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USDA scraps NAIS, plans to develop state-based tracing system

Agency cites resistance to voluntary federal program in changing approach

Agriculture officials are replacing the national program to trace animal origins during disease outbreaks with a state-administered system.

The Department of Agriculture announced Feb. 5 the agency would take a different direction than was charted through the National Animal Identification System. The new system is expected to leave identification and tracing programs with the states and tribal territories rather than with the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

The new program will apply only to animals moving in interstate commerce into marketing channels, with disease traceability required for those animals, USDA information states. States and tribal nations will determine how to meet minimum traceability requirements.

The federal government had already spent more than $120 million on the nationwide program, but only 36 percent—or about 500,000—of U.S. animal producers were participating, according to the USDA. The agency hosted public meetings on the NAIS across the country in spring and summer 2009 and indicated that most participants were “highly critical” of the program.

“Some of the concerns and criticisms raised included confidentiality, liability, cost, privacy, and religion,” USDA information states. “There were also concerns about NAIS being the wrong priority for USDA, that the system benefits only large-scale producers, and that NAIS is unnecessary because existing animal identification systems are sufficient.”

Joelle Hayden, a USDA-APHIS spokeswoman, said her agency would adapt as many NAIS elements as possible for use in state systems—particularly information technology infrastructure and animal identification tags.

“However, it will be up to the states and tribal nations to decide how they want to use them, if at all,” she said.

The USDA first announced in late 2003 the agency would implement a system to rapidly trace the origins of animals exposed during disease outbreaks and identify the facilities they were from, and the agency implemented components in subsequent years. The three-part system involved registration of production and other animal-holding facilities, registration of animals individually or in lots, and the use of scanners or readers where animals were sold.

In encouraging animal producers to participate in the NAIS, the USDA previously noted investigators spent an average of 199 days tracing the origins of each of 27 bovine tuberculosis cases discovered between October 2005 and August 2007 and that investigators were not able to find the origin of a cow in which bovine spongiform encephalopathy was diagnosed in 2006.

Dr. W. Ron DeHaven, AVMA CEO and former administrator of the USDA-APHIS, has advocated for implementation of a strong, mandatory trace-back system. In March 2009, he testified for the AVMA before the House of Representatives Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry that full producer participation in the NAIS could save millions of animals and billions of dollars by providing the ability to quickly contain and eradicate diseases.

Following the Feb. 5 APHIS announcement, Dr. DeHaven expressed concern about the decision to create a new disease traceability system. He said the USDA developed a solid framework for the NAIS, and the new proposal amounts to starting over from scratch.

“If each state is allowed to develop and implement its own program, important questions arise concerning communication and coordination between the states and tribal nations,” Dr. DeHaven said. “Is it feasible to have 50 or more different programs at the state level and still have a coordinated disease response as animals move interstate throughout the country?

“Clearly the USDA must create a system that allows for quick and accurate trace back across state borders in an animal disease emergency, or there is no point in the new system.”

Dr. John Clifford, deputy administrator for the USDA-APHIS Veterinary Services, said in a conference call with some stakeholders that the new program is intended to have more flexibility for states and tribal nations to meet local needs, incorporate low-cost identification means, create less intrusion by the federal government, and allow for adoption of systems with more producer accountability.

The cost of the new system was not immediately available, but the USDA indicated it will work with existing disease-control programs and allow identification means such as branding, metal tags, and radio frequency identification tags. The agency will work with states, tribal nations, industry, and the public to set minimum requirements that would still allow for efficient movement of animals.

USDA officials had previously hoped the NAIS would help investigators trace the origins of all animals exposed to an outbreak of disease within 48 hours.

Dr. Clifford said the new system would not focus on speed but on effectiveness and thorough implementation. He said the speed of any tracing would depend on the sophistication of systems adopted by each state.

Hayden said the USDA will strengthen its defenses against foreign animal disease by developing a rule to prevent highly pathogenic avian influenza from reaching the country, updating an analysis on how animal diseases reach the U.S., improving response capabilities, and working with states and industry to improve collaboration and analysis of disease risks.

The AVMA cannot consider endorsing the current plan until more information is available, Dr. DeHaven said. He noted that implementation of the new program is estimated to take between 18 months and five years, and he is concerned the nation will be vulnerable during that time.

“Our lack of animal traceability for disease control and eradication purposes not only has huge economic implications, it can also increase animal suffering exponentially if we are not able to quickly contain a disease outbreak,” Dr. DeHaven said.

He also said it is critical that veterinarians be involved in development of the new system to ensure it will work in the field.

—GREG CIMA

AVMA, AVMF to help food animal veterinarians pay off loans

$500,000 will be allotted, thanks to partnership with companies

After Garrett R. Stewart graduates from the Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine this spring, he'll go on to be a food animal practitioner in his hometown of Washington, Kan.

He'll have some company, too, as 28 of the 108 veterinary students who graduated in 2009 from K-State went into food animal or mixed animal practice. Thirty-seven graduates did so in 2008.

Compared with what's happening nationally, however, Stewart is considered a rarity.

Food animal practitioners now make up fewer than 10 percent of the veterinarians in the United States, according to a 2006 study by the Food Supply Veterinary Medicine Coalition, meaning only about 8,900 veterinarians are involved in food animal practice.

A new initiative led by the AVMA is hoping to help reverse this trend. The AVMA/AVMF Food Animal Veterinarian Recruitment and Retention Program is an economic assistance program that provides student loan debt forgiveness for veterinarians who meet the requirements.

The aim of the pilot program, which officially launches April 1, is to bring more veterinarians back into food animal practice.

Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Elanco Animal Health, Fort Dodge (Pfizer), Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health, Pfizer Animal Health, and Phibro Animal Health all have contributed funds to make the program possible. The American Veterinary Medical Foundation will administer the application process and payments. The Foundation will also assist the selection committee in choosing recipients. Applications for the program are available at www.avmf.org.

AVMA CEO W. Ron DeHaven said the program is consistent with the Association's veterinary workforce goal of addressing the critical shortage of food animal practitioners.

“I think this program will complement (the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program), and it adds private sector funding to limited federal funds,” Dr. DeHaven said.

The VMLRP was authorized by the National Veterinary Medical Service Act passed by Congress more than seven years ago. That program also aims to help qualified veterinarians offset a substantial portion of their educational debt in return for service in certain high-priority veterinary shortage situations.

The selected veterinarian shortage areas and application forms for the VMLRP will be published in the Federal Register April 30. Applicants will then have 60 days to apply for the program. Offers to selected individuals will be made by Sept. 30.

The FAVRRP, which will start accepting applications as soon as this spring, hopes to have five initial participants selected in time for the AVMA Annual Convention, July 31-Aug. 3. Second-, third-, and fourth-year students are encouraged to apply, although individuals who have graduated within the past four years will also be considered.

Approved participants must agree to work in a qualified food animal practice—that is, a practice that derives half or more of its revenue from food animal services.

They will receive payments that can be applied to their student loan debt for every 12 months of continuous practice for four years, assuming they remain in a qualifying practice. Payments will be on a graduated basis over the four-year period, not to exceed $100,000 total.

Sponsors will make a determination this fall whether to extend the program.

The program first began when Dr. Robert C. Hummel of Greeley, Colo., approached Dr. DeHaven more than a year ago about creating a scholarship program for food animal veterinary students.

Dr. Hummel is co-founder of Great Plains Chemical Co., which is now Lextron Inc. Through his business contacts, he has seen firsthand the declining number of veterinarians in the food animal industry.

“As the senior practitioners near(ed) retirement, it became obvious there was a shrinking supply of people to take their places,” Dr. Hummel said.

He became concerned over whether his clients would continue to have access to the services of veterinary practitioners, including prescription writing.

That initial conversation between Drs. DeHaven and Hummel turned into a working relationship among a group of interested parties, including leaders of veterinary industry and academia.

Dr. DeHaven said the program has proved to be a good collaborative partnership between the AVMA, AVMF, veterinary schools and colleges, and corporate sponsors.

“What's good for veterinarians is good for companies that provide products to veterinary professionals,” Dr. DeHaven said.

Clint Lewis, president of U.S. Operations for Pfizer Animal Health, said his company was proud to support FAVRRP.

“We recognize and salute the difference that veterinarians make (in) the health and well-being of all animals, but in livestock, we also know the very special role that food animal veterinarians play in sustaining a safe and abundant food supply,” Lewis said. “Pfizer believes that its investment in this program is critical if we are to increase veterinary students' interest in pursuing a food animal career. I would hope that other industry partners and interested individuals will join with us in supporting this critical program.”

The problem in recruiting and retaining more large animal veterinarians is nothing new.

For years, burdensome student loans, low starting salaries, the decline of family farms, and rural lifestyle issues have contributed to this vexing problem. It has gotten to the point that only 15 percent of veterinary school graduates go into large animal or mixed animal private practice.

The situation doesn't appear to be getting better. The demand for food supply veterinarians will increase by nearly 13 percent between 2004 and 2016, according to the FSVMC study. Conversely, the supply of such practitioners will fall short by 4 percent.

A 3.5 percent shortage of dairy cattle practitioners is predicted, as is a 4.6 percent shortage of beef cattle practitioners, a 5 percent shortage of food supply veterinarians in academia, and a 5.3 percent shortage of veterinarians in federal food safety and food security.

One of the deterring factors, Stewart said, is that a negative perception has been created about food animal work and how hard it is.

“Not to say it isn't difficult, but I don't think an accurate picture has been painted of rural areas and food animal medicine,” he said. “If they're not from an urban background, they're not used to the appeal. They're scared. They've heard their entire lives that food animal medicine is extremely hard (on the body), but I can argue that it's just as physically taxing being an emergency vet, working from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m.”

Personally, Stewart said, it wasn't so much a decision to go into food animal medicine as it was a lifestyle in which he was born and raised.

“It's a wonderful industry and … takes you to the next level in agriculture with veterinary medicine. You're not only working with good people in a good industry, but you're also working with animals and people who understand the responsibility of producing a healthy, safe, and nutritious product for the food supply,” Stewart said.

—MALINDA LARKIN

AVMA asks members to help identify critical issues facing profession

The AVMA is inviting members to help shape the Association's strategic plan by identifying the most critical issues facing the veterinary profession.

The AVMA has initiated the Future Critical Issues Scan as part of ongoing efforts to update and refine its strategic plan. Association leaders hope the scan will produce feedback from all segments of the profession—private practice, government, industry, academia, research, and uniformed services.

“The input and active participation of our membership has gotten us to the strong position we are in today,” said Dr. Larry R. Corry, AVMA president. “We need the continued input and participation of our members to get us to an even stronger position tomorrow.”

The AVMA Executive Board approved the current strategic plan in April 2008. Association leaders and staff who developed the plan took into account feedback from members who offered several hundred comments via the AVMA Web site. The forum for members to “tell us what you think” relevant to strategic planning has remained available in the meantime but has not been very visible.

For the next round of strategic planning and for ongoing input, the AVMA invites members to visit the Web site to describe what they believe are the three most critical issues facing the profession in the next five years. The Executive Board will consider these comments during strategic discussions at future board meetings. For the April meeting, the board will consider comments that the AVMA receives by March 20.

Enjoy Southern hospitality at the AVMA convention

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Copyright 2009, Kevin C. Rose/AtlantaPhotos.com

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 236, 6; 10.2460/javma.236.6.600

The 147th AVMA Annual Convention will be held July 31-Aug. 3 at the Georgia World Congress Center, in the heart of downtown Atlanta. Registration is available online at www.avmaconvention.org.

Atlanta is the belle of the South with world-class restaurants, a festive nightlife, and an abundance of cultural attractions. Attendees can enjoy true Southern hospitality while earning up to 40 hours of continuing education credit featuring 50-minute educational sessions as well as interactive labs and hands-on computer classes. The flexibility in the schedule will allow time to explore the exhibit hall and learn about new products and services.

Some convention attendees have asked for even more advanced sessions, so there will be over 100 Beyond the Basics sessions available in the various specialty sections. These sessions are easy to spot; just look for the BB logo in the educational program listings. To search the full listing of CE sessions, use the CE Session Finder and Itinerary Planner on the convention Web site, accessible from the “Education” drop-down menu.

Special events at the convention will include the Hill's Opening Session speaker, the Merial Concert Series, veterinary school alumni receptions, the veterinary technician reception, the American Veterinary Medical Foundation's Night at the Aquarium, and the 5K walk/run. The Foundation will again sponsor a voluntourism project, this time to rehab an Atlanta animal shelter. Atlanta area tours available to AVMA convention registrants and their family and guests will include Stone Mountain Park, the Atlanta Zoo, and other popular attractions.

Start planning your convention trip now by checking the convention Web site for complete visitor and travel information. The General Info section provides a schedule-at-a-glance, air and ground transportation information, and a link to AVMA's personalized visitors' site, www.atlanta.net/avma. This site includes information on Atlanta's attractions, activities, restaurants, and maps.

Advance registration rates are available through May 3, preconvention rates are offered from May 4-June 30, and full registration fees apply from July 2-Aug 3. Register now to save money and get first choice of interactive labs and hotels.

Use the convention Web site registration link for secure online registration and housing reservations. Online registrants can tell in real time which hotel options and prices are currently available. Check the convention Web site regularly for updates to the convention and for changes.

GHLIT provides multiple layers of claims review

Policyholders can appeal denial of claims through four levels of review

With multiple studies indicating that an asthma drug could be beneficial in treating her son's chronic idiopathic urticaria, a rare disease characterized by the occurrence of daily or frequent welts and itching, Dr. Laura Strong was determined to get him access to this promising new treatment—despite the fact that it was not a drug normally covered by health insurance programs for treatment of CIU.

Knowing that the drug did not have Food and Drug Administration approval for treatments other than asthma, Dr. Strong, who maintains family medical coverage through the AVMA Group Health and Life Insurance Trust, was not surprised when the initial response was a denial of coverage. She was surprised three weeks later, however, when she was notified that coverage for the drug was approved.

In fact, Dr. Strong had been fully prepared to exhaust all four levels of review available to GHLIT policyholders.

“When you have a sick child, you're hoping not to have to go through all that extra angst,” Dr. Strong said. “I really felt like I had the GHLIT to help me facilitate whatever needed to happen.”

For Dr. Strong, it wasn't just the scope of GHLIT's review process that made her appreciate the coverage she and her family have had for more than 20 years, it was also the efficiency with which a resolution was achieved. Most of the activity took place behind the scenes, freeing her to focus on her son's health rather than deal with information requests and paperwork.

Dr. Strong's experience is not unusual. GHLIT participants often aren't aware that the first level of the review process, an internal review of a medical claim, is under way, because it is frequently initiated by the claims processing staff. A primary reason for initial coverage denials is insufficient information, and a single request to the health care provider for proper documentation is all that may be needed to approve a claim payment.

“Many times, all this is going on and the participant has no knowledge of it,” said Dr. Jody Johnson, GHLIT director of member services. “It's a great demonstration of how our business partners' staffs are trained to take the offensive and seek needed information when possible.”

A second level of review is necessary in some nonroutine cases. A specialist will review the claim and any supporting documentation to determine medical necessity.

If a coverage issue remains, the case goes to New York Life Insurance Co., which underwrites the GHLIT insurance program, for the third level of review. This step involves input by the GHLIT's claims administration staff as well as outside specialists to ensure that decisions are based on the most current medical knowledge and criteria for insurance coverage.

The fourth level of review is with the GHLIT trustees—fellow veterinarians who review the medical situation, coverage criteria, and prior determinations.

Though it's impossible for every claim to be approved, the GHLIT review process centers on the policyholders. It provides more channels for review than many other health insurance programs.

“The first denial doesn't mean all is lost. Talk to someone at the Trust office. A good percentage of the time, we are already looking at the denial,” Dr. Johnson said. “Dr. Strong is the perfect example of what can happen if participants give the process a chance to work for them. If I was the mother of a son with serious health problems who needed to try a promising new treatment, I would be very glad to know that my health insurance provider cares enough to take a closer look.”

Today, Dr. Strong's son is responding to the medication.

“I just cannot communicate how grateful my husband and I are that we have GHLIT coverage,” she said. “This is a very challenging, very rare disease, and we are eternally thankful to have had this insurance throughout this ordeal. It has exceeded my expectations.”

Information on GHLIT benefits is available at www.avmaghlit.org. Veterinarians and veterinary students can obtain more information—including plan details, rates, exclusions, limitations, and eligibility and renewal provisions—or find a GHLIT agent by calling the Trust office at (800) 621-6360.

–PREPARED BY THE AVMA GROUP HEALTH AND LIFE INSURANCE TRUST

State budget cuts continue with no end in sight

Veterinary colleges trying to do more with less

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Dr. Andrew J. Brown (left) and former veterinary technician students and veterinary students from Michigan State University work together in a clinical setting. MSU's College of Veterinary Medicine could potentially suspend its veterinary technology program because of budget constraints.

Courtesy of Michigan State University

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 236, 6; 10.2460/javma.236.6.600

Another year of large state budget gaps has further weakened organizations and institutions reliant on government funding, perhaps permanently. It comes as no surprise, then, that funding shortages have affected most U.S. veterinary schools and colleges.

Dr. Marguerite Pappaioanou, executive director of the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges, said the association estimates that $45 million to $50 million in public support has been pulled from the nation's 28 veterinary schools during the past two years.

“State budgets and what (legislatures) can contribute are going through massive cuts, not just with veterinary schools, but all of higher education. All of the land-grant universities are undergoing major cuts from state legislatures,” Dr. Pappaioanou said.

Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine, for example, has put an indefinite halt on its veterinary technology program because of financial constraints. The four-year program is one of only a few veterinary technology programs housed within a veterinary college. (Purdue University's program began not long after Michigan State's in the late '70s, and Mississippi State's program just started accepting students this academic year but has not yet applied for accreditation.)

The moratorium at MSU will take effect this fall. This means that no new students will be admitted into the program after this time. The moratorium allows the school four to six months to evaluate its options. The college is expected to make a final decision on whether it will permanently discontinue the program by this August.

Dean Christopher M. Brown said the moratorium decision was entirely based on current budget challenges. The overall budget shortfall in the college's general fund could be up to 20 percent, which represents about a $4 million shortfall in state appropriations.

“It's one of several options we're looking at to accommodate budget adjustments necessary over the next few years,” he said. “We're not going to make a commitment to students that we can't fulfill.”

Dr. Brown said the college is considering a variety of other measures, one of which is eliminating some jobs in the college's budget, potentially faculty or support positions. Faculty appointments may also be scaled back from an annual year (12 months) to an academic year (nine months).

“We're looking at creating ways of enhancing revenue from units, but in the current economy it's difficult to make extra income,” Dr. Brown added.

Michigan State isn't the only veterinary college that has been forced by limited state funds to cut back its offerings. For the University of California-Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, the reduction in state funds, combined with a declining market for veterinary services at the William R. Pritchard Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, has resulted in a drop of $3 million in revenue for the past academic year and an additional $3 million funding gap for the current academic year.

Administrators have already had to eliminate 130 staff positions (more than 50 from the teaching hospital alone), close the Fresno branch of the California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory System, place 12 faculty recruitments on hold, reduce programs, and impose temporary pay cuts and work furloughs on all faculty and staff. The school continues to look at ways to restructure administrative activities and generate additional revenue.

“Despite these actions, we are not done yet. The furloughs are merely a stopgap to allow the university an opportunity to make permanent cuts, and projections for next year are equally as bad,” Dean Bennie I. Osburn said in a statement to the AAVMC in January.

The teaching hospital's in-house food animal program was rumored to be closing because of a decline in caseload and revenues. Dr. Osburn denies that the program is closing and has made assurances it will remain open.

Annually, the in-house program averages a loss of more than $200,000, despite substantial teaching subsidy funding. The program staff sees about 1,200 animals, half of which are bovine, with the remainder made up of sheep, goats, and potbellied pigs.

The school is, however, looking at whether it could structure the program differently to provide an improved clinical instruction environment. Dr. Osburn has requested that the food animal faculty redesign the clinical instruction program to consider the resources available—personnel, regional caseload, and budget—to meet professional training objectives.

The school apparently will need to continue looking at more alternatives to how it does business, as it has recently been alerted that the next round of state funding reductions will be at least $2.6 million beginning in July.

The situation doesn't look much better out East, where it was announced in early February that state appropriations for the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine would be slashed 30 percent, from nearly $43 million to $30.5 million. The school receives about 35 percent of its funding from the state.

In the past year, the school's budget has dropped from about $96 million to $86 million, and 150 positions have been lost through layoffs and attrition, including veterinary hospital technician positions.

The most recent cuts will mean elimination of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and reduced financial aid. The school has historically provided $1,000 in scholarship money to each in-state second- and third-year student. This incentive will be eliminated next year, said Maureen Harrigan, Penn Vet's chief financial officer.

Also in jeopardy is the James M. Moran Jr., Critical Care Center, which is still under construction at the New Bolton Center campus in Kennett Square. The 18,540-square-foot facility will be the largest clinical addition to the hospital; however, there are doubts as to whether there is enough money to open the center as scheduled this summer.

In addition to cutting expenses, universities have looked to increasing revenues to balance their budgets.

Colorado State University administrators discussed plans in late January to hike undergraduate resident tuition by about 9 percent, or $434, for the coming academic year, while nonresidents would likely pay about 3 percent, or $622, more. Students at CSU's College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences may feel the impact of higher tuition as well. Plans are to have in-state graduate students pay an extra 15 percent, or $970.20, annually, while out-of-state graduate students would pay an extra 5 percent, or $905.45, annually.

Cornell University's board of trustees intends on upping tuition for its veterinary students starting with the 2010-2011 academic year, too. State residents in the New York State College of Veterinary Medicine will see a 4.5 percent increase in tuition, which means they will pay $27,000 annually. Tuition for nonresident veterinary students will increase by 5.6 percent to $41,700.

Dr. Pappaioanou said sources of financial support for veterinary schools are undergoing a major change.

“Colleges are starting to look at different ways of doing things to be more economical, more efficient. You do see a lot of creative, neat ideas emerge” during hard economic times, Dr. Pappaioanou said.

She compares the situation to society's shift from horses to cars for transportation. Back then, many thought the profession was done for, which clearly did not turn out to be the case.

“We'll get through this. We have a lot of good people in this profession,” Dr. Pappaioanou said.

—MALINDA LARKIN

Sinking deeper into debt

As most states can attest, the current recession has caused a steep decline in state tax receipts. This has resulted in dramatic cuts in funding for public services and deficit spending, which look to continue for the foreseeable future.

An increasing number of states are struggling to keep true to their 2010 budgets. Revenues falling short of projections have caused midyear shortfalls in 41 states—some of which have already been addressed—totaling $35 billion, or 6 percent, of these budgets.

These new shortfalls came after states closed gaps when adopting their 2010 budgets this past year. Counting both initial and midyear deficits, 48 states have addressed or still face shortfalls in their 2010 budgets totaling $194 billion, or 28 percent, of state budgets—the largest gaps on record.

In fiscal year 2011, projected deficits total $102 billion, or 17 percent, of budgets for 41 states. These totals are likely to grow as revenues continue to deteriorate.

When all is said and done, these numbers suggest that states will have dealt with a total budget shortfall of at least $350 billion for 2010 and 2011. (This includes both gaps already closed and gaps projected for the future.)

Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

Bayer selling flea and tick products directly to retailers

Company cites market forces, diversion problem as reasons for the decision

Bayer Animal Health is starting to sell Advantage and K9 Advantix directly through pet specialty retailers and Web sites, while continuing to sell both products through veterinarians.

In a Feb. 9 news release, Bayer stated one reason for the move is “to remain competitive in a rapidly changing business environment.” Another reason is the ongoing diversion of flea and tick products from the veterinary channel to retail sales channels.

Veterinarians reacted with a mixture of emotions, and Bayer's move was a hot topic for online discussion boards. Dr. Douglas G. Aspros, vice chair of the AVMA Executive Board, said he was hearing from AVMA members who were not happy with Bayer or Bayer's decision.

Bayer's decision

Bob Walker, Bayer Animal Health director of communications and public policy, said his company knows a number of veterinarians are feeling a sense of disappointment.

Nevertheless, he said, some veterinarians appreciate Bayer being forthright about the move and the company's awareness that flea and tick products have been available through retail sales channels for some time.

Walker said selling Advantage and K9 Advantix to retailers will help Bayer direct the products to pet specialty stores and Web sites that share an interest in animal health. Bayer is working with retailers to provide more information to consumers about application of the products and the importance of veterinary visits.

Bayer also is promoting veterinary visits with a multimillion-dollar print advertising campaign in magazines that target pet owners.

“It's extremely important for pet owners to have that routine dialogue with their veterinarian to understand how to use these products,” Walker said. “We'll be very explicit on the usage and application from the retail side, but it doesn't take the place of the importance of the pet owners' and the pets' relationship with the veterinarian.”

Veterinarians' reactions

Other major flea and tick products remain available only through veterinarians, except in cases of diversion.

The AVMA Principles of Veterinary Medical Ethics refer to products “for which the manufacturer has voluntarily limited the sale to veterinarians as a marketing decision.” According to the principles, it is unethical for veterinarians to participate in the resale of this type of product “in a manner which violates those directions or conditions specified by the manufacturer to ensure the safe and efficacious use of the product.”

Dr. Aspros believes veterinarians are responsible for some diversion of flea and tick products to retailers, but he also believes few companies have tried hard to stop the overall diversion problem. The small animal practitioner said many colleagues who lent their authority and expertise to promoting Advantage and K9 Advantix through their clinics feel misused now that Bayer has decided to sell the products directly to retailers.

Dr. Karen E. Felsted, chief executive officer of the National Commission on Veterinary Economic Issues, noted that with the advent of the Internet pharmacies, veterinary prescription drugs and other veterinary products have been readily available outside clinics for some years now—and many veterinarians already have adapted to these changing business models.

Some veterinarians have shifted their profit models to place less emphasis on deriving revenue from product sales, Dr. Felsted said, and more emphasis on charging sufficiently for services and running their businesses more productively and efficiently.

“I think practices will continue to dispense drugs in the foreseeable future,” she said. “But what drugs they dispense, how they do it, that's been changing for years now.”

Future relationship

For Bayer's part, the company stated that it continues to view veterinarians as its most important partner in animal health.

“We cannot stress enough how committed we remain to veterinarians,” stated Joerg Ohle, president of Bayer Animal Health, in the Feb. 9 news release. “And we intend to build on our long-standing partnerships with new investments in programs and promotions to support their practices, the profession, and the industry.”

According to the news release, Bayer Animal Health is increasing its financial support of veterinary associations, including the AVMA and the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges.

At the same time as its retail rollout of Advantage and K9 Advantix in March, Bayer is offering a “March Back In” program to provide $20 rebates to pet owners who purchase either product from a veterinarian in March and visit the veterinarian again by year's end. Additional information is available by calling Bayer Animal Health customer service at (800) 633-3796.

The company offered a similar program in February of last year, “Help Your Pet Get to the Vet,” providing $20 vouchers for preventive care to promote veterinary visits during the economic downturn.

–KATIE BURNS

Ophthalmologists offer free eye examinations for service dogs

Guide dogs, assistance dogs, detection dogs, and search-and-rescue dogs rely on their eyes in their daily work. During the month of May, these service dogs are eligible for free eye examinations, courtesy of a program through the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists and Merial.

More than 150 veterinary ophthalmologists in the United States and Canada have volunteered to participate in the third annual ACVO/Merial National Service Dog Eye Exam Event. The ACVO has extended the program from a weeklong event to a monthlong event this year.

“If we can assist more dogs, then the dogs can better assist people,” said Stacee Daniel, ACVO executive director. “This event is a success each year due to the outstanding support of our volunteer ophthalmologists, our sponsors, and the service dog community. All are instrumental in helping these dogs.”

To qualify for a free eye examination, dogs must be active working dogs with certification from a formal training program or be an enrollee in a training program. Owners or agents of service dogs must register via an online registration form. Then they may locate a participating veterinary ophthalmologist and schedule an appointment for the month of May.

The Web site www.ACVOeyeexam.org provides additional details about the ACVO/Merial National Service Dog Eye Exam Event. The registration form will be available April 1.

news update

Judge sentences importers of melamine-contaminated ingredients

A U.S. district court recently ruled in the case of the company that sold melamine-contaminated ingredients from China to U.S. and Canadian manufacturers of pet food, leading to illness or death of many animals and a recall of more than 150 brands of dog and cat food in early 2007.

Sally Qing Miller and Stephen S. Miller, spouses and owners of ChemNutra, pleaded guilty to one count each of selling adulterated food and selling misbranded food. On Feb. 5, a judge with the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri sentenced the Millers to three years of probation. The judge also imposed a $5,000 fine on each of them and a $25,000 fine on ChemNutra.

The court did not impose additional restitution in light of a $24 million settlement in a relevant classaction civil suit against the U.S. and Canadian companies that supplied ingredients containing melamine or that manufactured, distributed, or sold pet food containing the ingredients.

ChemNutra imported more than 800 metric tons of “wheat gluten” from China to the United States between Nov. 6, 2006, and Feb. 21, 2007, according to the indictments against the Millers. The ingredient actually was wheat flour adulterated with melamine. Adding melamine made the ingredient appear, in tests, to have a higher protein content. ChemNutra sold and shipped the ingredient to U.S. and Canadian manufacturers of numerous brands of pet food.

Canada steps up enforcement of horse slaughter guidelines

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By July 31, horses must have medical history documentation

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 236, 6; 10.2460/javma.236.6.600

Canada has taken a first step in developing a comprehensive food safety and traceability program for its equine industry, the effects of which will reverberate at home and abroad.

On Jan. 29, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency issued health requirements for all horses bound for slaughter in Canada; the new requirements come into effect July 31. Horse owners who intend to sell animals directly or indirectly to Canadian meat processors must record all vaccines and medications administered or fed to their animals and any occurrence of illness in their animals.

The CFIA has provided an Equine Information Document for this purpose; it can be found on the agency's Web site, www.inspection.gc.ca.

About 55 types of medications and substances, including phenylbutazone and certain antimicrobials, are prohibited from being given to a horse intended to be slaughtered for human consumption. A comprehensive list can be found on the CFIA site.

During the transition period, the EID will be reviewed to determine whether horses have been treated with prohibited drugs during the six months prior to their slaughter. A longer “certification period” will eventually be implemented.

A list of drugs that are safe to be given or fed to horses that may be used for food will be available in April. Withdrawal periods specific to horses slaughtered in Canada will be included with this list.

The collection of information is meant to prepare the equine industry for July 31, when it will be mandatory for all federally inspected Canadian equine facilities to have complete records dating back six months for all domestic and imported animals presented for slaughter.

This new measure is part of Canada's response to the European Commission's requirements on the importation of equine meat products, issued in April. The EC notified countries supplying horse meat to the European Union that they were now required to identify horses intended for food production, have in place a system of identity verification, prohibit the use of anabolic steroids and other prohibited drugs, and ensure that withdrawal periods are followed for veterinary medical products permitted to be used on horses that may be slaughtered for food.

Early this year, the CFIA, with assistance from the Veterinary Drug Directorate of Health Canada and equine industry partners, submitted an action plan outlining how Canada intends to meet these requirements. The Equine Information Document is just the first step, with more regulations to follow.

The European Union, Food and Drug Administration, and CFIA regulations have prohibited the slaughter of animals for human consumption that have ever received certain prohibited substances as established by legislation in their countries, but until now, there has been no serious attempt at enforcement.

Dr. Tom R. Lenz, chair of the American Horse Council's Unwanted Horse Coalition, said he wasn't sure how the regulations will affect the industry.

“The buyers may have to hold the horses in quarantine for six months before exporting them unless they have specific medical histories on them,” Dr. Lenz said. “Most people in the U.S. don't provide treatment histories when they sell a horse.”

Veterinarians, too, will be affected. Treatment records will need to be referenced by owners completing the EID to obtain information on drug withdrawal times and administration of drugs prohibited by the European Union or Canada.

Canada currently has six federally licensed horse slaughter facilities.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that U.S. exports of horses to Canada rose from 24,866 head in 2006 to 49,895 head in 2008, a 100 percent increase.

In 2009, Canada exported nearly 23,100 tons of horse meat products, according to the CFIA. Nearly 60 percent of that amount was sent to European Union markets.

Mexico, where horses are also slaughtered for human consumption, has yet to announce how it intends to comply with the EU six-month quarantine order regarding horses intended for slaughter.

—MALINDA LARKIN

Partnership to promote public and corporate veterinary medicine

Two organizations are working together to encourage and support more veterinary students interested in careers in public and corporate practice.

The U.S. Animal Health Association and the Center for Public and Corporate Veterinary Medicine, part of the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, signed a memorandum of understanding in January whereby together, they will step up efforts to enhance opportunities for veterinary students in areas where veterinarians are in short supply. These career fields include public health, global veterinary medicine, biomedical research, food animal medicine, and laboratory diagnostics.

The USAHA-CPCVM partnership was prompted by growing concerns over veterinary workforce shortages that could have severe national implications, and the ability of the CPCVM to meet those needs. These shortages, identified by the Government Accountability Office, AVMA, and others, could compromise the integrity of the U.S. food supply as well as efforts to combat new and emerging diseases.

In California, which is home to several large-scale dairy- and egg-producing operations, approximately 12 veterinary positions in the state's Animal Health Branch have been lost over the past decade, largely owing to retention and recruitment challenges, said Dr. Richard E. Breitmeyer, who is the California state veterinarian and current president of the USAHA.

“We're just not able to attract and effectively compete for the limited number of available veterinarians,” he explained. “We're typical of a lot of state animal health departments.”

Dr. Breitmeyer hopes the partnership with the Center for Public and Corporate Veterinary Medicine will help turn things around. The CPCVM has for the past two decades trained veterinary students across the nation for careers in public and corporate veterinary medicine.

The center's director, Dr. Valerie E. Ragan, says the CPCVM will leverage the USAHA's extensive network of federal and state animal health officials, national poultry and livestock association representatives, and others to educate, energize, and provide opportunities for veterinary students interested in careers outside companion animal medicine.

“What we want to do with USAHA is to expand the opportunities for students to learn while they're in school and to create networking opportunities,” Dr. Ragan said. “The broad range of animal health issues the association deals with will provide a real-world aspect to an area of veterinary medicine to which veterinary students may not otherwise receive much exposure. This partnership should serve to not only increase interest in this aspect of veterinary medicine, but increase the opportunity for valuable experience as well.”

As part of the new partnership, the USAHA and CPCVM will establish a mentoring program matching veterinary students interested in public or corporate practice with USAHA members. The USAHA will start a student membership category at a reduced dues rate, and one or two students will be sponsored to attend the association's 2010 meeting. The students will then share their experiences with their colleagues.

In addition, the USAHA and CPCVM will identify opportunities for student involvement with USAHA member organizations and agencies, such as externships and other interactions. Dr. Breitmeyer would like to see the two groups devise a template for instituting and running a successful externship that could be easily adopted by state and federal animal and public health agencies and others.

To learn more about the U.S. Animal Health Association, visit www.usaha.org. For information about the Center for Public and Corporate Veterinary Medicine, go to www.vetmed.vt.edu/org/md/cpcvm.

—R. SCOTT NOLEN

NAVTA announces new surgical technician specialty

The National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America has announced a new specialty, the Academy of Veterinary Surgical Technicians.

It is the eighth specialty recognized by the association.

The Committee on Veterinary Technician Specialties is a subcommittee of NAVTA that provides guidelines to veterinary technician organizations to facilitate the formation of specialty organizations. The CVTS announced its recognition of the academy Jan. 28.

The AVST will create a standardized route through which technicians may qualify for a national examination to become a “veterinary technician specialist,” or VTS, in surgery.

The impetus for the new specialty came about from a 2009 survey of veterinary professionals who indicated the need for technicians with advanced knowledge in many areas related to surgery.

“Veterinary technicians must not only understand sophisticated soft tissue and orthopedic surgical procedures but also must possess advanced knowledge in areas such as anatomy and physiology, equipment/ instrument care and maintenance, principles of asepsis, wound management, and diagnostic imaging techniques,” said Heidi Reuss-Lamky, president of the AVST, in the Jan. 28 announcement.

Veterinary technicians interested in learning the criteria involved in pursuing VTS certification in surgery should contact Reuss-Lamky at frzbdogmom@aol.com or Teri Raffel at raffelteri@gmail.com.

For more information about NAVTA and the veterinary technician specialties, visit its Web site at www.navta.net.

N.H. considering licensing nonveterinarian livestock care

Commission examining how to provide veterinary care to underserved areas

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Limited access to livestock care in New Hampshire has led to the creation of a commission considering whether the state should license a new category of food animal technicians.

New Hampshire Department of Agriculture, Markets, & Food/Photo by Elizabeth Ferry

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 236, 6; 10.2460/javma.236.6.600

A task force in New Hampshire is considering licensing nonveterinarians for some livestock care to address a shortage of available food animal veterinarians.

Dr. Brad Taylor, legislative committee chair for the New Hampshire VMA, said the state legislative study commission is considering whether New Hampshire should have a category of licensed food animal technicians, but the details of the proposal have not emerged. The commission is led by state Sen. Jacalyn Cilley, who did not return messages seeking comment.

State legislators passed a 2008 bill that called for studying the creation of an animal care worker classification “to perform the basic care of animals under the direct or indirect supervision of a state licensed veterinarian.” The commission members are charged with determining what accreditation would be needed for such workers, what role past experience and employment would play, and what practices they could perform.

“In performing this study and making its recommendations, the commission shall review and consider using as basic standards…(the) accreditation policies, guidelines, and procedures of the American Veterinary Medical Association's Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities,” the bill states.

The state of New Hampshire does not currently license veterinary technicians, Dr. Taylor said.

The New Hampshire VMA has not expressed an opinion on the proposal. But Dr. Taylor said that, in his opinion, allowing such licensed technicians to work on farms—provided they have the means to contact a veterinarian—could help increase access to animal care.

“We're ranked number three in the nation as far as direct farm-toconsumer food sales, and that's a situation that the state government wishes to help—the local guys with a few sheep that are selling lambs, and people who have some chickens and are selling eggs to their neighbors,” Dr. Taylor said.

However, access to veterinary care is, in some areas, “sporadic at best,” and the northern third of the state is particularly underserved by food animal veterinarians, he said.

State Veterinarian Steve Crawford, a member of the commission, said access to livestock and poultry veterinary care is limited across his state, primarily because of a shortage of veterinarians.

Most New Hampshire residents who own livestock are not full-time farmers, and the number of farms in the state has grown about 25 percent in the past eight years, Dr. Crawford said. But he has heard from veterinarians in mixed animal practice that a smaller number of owners are calling for services.

Dr. Crawford is concerned about zoonotic disease risk if producers do not have access to veterinary services. But producers with 10-sheep and 20-cow herds are often reluctant to call veterinarians because they don't think the price of services matches the value of their animals.

Dr. Crawford also expressed concern that, with a lack of veterinarian oversight, it would be more difficult to identify outbreaks of diseases such as H5N1 influenza or foot-and-mouth disease. The efficiency of disaster response depends partly on the number of locations state officials have to manage.

Dr. Crawford believes it is too early to form an opinion on licensing such technicians, but the discussions about access to veterinary care are needed.

“There's got to be a model that works for us,” Dr. Crawford said.

Dr. Thomas Candee, who represents New Hampshire in the AVMA House of Delegates, believes veterinarians would be available in rural northern areas of his state if they could make a living there.

He said most people who own large animals and live in the north woods of his state call their veterinarians only during emergencies, and many don't have trailers to haul their cattle or horses to a clinic. The state veterinary practice act requires that veterinarians arrange to provide emergency coverage for clients, and Dr. Candee believes fellow veterinarians realize they would be on call continuously if they opened mixed animal practices in those areas.

Dr. Candee also questioned whether someone who, for example, spent two years becoming a veterinary technician and another two years receiving additional large animal medical education would choose to earn more money as an employee of a large-scale livestock veterinary practice rather than to wait on call for emergencies.

Dr. Deborah T. Kochevar, dean of the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, said the college would prefer a viable system for licensed veterinarians with food animal or mixed animal practice interests to deliver care in underserved areas. She is aware of potential obstacles, however, including shortages of food animal practitioners and “the difficulty in matching producers' resources to timely veterinary care through a sustainable business model.”

“We're aware of the commission's efforts and are responding to requests for information,” Dr. Kochevar said. “Commission members are sincere in trying to find innovative ways to meet the needs of food animal practitioners in New Hampshire.”

Dr. Taylor said the food animal technicians would ideally be people with bachelor's degrees from animal science programs and at least one year of hands-on training. If such a licensing program is created, he hopes it will draw in people from rural backgrounds who could not afford to attend veterinary school but who have the skill and desire to work with livestock.

Dr. Clifford McGinnis, a member of the commission examining the animal care worker issue and a former New Hampshire state veterinarian, expressed doubt that a veterinary technician with additional food animal training could provide diagnoses with the accuracy of a veterinarian, and, for example, tell whether a cow was suffering from grass tetany or hypocalcemia.

“I don't know how they're going to make a veterinarian out of a technician with a couple of years of education,” Dr. McGinnis said.

He also doubts that such technicians would be able to find full-time animal care work and avoid taking on second jobs. During his career, Dr. McGinnis has also seen the number of dairy farms in New Hampshire drop from about 500 to 130.

He believes rural animal owners can help solve the problem by hauling their animals to veterinarians—rather than expecting house calls. And veterinarians with small animal practices can help by accepting livestock patients.

Dr. Taylor said the cost of veterinary education and the resulting debt carried by many recent graduates forces new veterinarians who might be interested in farm animal work into companion animal practices that can guarantee them a salary.

“We have to do dog and cat medicine—companion animal medicine—to survive,” Dr. Taylor said. “There's not enough farm animal work left to support very many veterinarians.”

Dr. Taylor also said that, if he were to send a recent graduate from some universities on a house call to a local farm, that veterinarian's bill would exceed the value of the sick or injured animal as soon as the veterinarian arrived.

It is unclear who would take responsibility for a food animal technician's actions, Dr. Taylor said.

“If I had a licensed food animal technician who had malpractice insurance and a clearly defined role as far as what they're allowed to do and not allowed to do, then I'd be able to provide that person's services to farms, hopefully at less of a cost than sending a veterinarian out there,” Dr. Taylor said.

—GREG CIMA

CVTEA puts in place procedures for initial accreditation

The AVMA Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities recently implemented new standard operating procedures for programs seeking initial accreditation.

The changes were approved by the CVTEA this past October and went into effect in January.

According to the new procedures, veterinary technology programs now should submit an application for accreditation prior to enrolling students. Programs that wish to become AVMA CVTEA-accredited may request a waiver of this requirement if they are located in states where there already is a state approval or accreditation process. This would include programs that have been in existence for some time and have already had graduates but that are not yet CVTEA-accredited.

A program seeking initial accreditation must also undergo an initial review by the CVTEA within three months before or after enrolling students. This initial review requires submission of additional information to the committee; programs that pass this initial review will receive confirmation of acceptance of the initial application. From there, an initial accreditation site visit will be coordinated by AVMA staff.

Previously, the CVTEA did not have any standard operating procedures for programs seeking initial accreditation. Julie Horvath, CVTEA coordinator, said that with the growing number of programs starting up, the committee was finding that many programs were struggling to meet the standards during the startup years. The CVTEA thought having standard operating procedures would better facilitate the process.

“The CVTEA implemented the new SOPs as a way to improve communication between programs starting up and the CVTEA during those challenging initial months and years, with the ultimate goal of helping new programs increase the likelihood of a positive initial accreditation site visit,” Horvath said.

As always, initial review of a program and scheduling of a site visit do not guarantee accreditation, nor do they necessarily result in the granting of temporary accreditation status.

Currently 165 programs in veterinary technology are CVTEA-accredited, including nine distance learning programs. Twenty programs offer baccalaureate degrees (10 offer bachelor's degrees only, and 10 offer associate's and bachelor's degrees). There are 113 programs assigned full accreditation, 43 assigned provisional accreditation, seven assigned probationary accreditation, and two programs that are being voluntarily discontinued and have been assigned terminal accreditation.

—MALINDA LARKIN

Ohioans could vote on animal housing law in November

A group of organizations is trying to add to Ohio's November ballot an initiative that could ban some animal housing, slaughter, and euthanasia practices.

The petition filed Jan. 27 by members of Ohioans for Humane Farms would ban within six years some confinement livestock housing, the slaughter of any nonambulatory cattle, and the euthanasia of cattle or pigs by strangulation. The group's Web site listed about two dozen organizations backing the initiative.

Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of the United States, said his organization would support the initiative, but Ohioans for Humane Farms is an independent political committee.

The groups need more than 400,000 signatures for the initiative to reach the ballot, and Ohioans for Humane Farms hoped to collect 600,000.

In November 2009, Ohio residents voted for a constitutional amendment that established the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board, a 13-member panel with the power to regulate animal care practices. The Ohio Farm Bureau backed the creation of the entity, which was at least partly intended to deter animal welfare-related ballot initiatives.

The initiative, if approved, would force the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board to, within six years, require that veal calves, pregnant sows, and egg-laying hens have room to lie down, stand up, fully extend their limbs, and turn around freely for most of any day. But it contains exemptions for cases involving research, veterinary care, transportation, exhibitions, and slaughter. Pregnant sows are exempt for seven days prior to an expected birth.

The board would also have to require that all on-farm euthanasia of cattle or pigs be performed by methods deemed acceptable by the AVMA, to prohibit euthanasia of cattle or pigs by strangulation, and to prohibit the transportation, sale, or receipt of cattle intended for use as food but unable to walk.

The AVMA Guidelines on Euthanasia do not include strangulation among acceptable methods.

Violating any of the new rules would be punishable by up to one year of incarceration and a $1,000 fine.

In response to the initiative, the Ohio VMA released a statement that complex livestock housing decisions should be addressed through legislative approaches, not constitutional ballot initiatives. The AVMA policy, “Establishing Public Policy to Ensure Animal Well Being,” states that ballot initiatives are poorly designed for addressing complex issues.

Jack Advent, executive director of the Ohio VMA, said he expects that, if the initiative is placed on the ballot, his organization will have an important role as voters look to veterinarians for opinions on animal housing.

“They're going to want to know what a veterinarian thinks first and foremost about this before any other group,” Advent said. “It's obviously an extremely important responsibility and one that our membership and our board take with the upmost seriousness.”

The Ohio VMA will work to give members information on animal housing systems and scientific research into those systems and to provide opportunities to engage colleagues and VMA staff and officers in dialogue on the issues, Advent said.

“By giving everybody an opportunity to learn, to interact, we think that will lead us to a more representative decision of what's in the best interest for the public, the animals, agriculture, and the profession,” Advent said.

—GREG CIMA

World Veterinary Day to center on ‘One World, One Health’

World Veterinary Day 2010, April 24, will raise awareness of the links between animal and public health through the theme “One World, One Health: more cooperation between veterinarians and physicians.”

The World Veterinary Association established World Veterinary Day in 2000 as an annual celebration of the veterinary profession, falling on the last Saturday of April. The WVA partnered with the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) two years ago to create the World Veterinary Day Award for the most successful celebration by a national veterinary association working alone or in cooperation with other veterinary groups.

In 2009, the Nepal Veterinary Association won the $1,000 award for best promoting the theme “Veterinarians and livestock farmers, a winning partnership.”

Many other organizations around the globe also marked World Veterinary Day last year. The AVMA publicized the occasion in the United States, noting concerns about a shortage of U.S. practitioners working in food supply veterinary medicine.

The 2010 World Veterinary Day Award will recognize the national veterinary association that best promotes the “One World, One Health” theme by involving stake-holders in World Veterinary Day. The deadline for national associations to apply for the award is May 1. Visit www.worldvet.org.

Guide on responding to FOIA requests available

The National Association for Biomedical Research has published a resource for researchers, university administrators and counsel, and others about responding to Freedom of Information Act requests, particularly those from animal rights organizations.

“Responding to FOIA Requests: Facts and Resources” is a 10-point best practices guide that includes suggestions for determining who should be aware of and responsible for responding to FOIA requests; examples of records commonly requested from the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and universities; an explanation of some of the ways animal rights activists use the FOIA; and steps that can be taken to ensure that the proper information is provided to the requester.

In recent years, animal rights activists have increasingly used the federal FOIA and state open records laws to obtain information about biomedical research projects and identify principal investigators using animals, according to NABR. In some cases the information is then posted on Internet sites that label investigators as animal “abusers” and encourage the harassment of PIs.

Some sites also facilitate or suggest the use of violence against PIs, the association said.

The best practices guide is the result of the combined efforts of NABR, the Society for Neuroscience, and the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology.

For a copy of “Responding to FOIA Requests: Facts and Resources,” go to www.nabr.org/Portals/8/Responding_to_FOIA_Requests.pdf. Questions? Contact NABR at (202) 857-0540, or by e-mail at info@nabr.org.

Iowa State dean to step down in 2011

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Dr. John U. Thomson

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 236, 6; 10.2460/javma.236.6.600

Dr. John U. Thomson won't be going very far next year when he changes jobs.

The dean of the Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine will step down from his position Jan. 1, 2011. From there he intends to serve on the Iowa State faculty, focusing on outcomes-based medicine and best production animal practices.

Dr. Thomson has been dean at ISU since August 2004.

Under his leadership, the college regained full accreditation by the AVMA Council on Education, launched a cooperative program with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln for veterinary education, and completed the $48 million Dr. W. Eugene and Linda Lloyd Veterinary Medical Center. Dr. Thomson has also facilitated acquiring the funding and planning for a $45.1 million expansion and renovation of the small animal hospital, which is expected to be finished in 2012.

Elizabeth Hoffman, Iowa State executive vice president and provost, said a national search for Dr. Thomson's replacement will begin in March.

A 1967 graduate of ISU, Dr. Thomson was in mixed animal private practice in Iowa for 20 years and served in administrative positions for more than 20 years at South Dakota State University, Mississippi State University, and Iowa State. Prior to coming to Iowa State, he was dean at the Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine from 1999–2004. A clinical epidemiologist, Dr. Thomson was named Veterinarian of the Year in Iowa, South Dakota, and Mississippi.

accolades

Organizations

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Kara Burns

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 236, 6; 10.2460/javma.236.6.600

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Dr. Elizabeth A. Sabin

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 236, 6; 10.2460/javma.236.6.600

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John Graham

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 236, 6; 10.2460/javma.236.6.600

The National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America has announced the recipient of its inaugural Veterinary Technician of the Year Award.

Kara Burns, MS, MEd, LVT, of Topeka, Kan., was this year's recipient.

Burns began her career in human medicine as a counseling psychologist and poison specialist. Her passion for working with animals eventually led her to pursue a veterinary technician license. Burns now works for Hill's Pet Nutrition as a veterinary technician specialist.

She serves as president of the Kansas Veterinary Technician Association and is a member of the organizing committee for the Academy of Veterinary Nutrition Technicians.

The award was created to honor a NAVTA member who contributes to the veterinary technology profession at large.

John Graham has been awarded the national Simmons Educational Fund Business Aptitude Award. It is a national award given to a third-year veterinary student to bring attention to the importance of business education in veterinary practice. Graham is an executive member of the Ross chapter of the Veterinary Business Management Association. The award consists of a $15,000 scholarship and an all-expense-paid trip to the 2010 North American Veterinary Conference. Each of the 29 veterinary schools or colleges that participate in the competition has an award winner, who then competes for the national award. Ross University is the first and only international school to compete in the SEF awards.

Dr. Elizabeth A. Sabin, an AVMA Education and Research Division assistant director, has earned the American Society of Association Executives ' Certified Association Executive credential—the highest professional credential in the association industry—the ASAE announced in February.

Dr. Sabin joined the AVMA staff in 1998 as assistant editor in the Publications Division and came to her current position in October 2001.

The CAE program has served to elevate professional standards, enhance individual performance, and designate those who demonstrate knowledge essential to the practice of association management.

Dr. Sabin earned her DVM degree from the University of California-Davis in 1992. Five years later she earned a doctorate in immunology from Cornell University. Prior to joining the AVMA staff, Dr. Sabin was a scientist at the Heska Corporation in Fort Collins, Colo., where she coordinated the company's canine leishmaniasis vaccine efforts and studied the intricacies of heartworm immunology.

AVMA Honor Roll Member, AVMA Member, Nonmember

Ellwood G. Barker

Dr. Barker (PUR '69), 65, Myrtle Beach, S.C., died Nov. 10, 2009. A small animal practitioner, he owned Three Point Veterinary Clinic in Elkhart, Ind., from 1972 until retirement in 1996. Prior to that, Dr. Barker served in the Army Veterinary Corps. He is survived by his wife, Sharon; two sons; and two daughters. Memorials may be made to the Humane Society of the United States, 2100 L St. N.W., Washington, DC 20037.

Glenn C. Bullock

Dr. Bullock (UP '53), 86, Beaver Falls, Pa., died Nov. 9, 2009. Prior to retirement in 1997, he practiced in Rochester, Pa., for more than 40 years. Dr. Bullock was a Navy veteran of World War II. He is survived by his wife, Marjorie, and a son. Memorials may be made to the Beaver County Humane Society, P.O. Box 63, Monaca, PA 15061.

Robert E. Dracy

Dr. Dracy (MIN '53), 82, Cannon Falls, Minn., died Dec. 12, 2009. Retired since 1986, he practiced mixed animal medicine in Cannon Falls for 33 years, establishing the Cannon Falls Veterinary Clinic in 1973. Dr. Dracy also served as veterinarian for the Cannon Valley Fair for more than 40 years. In retirement, he worked part time as a livestock inspector for the South St. Paul Stockyards. Dr. Dracy was a member of the Minnesota VMA. A veteran of the Marine Corps, he was also a member of the American Legion. Dr. Dracy's wife, Marge; two sons; and two daughters survive him.

Thomas B. Eville

Dr. Eville (WSU '42), 90, Penn Valley, Calif., died Nov. 27, 2009. A retired small animal practitioner, he owned a practice in Fresno, Calif. Dr. Eville was a life member of the California VMA and a member of the Southern California VMA. An avid underwater photographer, he won several awards for his slides and motion pictures. Dr. Eville was a veteran of the Army Veterinary Corps.

Roger R. Fales

Dr. Fales (COR '41), 92, Falconer, N.Y., died Jan. 2, 2010. He owned Falconer Veterinary Clinic, a small animal practice, for 55 years. Earlier in his career, Dr. Fales practiced in the Avon, Henrietta, and Rochester areas of New York state. He was a member of the New York State VMS, Western New York VMA, Chautauqua County VMS, and Chautauqua County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Active in civic life, Dr. Fales was also a member of the Village of Falconer Recycling Committee and a past president of the Falconer Central School Board of Education.

He is survived by his wife, Dr. Patricia J. Fales (MSU '66); a daughter, Dr. Mary Fales-Wilshire (ROS '98); and a son. Dr. Fales' wife and daughter co-own and practice at Falconer Veterinary Clinic. Memorials may be made to the Falconer Bethlehem Lutheran Church, 20 N. Phetteplace St., Falconer, NY 14733; or Falconer Public Library, 101 W. Main St., Falconer, NY 14733.

Peter A. Kieren

Dr. Kieren (MSU '81), 52, Grant, Mich., died Nov. 24, 2009. He coowned Newaygo Veterinary Services, a mixed animal practice in Newaygo, Mich., with his wife, Dr. Joellyn K. Kieren (MSU '81). Dr. Kieren was a member of the Michigan and West Michigan VMAs. He is survived by his wife; three daughters; and a son. Memorials may be made to the American Heart Association, 208 S. LaSalle St., Suite 1500, Chicago, IL 60604.

Calvin B. Kuenzi

Dr. Kuenzi (WIS '88), 47, Waukesha, Wis., died Jan. 7, 2010. A small animal practitioner, he was a partner since 1990 at Kuenzi Family Pet Hospital in Waukesha with his brother, Dr. Rodney S. Kuenzi (WIS '87), and his sister-in-law, Dr. Lana A. Kuenzi (MIN '82). Earlier in his career, Dr. Kuenzi practiced in Madison, Wis. He was a member of the Wisconsin VMA and Waukesha County VA and served on the board of directors of the Humane Animal Welfare Society of Waukesha County.

Dr. Kuenzi volunteered at the Waukesha County Fair and with the 4-H Club. He was also a member of the Waukesha Kiwanis Club. Dr. Kuenzi is survived by his wife, Gloria; a daughter; and two sons. His father, Dr. John E. Kuenzi (KSU '56), is a retired veterinarian in Waukesha. Memorials toward a college fund for his children may be made c/o Dr. Rodney S. Kuenzi, S52 W24082 Glendale Road, Waukesha, WI 53189.

Roy W. Lybrook

Dr. Lybrook (OSU '53), 87, Mesa, Ariz., died Dec. 9, 2009. He owned a practice in Scottsdale, Ariz., until retirement in 1982. Dr. Lybrook was a veteran of the Army Air Corps. His wife, Carolyn; two daughters; and two sons survive him. Memorials may be made to Church of the Master, 6659 E. University Drive, Mesa, AZ 85205; or Hospice of the Valley, 1510 E. Flower St., Phoenix, AZ 85014.

Leslie E. Meckstroth

Dr. Meckstroth (OSU '44), 91, Camden, S.C., died Dec. 5, 2009. He owned Springdale Stables in Camden for 28 years. Following graduation, Dr. Meckstroth practiced in Ohio and California. He then served 29 years in the Army Veterinary Corps, retiring as a colonel in 1975. Dr. Meckstroth received several military honors, including the National Defense Service, Army Commendation, Armed Forces Expeditionary Forces, and Meritorious Unit Service medals. He was a member of the American Legion and Kiwanis Club. Dr. Meckstroth is survived by his wife, Carol; two daughters; and four stepchildren.

Raymond L. Morter

Dr. Morter (ISU '57), 89, West Lafayette, Ind., died Nov. 19, 2009. He was professor emeritus of preventive medicine in the Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences at Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine since 1991. Dr. Morter began his career as an assistant professor at Iowa State University's Veterinary Medical Research Institute. In 1960, he joined the veterinary faculty of Purdue University as an associate professor, becoming a professor in 1964. Dr. Morter's research interests focused on veterinary microbiology and immunopathology.

He is survived by his wife, Judith; a son; and a daughter. Memorials may be made to Purdue University Veterinary Medicine 50th Anniversary Scholarship Fund, School of Veterinary Medicine Development Office, Lynn Hall 1177-A, 625 Harrison St., West Lafayette, IN 47907.

Truman K. Mostrom

Dr. Mostrom (ISU '56), 88, Grandin, N.D., died Oct. 28, 2009. He owned a mixed animal practice in Manly, Iowa, for more than 30 years. Dr. Mostrom was a member of the Iowa VMA. He served as a Navy fighter pilot during World War II. Dr. Mostrom is survived by his wife, Miriam, and two daughters. One daughter, Dr. Michelle S. Mostrom (ISU '78), is a veterinary toxicologist at North Dakota State University's Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory in Fargo.

Emil E. Perona

Dr. Perona (COR '56), 78, Andover, N.J., died Dec. 26, 2009. A small animal practitioner, he was the founder of Andover Animal Hospital and owned The Cozy Cat Boarding Kennel in Sparta, N.J. Dr. Perona was a past president of the Northwest Jersey VMS and a member of the New Jersey VMA and American Association of Feline Practitioners. He authored “All About People, Pets, and the Vet” and served on the board of directors of the Garden State Cat Club.

A state champion in wrestling, Dr. Perona helped establish the wrestling program at Pope John High School in Sparta and coached wrestling at the grammar school in Andover. In 2002, he was elected to the 2002 Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association College of Fame. Dr. Perona's wife, Adrienne, and a son survive him. Memorials in his name may be made to B.A.R.K.S (an animal rescue organization), P.O. Box 593, Stanhope, NJ 07874; or The Sparta Cancer Treatment Center, 89 Sparta Ave., Sparta, NJ 07871.

Allison D. Reed Sr.

Dr. Reed (AUB '52), 80, Theodore, Ala., died Nov. 26, 2009. He practiced small animal medicine, first in Meridian, Miss., and later in Mobile, Ala. Dr. Reed was a member of the Alabama VMA and past president of the Mobile VMA. He was a veteran of the Army. Dr. Reed's wife, Nan; three sons; and three daughters survive him. Memorials may be made to Westminster Presbyterian Church, 2921 Airport Blvd., Mobile, AL 36606.

Mark B. Sherrill

Dr. Sherrill (OKL '89), 45, McAlester, Okla., died Nov. 19, 2009. He ran market operations at the McAlester Stockyards. Earlier in his career, Dr. Sherrill worked at Windsor Animal Clinic in Coalgate, Okla. He was a member of the Oklahoma Cattlemen's Association and a past president of the Pittsburg County Cattlemen's Association. Dr. Sherrill is survived by his wife, Twylia; two daughters; and a son. Memorials may be made to the Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children, 3800 N. May Ave., Oklahoma City, OK 73112.

Donald F. Walker

Dr. Walker (COL '44), 86, Auburn, Ala., died Jan. 5, 2010. A charter diplomate of the American College of Theriogenologists, he was professor emeritus of large animal surgery and medicine at the Auburn University School of Veterinary Medicine since 1988. Following graduation, Dr. Walker owned a large animal practice in Broken Bow, Neb. During that time, he became interested in evaluating the breeding soundness of bulls with frost-damaged scrotums. Dr. Walker subsequently helped develop surgical techniques for correction of penile problems in bulls.

In 1958, he joined the veterinary faculty of Auburn University as an associate professor, becoming a professor in 1978. That same year, Dr. Walker was named head of the university's Department of Large Animal Surgery and Medicine. With his expertise in bovine urogenital surgery, Dr. Walker co-authored “Bovine and Equine Urogenital Surgery.” He was a past president of the Society for Theriogenology and the recipient of its Bartlett Award in 1994. Dr. Walker is survived by his wife, Patricia, and a daughter.

Daniel A. Woesner

Dr. Woesner (OKL '53), 83, Lawton, Okla., died Sept. 16, 2009. Prior to retirement in 1990, he owned Woesner Veterinary Clinic, a small animal practice in Lawton. Dr. Woesner was a member of the American Academy of Veterinary Dermatology, American Academy of Veterinary Cardiology, and Dallas County and Comanche County VMAs. He also served on the Oklahoma State University School of Veterinary Medicine Admissions Committee.

A Navy veteran of World War II, Dr. Woesner received the Victory and American Campaign medals. He was a member of the American Legion. Active in civic life, Dr. Woesner was also a member of the Lawton Chamber of Commerce and Rotary International. He is survived by his wife, Patricia, and a daughter. Memorials may be made to Hospice of Southwest Oklahoma, P.O. Box 2074, Lawton, OK 73502; or First Baptist Builders, c/o First Baptist Church, P.O. Box 1409, Lawton, OK 73502.

Keith V. Wold

Dr. Wold (MIN '66), 67, Wilton, Wis., died Nov. 24, 2009. He was a mixed animal practitioner. Prior to retirement in 2001, Dr. Wold served as either a partner or practice owner in Minnesota at Grand Meadow, Lewiston, Zumbrota, Lanesboro, and Preston and in Iowa at Dyersville, Farley, and Holy Cross. His wife, Kay; two daughters; and a son survive him.

Memorials may be made to the Western Iowa Synod Center for Agricultural Development in Tanzania, P.O. Box 577, Storm Lake, IA 50588; The Land Institute, Development Director, 2440 E. Water Well Road, Salina, KS 67401; Commonweal Theatre Company, 208 Parkway Ave. N., Lanesboro, MN 55949; or University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine, St. Paul, MN 55108.

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