Dr. Melinda Merck participates in a course at North Carolina State University on the investigation of crime scenes involving human deaths. Dr. Merck speaks and writes extensively about veterinary forensics and recently started Veterinary Forensics Consulting. (Courtesy of Dr. Melinda Merck)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 241, 1; 10.2460/javma.241.1.10


Dr. Ernest Rogers demonstrates recovery of bullet casings at a simulation of a crime scene. Dr. Rogers is the pro bono forensic veterinarian for the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and a practitioner in Maplewood, N.J. (Courtesy of K. Christian Donahue, PhD)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 241, 1; 10.2460/javma.241.1.10


Veterinarians apply knowledge to legal cases, Particularly animal abuse

Katie Burns

The police didn't expect to find a monkey in the barn.

Dr. Ernest Rogers was riding along with a canine police unit when the unit received a call to track a fugitive on foot. The chase led to a barn. The fugitive had disappeared, but the police did find a capuchin monkey with no food or water. A rescue group took in the monkey, and Dr. Rogers would later testify that the animal was improperly housed.

Dr. Rogers had been consulting on canine behavior for police in western Virginia while studying at Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine for a doctorate in veterinary medical sciences with research work in toxicology and pharmacology. The incident with the monkey was his introduction to the field of veterinary forensics.

Forensics is the application of scientific knowledge to legal matters, especially scientific analysis of evidence. Veterinary forensics has to do particularly with cases of animal cruelty or neglect, and occasionally with offenses that involve animals more peripherally. The animals can be living or dead.

Fast-forward several years in Dr. Rogers' career to another experience in veterinary forensics. By then, he had joined a practice in New Jersey. One day, while he was working at a shelter, police asked him to recover a bullet from a dog that had been shot in a gang fight and died. The police were trying to connect the shooter to several homicides in the area.

Later, Dr. Rogers happened to encounter the Humane Police of the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. He introduced himself, and they eventually asked for his help in a case against a dog trainer accused of abusive methods. He has been consulting with them since 2007, pro bono.

Dr. Rogers is among a number of veterinarians who have come to the field of veterinary forensics through a roundabout route. As recognition of the field grows, however, more veterinarians are seeking out relevant training.

Studies have found that most practicing veterinarians will see a case of animal abuse at some time during their career. Learning a little about veterinary forensics can be helpful in responding to these cases, according to experts in the field.

On behalf of the victim

Among the most recognizable names in veterinary forensics is Dr. Melinda Merck.

In the 1990s, when she was a small animal practitioner in Atlanta, Dr. Merck routinely reported to law enforcement about cases of animal abuse that she saw in practice or in her work with shelters. Reporting animal abuse was unusual for the local veterinary community at the time, she said.

In 2000, a Georgia law made animal cruelty a felony. Dr. Merck joined the efforts of Georgia Legal Professionals for Animals to educate police, prosecutors, and veterinarians about the law.

She also decided to learn more about how to handle evidence in cases of animal cruelty, but soon discovered that almost no information was available. So she began observing medical examiners and immersed herself in the emerging field of veterinary forensics.

Dr. Merck went on to speak extensively and write two books on veterinary forensics. She joined the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals as a forensics expert before starting Veterinary Forensics Consulting recently.

“I wrote the first book because I realized that veterinarians aren't going to do anything that they don't have a reference for,” Dr. Merck said. “They needed a book they could pull off the shelf when they got a case, because it scares them. It's very frightening to consider doing something we don't understand.”

In recent years, Dr. Merck said, veterinarians have been showing a genuine interest in learning about veterinary forensics. She said no one is better than a veterinarian at understanding animal evidence, but forensics also entails collecting evidence that is valuable and admissible in court and maintaining a chain of custody for the evidence to prevent tampering.

Dr. Merck's second book on veterinary forensics, coming out this fall, is twice the length of the first. “Veterinary Forensics: Animal Cruelty Investigation” covers subjects such as crime scene investigation, animal examination, and report writing. She hopes it will provide more of a foundation for answering the questions that arise in investigations of animal cruelty, such as questions concerning postmortem changes in tissues.

As a consultant, Dr. Merck has been working on a variety of cases. In a noteworthy example, she traveled to British Columbia last year to perform necropsies on the remains of dozens of sled dogs from a mass grave. The provincial government has charged a tour operator with killing the dogs via inhumane methods in early 2010 after a downturn in business following the Olympics in Vancouver.

“You cannot be invested in the outcome, because the outcome is affected by more than the veterinarian's work,” Dr. Merck noted, adding, “To do nothing is unacceptable. I have to act and do something on behalf of the victim.”

The appeal of puzzles

Dr. Sharon Gwaltney-Brant, immediate past president of the International Veterinary Forensic Sciences Association, came to veterinary forensics while working as a toxicologist for the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center in Illinois.

The ASPCA called on Dr. Gwaltney-Brant, who had completed a pathology residency, to assist with identification of drugs and interpretation of lesions in animals recovered during raids on cockfighting and dogfighting rings. She also did other forensics work while with the ASPCA.

Dr. Gwaltney-Brant currently is an independent consultant on toxicology and veterinary forensics. One of her recent cases involved a puppy that survived alcohol poisoning by a man. Dr. Gwaltney-Brant advised the man's defense team that the alcohol concentration in a blood sample from the puppy indicated that the animal had been exposed to a potentially lethal amount of alcohol. The defendant pleaded guilty.

The appeal of veterinary forensics is the appeal of figuring out a puzzle, Dr. Gwaltney-Brant said.

“Everyone likes to try to put the story together,” she said. “Whenever you are presented with a sick animal in practice, there is always a story behind it, and you're trying to put everything together.”

Forensics is a hot topic now because of the popularity of television shows on the subject, but Dr. Gwaltney-Brant said other developments are also contributing to the growth in veterinary forensics. Laws on animal cruelty have become tough enough for prosecutors to be able to pursue serious criminal penalties. The legal community also has taken note of the link between animal cruelty and violence against humans.

Attendees of a 2008 conference on veterinary forensics at the University of Florida formed the IVFSA as an association for veterinarians and other professionals who work on legal cases involving animals. The IVFSA has since held an annual conference at the University of Florida, with plans to move around the country in the future.

Forensics in the armamentarium

More states than before are requiring veterinarians to report animal abuse, with many states providing immunity from liability. “The AVMA considers it the responsibility of the veterinarian to report such cases to appropriate authorities, whether or not reporting is mandated by law,” according to the AVMA policy “Animal Abuse and Animal Neglect.”

The AVMA provides information about state reporting requirements at www.avma.org/issues/animal_welfare/abuse. The same site links to the document “Practical Guidance for the Effective Response by Veterinarians to Suspected Animal Cruelty, Abuse and Neglect” from the American Humane Association and the AVMA.

“The recent addition of veterinary forensics to the armamentarium of practitioners working in animal welfare offers additional opportunities for the prevention of animal maltreatment,” according to the document.

Dr. Gwaltney-Brant said practitioners should take a few basic steps to respond to cases of animal abuse.

“The very first thing they need to do is they need to know what their laws are,” she said. “The second thing is, as soon as cruelty is suspected, report it to your local law enforcement or animal control.”

She recommended labeling samples well and storing them in a secure area until they can be turned over to authorities.

Veterinarians who want to learn more about veterinary forensics can turn to an expanding array of books, conference sessions, and online courses. Dr. Merck said some communities have begun to hold interdisciplinary training on veterinary forensics for local veterinarians, legal professionals, and shelter representatives.

For veterinarians who want to delve further into forensics, Dr. Merck suggested contacting the local medical examiner or other legal professionals to offer assistance.

Presenting the evidence

Dr. Rogers has consulted with the NJSPCA in the prosecution of 40 to 45 cases of animal cruelty. He has been an expert witness for the defense in cases outside New Jersey through his consulting company, Animal Forensic Investigations LLC. He continues to practice full time at The Maplewood Animal Hospital LLC.

In his consulting for the NJSPCA, Dr. Rogers is providing input on a high-profile case of a pit bull-type dog that survived after being found emaciated in a trash chute. A woman is facing charges in the case.

Another pending case involved a cat that was apparently lured into a garage and shot dead. Dr. Rogers confirmed the cause of death and retrieved multiple projectiles.

Dr. Rogers believes that veterinarians have all the tools for the scientific side of forensics.

“It's all how you present the evidence. We are scientists; we were educated to be scientists,” Dr. Rogers said. “We just have to know how to take that education and look at the evidence and present it in a way that our colleagues who are lawyers and judges will accept it.”

ASPCA, University of Florida partner on forensics

By Katie Burns

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the University of Florida veterinary and medical colleges have partnered for the past several years on efforts to advance the field of veterinary forensics.

The ASPCA forensic sciences team and forensics experts from the University of Florida have been assisting with investigations of large-scale cruelty cases involving puppy mills, animal fighting, and animal hoarding. The ASPCA Veterinary Forensic Sciences Program at the University of Floridabegan offering a graduate certificate this year for veterinarians and other professionals to learn how to investigate cruelty cases.

Randall Lockwood, PhD, ASPCA senior vice president for forensic sciences and anti-cruelty projects, said his organization built on its experience with rescuing animals during disasters to gear up its response to large-scale cruelty cases. The forensic sciences team collects evidence in these cases.

“If you find an animal in a cage filled with feces in poor health condition, obviously from a rescue standpoint, your first impulse is to get that animal out of that horrible situation and into care,” Dr. Lockwood said. “But what we have to do is first document the situation in which we find the animal.”

The forensics team documents the condition of the animals, including health problems, and other evidence from the premises. For dogfighting cases, the evidence might include injuries to the dogs as well as medical supplies on the premises. In each case, the team keeps a photographic log and maintains a chain of custody for the evidence.

Dr. Lockwood said veterinarians in private practice who want to explore forensics do not require an influx of new learning, just a new mindset. What makes an examination or necropsy into a forensic procedure is careful documentation as well as mindfulness of potential challenges from the defense during testimony, he said.

“I think most veterinarians still find courtroom testimony unpleasant, but fortunately, I work with quite a few who actually enjoy the process,” Dr. Lockwood said. “If you know what you're doing and you're comfortable with what you're doing and you know the end result might be securing justice for an animal that may have suffered or died, that can be very rewarding.”


A recent conference on animal hoarding featured a hands-on simulation of an investigation of a hoarding case. Here, participants place markers to indicate which pieces of evidence to collect for further examination. The Maddie's Shelter Medicine Program at the University of Florida and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals hosted the conference in March at the university. (Photos courtesy of the University of Florida)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 241, 1; 10.2460/javma.241.1.10

Practitioners have been flocking to conferences and courses on veterinary forensics at the University of Florida.

Among recent offerings at the university, the Maddie's Shelter Medicine Program there and the ASPCA hosted a conference in March on animal hoarding. The conference featured a hands-on simulation of a hoarding case investigation.

Starting during the spring semester, the university began to offer an online graduate certificate program in veterinary forensics. Plans are under way to create a full master's degree in veterinary medical sciences with a concentration in veterinary forensic sciences, said Jason H. Byrd, PhD, a forensic entomologist who is associate director of the University of Florida Maples Center for Forensic Medicine.


A conference participant documents the condition of a dead animal in the mock hoarding case. Conference organizers planted evidence on donated bodies for the exercise.

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 241, 1; 10.2460/javma.241.1.10

“There has been no place for these people who do this to try to get some sort of formalized education in it,” Dr. Byrd said. “There's no standard protocol, so they try to do what they can do on their own.”

The certificate program's courses cover the connection between animal cruelty and violence against humans, processing of animal crime scenes, scientific and legal principles of forensic evidence, veterinary forensic pathology, and forensic entomology.

Dr. Byrd's casework in forensic entomology has focused on estimating time of death for humans, but he is receiving more requests to do the same for animals. He and other forensic scientists at the University of Florida who consult with the ASPCA hadn't anticipated the scale of the crime scenes for large-scale cruelty cases, however. A large-scale human homicide case might involve half a dozen victims, but a large-scale cruelty case might involve hundreds of animals.

Dr. Byrd believes veterinarians should become a part of the forensic science community. Veterinarians can attend general forensics conferences and can train at local medical examiners' or coroners' offices, he said.

“It is important to have veterinarians integrated into mainstream forensic sciences much more than they are,” Dr. Byrd said. “Think of it less as human forensics or animal forensics, and think of it more as just the application of science to legal cases.”


Candidates explain why they're right for AVMA vice presidency

On the agenda for the AVMA House of Delegates' regular annual session this August in San Diego is electing a new AVMA vice president.

Three candidates are running for the office, a two-year position as the AVMA liaison to the Student AVMA and student chapters. It also entails a seat at the AVMA Executive Board as a voting member.

Dr. Jan K. Strother was elected AVMA vice president in 2010, and her term is coming to an end. Hoping to pick up where she left off are Drs. Stacy L. Pritt, James E. Smallwood, and Walter R. Threlfall. Here, each candidate explains why he or she is the best person for the job.


Dr. Stacy L. Pritt

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 241, 1; 10.2460/javma.241.1.10

Interviews by R. Scott Nolen

Stacy L. Pritt of Chino Hills, Calif., is director of preclinical affairs for a contract research organization. A 1997 graduate of the Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Pritt was nominated as AVMA vice president by the American Society of Laboratory Animal Practitioners.

Why are you running for AVMA vice president?

My aspiration to become AVMA vice president stems from my experience with the AVMA and participation in student and new graduate programs. I see the AVMA's work in veterinary economics, legislation, and member services, and I have a strong desire to share these efforts with veterinary students to introduce them to the AVMA, build their desire to maintain membership in the AVMA, and prepare them as future leaders within the Association.

What distinguishes you from your opponents?

With my background in private practice, academia, and industry, I would bring a unique perspective to the position of AVMA vice president. I am able to give students practical career advice, no matter what choices they are contemplating. I can see how a potential AVMA policy or initiative affects the profession rather than just one segment. The profession now works within a global economy—a perspective I can bring to the AVMA Executive Board. I have served in leadership roles in state veterinary associations, an allied organization, and international biomedical research groups. This broad experience allows me to bring fresh ideas and concepts that have already been used to improve programs and implement projects within organized veterinary medicine.

Please talk about your work with veterinary students.

Soon after graduating from veterinary school, I started working on programs for veterinary students. Initially, this involved organizing new sessions targeting students and new graduates for the Washington State VMA. Over time, I began organizing the gender and generational sessions at the AVMA Annual Convention with a focus on students and new graduates. After establishing my career in research, I started participating in career-focused sessions at multiple veterinary schools. These sessions highlighted nontraditional veterinary career paths, professional success, and achieving a work-life balance. Most important, I emphasized the interpersonal, business management, and communication skills necessary to make a veterinarian successful. I discussed leadership and business finance at the Student AVMA Symposium in 2004 and 2010. I played a role in the beginning of the master of science in laboratory animal medicine program at the Tufts University Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine. For that program, I taught several inaugural classes, including an introduction to laboratory animal medicine, small mammal nutrition, and regulatory compliance. Finally, I continue to give guest lectures at local preveterinary programs. It is amazingly gratifying to see these students embarking on a wonderful career. Details of my campaign and work with veterinary students are highlighted on my Facebook page (www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1258478487). You can also connect with me on LinkedIn and follow me on Twitter at @StacyPrittDVM.

What would you hope to accomplish if you were elected?

As AVMA vice president, I will demonstrate the AVMA's value to veterinary students. I hope to build excitement about the future of our profession and our organization. I will inform students of the AVMA's current initiatives and how it is taking on a leadership role concerning economics, legislation, and workforce demand. I also want to listen to students. Veterinary student input is necessary to help the AVMA identify areas for involvement to help with life after veterinary school and fulfill the needs of new-graduate AVMA members. Lastly, I will equip students with the knowledge on how they can participate and become leaders in the AVMA. The AVMA will continue to be a strong organization only as long as it constantly prepares the next generation for participatory and leadership roles.

Is the AVMA's outreach to veterinary students sufficient, or is there more the Association can do?

There are always opportunities to increase outreach, and many times, the students will let us know how to do so. The current vice president, Dr. Jan Strother, increased support of SAVMA's operations from a technology standpoint in response to student input. I hope to build on this and identify additional areas of support that the AVMA can provide. Social media and the AVMA's new website will provide additional avenues for outreach. I see several untapped approaches for student outreach, such as multimedia presentations, increasing student participation on AVMA committees, and dedicated student programming at the AVMA Annual Convention. As the number of AVMA-accredited schools with student chapters of the AVMA increases, thought will need to be given to how to effectively visit the veterinary schools during a vice president's two-year term in conjunction with the AVMA assistant director for student affairs.

Why should a new veterinary graduate join the AVMA? How does he or she benefit from being an AVMA member?

New graduates can benefit from the AVMA in many ways. From taking advantage of the various AVMA services and products to participating in networking forums, new graduate members can access a wealth of information through AVMA membership. Membership can allow new graduates to take control of their careers, gain insight into new employment opportunities, network, and develop leadership skills. The AVMA needs to work hard to educate veterinary students about all it has to offer.

How would you describe today's typical veterinary student?

I don't believe there is a typical veterinary student. Veterinary students come from a wide variety of backgrounds and possess a breadth of life experience that will make our profession stronger. They do have common interests and goals, however. They are interested in their career options and building the skills to make them successful. They are eager for insights from current veterinarians into what to do and what not to do as professionals. They are concerned about the demand for their skills and the increasing competition in a global economy. They are also facing the realities of balancing work with home, and other personal demands. From a professional perspective, they want to promote the highest level of animal welfare while earning enough to pay their student loans and have a fulfilling life. Finally, they want to ensure that the camaraderie that they have built as veterinary students is maintained as professionals and within the AVMA.

What are your thoughts on the rising costs of veterinary education, high veterinary student debt, and relatively low starting salaries for new graduates?

Rising student debt is not an issue unique to veterinary medicine, but our profession must develop effective ways to deal with the situation. Many students enter veterinary school knowing they will be taking on debt, but they may not fully understand the ramifications. What veterinary schools, the AVMA, and others should do is ensure students understand the consequences of that debt and how to manage it. Students should be provided with every available financing and loan repayment option along with instruction in budgeting. Students should also be given practical advice, from practicing veterinarians, about what it takes to be successful and how to achieve the income they need. Veterinary schools should also explore educational models to help achieve cost efficiency.


Dr. James E. Smallwood

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 241, 1; 10.2460/javma.241.1.10

James E. Smallwood of Raleigh, N.C., is a professor of anatomy at North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine and faculty adviser to the college's student chapter of the AVMA. A 1969 graduate of the Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Dr. Smallwood was nominated as AVMA vice president by the North Carolina VMA.

Why are you running for AVMA vice president?

It is an honor and privilege to be a candidate, nominated by the North Carolina Veterinary Medical Association, for the high office of vice president of the AVMA. I consider this to be both an opportunity to serve my profession and a serious responsibility to represent that profession to the very best of my ability. It is my desire to culminate my career as a veterinarian and teacher by helping to motivate and encourage the next generation of veterinarians to become active participants in the AVMA. You can learn more about me and my campaign by visiting my public Facebook page at www.facebook.com/JamesEdgarSmallwood/photos.

What distinguishes you from your opponents?

The major thing is my long-term experience working on a daily basis with veterinary students, both as a teacher and as a faculty adviser to the Student AVMA chapter at N.C. State University.

Please talk about your work with veterinary students.

Almost my entire professional life has been devoted to teaching anatomy to veterinary students. But it's not just about anatomy; it has always been about people—my students. In my role as a faculty adviser to the N.C. State Chapter of the SAVMA, I have had the opportunity to work with the leaders of tomorrow in veterinary medicine. SCAVMA officers are outstanding leaders who recognize the importance of working for the benefit of their classmates and profession. They understand that veterinary medicine is about more than veterinary medicine.

What would you hope to accomplish if you were elected?

My primary goal would be to further strengthen the relationship between the AVMA and the Student AVMA by continuing to keep a finger on the pulse of trends within this younger professional constituency. We must be constantly reviewing what we are doing, lest our efforts become irrelevant to the needs and concerns of those we are trying to serve. I would welcome the opportunity to visit with the various SAVMA chapters around the country and to let the future leaders of our profession know how wonderful a career in veterinary medicine can be. I would embrace the opportunity to share my enthusiasm with the future leaders of the profession.

Is the AVMA's outreach to veterinary students sufficient, or is there more the Association can do?

There is always more that could be done, but I think the AVMA is pretty well-engaged with nurturing and mentoring the student and younger members of our profession. For example, implementation of the Emerging Leaders program has demonstrated AVMA's commitment to strengthening the future of the profession and Association by providing opportunities and mentoring for these younger veterinary leaders.

Why should a new veterinary graduate join the AVMA? How does he or she benefit from being an AVMA member?

Because joining the AVMA is the smart thing to do. The AVMA is the one umbrella organization for all veterinarians. Despite the fact that everyone loves veterinarians, there are people constantly trying to pass legislation that would have a negative impact on the welfare of animals and how we function as veterinarians. One of the most important ways we and the public benefit from the AVMA is by the AVMA preventing bad laws and policies from being passed or implemented. The Washington office of the AVMA and the AVMA Political Action Committee deserve a lot of credit for looking out for the best interests of the public and our profession. A more relevant question might be: Why would any veterinarian not join the AVMA?

How would you describe today's typical veterinary student?

Tired. At least that is the most common response when I ask, “How are you?” I tell them that is the appropriate response; it means they are working hard and losing some sleep to keep up with the rigors of veterinary school. Beyond that, today's veterinary student is dedicated, ambitious, intelligent, and worried about the future.

What are your thoughts on the rising costs of veterinary education, high veterinary student debt, and relatively low starting salaries for new graduates?

Just like the students, I am worried. I often tell the students, they are buying a house they will never live in. I cannot imagine graduating from veterinary school with over $125,000 in student debt. This is a complex problem related to the current economic recession. Higher education costs have been out of control for a long time. And almost all state-supported veterinary colleges have seen significant cutbacks in state funding—in our case at N.C. State, a reduction of $3.86 million in the past few years. The most obvious ways for veterinary colleges to make up that deficit are to increase tuition and/or to increase the number of DVM students admitted to the program. Many U.S. veterinary schools are doing just that.

Coupled with the recent AVMA accreditation of two Caribbean schools and the proposed establishment of up to three new U.S. veterinary schools, there is no doubt that the supply of new graduates is going to increase dramatically within the next three to six years. At the same time, starting salaries for new graduates are on the decline.

It is these economic facts that have our current students worried. Even with the loan-forgiveness and other government-subsidized programs, things do not look good financially for our DVM graduates, at least in the short term. Undoubtedly, many of our graduates are going to have to delay things like starting a family and buying a home. Practice owners are also concerned that their retirement nest egg—the value of their practice, that is—will likely suffer because these younger veterinarians will not be financially able to buy their practice. High student debt not only affects new graduates but also has a domino effect on our entire profession.


Dr. Walter R. Threlfall

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 241, 1; 10.2460/javma.241.1.10

Walter R. Threlfall of Powell, Ohio, taught at The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine for nearly 40 years and is currently a theriogenology consultant. A 1968 graduate of the OSU CVM, Dr. Threlfall was nominated as AVMA vice president by the Ohio VMA.

Why are you running for AVMA vice president?

I have devoted my professional life to the education of veterinary students. I have been interested in the AVMA vice presidency for approximately 20 years. It is only now I have the time to devote to this office that I believe it deserves. I can bring a lifetime of professional and personal experience to this position. I am intimately familiar with the personal and professional challenges of the veterinarian. Perhaps some of the advice I shared through the years with hundreds of students and recent graduates may not have been valuable at the time, but I hope they would recognize that someone cared deeply about them and wanted them to succeed and find happiness in whatever they did and whichever paths they followed. The position of AVMA vice president is another chance for me to pay back a profession that has given a small-town farm boy the opportunity to have a dream life.

What distinguishes you from the other candidates?

I believe my primary strengths are my multiple animal species and clinical practice experience as well as being a researcher and educator, and my involvement in multiple veterinary medical organizations. I have been able to examine, treat, and consult on clinical cases throughout the United States ranging from cats to rhinoceroses. I have been involved with research and the presentation of educational material on many of these species to preveterinary and veterinary students in addition to continuing education courses for veterinarians. I have spent my professional career educating future and present veterinarians. I have been on the board of health for my county for 21 years and served as president for the last 15. As director of continuing education at The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine, I was involved in the planning of more than 40 courses annually. I am now a theriogenology consultant. Why do I feel all of this is important? It gives me the ability to converse with most veterinary students, regardless of their interests. I believe this experience will be of value on the Executive Board when deciding on the issues facing our profession. To find out more about me and my candidacy, visit my Facebook page at www.facebook.com/WalterRThrelfall.

Please talk about your work with veterinary students.

I have been working with veterinary students since graduating from veterinary college. I have taught in clinics and laboratories and lectured on numerous aspects of veterinary medicine, including anatomy, physiology, and pathology as well as the clinical application of theriogenology. I also advised the Theriogenology Club at OSU for approximately 20 years, even before there was a national student organization. However, the most important aspect of my engagement with students has been in regard to their academic challenges, career choices, internships, residencies, and positions in practice. Many friendships have developed over time, and it has been most rewarding to see the graduates succeed.

What would you hope to accomplish if you were elected?

I have several goals I would like to accomplish if elected to this extremely important position. I would first like to strengthen further the relationship between AVMA and our students. This would be accomplished by listening to student concerns as I have always done and attempting to find workable solutions to their problems. I want their input on all topics, including debt load, curriculum, clinical training, hands-on training opportunities, stress, and mental health. Nothing should be off the table if I am to be the most effective sounding board for them and to identify how AVMA can be of assistance.

Is the AVMA outreach to veterinary students sufficient, or is there more the Association can do?

There is always more that can be done. The important point is what can the Association afford to do? First, we continue to exhibit the fact we care about their problems, acknowledge they are already part of the profession we love, and attempt to assist in finding solutions to their problems. We must continue and encourage additional ways to increase student input. We must encourage all students to express their thoughts and engage in conversations with anyone in organized veterinary medicine who will discuss the ideas and identify ideas with merit, and encourage them to remain involved and to be active future participants. The person most responsible for this communication is the AVMA vice president.

How would you describe today's typical veterinary student?

I do not believe there is a typical veterinary student, and that is a very good thing. Today's students have many of the same problems as earlier ones, but the former students didn't have the extent of debt there is today and had more employment opportunities in a clinical setting. Veterinary students today are much more diverse than before. This is true both personally and professionally. I have always been intrigued with the individualism of our students and have attempted to learn as much as I can about their interests and goals. We are all unique, and it's incredible when you consider the different backgrounds and talents our next generation of veterinarians brings to stimulate and even revitalize the future AVMA. Embrace it. Don't fear it.

What are your thoughts on the rising costs of veterinary education, high veterinary student debt, and relatively low starting salaries for new graduates?

I believe there must be continued discussions with our colleges to find methods to at least curtail future tuition increases and to possibly find methods to reduce spending. Now, one could immediately state this is not possible nor consider this an option. It may not be, but our colleges are mostly made up of fellow veterinarians who are hopefully veterinarians first and academicians second. Therefore, working with AVMA and our students to consider some options now would not be time wasted. No matter what we do, if we don't evolve, we will become extinct. This evolution could also be true of our educational institutions as we know them. Concerning starting salaries, the advice I would give students is be overqualified at graduation. This doesn't mean you have to do a residency and be boarded in a specialty, but rather, supplement your education with additional knowledge and advanced skills. I encourage those at the outset of their career and those already established to work together for the betterment of the profession.

AVMA Congressional Science Fellows chosen

In May, the AVMA announced Drs. Tristan Colonius, Donald E. Hoenig, and Kaylee M. Myhre had been selected for the 2012–2013 AVMA Congressional Science Fellowship.

AVMA fellows work alongside congressional staff members and provide science-based expertise on veterinary- and public health–related issues to members of Congress. The one-year fellowship program offers veterinarians the opportunity to see firsthand how federal public policy is made.

“The fellowship is an unparalleled opportunity for veterinarians in all stages of their career to come to Washington, D.C., and help shape public policy that impacts veterinary medicine,” said Dr. Mark Lutschaunig, AVMA Governmental Relations Division director.

“The fellows share their scientific knowledge with staffs in congressional offices and all branches of the federal government, and, ultimately, increase the visibility of veterinarians and veterinary medicine in the public policy arena,” Dr. Lutschaunig explained.

Dr. Colonius of Raleigh, N.C., is a 2011 graduate of the Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine. He has worked for the Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service and the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service as well as with the European Commission and New Zealand Ministry of Agriculture.

Additionally, Dr. Colonius has completed externships with the AVMA Governmental Relations and Animal Welfare divisions.

“I am confident the fellowship will be an unsurpassed experience within the interstices of Capitol Hill and will provide the opportunity to connect to a vast array of leaders in public policy,” Dr. Colonius said. “I hope to contribute the unmatched framework of the scientific thought process in addressing legislative issues, as I think any topic can benefit from this critical and objective approach. I feel strongly that effective public policy development must connect its synthesis in the halls of Congress with the pragmatics of implementation and evaluation of outcomes at the field level, and so I hope to gain an insight into the dynamics between these two processes that I will be able to capitalize on in my career.”

Dr. Hoenig of Belfast, Maine, has served as Maine's state veterinarian since 1986 and as its state public health veterinarian since 2005. The 1978 University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine graduate participated in the eradication of highly pathogenic avian influenza from the Pennsylvania poultry industry in the 1980s and was part of a delegation of U.S. veterinarians who assisted the British government with the foot-and-mouth disease outbreak in 2001.

Dr. Hoenig lectured and was the course coordinator in preventive medicine and epidemiology during the early years of Tufts University's School of Veterinary Medicine. He is a past president of the U.S. Animal Health Association and recently chaired the USDA Secretary's Advisory Committee on Animal Health.

“I'm still idealistic—or maybe naive—enough to believe that one person can make a difference,” Dr. Hoenig said. “I'm hoping that my year in D.C. will enable me to use the experience I've gained in my career to offer some pragmatism, science, and common sense on some of the animal and public health, food safety, veterinary workforce, and emergency planning issues before Congress. The veterinary profession has a great deal to offer in shaping public policy, and, fortunately, the AVMA has endorsed this concept over the years by funding the fellowship.”


Dr. Tristan Colonius

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 241, 1; 10.2460/javma.241.1.10


Dr. Donald E. Hoenig

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 241, 1; 10.2460/javma.241.1.10


Dr. Kaylee M. Myhre

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 241, 1; 10.2460/javma.241.1.10

Dr. Myhre of White Bear Lake, Minn., completed her veterinary degree at the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine in 2012. She supplemented her veterinary education with internships at the USDA, World Health Organization, and, most recently, the Institute of Agricultural Technology in Buenos Aires. She has spent most of the time during her internships working on zoonotic diseases and looks forward to a career in veterinary public health.

“I have a deep commitment to the veterinary profession and the advancement of global health care,” Dr. Myhre said. “I am thrilled to be able to use my broad veterinary training to contribute to the development of science-based policy and capacity building that will benefit and promote the health and well-being of humans, animals, and the environment.”

Drs. Colonius, Hoenig, and Myhre will begin their fellowships in August 2012.

For more information on the AVMA Congressional Science Fellowship, visit www.avma.org/fellowship or contact Dotty Gray, associate director, AVMA Governmental Relations Division, at (800) 321-1473, Ext. 3209, or at fellowship@avma.org.

Foundation boasts record year for income

By Malinda Larkin

The American Veterinary Medical Foundation had another stellar year in 2011, bringing in $5.5 million in revenue. This more than doubles the previous year's income of $2.4 million. Michael Cathey, AVMF executive director, said that, as a result, the Foundation continued to make a profound impact on the medical care and well-being of animals.

About $2.6 million was awarded by the AVMF in programmatic distributions this past year to advance its strategic goals.

The single highest amount of funding—$1.2 million—went toward education and public awareness. The second highest programmatic expense, coming in at nearly $1 million, went toward student enhancement, followed by $251,439 on humane outreach and animal welfare, and $150,123 on research support.

Specifically, 26 feline research projects were funded through the Cat Health Network, a collaborative effort of the AVMF, Morris Animal Foundation, Winn Feline Foundation, and American Association of Feline Practitioners. Projects were focused on treating or reducing the prevalence of various feline diseases they are investigating.

In the area of humane outreach and animal welfare, the AVMF provided medical supplies, drugs, and boarding for thousands of animal victims of the many disasters that struck the U.S. in 2011. In addition, the Foundation funded a variety of other animal-related needs, including drugs and medical supplies that saved 200 Alaskan Malamutes suffering from abuse and neglect at a puppy mill, anesthetic masks and other medical equipment for wildfire rescue teams, pet care for poverty-stricken communities, a veterinary exhibit for a children's museum, and volunteers to care for more than 300 animal victims of flooding in North Dakota.

All told, the AVMF had $3.1 million in expenses this past year, 83 percent of which went toward the Foundation's strategic goals. Besides the programmatic expenses, the remaining $542,694 in expenses went toward fundraising as well as management and general costs. The $2.4 million in revenue not spent in 2011 is being held for future program expenses.

Dr. Clark K. Fobian, AVMF board of directors chair, wrote in the 2011 AVMF Annual Report: “From urban clinics to rural farms, research laboratories to disaster zones, the American Veterinary Medical Foundation is hard at work for animals—and our impact is growing.”

Looking at revenue, collaborative efforts with industry stakeholders greatly boosted the nonprofit's bottom line. The Partnership for Preventive Pet Healthcare accounted for 65 percent of the AVMF's revenue at $3.6 million.

The Foundation and 14 other organizations launched the partnership during the AVMA Annual Convention this past year. The coalition of associations, animal health care and pet food companies, veterinary product distributors, pet insurance providers, and academic institutions formed the partnership to promote preventive care in response to a decline over many years in the frequency of feline and canine veterinary visits. The PPPH most recently developed a program called The Opportunity. Its core component is a survey tool for individual practices to obtain client and staff feedback about preventive care and reveal areas for action.

The partnership is a standing committee of the Foundation; AVMF staff also provide administrative support.

The second largest source of revenue in 2011 came from the Pfizer Animal Health Veterinary Student Scholarship Program at $818,573. Unrestricted donations from thousands of donors totaled another $738,014, and the Animal Disaster Relief and Response Fund brought in $288,882.

To see the full report, visit www.avmf.org.

Education council schedules site visits

The AVMA Council on Education has scheduled site visits to seven schools and colleges of veterinary medicine for the remainder of 2012.

Site visits are planned for the University of Queensland School of Veterinary Science, Aug. 19–23; Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine, Sept. 16–20; Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine, Sept. 30-Oct. 4; University of London Royal Veterinary College, Oct. 14–18; University of Montreal Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Nov. 4–8; and Western University of Health Sciences College of Veterinary Medicine, Dec. 2–8.

A consultative site visit is planned for the University of the West Indies School of Veterinary Medicine, Oct. 28-Nov. 1.

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

AVMA files brief in trade restriction case

State, national groups oppose FTC ruling

by Greg Cima

The AVMA is among eight medical associations contending in a recently filed brief that state professional boards should not be subject to Federal Trade Commission scrutiny of possible anti-competitive practices.

The North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners is appealing an FTC ruling that the board acted beyond its statutory authority and harmed competition when it attempted to restrict who could perform teeth whitening services. The eight medical organizations filed the brief in May supporting the North Carolina board, which is arguing its case before the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, and opposing the FTC ruling.

The AVMA, American Dental Association, American Association of Dental Boards, American Association of Orthodontists, American Osteopathic Association, American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, American Academy of Periodontology, and Federation of State Medical Boards jointly filed the brief.

Another brief filed by the American Medical Association and medical associations of the four states in the Fourth Circuit—North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia—indicates that affirming the FTC ruling “would greatly impede state regulation of the practice of medicine, with a devastating impact on public health, at least within the Fourth Circuit and perhaps nationally.”

Associations of professional boards for pharmacists, social workers, chiropractors, massage therapists, and funeral directors also are among those that have filed briefs in favor of the North Carolina dental board.

FTC alleges actions “anti-competitive”

FTC documents indicate the North Carolina dental board had, since 2006, sent 47 cease-and-desist letters to 29 lay individuals who were offering whitening services or selling teeth whitening equipment without dentist involvement. Some of the letters indicated selling whitening products or services without a dentist's involvement was a misdemeanor. The agency also found that the board discouraged property managers from renting to whitening service providers and arranged for the North Carolina Board of Cosmetic Art Examiners to publish on its website a notice that teeth whitening is dentistry and that unlicensed practice is a misdemeanor.

In June 2010, the FTC filed an administrative complaint that accused the board of acting outside its authority by discouraging nondentists from opening teeth whitening businesses and by sending cease-and-desist letters that weren't authorized or supervised by the state. The agency also released a statement that month accusing the board of acting in an “anti-competitive conspiracy” that violated federal law by excluding nondentists from the marketplace.

An administrative law judge delivered an initial ruling in favor of the FTC in July 2011, and, in December 2011, the FTC issued a similar final ruling that prohibited the board from sending cease-and-desist orders or otherwise telling nondentists that they aren't allowed to provide teeth whitening products or services. The ruling states that the board can still take action against nondentist teeth whiteners through state courts, where the board could argue that particular whitening services must be provided by dentists.

The FTC also ruled that the board must contact every person who had received a previous notice or cease-and-desist letter and provide an explanation that the prior letter was only the board's opinion and not a legal determination, the latter of which could only come from a court.

The order was stayed in February 2012 pending appeal.

Agency exemption is core of arguments

The dental board has argued in court filings that Congress never authorized the Federal Trade Commission to use its antitrust enforcement power to pre-empt state statutes or regulate state restrictions on matters beyond prices and commercial speech. However, the FTC had ruled that, because the board is controlled by practicing dentists, its conduct would have needed more active supervision by the state for it to have claimed an exemption from antitrust laws.

In a February 2011 filing before a U.S. district court, the board contended its actions have been subject to supervision and review by courts and the state's Joint Legislative Administrative Procedure Oversight Committee. The board had hoped the U.S. district court would rule that the board's actions were outside the FTC's jurisdiction and end the then-ongoing administrative proceedings, but the district court judge dismissed the case in May 2011.

The board filed its appeal to the Fourth Circuit court in late June 2011, a few weeks before the initial ruling in favor of the FTC.

The brief filed for the AVMA contends that the FTC lacks jurisdiction over the board because it is a state agency rather than a person, partnership, or corporation that would be subject to FTC authority.

The medical associations further argued that an appellate court, rather than the FTC, would need to decide whether the dental board has authority to send cease-and-desist letters. They also argued that courts have held that active state supervision isn't required for state agencies to claim antitrust immunity.

“In essence it would amount to a requirement that the state supervise itself,” the brief states.

Dental specialists offer free examinations for service dogs

The American Veterinary Dental College has organized an event to provide free oral examinations for service dogs in August.

“Many AVDC veterinary dental specialists have treated service dogs in the past and are well aware that oral pain can prevent these dogs from working effectively,” according to the AVDC. “This program will help ensure that America's service dogs are able to do their important work at peak efficiency.”

Diplomates of the AVDC will examine service dogs for signs of periodontal disease, fractured teeth, discolored teeth, oral masses, and other oral and dental problems. On finding oral or dental abnormalities, the specialist will lay out a treatment plan that the owner or handler of the service dog can elect to pursue at a later date. In addition, owners and handlers will learn about the benefits of preventive oral health care.

To qualify for a free oral examination, a service dog must have certification from a formal training program or be an enrollee in a training program. Owners and handlers of service dogs can register for the event at www.avdc.org between July 1 and Aug. 15.

Following registration, owners and handlers will receive a registration number and a list of participating veterinary dental specialists in their area whom they can contact to schedule an August appointment.

Compounder recalls 6 months of prescriptions

A Florida drug compounder issued a recall for all of its sterile animal- and human-use products distributed during a six-month period.

Franck's Compounding Lab announced in late May that environmental tests of the company's clean room by the Food and Drug Administration were positive for microorganisms and fungal growth, and the company was recalling all sterile preparations distributed from Nov. 21, 2011, through May 21, 2012.

“In light of the FDA's findings and the resulting possible risk of infection, we have decided that it is imperative that we recall all human and veterinary sterile preparations that have left our control,” the company said.

The notice indicates physicians should review and evaluate patient records to determine whether adverse events could have resulted from use of the recalled products.

Franck's and the FDA also are opposing parties in a dispute in the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The FDA filed the appeal after a district court judge ruled that the agency had overreached in interpreting its authority over animal drug compounding and denied an FDA request for an injunction against Franck's and its owner, Paul W. Franck.

The FDA has accused Franck's of manufacturing animal drugs under the guise of traditional pharmacy compounding.

Previous court filings indicate Franck's filled about 37,000 animal drug prescriptions during 2009, but three documents indicate that this was the number of prescriptions filled in 10, 11, or 12 months.

Salmonella outbreaks connected with turtles

Five Salmonella outbreaks connected with small turtles have caused illnesses in at least 27 states since June 2011, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Those with illnesses include 124 people with confirmed infections and 19 who were hospitalized.

The CDC reported May 10 that epidemiologic and environmental investigations connected the illnesses with turtles and their environments, such as tanks used to house the turtles. About 75 percent of those with confirmed infections reported having contact with turtles prior to their illness, and 93 percent of those who reported contact with turtles were exposed to turtles that had carapaces less than 4 inches long.

The Food and Drug Administration, in an effort to reduce Salmonella infections among children, has, since 1975, prohibited selling such turtles. The prohibition carries exemptions for exports and scientific, educational, and exhibition purposes.

The CDC has received reports of 61 infections with Salmonella Sandiego, 48 with Salmonella Pomona, and 15 with Salmonella Poona.

Two vesicular stomatitis infections found

Agriculture officials discovered in late April that two horses in southern New Mexico were infected with vesicular stomatitis.

Those horses, along with three others that lived on the same property in Otero County, were quarantined, and no other infections were found by mid-May, according to information from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

The infected horses had clinical signs of the disease, and USDA testing confirmed the infections April 30, APHIS information states. Properties containing infected animals have to be quarantined until at least 21 days after lesions in the last affected animals have healed. Dr. Dave E. Fly, New Mexico's state veterinarian, announced May 10 that all livestock leaving Otero County would need to be inspected by a veterinarian within seven days of transportation to a New Mexico livestock auction or public event or to another state.

Vesicular stomatitis is a viral disease that affects horses, swine, and cattle and other ruminants. Signs of infection in livestock include excessive salivation and blisterlike lesions. Cattle can develop teat lesions and mastitis; horses can develop vesicular lesions in and around their mouth and scabs on their muzzle, lips, and ventral aspect of their abdomen; and pigs can develop lameness from foot lesions.

Infected animals typically recover within two weeks, according to APHIS. Outbreaks typically occur in warm months in warm regions, often along waterways, agency information states.

USDA to close inspection loophole

Greater oversight of Internet pet breeders sought

By Malinda Larkin


A Department of Agriculture Animal Care inspector inspects a USDA-licensed dog-breeding facility alongside the facility's owner. (Courtesy of USDA APHIS)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 241, 1; 10.2460/javma.241.1.10

A proposed rule issued May 16 in the Federal Register by the Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service calls for greater federal oversight of some large-scale pet breeders currently exempt from the Animal Care program's inspection and licensing requirements.

Wholesale breeders—those who sell to pet stores—are covered by the Animal Welfare Act and, thus, are regulated, licensed, and inspected by the USDA. Retail pet stores are usually supplied by these regulated breeders but are themselves exempt from the act. Currently, large-scale breeders who sell animals over the Internet also meet the definition of a retail pet store under the provisions of the AWA and, therefore, are not obligated to comply with federal animal welfare standards.

The proposed rule substantially narrows the definition of retail pet store so that it “means a place of business or residence that each buyer physically enters in order to personally observe the animals available for sale prior to purchase and/or to take custody of the animals after purchase.”

Therefore, breeders who participate in Internet-only or other sales without allowing the buyer to personally observe the animal ahead of purchase would be subject to current USDA commercial breeder licensing and inspections. Federal oversight involves identification of animals and record-keeping requirements as well as compliance with standards related to facilities and operations, animal health and husbandry, and transportation.

In addition, the proposed rule increases from three to four the number of breeding females that small hobby breeders can own and still be exempt from licensing requirements. These breeders can sell only those offspring that were born and raised on-site and sell them only as pets or for exhibition.

On the basis of APHIS' experience with regulating wholesale breeders, the most common areas of regulatory noncompliance at pre-licensing inspections are veterinary care, facility maintenance and construction, shelter construction, primary enclosure minimum space requirements, and cleaning and sanitation. Assuming patterns of noncompliance by retail breeders newly regulated as a result of the proposed changes would be similar to those observed in pre-licensing inspection of wholesale breeders, APHIS estimates the total cost attributable to the proposed rule may range from $2.2 million to $5.5 million.

APHIS expects that this rule would affect primarily dog breeders who maintain more than four breeding females at their facilities. About 1,500 dog breeders are not currently subject to the AWA regulations but would be required to be licensed as a result of this proposed rule, according to APHIS estimates.

“We believe that the benefits of this rule, primarily enhanced animal welfare, would justify the costs. The rule would help ensure that animals sold at retail, but lacking public oversight receive humane handling, care, and treatment in keeping with the requirements of the AWA,” according to background from the proposed rule. “It would also address the competitive disadvantage of retail breeders who adhere to the AWA regulations, when compared to those retailers who do not operate their facilities according to AWA standards and may therefore bear lower costs.”

Critics have argued that the proposed rule would put a hardship on home-based breeders of purebred dogs, especially breeders of rare or less-popular breeds who cater to a niche market. Hobby breeders of small pocket pets and large exotics such as ferrets and rabbits also say the new rule would be unduly burdensome for them. That said, of the 758 comments made as of the end of May, most were in favor of the proposed rule.

The USDA's Office of the Inspector General issued a report May 25, 2010, that initially raised concerns about the loophole in the AWA exempting large-scale breeders who sell pets over the Internet (see JAVMA, July 1, 2010, page 9). The USDA OIG found that some consumers who purchased dogs over the Internet had encountered health problems with their dogs. In addition, APHIS has received complaints directly from members of the public concerning the welfare of dogs and other pet animals sold at retail.

Pending in both the House and Senate is the Puppy Uniform Protection and Safety Act, H.R. 835/S. 707, which would require licensing and inspection of dog breeders who sell directly to the public and sell more than 50 dogs annually. S. 707 would also mandate appropriate space and opportunity for daily exercise for dogs at facilities owned or operated by a dealer.

The PUPS Act incorporated some language from the AVMA's model state bill and regulations intended to promote the welfare of dogs bred and sold as pets (see JAVMA, June 1, 2010, page 1143). Although the PUPS Act has many co-sponsors and support, at this point, no action has been taken on it. The AVMA Governmental Relations and Animal Welfare divisions have worked closely with Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin on this issue and are encouraged to see the proposed APHIS rule finally released, said Dr. Whitney L. Miller, an assistant director with the AVMA GRD.

How to take action

The public was given 60 days—until July 15—to comment on the proposed rule, and comments can be submitted in one of two ways. If submitting by mail, label the comment “Docket No. APHIS-2011-0003” and mail it to Regulatory Analysis and Development PPD APHIS, Station 3A-03.8, 4700 River Road, Unit 118, Riverdale, MD 20737-1238. Comments may also be submitted through the Federal eRulemaking portal at www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=APHIS-2011-0003.

Soring criminal case garners national attention

Trainer likely to get probation after guilty plea


A horse at Jackie McConnell's Whitter Stables in Collierville, Tenn., waits to be taken away after McConnell, a trainer of Tennessee Walking Horses, was arrested for violating the Horse Protection Act earlier this year. (Courtesy of the Humane Society of the United States)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 241, 1; 10.2460/javma.241.1.10

By Malinda Larkin

A prominent trainer in the Tennessee Walking Horse industry pleaded guilty May 22 to a felony conviction for charges that he violated the Horse Protection Act. Jackie McConnell, 60, along with three of his stable hands who pleaded guilty to related charges, were part of a criminal case involving the soring of horses.

Prosecutors say the men applied prohibited substances, such as mustard oil, to the pastern area of Tennessee Walking Horses to “sore” them so as to produce an exaggerated gait prized by show judges. The conspiracy is alleged to have begun in 2006 and continued through September 2011. The allegations say the violations occurred at the annual National Walking Horse Trainers Show in March 2011, the Spring Fun Show in May 2011, and the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration in August and September 2011, all held in Shelbyville, Tenn.

McConnell had racked up more than a dozen suspensions by the Department of Agriculture since 1979 for repeatedly violating the HPA. Because of similar violations, he was on a five-year suspension from competitions until October 2011.

Named Trainer of the Year by the Walking Horse Trainers Association in 1986, McConnell won the Tennessee Walking Horse World Grand Championship in 1997. But in the wake of his guilty plea, McConnell was suspended for life and kicked out of the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration Hall of Fame on May 23.

Part of the evidence used against McConnell and the others came from video footage taken by a Humane Society of the United States investigator during a seven-week period in spring 2011 at McConnell's farm in Collierville, Tenn. The undercover recordings not only show the men applying caustic chemicals to the horses' ankles, but also show them stewarding horses. Stewarding is the term for teaching horses not to flinch when their feet and legs are palpated. The horses were beaten with wooden sticks and subjected to a cattle prod for this purpose. The video can be seen at www.youtube.com/hsus.

McConnell, as well as Jeff Dockery, 54, John Mays, 50, and Joseph Abernathy, 29, were arrested Feb. 29 and charged in a 52-count federal indictment with violations of the HPA by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Tennessee. Under a plea agreement with federal prosecutors, McConnell will likely avoid prison time. His sentence of probation, which must be approved by a federal judge, is scheduled for Sept. 10. The three other men pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges related to the case and will likely avoid jail time.

McConnell's case is the third criminal indictment brought against individuals for violating the HPA in 20 years. All three cases have occurred since 2010 (see JAVMA, March 15, 2012, page 632).

His case made national news when the HSUS footage was aired as part of an investigative piece on ABC's Nightline May 16. The day after, Pepsi dropped its sponsorship of the National Celebration. Dr. Kurt Schrader, an Oregon veterinarian and member of the U.S. House of Representatives, gave a floor speech against the practice of soring on May 17. The AVMA Animal Welfare and Governmental Relations divisions' staff assisted in putting together his speech. Video of Rep. Schrader's remarks can be viewed at www.youtube.com/RepKurtSchrader.

McConnell, Dockery, and Mays still face 31 counts of animal cruelty under Tennessee state statues. The case is pending.

On May 21, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam signed into law a bill that creates felony penalties for aggravated cruelty to livestock, including seriously injuring a horse or other animal with acid or chemicals “without justifiable or lawful purpose.” Soring and other forms of animal cruelty had been punished as misdemeanors under state law. Officials in the legislature's legal office have said the new bill probably would apply to soring, although the practice is not explicitly mentioned in the legislation.

Visit www.avma.org/issues/animal_welfare/soring_in_horses.asp to view the AVMA's resources on soring, including video and a fact sheet.

Study indicates serotype, dose affect Salmonella shedding

Pigs inoculated with Salmonella organisms in a recent study shed the bacteria for various lengths of time, depending on the strain and dose given.

The scientific report “Salmonella fecal shedding and immune responses are dose- and serotype-dependent in pigs” was published in April (PloS One 2012;7:e34660). It notes that subclinical Salmonella infection and intermittent shedding increase the difficulty of detecting and controlling the bacteria in pigs. Improving our understanding of patterns and durations of fecal shedding of bacteria and host immune responses could improve screening for Salmonella infection and decrease the risk of human infections, the report states.

“To improve detection and control of Salmonella in live pigs, it is critical to better understand the duration and dynamics of intermittent Salmonella fecal shedding and immune response post exposure and during infection, together with the factors that affect these processes,” the report states.

Pigs challenged with high doses tended to start shedding Salmonella organisms more quickly and spend more time both continuously and intermittently shedding than did pigs given low doses. Those challenged with Salmonella Cubana and Salmonella Yoruba also had lengthier episodes of shedding than did those infected with the more-invasive Salmonella Typhimurium and Salmonella Derby, which are considered to be classic pig serotypes, although pigs challenged with the latter two Salmonella serotypes were more likely to temporarily stop shedding the bacteria and to stay infected for longer periods.

“Our results also indicated that compared to S. Yoruba and S. Cubana, pigs infected with S. Typhimurium and S. Derby are far more likely to enter the intermittent non-shedding state following the continuous or intermittent shedding states than to recover from these states,” the report states.

The report is available at www.plosone.org.

Viruses found in confiscated primate meat

By Greg Cima

Samples of primate meat confiscated at U.S. airports contained viruses that can cause disease in humans, according to a recent scientific report.

However, the samples were stored in a lysis buffer before testing, preventing the researchers from determining whether these viruses were viable.

Dr. William B. Karesh, who is one of the report authors and the executive vice president for health and policy for EcoHealth Alliance, said the pilot study related to the report showed that illegally imported animal products in airline passenger luggage and postal shipments could provide routes for viruses to enter the U.S. The report indicates the study succeeded in establishing surveillance methods for detecting and identifying zoonotic organisms and for identifying the species of origin for confiscated wildlife products.

The report, “Zoonotic viruses associated with illegally imported wildlife products,” was published in January (PloS One 2012;7:e29505). The authors examined samples from wild primate and rodent products seized by employees of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service between 2006 and 2010 at international airports in New York, Atlanta, Houston, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C.

“Illegally imported shipments were confiscated opportunistically and thus the pilot study established only the presence and not the prevalence of zoonotic agents in the specimens,” the report states.

Hundreds of thousands of meats and other animal products are seized at U.S. entry ports annually.

For example, more than 46,000 meat products and animal byproducts were confiscated from passenger and crew baggage at six airports in New York and New Jersey alone during the past fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30, according to information provided by Customs and Border Protection. Most of those items were confiscated at John F. Kennedy International Airport, which was one of the sources of samples in the recent study, and at Newark Liberty International Airport.

Dr. Karesh was among researchers who looked for leptospiral organisms, anthrax, herpesviruses, filoviruses, paramyxoviruses, coronaviruses, flaviviruses, and orthopoxviruses in samples taken from what are believed to be tissues from 25 primates and 35 rodents.

Simian foamy virus sequences were identified in tissues of a green monkey and three baboons from Guinea, two sooty mangabeys from Liberia, and one chimpanzee from Nigeria, the report states. Two genera of herpesviruses—cytomegaloviruses and lymphocryptoviruses—were found in tissues of four green monkeys and three baboons from Guinea, a greater white-nosed monkey from Nigeria, and a sooty mangabey from Liberia.

“The restricted number of samples included in this study were tested for a limited range of pathogens only and thus presence of additional pathogens not included in this study cannot be ruled out,” the report states.

None of the targeted viruses were discovered in tests on rodent samples, most of which were from or suspected to be from cane rats.

The pilot study also didn't target any viruses that cause disease in livestock, although Dr. Karesh said his organization has discussed such testing with the Department of Agriculture.

Increasing numbers of animal products are being brought into the U.S. as international travel increases, Dr. Karesh said. He sees a continued need to use surveillance to study the presence of disease-causing agents in illegal imports.

Report says animal management research needed

A report from a science source for food, agricultural, and environmental issues calls for research on connections among animal management, animal health, and food safety.

The commentary published in early May by the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology indicates scientific examination is needed to show the potential effects of changing U.S. policies on farm practices, including those connected with animal housing and antimicrobial use. The organization lists areas of possible research, including the frequency of subclinical infection at harvest, the human health risk connected with administration of low doses of antimicrobials in food-producing animals, and the consequences of changing current practices involving farm animals.

Dr. H. Scott Hurd, associate professor and director of graduate education at the Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine, is chair of the committee that wrote the CAST commentary. He said the document is most intended for those in Washington, D.C., who create policies on how food animals are raised and for researchers, who could develop increasingly accurate models and analyses of the effects of policies on raising animals.

“When we make certain animal raising decisions, let's be sure we look at the secondary, unintended consequences,” he said.

The report is available at www.cast-science.org.

Funding approved for Georgia project

New capacity allows for more space, students

By Malinda Larkin


The University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine's new Veterinary Medical Learning Center will be built on about 150 acres of land. The existing facility was occupied in 1979, and a lack of space for expansion has made it difficult to keep up with changing technology. (Courtesy of UGA CVM)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 241, 1; 10.2460/javma.241.1.10

Getting a small animal patient through surgery can be difficult for students at the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine, but not because they haven't prepared. They anesthetize and prepare patients for surgery in very tight quarters and must reserve cages in the intensive care unit for recovering patients or they might not have a cage available once surgery is over.

Students won't have to put up with those inconveniences for much longer, though. Plans for a new Veterinary Medical Learning Center recently received the green light.

$52.3 million in bond funding was approved by the Georgia Legislature in March to build the new Veterinary Medical Learning Center; Gov. Nathan Deal signed the budget May 7.

The veterinary college already received a separate $7.7 million in 2010 for planning on the recommendation of then Gov. Sonny Perdue, a veterinary alumnus of UGA. Meanwhile, it has raised $21 million in private donations for the project. Dr. Sheila W. Allen, dean of UGA's veterinary college, anticipates requesting an additional $5 million from the state to furnish the building and raising $4 million more to bring the budget to a $90 million total.

The state will likely sell the bonds in June, allowing the veterinary college to send the project out for bid; construction is anticipated to begin this fall and last about two years.

The 286,000-square-foot facility will be located two miles off campus on 150 acres. It will house classrooms for case discussions, office space for faculty, and a new veterinary teaching hospital.

Dean Allen said, “The main purpose of the move is to provide better care for our patients and easier access for our clients and a better, state-of-the-art facility to train students in the type of medicine they're expected to practice in the workplace.”

The existing 50,000-square-foot veterinary hospital, which has been in place since 1979, is dwarfed, compared with those at peer institutions. The space is not big enough to keep current with medical technologies. For example, small animals have to be taken to another facility on campus for MRIs. Patients have to be taken to another building just for an ultrasonographic examination. Plus, the veterinary college doesn't have an enclosed, covered arena for pre-purchase examinations and lameness evaluations of horses.

Expansion was originally proposed in 1998, when the college decided there would not be room to develop on the south campus, around the veterinary college's existing location.

Administrators had a feasibility study done that year and decided to have a new, remote facility built “because we are centrally located (on campus) and it's only become more crowded around us and more difficult for large animal clients to get in and out,” Dean Allen said.

Now that they finally can go ahead with the project, the veterinary college is building for a future capacity of 150 students in a class; however, Dean Allen is quick to point out that UGA will have an incremental increase in enrollment dictated by multiple criteria, including state population increases and the local job market.

“While there is some variability among cities, in general, the job market is still pretty strong in our part of the country. The population in Georgia is one of the fastest growing in the nation. We need to prepare for future growth and will increase enrollment in an incremental, responsible manner,” Dean Allen said.

The added seats will go primarily to students from Georgia. Some increases from UGA's contract states—Delaware and South Carolina—also may be considered at some point in the future.

Currently, UGA accepts no more than 10 at-large students (out-of-state, noncontract) a year for the 102 seats and expects to admit a similar ratio as it increases enrollment.

“We have students going into about every aspect of veterinary medicine that society needs. We have students in pathology, lab animal, military, wildlife, food animal, and dual-degree DVM/MPH students who go into government and public health careers,” Dean Allen said.

The veterinary college had more than 700 applicants for the class of 2016 this year and 555 for the class of 2015.

“We had a big increase this last year. We suspect many of those students were applying to multiple schools, and time will tell if that level will be sustained,” she said.

Regardless, Dean Allen is glad the building is finally becoming a reality.

“It's been a long, long process to get to this point,” she said.

New Zealand veterinary school greatly expanding

Massey University Institute of Veterinary, Animal, and Biomedical Sciences, located in Palmerston North, New Zealand, will soon undergo a $75 million upgrade and expansion of its facilities.

The project will allow the country's only veterinary institute to increase its capacity by 40 students, which will bring the new total to 140 seats available per year. Providing the government agrees to fund the additional domestic students, about 20 would be from New Zealand and 20 would be from other countries.

The project will be funded over nine years from the university's annual capital expenditure budget, according to a Massey press release.

It includes expanding the veterinary tower and extensively redeveloping the veterinary hospital, pathology facilities, and teaching and research spaces, according to the release, while retaining teaching, research, and clinical service functionality.

Dr. Frazer Allan, head of Massey's veterinary institute, said the project creates space for projected growth in numbers of postgraduate and undergraduate students.

“Our staff have been keen for this upgrade for some time and are really excited about the opportunities it offers,” he said. “Each year, we have a high standard of applications from many more people than we have space for.”

Massey was first accredited by the AVMA Council on Education in 2001; its next evaluation will be in 2014. The veterinary institute is also accredited by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons and the Australasian Veterinary Boards Council.


Courtesy of Massey University

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 241, 1; 10.2460/javma.241.1.10



The Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine has named three of its graduates as 2012 Wilford S. Bailey Distinguished Alumni in honor of their contributions to animal welfare, the profession, and their communities. The awards were presented May 8 during the veterinary college's graduation ceremony.

Dr. H.B. “Woody” Bartlett (AUB ′64) of Pike Road, Ala., owns Bartlett Ranches, which are located in Alabama, Texas, and Wyoming and account for more than 81,000 acres holding 5,000 head of cattle and more than 500 purebred horses.

Dr. Bartlett has received numerous honors and prizes as a premier breeder and trainer of Quarter Horses. He serves on the equine sciences advisory committees at Colorado State University and at Texas A&M University.

Dr. William Mack Burriss (AUB ′43) of Anderson, S.C., served as an Army veterinarian during World War II and the Korean War, returning home to South Carolina to work in private practice.

Following his retirement in 1982, Dr. Burriss became medical director of his local animal shelter. He served as veterinarian until 2009 for the Anderson County Spay/Neuter Clinic, championing the establishment of a low-cost or free spay-and-neuter clinic to reduce the number of animals euthanized because of overpopulation.

Dr. Dwight F. Wolfe (AUB ′77) of Auburn, Ala., is a food animal professor at Auburn's veterinary college. The D.F. Wolfe Food Animal Barn on campus is dedicated in his name. He has contributed to the field of theriogenology as well as to the livestock industry through funded research, publications, and textbooks, among other things.

Dr. Wolfe is a diplomate of the American College of Theriogenologists. He is one of only four diplomates who have served as president of both the ACT and the Society for Theriogenology.


Dr. H.B. “Woody” Bartlett

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 241, 1; 10.2460/javma.241.1.10


Dr. William Mack Burriss

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 241, 1; 10.2460/javma.241.1.10


Dr. Dwight F. Wolfe

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 241, 1; 10.2460/javma.241.1.10


Dr. Sara D. Allstadt Frazier

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 241, 1; 10.2460/javma.241.1.10


Dr. Amy Carter Myers

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 241, 1; 10.2460/javma.241.1.10


Dr. Soren P. Rodning

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 241, 1; 10.2460/javma.241.1.10


Dr. Kathryn H. Taylor

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 241, 1; 10.2460/javma.241.1.10


Dr. John L. Twehues

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 241, 1; 10.2460/javma.241.1.10


Dr. Robyn R. Wilborn

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 241, 1; 10.2460/javma.241.1.10

The veterinary college also presented the 2012 Young Achiever awards on April 13 to eight alumni celebrating their tenth anniversary. Recipients are known for their accomplishments in veterinary medicine, their outstanding community service, and their advancement of animal health.

Dr. Sara D. Allstadt Frazier (AUB ′02) of Davis, Calif., is assistant professor of clinical medical oncology at the University of California-Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. She is a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine in the specialty area of oncology.

Dr. Wendy Gwinn (AUB ′02) of Tampa, Fla., is a veterinary radiologist with BluePearl Veterinary Partners in Tampa. She currently evaluates images for 23 hospitals across the country, participates in teaching rounds for interns and residents, and lectures in a continuing education series provided by BluePearl to local veterinarians. Dr. Gwinn is a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Radiology.

Dr. Benjamin C. Neat IV (AUB ′02) of Louisville, Ky., serves as a staff surgeon at Metropolitan Veterinary Specialists in Louisville. He is a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons.

Dr. Amy Carter Myers (AUB ′02) of Prattville, Ala., owns River Region Veterinary Services, a small animal clinic in Prattville. A community volunteer, Dr. Myers has been involved with local organizations, including the Autauga County Humane Society. She also helped provide emergency relief efforts following two tornadoes that struck the Prattville area in 2008.

Dr. Soren P. Rodning (AUB ′02) of Auburn, Ala., is an extension veterinarian and assistant professor with the Auburn University College of Agriculture. He recently served a yearlong deployment in Afghanistan as part of the 358th Medical Detachment (Veterinary Services). Dr. Rodning is a diplomate of the American College of Theriogenologists.

Dr. Kathryn H. Taylor (AUB ′02) of Mount Pleasant, S.C., joined the internal medicine team at Veterinary Specialty Care in Mount Pleasant and North Charleston, S.C., in 2006, becoming the area's first veterinary oncologist. She is a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine in oncology.

Dr. John L. Twehues Jr. (AUB ′02) of Williamstown, Ky., spent five years in private practice in Versailles, Ky., before joining his father's practice in Williamstown. In 2010, Dr. Twehues purchased the Grant County Veterinary Clinic from his father, Dr. John Twehues Sr. The younger Dr. Twehues, whose special interest is in orthopedic surgery, is today the sole owner and practitioner at the hospital.

Dr. Robyn R. Wilborn (AUB ′02) of Auburn, Ala., is an assistant professor at Auburn University's Large Animal Teaching Hospital and is co-director of the Equine Reproduction Center. She also created and led an elective course for third-year veterinary students focusing on financial planning and management. Dr. Wilborn is a diplomate of the American College of Theriogenologists.

Oregon State University College of Veterinary Medicine honored Dr. Joseph H. Snyder (ORS ′83) of Portland, Ore., as an Alumni Fellow whose professional, civic, and volunteer accomplishments bring acclaim to the university. Dr. Snyder is a graduate of the first DVM-degree class at Oregon State. He went on to own Myrtle Veterinary Hospital in Myrtle Point, Ore. Now retired from practice, Dr. Snyder stays active in the profession through his work with the American Association of Small Ruminant Practitioners. He also continues to teach, both parasitology and small ruminant medicine at Oregon State's veterinary college, and large animal medicine classes for veterinary technology students at Portland Community College.


Dr. Barbara Knust received the 2012 James H. Steele Veterinary Public Health Award from the Centers for Disease Control and Preventionin April at the 61st annual Epidemic Intelligence Service Conference.

The annual award is named for the first chief of the CDC's Veterinary Public Health Division, and it is given to current or recent Epidemic Intelligence Service officers for outstanding contributions to veterinary public health. Dr. Knust is a veterinary epidemiologist with the CDC Viral Special Pathogens branch and a lieutenant commander in the U.S. Public Health Service. She was honored for domestic and international work with zoonotic viruses and diseases, including hantavirus pulmonary syndrome and lymphocytic choriomeningitis.


Dr. Barbara Knust

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 241, 1; 10.2460/javma.241.1.10


The Society for Veterinary Medical Ethics announced the results of its 2012 SVME Waltham Student Essay Contest, May 21. The topic for this year's contest was “On the Question of ‘Human Exceptionalism’ and Its Bearing upon Veterinary Medical Ethics.” The winning essay was authored by veterinary student Michael J. White, who is entering his second year at the Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine. He will receive $1,000 and a maximum $1,000 stipend to attend the AVMA Annual Convention in San Diego and present his essay at the SVME plenary session.

Receiving honorable mention were submissions by Charles Byrd and Jana Mazor-Thomas, both from Tufts University Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, and Carlie Koonce and Brittany Lasky from Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine.

Dr. Harold B. Rinker (OKL ′58) of West Fork, Ark., was poshumously given the Outstanding Service Award from the Academy of Veterinary Consultants. He died Jan. 2 (see obituary, page 38).


Dr. Harold B. Rinker

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 241, 1; 10.2460/javma.241.1.10

An announcement from the award sponsor, Merck Animal Health, states that Dr. Rinker was a leader in feedlot health and medicine, an author on feedlot medicine, a pioneer of preventive medicine, and a teacher who described the need for veterinarians to understand varied aspects of livestock husbandry.

The AVC presented the award to Dr. Rinker's family in April in Washington, D.C.

The VMA of New York City presented five awards at its Annual Awards Dinner Dance on April 21.

Dr. Frank Borzio (UP ′72) was honored with the Distinguished Life Service Award, the highest honor conferred on members of the VMA of NYC.

Dr. Borzio founded Northside Animal Hospital in 1975, served as chief veterinarian for the Staten Island Zoo from 1985–2000, and now is a consultant to the zoo and an exotic animal veterinarian in the tri-state area. Dr. Borzio lectures for the New York City Department of Health on pet care for exotics.

Dr. Mark E. Peterson (MIN ′76) was given the Veterinarian of the Year Award. He served as head of endocrinology and nuclear medicine at the Animal Medical Center for more than 30 years. In addition, Dr. Peterson has held teaching positions at the University of Pennsylvania and Cornell University. He now sees patients at his private practice, the Animal Endocrine Clinic. Dr. Peterson obtained board certification as an internal medicine specialist from the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine.

Dr. Deirdre Chiaramonte (TUF ′97) received the Merit Award, which recognizes a member for substantial contributions to the VMA of NYC and advancement of the veterinary profession. She is a staff internist and director of the Tina Santi Flaherty Rehabilitation and Fitness Service at the Animal Medical Center. Dr. Chiaramonte is a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine.

Dr. Mark J. Salemi (ROS ′87) received the Outstanding Service to Veterinary Medicine Award. He is owner and partner of Northside Animal Hospital, Staten Island, N.Y., which specializes in wild, zoo, and exotic animals. Dr. Salemi was heralded for his volunteer work with rescue dogs after 9/11 at Ground Zero and is now a member of the board of the New York City Veterinary Disaster Preparedness Committee.

Patricia Costello was awarded the Service to the Veterinary Community and the Welfare of Animals Award. She is the administrator for the New York City Veterinary Emergency Response Team, which formed after the Sept. 11, 2011, attack on the World Trade Center, at the request of the NYC Office of Emergency Management. Costello acts as liaison and organizer for the veterinarians on the NYC VERT board and the group of volunteer veterinarians.

Connecticut VMA

Event: Annual meeting, March 27, 2012, Hartford

Awards: Veterinarian of the Year: Dr. Peter Conserva, West Suffield. A 1974 graduate of the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Conserva owns Conserva Equine Clinic. He founded the Connecticut State Animal Response Team's Equine Response Unit in 2006 and leads the unit, educating fire departments, community emergency response teams, horse owners, and other groups on equine disaster preparedness and rescue techniques. Dr. Conserva serves as treasurer of the CVMA. Veterinary Health Care Team Member of the Year: Carol Truffini, Georgetown. Truffini is the office manager at Georgetown Veterinary Hospital. She was recognized for her steadfast commitment to veterinary medicine, her clients, and their animals, while providing leadership to her practice, her community, and Connecticut. Distinguished Service Award: State representative Bryan Hurlburt of Tolland won this award, given in recognition of his steadfast commitment to the citizens and animals of Connecticut and for lending his wisdom and leadership in service to animal welfare.


Dr. Peter Conserva

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 241, 1; 10.2460/javma.241.1.10

Officials: Drs. Christopher Gargamelli, Rock Hill, president; Mohan Sachdev, Windsor, president-elect; Andrea Dennis, Bloomfield, vice president; Katherine Skiff-Kane, Cornwall Bridge, secretary; Suzanne Magruder, Killingworth, assistant secretary; Peter Conserva, West Suffield, treasurer; Aimee Eggleston, Woodstock, assistant treasurer; and Gayle Block, Vernon, immediate past president

Florida VMA

Event: 83rd annual conference, May 4–6, Tampa

Awards: Distinguished Service Award: Dr. Paul Gibbs, Gainesville, for exceptional achievements and contributions toward the advancement of veterinary medicine and the veterinary profession. A 1967 graduate of the University of Bristol in England, Dr. Gibbs recently retired as associate dean for students and instruction and professor of virology from the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine. He taught courses in infectious diseases and veterinary epidemiology for more than 30 years, also leading and counseling disease control and eradication efforts in Florida through national and international organizations. Dr. Gibbs held joint appointments with the University of Florida College of Medicine's Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology and the College of Public Health and Health Professions' Department of Environmental and Global Health. President's Award: Dr. Henry Richter, Sinks Grove, W. Va., for dedication and service to the veterinary profession and to his community. A 1960 graduate of Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Richter owned a practice in Palmetto prior to retirement. During his career, he mentored several young veterinarians.


Dr. Paul Gibbs

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 241, 1; 10.2460/javma.241.1.10


Dr. Henry Richter

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 241, 1; 10.2460/javma.241.1.10


Dr. John R. Bass

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 241, 1; 10.2460/javma.241.1.10

Officials: Drs. John R. Bass, Port Orange, president; Jerry L. Rayburn, Winter Haven, president-elect; Richard B. Williams, Jacksonville, treasurer; and James A. Kanzler, Bradenton, immediate past president

Community Obituaries: AVMA member AVMA honor roll member Nonmember

Douglas E. Amy

Dr. Amy (MSU ′76), 58, Longmont, Colo., died March 11, 2012. A small animal veterinarian, he moved to Colorado in 1979 and practiced in the Golden and Arvada areas. Dr. Amy used herbal and acupuncture remedies for pain relief in his practice. He was active with several animal groups and humane societies, including the Denver Mounted Police and the Dumb Friends League. Early in his career, Dr. Amy worked in Yale, Mich. He is survived by his life partner, Annie Colvin; three daughters; two stepsons; a stepdaughter; and Colvin's daughter and son. Memorials may be made to the American Holistic VMA, P.O. Box 630, Abingdon, MD 21009.

John B. Amyx

Dr. Amyx (ROS ′04), 34, Winchester, Ky., died Feb. 24, 2012. He practiced equine medicine at Park Equine Hospital in Lexington, Ky. Dr. Amyx's wife, Jessica, and a son survive him.

Richard E. Bailey

Dr. Bailey (OKL ′65), 83, Tulsa, Okla., died April 1, 2012. He founded Southwest Veterinary Hospital in Tulsa, practicing there until retirement in 1990. Dr. Bailey initially practiced mixed animal medicine, focusing later on small animals. He is survived by two sons. One son, Dr. Keith A. Bailey (OSU ′84), joined Dr. Bailey in practice in 1985. His grandson, David Bailey, is a fourth-year veterinary student at Oklahoma State University.

Howard F. Carroll

Dr. Carroll (WSU ′38), 96, Millbrae, Calif., died March 21, 2012. A small animal practitioner, he founded Marina Pet Hospital in San Francisco in 1939, practicing there until retirement in 1969. Dr. Carroll then earned a master's in veterinary dermatology from the University of California-Davis in 1970 and practiced for a few years in San Mateo, Calif. He was a past president of the American Animal Hospital Association and an honorary life member of the Veterinary Dermatology Society. Dr. Carroll was a distinguished life member and a past continuing education director of the California VMA and a charter member and a past secretary-treasurer of the San Francisco VMA. He was also a charter member and a past president of the California State Racing Pigeon Organization.

Dr. Carroll served in the Army Veterinary Corps during World War II, retiring as a major. Active in civic life, he was a member of the Rotary Club, Lions Club, and Shriners. Dr. Carroll's two sons and two daughters survive him. One of his sons, Dr. David C. Carroll (CAL ′76), owns East Lake Animal Clinic, a small animal practice in Watsonville, Calif. Dr. Carroll's granddaughter, Dr. Monika Connally (COL ′96), practices feline medicine at Feline Medical Center in Pleasanton, Calif.

John W. Dantzler

Dr. Dantzler(AUB ′51), 88, Orangeburg, S.C., died March 26, 2012. A mixed animal veterinarian, he owned a practice in Orangeburg from 1951–2000. Dr. Dantzler was also a health officer for the city of Orangeburg from 1953–1978 and served on what is now known as the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control. He instituted a restaurant inspection program and a meat inspection program that later became a model for the state.

A past president of the South Carolina Association of Veterinarians, Dr. Dantzler was named Veterinarian of the Year in 1974. He was a member of the Orangeburg Rotary Club and was a Paul Harris Fellow. Dr. Dantzler served in the Army during World War II in the European theater, attaining the rank of 1st lieutenant. He is survived by his wife, Marcia; two daughters; a son; and three stepdaughters. Memorials may be made to The Methodist Oaks, P.O. Box 9005, Orangeburg, SC 29116.

Robert R. Dappen

Dr. Dappen (ISU ′50), 93, Story City, Iowa, died March 1, 2012. He worked 20 years in meat inspection for the federal government prior to retirement. Earlier in his career, Dr. Dappen practiced mixed animal medicine in Manning, Iowa, for 30 years. He was a lifetime member of the National Association of Federal Veterinarians. He received the Iowa VMA Veterinarian of the Year Award in 1955 and the IVMA President's Award in 2004. Dr. Dappen was a Navy veteran of World War II. He was awarded seven Bronze Stars and two Presidential Unit Citations for his service. Dr. Dappen is survived by his wife, Sara Anne, and two sons.

Stacy L. Davis

Dr. Davis (OSU ′00), 39, Bergholz, Ohio, died May 2, 2012. She practiced at Carrollton Animal Hospital in Carrollton, Ohio. Dr. Davis was active with the 4-H Club. Her husband, Thomas M. Costlow; a son; and a daughter survive her. Memorials in her name may be made to the Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation, 2595 County Road 60, Bergholz, OH 43908.

Ronald L. Dawe

Dr. Dawe (OSU ′75), 66, Ocala, Fla., died Feb. 18, 2012. An equine veterinarian, he began his career at Apex Veterinary Hospital in Apex, N.C. Dr. Dawe later practiced in Georgia, New Jersey, Kentucky, Illinois, Texas, and Florida. He focused on acupuncture, acupressure, and chiropractic and on balance techniques. Dr. Dawe was a member of the American Association of Equine Practitioners, American Veterinary Chiropractic Association, International Veterinary Acupuncture Society, Florida Association of Equine Practitioners, Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, and Florida Thoroughbred Breeders' and Owners' Association. His wife, Ellen; a daughter; and two sons survive him. Memorials to help offset medical and other emergency expenses may be sent to Mrs. Ellen Dawe, 584 N.E. 59th St., Ocala, FL 34479.

Richard H. Detwiler

Dr. Detwiler (UP ′48), 86, Reading, Pa., died Jan. 7, 2012. A mixed animal veterinarian, he began his career practicing with his father, Dr. Russell S. Detwiler (UP ′15), in Reading. From 1950–1952, Dr. Detwiler served in the Army Veterinary Corps, attaining the rank of captain. He then returned to practice in Reading, taking over Detwiler Veterinary Clinic when his father died in 1986. Dr. Detwiler was a third-generation veterinarian—his grandfather, Dr. Charles H. Detwiler, and great-uncle, Dr. David C. Detwiler, also being veterinarians.

He was a past president of the American Veterinary Medical History Society and helped establish what is now known as the Eastern Veterinary Historical Society. Dr. Detwiler was also a past president of the Schuylkill Valley VMA and a member of the American Animal Hospital Association. He served as Pennsylvania's alternate delegate to the AVMA House of Delegates from 1987–2000 and was delegate from 2000–2002. Dr. Detwiler received several honors, including the Pennsylvania VMA Distinguished Veterinarian Award in 1994, PVMA Lifetime Achievement Award in 2002, and Pennsylvania Veterinary Foundation Cornerstone Service Award in 2011. He was a 50-year member of several Masonic bodies.

Dr. Detwiler is survived by his wife, Grace, and three daughters. His nephew, Dr. Stephen R. LeVan (UP ′77), is a mixed animal veterinarian in Oley, Pa. Memorials may be made to the Pennsylvania Veterinary Foundation, 8574 Paxton St., Hummelstown, PA 17036; American Veterinary Medical Foundation, Department 20-1122, P.O. Box 5940, Carol Stream, IL 60197; or Trinity Lutheran Church, 527 Washington St., Reading, PA 19601.

Erland P. Elefson

Dr. Elefson (WSU ′52), 82, Arlington, Wash., died April 12, 2012. Prior to retirement, he practiced mixed animal medicine in Washington state at Arlington and Stanwood. Dr. Elefson was also involved with a poultry clinic, a milking machine–pipeline project, and an embryo transplant program. He was a veteran of the Air Force. Dr. Elefson's wife, Geri; a daughter; and two sons survive him. His brother, Dr. E. Eugene Elefson (WSU ′63), is a mixed animal veterinarian in Washington state. Memorials may be made to Our Saviour's Lutheran Church, 615 E. Highland Drive, Arlington, WA 98223; or Washington State University, College of Veterinary Medicine, School for Global Animal Health, P.O. Box 647010, Pullman, WA 99164.

Robert J. Fallon

Dr. Fallon (MON ′58), 83, Lunenburg, Mass., died March 21, 2012. A graduate of the University of Montreal School of Veterinary Medicine, he established Fallon Animal Clinic in Lunenburg in 1963, practicing there until his retirement. Dr. Fallon was a life member of the Massachusetts VMA. He served as a director of the Finance Committee of the Fidelity Cooperative Bank from 1977–2001. Dr. Fallon's wife, Madeleine; a son; and two daughters survive him. His son, Dr. Michael J. Fallon (TUF ′89), practices at Fallon Animal Clinic. Memorials toward a scholarship for a student who wants to become either a veterinarian or a veterinary technician may be made to the Dr. Robert J. Fallon Scholarship Fund, 14 Manning Ave., Suite 500, Leominster, MA 01453.

John D. Foote

Dr. Foote (KSU ′53), 82, Bartlesville, Okla., died March 6, 2012. Following graduation, he served in the Air Force during the Korean War and then established Dewey Animal Clinic in Dewey, Okla., where he practiced mixed animal medicine until retirement. Dr. Foote was active with several organizations, including the National FFA Organization, 4-H Club, and Boys and Girls Club. His wife, Audrey; three daughters; and a son survive him. Memorials toward a scholarship may be made (with the memo line of the check notated in Dr. Foote's name) to Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine, Attn: Developmental Alumni, 103 Trotter Hall, Manhattan, KS 66506; or St. Luke's Episcopal Church (with memo line of the check notated in Dr. Foote's name), 210 E. 9th St., Bartlesville, OK 74003.

Jack Gray

Dr. Gray (TEX ′43), 90, New Braunfels, Texas, died Jan. 20, 2012. He owned a practice in McAllen, Texas, for several years, initially practicing mixed animal medicine and later focusing on small animals. Dr. Gray was a member of the Texas and Rio Grande Valley VMAs and served on the board of the Mission Regional Medical Center in Mission, Texas, for 25 years. He was also a member of the Kiwanis Club. Dr. Gray served in the Army Veterinary Corps during World War II and the Korean War. His wife, Sharon; two daughters; three sons; a stepson; and a stepdaughter survive him. Dr. Gray's son, Dr. Bruce E. Gray (TEX ′71), is a retired small animal practitioner in Mission. Memorials may be made to Hope Hospice, 611 N. Walnut Ave., New Braunfels, TX 78130; or Mission First United Methodist Church, 1101 Doherty Ave., Mission, TX 78572.

Theodore N. Hoch

Dr. Hoch (COR ′58), 80, Port St. Lucie, Fla., died March 20, 2012. He practiced small animal medicine for 25 years in Yorktown Heights, N.Y., prior to retirement in 2004. Earlier in his career, Dr. Hoch practiced at Morris Animal Hospital in Jamaica, N.Y., and Roslyn Animal Hospital in Roslyn, N.Y. He was a longtime member of the Rotary Club and was a Paul Harris Fellow. Dr. Hoch was also a member of Guiding Eyes for the Blind and helped take care of animals at Creature Safe Place in Port St. Lucie. His wife, Janet, and two sons survive him. Memorials may be made to Creature Safe Place, 4500 McCarthy Road, Fort Pierce, FL 34945.

Robert A. Hoffman

Dr. Robert A. Hoffman (COL ′88), 55, Monterey, Calif., died Nov. 6, 2011.

Raymond E. Houk

Dr. Houk (OSU ′54), 83, Hamilton, Ohio, died March 26, 2012. He practiced small animal medicine at Bay Road Animal Hospital in Sarasota, Fla., until June 2011. Earlier in his career, Dr. Houk owned Mount Logan Animal Hospital in Chillicothe, Ohio; a practice in Fairfield, Ohio; and Lake Shore Animal Hospital in Chicago. He was a member of the American Animal Hospital Association and the Ohio, Florida, and Southwest Florida VMAs. Dr. Houk was named Ohio Veterinarian of the Year in 1971 and received an OVMA Meritorious Service Award in 1985.

Dr. Houk's wife, Patricia; a daughter; three sons; two stepsons; and a stepdaughter survive him. Memorials may be made to The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine, Gift Processing, 1480 W. Lane Ave., Columbus, OH 43221.

Raymond T. Jackson

Dr. Jackson (COL ′57), 80, West Springfield, Mass., died April 15, 2012. A small animal practitioner, he owned West Springfield Animal Hospital prior to retirement in 1998. Dr. Jackson began his career working for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Springfield, Mass. He went on to co-establish the Boston Road Animal Hospital in Springfield, Mass., and later was a partner at the Agawam Animal Hospital in Agawam, Mass. Dr. Jackson served on the West Springfield Board of Health. His wife, Joan; two sons; and a daughter survive him. Memorials may be made to Hospice Life Care of Holyoke, 113 Hampden St., Holyoke, MA 01040; or WGBY-Channel 57, 44 Hampden St., Springfield, MA 01103.

Margaret A. Knoll

Dr. Knoll (VMR ′86), 52, Westminster, Md., died April 14, 2012. A small animal veterinarian, she practiced at what is now known as Airpark Animal Hospital in Westminster since 1995. Dr. Knoll also served as an attending veterinarian/research project consultant at the National Institutes of Health in Baltimore; conducted research on animal behavior at Towson University in Towson, Md.; and consulted in and promoted animal behavioral medicine. Earlier in her career, she practiced at Lewis Veterinary Hospital in Columbia, Md., and Hillside Veterinary Hospital in Charles Town, W. Va. Dr. Knoll was a member of the American Animal Hospital Association, American Holistic VMA, Maryland VMA, and Maryland Animal Health Emergency Volunteer Veterinary Corps.

Hugo J. Nykamp

Dr. Nykamp (COR ′54), 86, Woodlake, N.C., died April 29, 2012. He practiced small animal medicine for more than 35 years in New Jersey at Pompton Plains and Wayne, also volunteering at local shelters and township clinics. Dr. Nykamp raised and showed Airedale Terriers and Norwich Terriers. A lifetime member of the Airedale Terrier Club, he served as its delegate to the American Kennel Club. Dr. Nykamp was an Army veteran of World War II and the Korean War. He was a member of the Vass Lions Club. Dr. Nykamp is survived by his wife, Joanne; a son; and two daughters. Memorials may be made to American Parkinson Disease Association, 135 Parkinson Ave., Staten Island, NY 10305; or Our Saviour Lutheran Church, 1517 Luther Way, Southern Pines, NC 28387.

David L. Pence

Dr. Pence (ISU ′76), 64, Ankeny, Iowa, died May 12, 2012. From 2001 until retirement in 2007, he worked for the Department of Agriculture as a veterinary medical officer in Ankeny. Prior to that, Dr. Pence practiced mixed animal medicine throughout eastern Iowa for 25 years. During that time, he also served nine years as state veterinarian at the Dubuque Greyhound Park and did relief work across the state. Dr. Pence was a member of the Iowa VMA, American Association of Swine Veterinarians, and American Association of Bovine Practitioners. He and his wife, Cheryl, were recently awarded the Red Cross Heroes of the Heartland Award for their service to others. Dr. Pence was a veteran of the Army Veterinary Corps. He is survived by his wife and two daughters. Dr. Pence's brother, Dr. Mel E. Pence (ISU 74), is a bovine practitioner in Arizona. Memorials toward educational scholarships may be made to the David L. Pence Memorial Fund, c/o Cheryl Pence, 2013 N.E. Innsbruck Drive, Ankeny, IA 50021.

Kenneth L. Reinertson

Dr. Reinertson (ISU ′43), 95, Marshalltown, Iowa, died April 26, 2012. A mixed animal veterinarian, he practiced in Ocheyedan, Iowa, from 1946 until retirement in the mid-1980s. Earlier in his career, Dr. Reinertson worked in Wahoo, Neb. He was active with the Boy Scouts and the Ocheyedan Fire Department and served on the board of Ocheyedan Community Schools for several years. Dr. Reinertson's three sons and two daughters survive him. Memorials may be made to Ocheyedan Boy Scouts, c/o Bob Truckenmiller, Ocheyedan, IA 51354.

Harold B. Rinker

Dr. Rinker (OKL ′58), 78, West Fork, Ark., died Jan. 2, 2012. During his career, he owned mixed animal practices in Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas; served as a professor at Oklahoma State University's College of Veterinary Medicine; and was a public health veterinarian for the Department of Agriculture. Dr. Rinker also provided veterinary services on the Hopi and Navajo reservations in Arizona and New Mexico. He was a founding member and a past president of the Academy of Veterinary Consultants and a member of the Arkansas VMA. In April, the AVC honored Dr. Rinker posthumously with its Outstanding Service Award in recognition of his commitment and contributions to the beef cattle industry and the veterinary profession. He was a leader in feedlot health.

Dr. Rinker volunteered with the Washington Regional Hospice program in Arkansas for more than 20 years, and, as an active member of Alcoholics Anonymous, consulted with many people over almost 40 years. Dr. Rinker is survived by his wife, Jan; three daughters; and two sons. Memorials may be made to the Willard Walker Hospice Home, 325 E. Longview Drive, Fayetteville, AR 72703.

Leonard W. Scarr

Dr. Scarr (MIN ′55), 82, Madison, Wis., died April 26, 2012. A small animal practitioner, he founded Scarr Animal Hospital in Portsmouth, Va., and practiced there for 40 years. Earlier in his career, Dr. Scarr worked for the state of Minnesota in the brucellosis eradication program. He volunteered with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. An avid amateur astronomer, Dr. Scarr was a past president of the Astronomical Society of Tidewater. His wife, Paula; three sons; and a daughter survive him.

Robert M. Wempe

Dr. Wempe (MIN ′56), 89, Mitchell, S.D., died April 10, 2012. From 1956 until retirement in 1987, he practiced food animal medicine in the Parkston area of South Dakota. In 2001, Dr. Wempe was one of 14 Wempe family veterinarians recognized by the Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine for the family's dedication and devotion to advancing the profession of veterinary medicine. He served in the Army Air Corps during World War II and was a member of the American Legion. Dr. Wempe was a past member of the Parkston School Board. He is survived by his wife, Genevieve; two daughters; and five sons. Two sons, Drs. John M. Wempe (KSU ′80) and James M. Wempe (ISU ′80), are veterinarians in Colorado and Washington state, respectively. Memorials may be made to Alzheimer's Association, P.O. Box 96011, Washington, DC 20090; or Asercare Hospice, S. Westport Ave., Suite B, Sioux Falls, SD 57106.

James C. Wilson

Dr. Wilson (MO ′59), 76, Ripley, Tenn., died Dec. 16, 2011. He was a mixed animal practitioner.

Frank W. Zak

Dr. Zak (MID ′42), 94, Lynn, Mass., died March 12, 2012. A mixed animal practitioner, he owned what was known as Zak Animal Hospital in Lynn prior to retirement. Dr. Zak was a past president of the Massachusetts VMA and the Veterinary Association of the North Shore. He also served as a trustee for the Veterinary Scholarship Trust of New England. Dr. Zak received the 1976 Distinguished Service Award from the MVMA. He served as a food inspector in the Army during World War II. Dr. Zak's wife, Leocadia; a son; and two daughters survive him. His brother-in-law, Dr. Mitchell T. Wolak (KSU ′63), is a small animal veterinarian in Salem, Mass. Memorials may be made to the Dr. Frank Zak Award, Veterinary Scholarship Trust of New England, P.O. Box 3221, North Attleboro, MA 02761.

Leo A. Zehrer

Dr. Zehrer (MIN ′53), 87, Brooten, Minn., died March 27, 2012. Prior to retirement, he served as a veterinarian with the Minnesota Board of Animal Health for almost 20 years. Earlier in his career, Dr. Zehrer practiced large animal medicine in Brooten for 20 years. He was a member of the Minnesota and West Central VMAs. While in veterinary college, Dr. Zehrer served as president of the student chapter of the AVMA and received the Leadership Award from the Auxiliary to the AVMA. Active in civic life, he was a member of the Brooten Volunteer Fire Department, served as chairman of the Brooten School Board for several years, and was active with the National FFA Organization and 4-H Club. Dr. Zehrer was a veteran of the Army Air Force and a member of the American Legion. He is survived by his wife, Mary, and six daughters. Dr. Zehrer's nephew, Dr. Darrell F. Zehrer (MIN ′81), is a veterinarian in Rogers, Minn. Memorials may be made to the Minnesota Veterinary Historical Museum, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Minnesota, 1365 Gortner Ave., St. Paul, MN 55108.