opposed the bill and repeatedly urged the governor to veto it.

Under the provisions of House Bill 3202, the Oklahoma State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners will certify individuals as nonveterinary equine dental care providers if they have at least 80 hours of training from recognized schools. They will be charged a $200 certification fee and are required to have four hours of continuing education each year for certification renewal.

When prescription drugs are used in a dental procedure, the horse's owner or the nonveterinary equine dental care provider must buy them from a veterinarian, according to the law. It also prohibits prescription drugs from being prescribed, dispensed, or administered without a veterinarian-client-patient relationship between the owner and veterinarian.

In an April 13 letter to Gov. Brad Henry, the AVMA expressed concern that the law allows for laypersons to administer veterinary medications without direct veterinary oversight.

“Veterinarians possess the knowledge necessary to administer the medications at the correct dosages, use the appropriate routes of administration, safely monitor animals while they are under the effects of the drugs, and immediately address potentially devastating or fatal side effects or adverse reactions,” according to the letter signed by AVMA CEO W. Ron DeHaven.

“Improper use of veterinary medications, particularly sedatives, can present a significant risk of injury to animals and their human handlers. In addition, several of the most commonly used tranquilizers for sedating horses prior to teeth floating, such as xylazine and detomidine, can produce severe reactions—including death—when inadvertently or intentionally administered to humans, even in small doses.”

H.B. 3202 also changes the practice of equine dentistry and animal husbandry from a veterinary procedure to an animal husbandry act. The state Agriculture, Food and Forestry Department will enforce compliance with the law.

The AVMA said establishing an animal husbandry exemption and allowing nonveterinarians to perform equine dentistry would place Oklahoma well outside the mainstream of veterinary practice acts.

“We are concerned about HB 3202 being used as a precedent for similar laws in other states,” according to the letter.

Oklahoma passed a law two years ago that made lay equine dentistry a felony. The penalty was reduced this past year to a misdemeanor after individuals who had performed dental flotation were arrested and horse owners complained. H.B. 3202 was the latest legislative incarnation to deal with the issue.

Some other states also allow nonveterinarians to perform equine dental work, generally with additional conditions such as veterinary supervision.

In addition to Oklahoma, four states exempt equine teeth floating from the practice of veterinary medicine, although it appears that those exemptions are limited to using nonmotorized tools, a restriction not included in the Oklahoma legislation.

—Malinda Larkin

Kentucky taking on unwanted horse issue

A state known for its horse population is taking matters into its own hands when it comes to the problem of unwanted horses.

Kentucky's House voted 95-5 on April 1 to give final approval to H.B. 398, already passed by the state Senate, which would establish the Kentucky Equine Health and Welfare Board. A spokeswoman for Gov. Steve Beshear said he will review the bill before deciding whether to sign it into law.

The group's job would be fivefold: collect data to determine horse health and welfare issues; look to develop regional centers of care for unwanted horses; create a system of voluntary certification of horse rescue and retirement operations; offer suggestions to address horse welfare issues; and assist veterinarians and others in maintaining the health and welfare of horses by identifying and referring critical areas of need to the appropriate authorities.

According to the bill's language, the new board would not impose on the regulatory authority of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission or the Kentucky Board of Veterinary Examiners. Instead, the board would assist and advise the state Environmental and Public Protection Cabinet on issues involving all breeds of horses as well as donkeys, mules, and ponies.

The 13-member board would include representation by the state veterinarian, the University of Kentucky's Maxwell H. Gluck Equine Research Center, the University of Louisville Equine Industry Program, the executive director of the University of Kentucky Livestock Disease Diagnostic Center, the chair of the Kentucky Senate Standing Committee on Agriculture, the chair of the Kentucky House Standing Committee on Agriculture and Small Business, a Kentucky Farm Bureau Federation representative, a veterinarian from the Kentucky Equine Health and Welfare Alliance, a Kentucky VMA member, and several other appointees.

HSUS: undercover video shows hen mistreatment

Two egg manufacturers and an industry organization began investigations after undercover video appeared to show Iowa hens that were crowded, injured, and trampled.

The Humane Society of the United States said the footage released April 7 was recorded by an HSUS employee who worked at three Rose Acre Farms egg production facilities in February and a Rembrandt Enterprises facility in March. Wayne Pacelle, HSUS president, alleged in a press conference that hens at the facilities were raised in constant suffering and that injured and ill birds had no access to veterinary care.

Pacelle maintains that the animals should be raised cage-free.

Officials with both companies said they were investigating whether the videos showed violations of their animal welfare policies. The United Egg Producers started a separate investigation of the Rose Acre Farms facilities, which are UEP-certified and, therefore, expected to meet the trade organization's animal husbandry standards.

Rose Acre Farms officials said they are committed to the health and well-being of all of the company's hens.

United Egg Producers officials said in a statement that the certification program does not tolerate animal cruelty, abuse, or neglect. It notes that, if deficiencies are found, “they will be corrected or the farm could lose its UEP certification.”

Don Kellen, chief operations officer for Rembrandt Enterprises, said in a statement that in addition to the company's investigation of the videos, “we also are bringing in independent, third-party experts to conduct comprehensive audits to verify that we have appropriate animal welfare practices in place.”

The American Association of Avian Pathologists' Animal Welfare and Management Committee said in a statement that, if footage of violent actions by workers came from facilities certified by the UEP program, their actions “either voluntary or coerced, [are] contrary to the training they have received and [are] not in accordance with the code of conduct that they agreed to and signed.” The program requires employees to intervene if they witness acts of cruelty.

The welfare committee also said that egg producers not participating in the UEP program often have similar programs to maintain laying hen welfare. Workers who violate welfare program rules should be disciplined and kept from working with animals, the committee said.

Dr. Eric N. Gingerich, a staff veterinarian and adjunct assistant professor for the Laboratory of Avian Medicine and Pathology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine and a diplomate of the American College of Poultry Veterinarians, said employees at hen housing facilities are supposed to be trained to handle birds gently, and the violent handling of birds by employees was the most substantial problem he saw in the HSUS video. He said those actions may have occurred as a result of a lack of training, but the videos do not depict the industry as he has seen it.

Dr. Gingerich also said similar handling issues could occur in cage-free operations.

“Even in a cage-free system, we have to catch the birds that go to slaughter, and you have the same issues,” Dr. Gingerich said. He noted that newer cage designs often have larger doors that typically help reduce injuries to hens.

Pacelle said the video showed the carcasses of birds that had been dead in cages for weeks. Dr. Gingerich said it can be difficult to find the bodies of all birds that die in such facilities, but he warns producers to pay closer attention if they find more than three in their facility.

The AVMA recently released a new backgrounder on laying hen housing; it is available at www.avma.org. Under the “Issues” heading, click on “Animal Welfare,” then on “Backgrounders,” then on “Laying hen housing, Welfare implications of.”

The backgrounder indicates all housing systems have advantages and disadvantages. For example, housing systems without cages may allow hens to perform natural behaviors but may create more challenges for disease and injury control. Conversely, controlling disease and injury through intensive confinement can limit freedom of movement and natural behaviors.

—Greg Cima

Optimism, concern mixed for animal disease tracing network

Funding priorities identified for NAIS replacement

Both supporters of voluntary animal disease tracing systems and supporters of mandatory systems have expressed optimism and concern about the developing state-based network.

The Department of Agriculture announced Feb. 5 that animal disease traceability will become mandatory for animals that cross a state or tribal nation boundary in commerce. But it will be up to state and tribal nation officials to decide how to meet USDA's minimum requirements.

The state-based network is being developed to replace the National Animal Identification System, a voluntary federal animal tracking system that attracted participation from only about a third of the nation's livestock and poultry producers. The AVMA advocated for implementation of a mandatory system that could quickly trace the movements and locations of ill and exposed animals during a disease outbreak.

Dr. W. Ron DeHaven, AVMA CEO, has said that a mandatory animal identification system could save millions of animals and billions of dollars through quick disease containment and eradication. Following the announcement that the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service was cancelling the NAIS, Dr. DeHaven expressed concerns about communication and coordination among states and tribal nations with separate disease tracing systems, but he said the AVMA would consider endorsing the plan when more information was available.

While Rep. Glenn W. Thompson of Pennsylvania, a member of the House Committee on Agriculture, had objected to implementation of a mandatory NAIS because of cost and privacy concerns, he also expressed his view that the new animal tracing system could be acceptable, depending on details that he expects will emerge from a USDA-APHIS proposal this fall.

“I have supported a voluntary NAIS that farmers could opt into,” Rep. Thompson said. “And it is possible I can support the new framework if it is not mandatory.”

However, Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro of Connecticut, chair of the House Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies, has expressed concern that “moving from a single system capable of integrating and analyzing information across state lines to a collection of over 50 smaller systems” that are reliant on differing technology could prove less effective for national animal disease surveillance and response. But she was encouraged to see that the USDA had formed a detailed plan to implement a nationwide system.

The AVMA is among veterinary medical organizations that supported the implementation of a nationwide animal identification system.

Dr. Tom Burkgren, executive director of the American Association of Swine Veterinarians, said his organization is disappointed the USDA scrapped the NAIS, which the AASV had supported, promoted to swine veterinarians, and seen as important for veterinarians and producers.

“We see this as a backslide,” Dr. Burkgren said.

The AASV board of directors passed in October 2007 a position statement in support of a national animal identification system with premise registration for disease control programs. Dr. Burkgren said the board intended to support a national program that would not require states to create their own identification systems or require the pork industry to deal with differences between state programs.

The AASV position statement indicates the organization “recognizes the importance of rapidly responding to disease outbreaks and the necessity of identifying locations housing susceptible livestock.” It also urged AASV members to register premises such as veterinary clinics and farms and to promote registration to clients.

The AASV position aligns with that of the National Pork Producers Council, which has favored implementation of a mandatory federal animal identification system for all livestock and poultry.

“Having such a mandatory system in place would enhance U.S. animal health officials' ability to trace diseased or exposed animals to their farm of origin and identify other potentially exposed premises within 48 hours after the discovery of a disease,” NPPC information states.

However, veterinarians in the cattle industry maintain differing opinions over the need for a national disease tracing system.

Dr. M. Gatz Riddell, executive vice president of the American Association of Bovine Practitioners, said his organization had not taken a position on the new system of animal identification and tracing of animal movements.

The AABP board of directors understands members of the organization have a mix of opinions favoring and opposing a mandatory animal identification system. But the general consensus among board members is that “having a robust animal ID system with 48-hour traceback capability is critical to the protection of the health of the national cattle herds,” Dr. Riddell said.

The National Cattlemen's Beef Association supports implementation of a voluntary, market-driven animal identification system. Steve Foglesong, president of the NCBA, said he supports the new approach to animal disease traceability because of the greater state involvement and increased choices for identification technology.

Bethany Shively, a spokeswoman for the NCBA, said it is important that the new system build on existing identification databases and systems, including private databases.

Dr. Riddell indicated a strong national animal identification system would help protect animal health during foreign animal disease outbreaks, emerging or re-emerging disease outbreaks, and acts of agricultural or biological terrorism. It appears less likely to him that the new network of local systems will provide such protection, but he said the system is still under development, and it could provide innovative solutions.

Funding the network

During a meeting March 18–19 in Kansas City, APHIS officials and state and tribal leaders discussed plans for animal disease traceability and cooperative agreements for the fiscal year starting April 1, 2010.

A USDA document states that funding priorities during the fiscal year include maintenance of existing animal disease tracing infrastructure; outreach to producers, accredited veterinarians, livestock market owners, and harvest facility owners; and advancement of tracing ability through data collected from various sources, including disease-related programs and certificates of veterinary inspection. The USDA will provide funding for expenses such as data entry, computer hardware, travel costs connected with improving animal disease tracing, and animal tags formerly intended for use with the NAIS.

The meeting was called to allow for discussion of standards and performance measurements for the new program.

A document from the meeting indicates the USDA will likely publish in the Code of Federal Regulations a proposal that would require that livestock animals moved interstate be officially identified and originate from a state or tribe that meets animal disease tracing performance standards for that species. A 90-day public comment period will follow publication of any proposed regulations, and APHIS will analyze comments and draft a final rule to be published in the Federal Register. The USDA will likely set a delayed compliance date, such as six or 12 months after publication of the final rule.

—Greg Cima

news update

Enforcement deadline approaches for Red Flags Rule

The Federal Trade Commission currently plans to begin enforcement June 1 of a rule that requires companies, including veterinary practices, to develop programs to prevent identity theft.

The FTC published the Red Flags Rule in 2007 to implement provisions of the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act that require financial institutions and creditors to create programs to detect warning signs of identity theft—red flags—and respond appropriately. The agency has delayed enforcement of the rule multiple times, however, at the request of businesses and legislators.

According to an FTC press release, creditors “include professionals, such as lawyers or health care providers, who bill their clients after services are rendered.” A court ruled in late 2009 that the Red Flags Rule does not apply to attorneys, but the FTC is appealing that decision.

Earlier this year, the AVMA and several other medical associations wrote to the chairman of the FTC requesting that the agency not apply the Red Flags Rule to health care professionals if the rule does not apply to lawyers. On March 25, the FTC responded negatively to the request.

Also in late 2009, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill (H.R. 3763) to exempt health care practices, including veterinary practices, with 20 or fewer employees from the Red Flags Rule. The bill went to the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. The AVMA is lobbying for passage of the legislation.

The AVMA has compiled resources regarding the Red Flags Rule, including a guide to compliance for veterinary practices, at www.avma.org/issues/FTC_red_flags_rule.asp.

New tool helps practices write payment policies

A new online tool helps veterinary practices create documents that list payment options for clients.

The National Commission on Veterinary Economic Issues and CareCredit, a client payment program, developed the Financial Policy Builder.

“A written financial policy is an important business component for any veterinary practice,” said Dr. Karen E. Felsted, NCVEI chief executive officer. “Clients need to understand payment options in order to provide the best care for their pets, and veterinarians need to be compensated for their services to keep their practice economically sound.”

The Financial Policy Builder provides prompts to create custom policy documents. The documents list not only payment options but also any additional fees that might be the client's responsibility, such as returned checks and cancelled appointments.

Veterinary practices can provide financial policy documents to clients prior to treatment and include these documents in packages for new clients.

The Financial Policy Builder is online at www.carecredit.com/financialpolicy.

WSU professor named to ambassadorship

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Dr. Mushtaq Memon

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 236, 10; 10.2460/javma.236.10.1030

A Washington State University faculty member known for his dedication to international veterinary medicine has been selected as a Fulbright ambassador.

Dr. Mushtaq A. Memon, associate professor in WSU's Veterinary Clinical Sciences Department and the School for Global Animal Health, is the first veterinarian selected for such a position.

Dr. Memon was a Fulbright scholar in the Sultanate of Oman from 2006–2007. He is among a select group of 29 Fulbright alumni to become ambassadors for the Council for International Exchange of Scholars, which administers the Fulbright Scholar Program in collaboration with the U.S. State Department.

The program, now in its second year, invites Fulbright scholar alumni to serve as representatives at campus workshops and academic conferences across the U.S for two years. These ambassadors are helping to expand Fulbright's outreach efforts to the higher education community.

Anywhere from 12 to 18 ambassadors are chosen each year. Unlike the process for applying for a Fulbright grant itself, selection as a program ambassador is not an open, competitive process. Instead, initial recommendations come from program officers on the basis of academic reputation, discipline representation, and institutional representation. The list of nominees is then sent to the State Department's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs for final selection.

Dr. Memon, a clinician scientist who specializes in animal reproduction, is an internationally recognized scholar who recently joined the WSU School for Global Animal Health. He also leads the WSU International Veterinary Education Program, which enhances veterinary medical students' understanding of global animal health issues.

“We are delighted to have Dr. Memon as one of the founding faculty members in the School for Global Animal Health,” said Dr. Guy Palmer, director of the school, in a WSU press release. “His broad international experience is matched by his dedication to providing students with a global perspective.”

A 1971 graduate of Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, India, Dr. Memon has since returned many times to help in South Asia (see JAVMA, Aug. 1, 2001, page 292).

Dr. Memon said as a Fulbright ambassador he encourages his veterinary colleagues to become Fulbright scholars and see the world.

“The Fulbright Program sends about 800 U.S. scholars every year to more than 100 countries,” Dr. Memon said. “Unfortunately, only 28 veterinarians have gone overseas under this program during last 20 years.”

He said veterinarian scholars could serve as faculty for continuing education of veterinarians in other countries who need education and training on the current issues of emerging and exotic diseases of animals. In this way, they could serve as the first line of defense for the early detection of a foreign disease and as a first responder for disease outbreaks.

The scholars themselves benefit from overseas experience in which they can gain new perspectives on topics essential to global obligations of the veterinary profession.

“The challenge is for veterinary college administrators and faculty to work collaboratively to design a plan for regular systematic applications for appropriate Fulbright programs that are designed to improve the global perspective of their curriculum and research projects,” Dr. Memon said.

—Malinda Larkin

call out

Grants available for bovine practitioners

Two $5,000 grants will be given to veterinarians for continuing education that will help clients in the beef and dairy industries.

The awards are sponsored by pharmaceutical manufacturer AgriLabs and open to veterinarians who graduated from veterinary colleges between one and 10 years before the June 15 application deadline. The winners will be announced during the American Association of Bovine Practitioners annual meeting, which is scheduled for Aug. 19–21 in Albuquerque, N.M.

The awards are being given through a collaboration involving AgriLabs, the AABP, and the National Dairy Shrine.

Additional details and the grant application are available at www.aabp.org. Scroll over “Home,” click on “Awards/Scholarships,” then click on the link for the AgriLabs-sponsored award.

accolades

AAHA

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Dr. Christine Heinz

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 236, 10; 10.2460/javma.236.10.1030

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Kelvin Urday

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 236, 10; 10.2460/javma.236.10.1030

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Teresa Jennings

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 236, 10; 10.2460/javma.236.10.1030

The American Animal Hospital Association honored a number of individuals and veterinary practices during its annual meeting, March 18–21 in Long Beach, Calif.

Dr. Christine Heinz (IL ′06) received the Nestle Purina Petcare Award for her efforts to be a positive influence in the lives of animals and people. Dr. Heinz is an associate veterinarian at the Broad Ripple Animal Clinic in Indianapolis. She is an active member of AAHA, the AVMA, and the Central Indiana VMA along with the Broad Ripple Village Association. She also volunteers for the Humane Society of Indianapolis and her clinic's Vet for a Day program.

Kelvin Urday (MO ′11) received the first Anna E. Worth AAHA Student Leadership Award partly for service as an AAHA Student Program officer. Urday helped revive the AAHA student chapter at the University of Missouri-Columbia. He founded a lecture series for veterinary students and a Spanish course for veterinary professionals. He also is chair of tours for his veterinary college.

Teresa Jennings was the recipient of the Hill's Animal Welfare & Humane Ethics Award. She is program director of the Companion Animal Initiative of Tennessee at the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine. The goals of CAIT are to reduce the number of homeless cats and dogs in the state and promote humane education. Jennings also established a hotline that provides information on low-cost spay and neuter procedures.

Countryside Veterinary Hospital of Chelmsford, Mass., was the first winner of the AAHA-Accredited Practice of the Year Award. The hospital has a mission of “providing exceptional customer service while offering the finest and most progressive veterinary care possible.”

Bayview Animal Hospital of Ottawa, Ontario, took second place. Third went to Animal Medical and Surgical Center of Scottsdale, Ariz. Receiving honorable mentions were Blue Springs Animal Hospital & Pet Resort of Blue Springs, Mo.; Golden Triangle Animal Hospital of South Lake, Texas; Windsor Veterinary Clinic of Windsor, Colo.; Paradise Pet Hospital of Las Vegas; and Animal Medical Hospital of Charlotte, N.C.

AAHA also recognized the first three practices to attain 75 years of accreditation. They are River Bend Animal Clinic in Moline, Ill.; VCA Tennessee Avenue Animal Hospital in Cincinnati; and Broad Street Veterinary Hospital in Richmond, Va.

AVMA Honor Roll Member, AVMA Member, Student Member, Nonmember

Thomas E. Bloom

Dr. Bloom (MIN ′81), 62, River Falls, Wis., died Feb. 20, 2010. He owned Kinnic Veterinary Service, a small animal practice in River Falls. Dr. Bloom also volunteered at the Minnesota Raptor Center and was active with the Arrowhead Veterinary Medical Association. He helped establish and served as first president of the River Falls Rotary Club. Dr. Bloom is survived by his wife, Mary Jo; a daughter; and a son.

Frederick J. Culbert

Dr. Culbert (MIN ′69), 68, Union Grove, Wis., died March 2, 2010. A large animal practitioner, he was a partner at Bristol Veterinary Service in Union Grove. Dr. Culbert was a member of the American Association of Equine Practitioners. He was also a member of the American Association of Woodturners, Wisconsin Woodturners, and Milwaukee Area Woodturners. Dr. Culbert's wife, Sandy; five sons; and a daughter survive him. Memorials may be made to the American Cancer Society, P.O. Box 22718, Oklahoma City, OK 73123.

Charles R. Cutler

Dr. Cutler (OSU ′57), 87, Indianapolis, died Feb. 21, 2010. Prior to retirement in 1987, he served as a circuit supervisor for the Department of Agriculture for 20 years. Earlier in his career, Dr. Cutler practiced large animal medicine in Huntington, Ind. He was a member of the National Association of Federal Veterinarians. Dr. Cutler served in the Navy during World War II. His wife, Delores, and a son survive him. Memorials may be made to Johnson County Humane Society, 3827 N. Graham Road, Franklin, IN 46131.

Rachel P. Gilligan

Dr. Gilligan (COR ′96), 45, Mahopac, N.Y., died Feb. 3, 2010. A small animal practitioner, she owned Mobile Veterinary Hospice Service in Long Beach, Calif., from 2001–2009. Prior to that, Dr. Gilligan served as hospital director at National Pet Care in Cypress Hills, Calif. Early in her career, she practiced small animal medicine in the Ithaca area of New York state. Dr. Gilligan was an advocate for pet hospice care and lectured on the issue at veterinary schools and colleges and veterinary meetings. Memorials in her name may be made to Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, Ithaca, NY 14853.

Allen C. Goss

Dr. Goss (COR ′43), 88, Port Charlotte, Fla., died Feb. 27, 2010. He owned a mixed animal practice in the Stamford area of New York state, focusing on dairy medicine until retirement in 1984. Dr. Goss was a past president of the Catskill Mountain VMA and a member of the Stamford and Port Charlotte Kiwanis clubs. His son and daughter survive him. Memorials in his name may be made to the Dollars for Scholars SCS Chapter, c/o Dale A. Goss, 6004 Castle Road, Vicksburg, MS 39180.

George W. Humphrey

Humphrey (VMR ′10), 24, Varina, Va., died Dec. 26, 2009. He was a member of the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine student chapter of the AVMA. Memorials may be made to the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, Virginia Tech, Duck Pond Drive (0442), Blacksburg, Virginia 24061; or Richmond Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, 2519 Hermitage Road, Richmond, VA 23220.

Claude H. Hurst

Dr. Hurst (AUB ′49), 83, Mount Vernon, Ill., died Sept. 24, 2009. A mixed animal practitioner, he owned Hurst Animal Clinic in Mount Vernon prior to retirement in 2006. Dr. Hurst is survived by his wife, Freda, and four sons. His brother, Dr. Benjamin J. Hurst (AUB ′62), is a veterinarian in Alexander City, Ala. Memorials may be made to the St. Mary's Catholic Church Building Fund, 115 N 14th St., Mount Vernon, IL 62864.

George E. King

Dr. King (KSU ′55), 83, Rushville, Ind., died Feb. 24, 2010. A mixed animal practitioner, he owned King Veterinary Clinic in Rushville for 55 years. Dr. King was a life member of the Indiana VMA. He served on Rush County's Board of Health and Hospital Board. Dr. King was an Army Medical Corps veteran of World War II and a member of the American Legion. His daughter survives him. Memorials may be made to the Dr. George King Veterinary Scholarship, c/o Rush County Community Foundation, 117 N. Main St., Rushville, IN 46173.

Frederic W. Kullenberg

Dr. Kullenberg (WSU ′60), 73, Wellington, Nev., died Dec. 18, 2009. Prior to retirement, he spent more than 40 years in industrial veterinary medicine. During that time, Dr. Kullenberg started three companies, worked in technical support, and did consulting and liaison work. His wife, Effie; a son; and two daughters survive him. Memorials may be made to Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine, Pullman, WA 99164.

Merle H. Lang

Dr. Lang (ISU ′54), 88, Davenport, Iowa, died Feb. 16, 2010. From 1977 until retirement in 1987, he served as Iowa state veterinarian and headed the Division of Animal Industry at the Iowa Department of Agriculture. Earlier in his career, Dr. Lang owned a mixed animal practice in Davenport. He was a past president of the Iowa and Eastern Iowa VMAs, served as secretary for the Iowa Board of Veterinary Medicine for nine years, and was a member of the Executive Committee of the United States Animal Health Association, also chairing its Pseudorabies Committee. In 1981, Dr. Lang received the Iowa VMA Veterinarian-of-the-Year Award. A veteran of World War II, he served as a 2nd lieutenant in the Army. Dr. Lang is survived by his wife, Bonnie; a son; a daughter; two stepsons; and a step-daughter. Memorials may be made to the Iowa State University Scholarship Fund, c/o Iowa State Foundation, 2505 University Blvd., Ames, IA 50010.

Marvin Rothman

Dr. Rothman (UP ′48), 84, Cherry Hill, N.J., died March 17, 2010. Until recently, he practiced small, avian, and exotic animal medicine at Rothman Animal Hospital, a practice in Collingswood, N.J., that he founded in 1955 and owned until 1990. Prior to establishing his practice, Dr. Rothman served as a lieutenant in the Army Veterinary Corps. During his career, he also taught at Camden County College as part of the veterinary technology program.

Dr. Rothman was a past president of the New Jersey VMA and a member of the Southern New Jersey VMA. In 2002, he was named SNJVMA Veterinarian of the Year. Dr. Rothman served on the boards of the Animal Welfare Association and PetPals of Southern New Jersey Inc. Active in civic life, he was past chair of the board of directors of United Way of Camden County. Dr. Rothman is survived by his wife, Betty, and two daughters. Memorials in his name (with the memo line on the check notated “Stray Fund”) may be made to Rothman Animal Hospital, Route 130 North and Dwight Ave., Collingswood, NJ 08107; or PetPals of Southern New Jersey Inc., 100 Essex Ave., Suite #100, Bellmawr, NJ 08031.

Harold D. Sheridan

Dr. Sheridan (MSU ′53), 81, Allendale, Mich., died March 29, 2010. Prior to retirement, he practiced mixed animal medicine at West Michigan Veterinary Service in Coopersville, Mich., for 54 years. Dr. Sheridan was a past president of the Michigan and Western Michigan VMAs and the first veterinarian to be elected president of the Michigan Association of Professions in 1972. Active in civic life, he was also a past president of the Coopersville Chamber of Commerce and Lions Club, served on the Polkton Charter Township Planning Commission, and was a member of the board of directors of Indiana Wesleyan University. Dr. Sheridan received the MVMA Veterinary Service Award in 1973. In 1990, he was the recipient of a Distinguished Alumnus Award from the Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Sheridan's wife, Mary; two sons; and a daughter survive him. Memorials may be made to the Allendale Wesleyan Church Building Fund, P.O. Box 93, Allendale, MI 49401.

Abbott P. Smith III

Dr. Smith (COL ′62), 71, Athens, Ohio, died Feb. 22, 2010. A mixed animal practitioner, he owned Milliron Veterinary Clinic in Athens. Dr. Smith was a member of the Ohio VMA, American Association of Equine Practitioners, and Athens County Chapter of the Ohio Horsemen's Council. His wife, Virginia; a daughter; and a son survive him. Memorials may be made to Last Chance Corral Horse Rescue, 5350 U.S. Route 33, Athens, OH 45701; Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd, 64 University Terrace, Athens, OH 45701; or American Humane Association, 63 Inverness Drive E., Englewood, CO 80112.

Robert F. Stonebreaker

Dr. Stonebreaker (CAL ′87), 53, Del Mar, Calif., died Jan. 16, 2010. An avian and small and exotic animal practitioner, he owned the Animal and Bird Hospital of Del Mar. Earlier in his career, Dr. Stonebreaker owned a mobile veterinary practice and traveled nationally and internationally, working with aviculturists and exotic animal parks and zoos. He is survived by his wife, Pam; two daughters; and a son. Memorials may be made to Free Flight (a nonprofit exotic bird park), 2132 Jimmy Durante Blvd., Del Mar, CA 92014.

Robert Weinberger

Dr. Weinberger (TEX ′44), 87, Dallas, died Dec. 28, 2009. In 1948, he co-founded Casa Linda Animal Clinic in Dallas, where he practiced until the 1970s. During the last 20 years of his career, Dr. Weinberger practiced part time at the Forest Lane Animal Clinic in Garland, Texas. He served during World War II in both the Army and the Navy. Dr. Weinberger is survived by his wife, Deloris; a son; a stepson; and two step-daughters.

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