Veterinarians tend to unique needs of exotic companion mammals

Katie Burns

Rabbits, a ferret, a guinea pig, and a hedgehog were among the patients on a recent morning at Chicago Exotics Animal Hospital in suburban Skokie.

Gary the ferret, age 8, was in for a checkup on geriatric conditions. Mickey the rabbit needed a recheck for heart disease. Chris the guinea pig was up for an annual examination. Pickles the hedgehog had diarrhea. Garbanzo the rabbit, a 3-month-old Flemish Giant, was there for an initial examination.

The AVMA's 2012 U.S. Pet Ownership & Demographics Sourcebook estimated that 10.6 percent of U.S. households owned “specialty and exotic pets,” or pets other than dogs, cats, birds, and horses, at year-end 2011. Within that category, the order of popularity for exotic companion mammals was rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, “other rodents,” ferrets, and gerbils. The total U.S. population of these pets was nearly 8 million at year-end 2011.

Veterinarians who work with exotic companion mammals say each species has its attractions as well as its challenges. The Association of Exotic Mammal Veterinarians and the Exotic Companion Mammal specialty under the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners are advancing medicine for these species. And owners of these pets seem somewhat more likely to seek veterinary care than in the past, say veterinarians who work with the species.


Dan Loper, a veterinary student in the class of 2015 at the University of Illinois, listens to the heart of Gary the ferret at Chicago Exotics Animal Hospital. Loper would like to work with exotic pets after graduation. (Photo by Katie Burns)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 245, 1; 10.2460/javma.245.1.10


Dr. Angela M. Lennox, owner of Avian & Exotic Animal Clinic in Indianapolis, has seen a shift in her practice from almost 80 percent birds in the 1980s down to maybe 30 percent currently. According to the AVMA sourcebook, the number of bird-owning households in the country decreased from 5.4 million in 1991 to 3.7 million in 2011. Now, exotic companion mammals make up more than half Dr. Lennox's practice.

“People do like something that's different,” said Dr. Lennox, who is regent for the Exotic Companion Mammal specialty and AEMV past president. She believes people have become more aware that exotic companion mammals make good pets, partly because many of the species can live in small enclosures.

Rabbits are the most popular pets at Dr. Lennox's practice. She said rabbits live eight to 12 years, can use a litter box, can live in the house, respond to their owners, and show affection.

Just as someone can be a dog person, someone can be a rabbit person, said Dr. Chris Griffin, AEMV president and owner of Griffin Avian and Exotic Veterinary Hospital in Kannapolis, North Carolina.

“You can ask a hundred people who have rabbits what they like about the rabbit, and you might get a hundred different responses,” he said. “Most of the pets that we see have personalities; some may be more subtle than others.”

Many exotic companion mammals are appealing partly because they are so cute and fuzzy, said Dr. David E. Hannon, who practices at Avian & Exotic Animal Veterinary Service at Memphis Veterinary Specialists in Cordova, Tennessee. He particularly likes ferrets because they are so personable.

Certain species can be fads, mentioned Dr. Eric Klaphake of the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado, who was previously in private practice with a focus on exotic pets. He said recent fads include hedgehogs and sugar gliders.

He added that people can choose from exotic companion mammals that do well socially in groups or species that do well alone. Ferrets can fare well alone or with others, while sugar gliders need a social network and should not be housed singly.

Dr. Susan Horton, founder of Chicago Exotics, said exotic companion mammals make up 49 percent of her practice—with rabbits making up 36 percent of all patients.

Dr. Horton spoke on the merits of rabbits. She said rabbits are clean, intelligent, and social. They bond tightly with their owners, but they are friendly to everybody.


Dr. Stephanie Moy of Chicago Exotics said she loves the variety associated with working with many species.

“There is always going to be a challenge just because with each animal, each species, there's a different subtlety that you have to know,” she said. “A rabbit is not a guinea pig; a ferret is totally different.”

Dr. Lennox said rabbits tend to develop dental, respiratory, and gastrointestinal problems. Owners have more information about rabbits than about other exotic pets, but some owners still need education about husbandry. Dr. Hannon said one problem is that rabbits generally get too many apples and carrots as treats, so they don't get the hay they need to wear down their teeth and provide fiber.

“There is so much we can do to keep them healthy,” Dr. Horton said. “We do great medicine with our rabbits, keep them alive for a long time, in a good quality of life.”


Ownership of exotic companion mammals (Source: U.S. Pet Ownership & Demographics Sourcebook, 2012 edition)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 245, 1; 10.2460/javma.245.1.10

Dr. Klaphake said medicine for exotic companion mammals is more advanced than medicine for some other exotic pets because many of these species have been kept as laboratory animals for generations, resulting in a better understanding of their needs and allowing for breeding for desired domestication traits.

“A lot of these exotics owners will surprise you as far as how attached they are to these pets,” he added. “They will pay for the same quality medicine and surgery as dog and cat owners.”

He recalled a client who owned a rat with mammary cancer. Dr. Klaphake told the owner that removing the mass would buy a few months. The owner spent $2,500 to $3,000 on the surgery.

Another case involved a client who owned a guinea pig with bladder stones. Dr. Klaphake ended up doing eight surgeries on the guinea pig, with the owner spending thousands of dollars.

Dr. Lennox said it is a little sad that some exotic companion mammals have short life spans. Dr. Klaphake said clients will hear that one animal lived for a long time, and then veterinarians have to dial back client expectations. He worked at a zoo with a hedgehog that was 14 or 15 years old, but pet hedgehogs typically live to be 4 or 5.

Ferrets develop several syndromes as they age, Dr. Griffin said, and mice and rats alike tend to develop cancer. Dr. Horton said rats are geriatric by age 2, although a dedicated community of rat owners values the animals as interesting and intelligent.

Unwanted babies are a challenge with some exotic companion mammals, Dr. Klaphake said. He said pet stores can misjudge the sex of the animals, although larger chains have switched to one sex or the other. He has had to tell clients that their pet is not fat, but pregnant, and then help them figure out what to do with the unwanted babies.

Association and specialty

The AEMV was established in 2000 to advance the veterinary care of exotic companion mammals in all their variety. The U.S.-based association has grown to about 750 members from nearly three dozen countries.

Dr. Peter G. Fisher, chair of the AEMV Marketing Committee, said most members are in private practice, with 10 percent or fewer in academia. Most of the practitioners see dogs, cats, and exotic pets. His practice, Pet Care Veterinary Hospital in Virginia Beach, Virginia, is fairly representative with a 20 percent caseload of exotic pets, mostly mammals. About 20 percent of members see exotics only.

Dr. Griffin said veterinarians who work with exotic companion mammals might see more than a dozen species on a regular basis. The AEMV provides information about these species in forums such as an annual conference and a section in the quarterly Journal of Exotic Pet Medicine. Before the association, he said, it was hard to find information all in one place.

The Exotic Companion Mammal specialty was established in 2008 under the ABVP. By early 2014, the specialty had 22 diplomates. Dr. Lennox believes more owners of exotic companion mammals want veterinary care for their pets, so establishment of a specialty was a natural next step.


Dr. Byron de la Navarre, owner of Animal House of Chicago, performs a physical examination on the practice's resident bunny, Chocolate Chip. (Photo by Katie Burns)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 245, 1; 10.2460/javma.245.1.10


An anesthetized ferret undergoes upper gastrointestinal endoscopy at Avian & Exotic Animal Veterinary Service at Memphis Veterinary Specialists in Cordova, Tenn. (Courtesy of Dr. David E. Hannon)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 245, 1; 10.2460/javma.245.1.10


Dr. Stephanie Moy of Chicago Exotics Animal Hospital examines Pickles the hedgehog, in because of diarrhea. (Photo by Katie Burns)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 245, 1; 10.2460/javma.245.1.10

Veterinary care

According to the AVMA's demographics sourcebook, 30.7 percent of households that owned ferrets had veterinary expenditures in 2011. Ferrets are the only exotic companion mammals that regularly receive vaccines. Dr. Lennox said other common exotic companion mammals are not at risk for diseases for which vaccines are available.

For exotic companion mammals other than ferrets, the percentages of owners who had veterinary expenditures in 2011 were, for guinea pigs, 19.0 percent; rabbits, 16.7 percent; “other rodents,” 15.3 percent; gerbils, 9.6 percent; and hamsters, 6.7 percent.

Dr. Byron de la Navarre, owner of Animal House of Chicago, worked in a pet store when he was young and recalls seeing owners of exotic pets who simply bought another whenever one died. Now he has a sense that owners of various exotic pets are willing to seek veterinary care. His practice serves exotic pets, cats, and dogs and recommends at least annual visits for all of them.


Colleen M. Barnett brought Gary the ferret to Chicago Exotics Animal Hospital for a checkup on geriatric conditions. (Photos by Katie Burns)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 245, 1; 10.2460/javma.245.1.10


Lauren Karavites brought Pickles the hedgehog in because of diarrhea.

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 245, 1; 10.2460/javma.245.1.10


Daniel Kovacevich brought Mickey the rabbit in for a recheck for her heart disease.

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 245, 1; 10.2460/javma.245.1.10

People's perceptions of many exotic companion mammals have changed, Dr. Lennox said. The backyard pet bunny has become the house bunny. Advocacy groups spread the message that these species are not little disposable things. People get attached to the pets, and the pets become part of the family. Dr. Lennox still most often first meets clients when their pets get sick, but many owners subsequently come in for annual examinations for their pets.

Dr. Griffin said he doesn't want to meet clients for the first time when their pets are dying, but that happens with exotics. When Dr. Griffin opened his exotics-only practice a decade ago, 75 to 90 percent of the patients were sick. Now clients bring in pets, even short-lived hamsters, for wellness visits.

Many people just don't realize when exotic pets are sick, Dr. Hannon said. “A lot of the species that we treat are prey species, and a survival trait for prey species is that if you're sick, don't act it, because something is going to eat you. And so they hide their illness, and people don't realize that these animals have problems.”

Dr. Moy noted that some people get an exotic pet without thoroughly researching care or costs. She offers education on husbandry and works within clients’ means as necessary.

Of the nearly 14,500 practices that had registered with the AVMA's MyVeterinarian.com practice finder as of early May, more than 6,900 offered services in the category of “rabbit, pocket pet, and ferret.”

Dr. de la Navarre gets calls about exotic pets all the time from veterinarians who work mostly with dogs and cats. He discusses cases and offers advice on care, but he recommends referral if the problems seem too complicated.

He does not discourage other veterinarians from seeing exotic pets if they have an interest. “If they really want to try to care for exotic pets, and I encourage that, then they should pursue the knowledge that they need to do it right.”

Tales of furry friends

By Katie Burns

Clients who brought exotic companion mammals to Chicago Exotics Animal Hospital in suburban Skokie on a recent morning each had a story to tell about their animals.

Colleen M. Barnett got her ferret, Gary, after her dog died when she was 16. Now Gary is geriatric at about age 8.

“He's fun,” Barnett said. “He's always been like an old man. He's always been very laid-back.”

Gary has various conditions common to geriatric ferrets—insulinoma, adrenal problems, and an enlarged heart. With medications, he seems to be doing OK, Barnett said.

She had another ferret, a female, who died two years ago. She said ferrets are quirky and curious. They like to steal stuff; she found a trove of film canisters behind a dresser.

“When they're up, they're up, and then they pass out,” she said.

Gary sleeps more these days, but he still does his curious walk-around. He wouldn't snuggle when he was younger, but now he passes out in Barnett's arms.

Daniel Kovacevich said his wife got their first rabbit, Buster, from a relative. They thought rabbit care would be easier, yet fell in love with the soft and friendly species.

After Buster died, the couple adopted Mickey. Kovacevich built Mickey a rabbit house in the basement. She developed heart disease, but she is doing well on medication.

Now Kovacevich and his daughter, age 1 1/2, go down to the basement together to feed Mickey.

Mary Kay Lorenz and her husband got their daughter, Megan, a guinea pig for Christmas a few years ago. Megan, now 11, named him Chris in honor of the holiday. Lorenz and Megan would like to have a dog, but the family lives in a high-rise in downtown Chicago.

Lorenz said her husband and Megan love Chris. Her daughter plays with the guinea pig and talks to him. Lorenz brings Chris in for annual examinations.

Chris is pretty low-maintenance, Lorenz said, but he has a gourmet diet—endive and parsley along with carrots and hay.

Lauren Karavites is helping her boyfriend watch a hedgehog for a friend who is studying abroad. Karavites said Pickles is cute and quirky, if not always the friendliest creature.


Chris the guinea pig undergoes an annual examination at Chicago Exotics Animal Hospital. (Photo by Katie Burns)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 245, 1; 10.2460/javma.245.1.10

Pickles has her own little personality, Karavites said. The hedgehog acts grumpy, huffing and puffing, but then she'll come over to see people. Karavites and her boyfriend bought a wire pen and toys for Pickles, and all the hedgehog tries to do is escape.

Karavites brought the hedgehog in for diarrhea. Otherwise, the hedgehog has been pretty easy to care for, and Karavites wants to get one of her own.

Ellen Lekostaj and her boyfriend have two rabbits. Late last year, they adopted a Flemish Giant that turned out to have a heart defect and died. They said to each other, “We have a rabbit-shaped hole in our hearts.”

They adopted another rabbit, Vivian, probably a mixed breed with Flemish Giant in the mix. Then they adopted Garbanzo, a Flemish Giant who was 3 months old at the time of his initial visit to Chicago Exotics.

Lekostaj has had dogs and cats “forever,” but her boyfriend never had pets. He wanted a pet that was more his, and he fell in love with bunnies. She said, “To have a bunny hop up to you and look for attention is the sweetest thing in the world.”

AVMA presidential candidates, in their own words

Dee, Kinnarney lay out their visions for the profession and AVMA

Interviews by R. Scott Nolen

On July 25 in Denver, the AVMA House of Delegates will elect either Dr. Larry G. Dee of Hollywood, Florida, or Dr. Joseph H. Kinnarney of Reidsville, North Carolina, as next in line for the AVMA presidency, after incoming president Dr. Ted Cohn. Both 2014 president-elect candidates are companion animal practitioners and small business owners with decades of volunteer service in organized veterinary medicine. In the following interviews with JAVMA News, each candidate explains why he should lead the AVMA.

What do you hope to accomplish as AVMA president?

Dr. Dee responds:

After my term as AVMA president, I hope to be able to say that I made a difference—a difference in the abilities of the AVMA to serve its members and, more importantly, a difference in the lives of future veterinarians. I hope that they will enjoy the profession, both personally and financially, as much as my generation has. If I can implement the goals of the current and future strategic plan, I will have made that difference.

I served on the task force that developed the current strategic plan whose goals and objectives, if I may paraphrase, include the following: strengthen the economics of the veterinary medical profession, transform veterinary medical education, promote animal welfare, advance scientific research and discovery, and enhance membership participation and engagement. Of those five goals, I think we've achieved gains on the latter three. Enhancing membership participation is an ongoing process. While we have worked to strengthen client demand through the Partners for Healthy Pets program, we have made little impact on the supply side of the equation. A North American Veterinary Medical Education Consortium–like program, focusing on the economics of our educational system, may be productive. We have the finest veterinary medical education system in the world but must ask two questions: Is there a more cost-effective way to produce a ‘day-one ready’ practitioner, and will the public continue to pay that practitioner enough to manage her student debt and have a comfortable living?

The Association is committing significant time this year to develop new strategic goals with extensive input from the membership and the volunteer leadership. These goals should be measurable, realistic, specific, and achievable. I have told the Student AVMA that I would like to have our government realize that a strong, viable veterinary community is an integral part of our national defense. However, this is a personal dream, and currently not an achievable goal.


Dr. Larry G. Dee

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 245, 1; 10.2460/javma.245.1.10

What makes you the best candidate for the office?

I served as president of the Florida VMA at the urging of my colleagues. I agreed to serve on the World Small Animal Veterinary Association executive board because if I did not, North America would not have been represented on that board. Later I served as WSAVA president. Like most of my colleagues, I am reluctant to toot my own horn, but I think I am the better candidate because of my experience—my experience as president of my state association, two national associations, and one international association. I have a strong desire to serve. If elected, I am committed to make a difference in our profession.

I have previously demonstrated the skills needed for the position. I have worked with students, recent graduates, specialists, faculty, and other volunteer leaders. As the president of a variety of associations, I have served as their voice both within and without the profession, advocating for their cause. I have the experience required to fulfill the requirements of the job and the desire to do it.

What qualifications and experiences would you bring to the position?

I have served and moved through the chairs in many associations, serving as president of two local associations, my state association, the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners, the American Animal Hospital Association, and most recently, as president of the World Small Animal Veterinary Association. I've also served for 14 years in the AVMA House of Delegates, working to bring forward the best legislation for the membership and the Association. As a member of the American Board of Veterinary Specialties for nine years, I participated in the review of existing specialty colleges and in the formation of new specialty colleges. I have served as an active member of the AVMA Executive Board and have a thorough understanding of how the Executive Board and the Association function. In my practice, I have worked with recent graduates through our internship program and am deeply concerned about their issues. As chair of the FVMA College Advisory Committee since 2000, I have worked with deans and faculty on issues ranging from curriculum changes to a new building campaign.

In your opinion, what is the AVMA president's primary responsibility?

The primary responsibility of the AVMA president is to be the voice of the Association, with the fiduciary responsibility to represent the views as designated by the Executive Board and the House of Delegates. Obviously, this includes the responsibility to act in the best interests of the membership. In addition, the president has a responsibility to actively and vigorously participate on the Board of Governors and to use the presidential bully pulpit to advocate for the profession as a member of the Executive Board.

What are the most important challenges and opportunities facing the veterinary profession?

We live in a time of great challenge and great change. The most important challenges relate to the economics of the profession, particularly student debt, oversupply of the workforce, and the willingness of the public to pay appropriately for our services. Additionally, we are threatened by not-for-profits and other organizations that would impinge on the practice of veterinary medicine. Decreased state funding for our schools and decreased research funding are challenges that we cannot overlook. Our opportunities are closely bound to change—how we change our models of doing business, how we educate a day-one–ready veterinarian, and how we structure the cost of advanced education in general; all will affect our professional viability. Opportunities in nontraditional practice settings—whether in industry, public health, or in niche practices—exist and can be expanded.

As president, how would you direct the Association's response in these areas?

As an association, we have the responsibility to address the challenges that impact our profession. While we have no direct authority to bring to bear on many of these issues, we can act as a catalyst for change with those entities that have the authority to impact our profession. Specifically, legislative advocacy is our greatest strength. Through our legislative efforts and our public relations efforts, we can create change. Curriculum changes and additional training can open new business opportunities for veterinary graduates. Evaluating and endorsing improved business models can improve the finances of our membership.

The Association has formed a new Veterinary Economics Division, which is working to define those factors that result in economic success. I think these efforts will result in business tools and concepts that our members can use to improve their practices.

We must continue to educate incoming veterinary students about the hazards of debt accumulation and the deleterious effects of compound interest on the debtor. Currently, financial information is offered during the first year of school but not fully understood until the final year, when the debt has already accumulated.

Explain how the ongoing efforts to reform AVMA's governance structure benefits the average member.

The primary purpose of reforming the AVMA governance structure is to make it more efficient, more nimble, and more responsive to the needs of the membership. The goal is to improve communication both from and to the membership so that we can provide the services that are most desired. Advocates for change think that a leaner organizational structure can more effectively serve the members. Members of the House of Delegates say that they provide membership input, they function as a leadership ‘farm team,’ and they provide a voice for our smaller constituencies. Both sides are convinced of the validity of their views.

Another, unrelated governance concern that I have relates to the ability of our young members to serve, considering the changing demographics and economics of our profession. The advent of production-based compensation, the nonpractice obligations of many women veterinarians, combined with the attitudes of the Y Generation, encourage us to reduce the time and economic sacrifices we ask of our volunteer leaders. While our new and recent graduates are enthusiastic participants in organized veterinary medicine, many will be unable to afford the time and economic commitment that their forebears have made. We must restructure our leadership tasks to ensure that our future leaders can afford to participate.

Any final thoughts?

One of our greatest assets is serving as an umbrella organization for our membership. However, as we try to be inclusive to this varied, sometimes contradictory constituency, we can be perceived as being poorly responsive to their needs. Taking a position under these circumstances can be controversial; there is always someone to disagree with the decision, no matter how well thought out, how deliberative, or how well researched it was. Progress always entails some risk. Historically, I think we have tended to make errors of omission rather than errors of commission. We have all seen this in practice—the old dog that desperately needs dental prophylaxis and is an acceptable anesthetic risk, yet the client would rather not make an error of commission and will instead allow the dog to live with an infected mouth. I think our Association, in recent years, has been willing to commit to more risk in the decision-making process, has been willing, after due deliberation, to accept risk as an integral component of effective leadership, and that we have benefited from that commitment.

What do you hope to accomplish as AVMA president?

Dr. Kinnarney responds:


Dr. Joseph H. Kinnarney

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 245, 1; 10.2460/javma.245.1.10

There are two major areas that the AVMA must focus on. The first is the economic issues facing our profession. Veterinary student debt is at an all-time high and will continue to worsen, especially since the government is no longer subsidizing interest rates on educational loans while students are still in school or furthering their education through internships and residencies. Raising incomes of all veterinarians is essential to our profession's economic health. To do this, we must educate the American public about the value veterinarians bring to their quality of life. From companion animal, food animal, public health, food safety, biosecurity, research, and many other modalities, veterinarians bring much value to the American public. As a profession, we must be more aggressive about staying in the public eye.

The second focus area is AVMA's communications. It is apparent that we have not been effective in communicating to our members all the things that AVMA does for them and our profession—from advocacy, college accreditation, economics, student services, to insurances and education. We must take a close look at how we communicate and then do better.

What makes you the best candidate for the office?

I have been an active participant in organized veterinary medicine since being student chapter AVMA president at Cornell and then Student AVMA president. Since then, I have held leadership positions with the North Carolina VMA and spent 17 years in the AVMA House of Delegates, two years as AVMA vice president, and six years on the Executive Board. My main focuses as an AVMA board member were students and recent graduates and political advocacy. During my service on the Executive Board, I chaired the Task Force on AVMA Programs for Students and Recent Graduates, which was a highlight of my career. From this came the Early Career Development Committee that has been a tool for recent graduates to use while addressing issues that face them in the early years of professional life. In addition, I am a practicing veterinarian facing the day-to-day issues that my colleagues face. I manage multiple veterinarians and see firsthand what economic hurdles they must overcome.

What qualifications and experiences would you bring to the position?

As a private practitioner, I took a two-person hospital in 1981 and grew it to a five-hospital, 18-veterinarian group. Besides the professional qualifications I already mentioned, I have served on a community bank board for 26 years, helping it to grow from an $80 million bank to a $2 billion-plus bank, one of the largest in North Carolina. I also served on a community hospital board and watched how the changes in health care affected the medical profession.

In your opinion, what is the AVMA president's primary responsibility?

The AVMA Bylaws states that the president is the official spokesperson for the Association. As president, I would fill this role by not only communicating to our members but also communicating to the general public. As I said earlier, we must keep educating the public about the value veterinarians bring to them. It is also essential that the AVMA president listens to Association members and reports to the Executive Board their concerns and needs.

What are the most important challenges and opportunities facing the veterinary profession?

The economic issues facing our profession are by far the most challenging. However, I am an optimistic person. Our glass is half full, not half empty. A hundred years ago, I am sure veterinarians thought the profession was over when cars replaced the horse and mule. Instead, we grew and adapted to the changing needs of the American public. Forty years ago, the dentists’ business dropped significantly with the use of fluoride. They were successful in growing their services and improving the economic viability of their profession. We can do the same. There has never been a time in the history of the world that we had so much knowledge and skill. We must use this and grow all services of veterinary medicine.

As president, how would you direct the Association's response in these areas?

As president, I would keep the economic issues at the front of all discussions. From the Executive Board to the House of Delegates, state associations, and allied groups, we must all come to the table, address these issues, and look for solutions to these complex problems. Our economic future is dependent on it. We, as the leaders of our Association, must be active in listening to our members and bring their thoughts and needs to the table.

Explain how the ongoing efforts to reform AVMA's governance structure benefits the average member.

It is important that we have a governance structure that allows input from every member. We are a small association and must have a structure that allows input but keeps us unified. By doing this, all members gain.

Any final thoughts?

Together, we are the future. If elected, I will do my best to carry out the above objectives and keep us unified.

“Our opportunities are closely bound to change—how we change our models of doing business, how we educate a day-one-ready veterinarian, and how we structure the cost of advanced education in general; all will affect our professional viability.”

Dr. Larry G. Dee, 2014 AVMA president-elect candidate

“There has never been a time in the history of the world that we had so much knowledge and skill. We must use this and grow all services of veterinary medicine.”

Dr. Joseph H. Kinnarney, 2014 AVMA president-elect candidate

House considers proposals on ethics, gestation stalls, governance

By Katie Burns

The AVMA House of Delegates will consider a revised version of the AVMA's Principles of Veterinary Medical Ethics, a resolution against sow gestation stalls, and proposals on governance during its regular annual session, July 24–25 in Denver, preceding the AVMA Annual Convention.

Principles of ethics

The AVMA Executive Board submitted the new version of the principles of ethics as a resolution with a recommendation for approval. The Judicial Council has spent more than a year revising the principles and incorporating input from AVMA members.

The council completely reformatted the document, modeling the new version in large part on the American Medical Association's Code of Ethics. The council proposed eight overarching tenets and reformatted the document into three sections—an introduction, principles, and useful terms. The council believes the new framework will allow the principles to endure as written and that supporting annotations can be revised as needed to address new concepts.

The revised version of the document also incorporates input from the House, other AVMA entities, AVMA members, AVMA general counsel, executives of state VMAs, and other stakeholders.

Sow gestation stalls

The Humane Society VMA submitted the resolution against gestation stalls by petition of AVMA members. The resolution would revise the AVMA policy “Pregnant Sow Housing” by adding that housing should allow pregnant sows “to stand up, fully turn around, and stretch their limbs.”

The statement about the resolution asserts: “The intensive confinement of pregnant sows in gestation crates for a prolonged period of time creates serious physical and psychological consequences. Given the viable alternatives to gestation crates, namely a variety of group housing options, there is a global trend toward phasing out gestation crate use where growing social concern and acknowledgment of the ethical issues inherent in gestation crates is being recognized.”

The statement goes on to describe gestation stalls, welfare concerns, the percentage of a sow's life span typically spent in gestation and farrowing stalls, the elimination of gestation stalls by some states and countries, and a movement away from gestation stalls by some pork producers and food companies. The statement concludes by noting that a recent AVMA literature review acknowledged certain welfare disadvantages with gestation stalls.

The AVMA Executive Board also submitted a resolution to revise the policy on pregnant sow housing per recommendations from the AVMA Animal Welfare Committee (see JAVMA, June 1, 2014, page 1226). Among other changes, the resolution would revise the policy by adding that housing should provide “adequate quality and quantity of space that allows sows to assume normal postures and express normal patterns of behavior.”

Governance proposals

The board submitted a number of proposed amendments to the AVMA Bylaws for consideration by the House. The proposed changes to governance would provide for AVMA members to elect about half the delegates in the HOD and would reduce the term of board members from six years to four.

The AVMA Governance Engagement Team crafted the proposal that would allow direct election of many delegates by AVMA members. Currently, the state VMAs and other veterinary organizations represented in the House, such as species groups, each designate a delegate and an alternate delegate.

The proposed bylaws amendments would allow AVMA members residing in each state or belonging to other organizations represented in the House to elect one voting delegate to represent the state or organization. The state VMAs and the other organizations would designate a second voting delegate.

The proposal also would limit almost all delegates to serving no more than two consecutive four-year terms.

The board's Governance Bylaws Working Group crafted the proposal to change the term of board members from six years to four. The proposed bylaws amendments would make the term for board members consistent with the proposed term for delegates. The working group believes that a shorter term will result in more opportunities for AVMA members to serve on the board. The bylaws already provide for board members not to serve two consecutive terms.

The proposal also would change the name of the board from Executive Board to Board of Directors to be consistent with the terminology of the laws covering not-for-profit organizations in Illinois, where the AVMA is incorporated.

In addition, the board submitted a proposed bylaws amendment to add a veterinary student as a nonvoting member of the AVMA Council on Research.

Proposals going to the House of Delegates are available at www.avma.org/about/governance. AVMA members can find contact information for their delegates by visiting www.avma.org/members and clicking on “My AVMA Leaders.

AVMA names 2014–2015 congressional fellows

The three veterinarians chosen to participate in the 2014–2015 AVMA Congressional Science Fellowship Program were announced in May.

Starting this August, Drs. Elise Ackley, Chase Crawford, and Carolyn La Jeunesse will spend a year in Washington, D.C., as scientific advisers to members of Congress, helping to shape legislation and regulations affecting animal and public health and the veterinary profession.

Sponsored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the AVMA fellowship program places veterinarians in congressional offices where there is a need. More than 55 veterinarians have participated in AVMA's congressional fellowship program.

“The AVMA Congressional Science Fellowship Program is a unique way for veterinarians at all stages in their careers to learn about the legislative process and take part firsthand in developing public policies that will have a national and global impact,” said Dr. Mark Lutschaunig, AVMA Governmental Relations Division director.

“Not only will Drs. Ackley, Crawford, and La Jeunesse serve their country by providing advice on a wide range of pressing scientific, national issues, but they will also be able to network with officials in all branches of the federal government, which will hopefully open up new career opportunities for them.”

AVMA fellows serve in a congressional office or on a congressional committee where they advise policymakers on legislation spanning food safety, public health, research, and small business issues. This September, the new fellows will receive their yearlong placements and then begin supporting the activities of that office full time. AVMA fellows are not AVMA employees or lobbyists.


Dr. Elise Ackley

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 245, 1; 10.2460/javma.245.1.10


Dr. Chase Crawford

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 245, 1; 10.2460/javma.245.1.10


Dr. Carolyn La Jeunesse

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 245, 1; 10.2460/javma.245.1.10

The 2014–2015 AVMA congressional fellows were selected out of 20 applicants for the program, which included a three-phase, competitive selection process Dr. Ackley of Shreveport, Louisiana, is a 2014 graduate of Louisiana State University and a former Student AVMA president. Throughout her veterinary education, she worked for a number of congressional offices and regulatory agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. Dr. Ackley previously served as a student extern in the AVMA GRD.

Dr. Crawford of Houston, Texas, is a 2014 graduate of Texas A&M University. As a student, Dr. Crawford focused on issues related to one health and has worked at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations as well as the World Health Organization.

Dr. La Jeunesse of Port Orchard, Washington, is a 1983 graduate of the University of California-Davis and past president of the Washington State VMA. As a clinician, she primarily practices in the area of small companion animal emergency and critical care. Dr. La Jeunesse writes, educates, and consults in areas related to career development, communications, professional wellness, biomedical ethics, and end-of-life issues for those working in caregiving professions.

Visit http://goo.gl/e6TcY2 to learn more about the AVMA Congressional Science Fellowship Program.

Donate books, journals, and supplies

Veterinarians and students in foreign countries can make use of the unused textbooks, journals, instruments, equipment, and other supplies cluttering up many veterinary clinics in the United States.

The AVMA maintains a list of individuals and organizations that collect contributions for various countries. The list is available at www.avma.org/members/community. Potential donors should call or email contacts on the list directly.

Individuals or organizations that collect contributions may inquire about being added to the list or updating their listings by calling Anita Suresh, 800-248-2862, ext. 6754, or emailing asuresh@avma.org.

AVMA pushes for enhancement act passage by year's end

The AVMA has hired a lobbying firm as part of a push to see Congress pass, by year's end, bipartisan legislation eliminating the federal tax on the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program.

Program participants receive up to $25,000 per year to repay student debt in exchange for working in veterinary shortage areas designated by the Department of Agriculture. Contracts are awarded for a three-year period with the option to compete for a fourth year.

The VMLRP has made awards to a total of 205 veterinarians since 2010 to serve in shortage areas in 45 states, in Puerto Rico, and on U.S. federal lands.

Unlike awards made by the counterpart in human medicine, each VMLRP award is subject to a 39 percent tax, which is paid by the USDA to the Treasury Department with funds Congress has appropriated to the program. As a result, the cost per participant, including taxes over a three-year contract, can be as much as $104,250.

The Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program Enhancement Act (S. 553/H.R. 1125) would give tax-exempt status to VMLRP awards and also to the veterinary student loan repayment programs offered in 20 states. If the program were tax-exempt, the USDA could have made awards to an additional 50 veterinarians since 2010.

The bill is categorized as “active pursuit of passage” on the AVMA's Legislative Scoring System.

During a May 9 conference call, the AVMA Executive Board considered a proposal from the Governmental Relations Division in Washington, D.C., to promote expedited passage of the legislation, which was introduced in the Senate and House of Representatives in March 2013.

As the GRD explained in the recommendation background, Congress is expected to pass a tax-extension package following the midterm elections in November. GRD staff believes this package is the likeliest legislative vehicle to move the VMLRPEA for the foreseeable future. “The next few months are critical to make a strong case to key lawmakers and senior tax staff,” according to the recommendation.

The GRD suggested hiring Capitol Counsel to assist the Washington office in advocating for the legislation. Capitol Counsel specializes in tax policy and has longstanding relationships with lawmakers and staff on the Joint Tax Committee, Senate Finance Committee, House Ways and Means Committee, and Congressional Budget Office. Capitol Counsel will facilitate the development of relationships and help AVMA gain footing with the key tax-writing committees in the House and Senate, the recommendation stated.

The Executive Board approved the GRD plan to secure Capitol Counsel's services through December.

“The Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program Enhancement Act is a high-priority issue for the AVMA, and we are working hard to get the bill passed in this Congress,” GRD Director Mark Lutschaunig told JAVMA News. “We see a possible opportunity to have the bill language added to the tax-extenders package that Congress is working on this year.

“The lobbying firm—Capitol Counsel—will augment the GRD's work in this area. They have strong relationships with the committees of jurisdiction and will assist GRD staff in our lobbying efforts on the legislation.”

Education council schedules site visits

The AVMA Council on Education has scheduled site visits to four schools and colleges of veterinary medicine for the remainder of 2014.

Site visits are planned for the University of Utrecht Faculty of Veterinary Medicine in the Netherlands, Sept. 21–25; Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, Oct. 4–9; Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine, Oct. 26–30; and Oniris Ecole National Vétérinaire in France, Nov. 16–20 (consultative site visit).

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

Students get mileage from chapter funding

Veterinary student chapters have been putting money they received through a new program last year to good use, from a leadership seminar at Michigan State University to fourth-year externship scholarships at the University of Tennessee.

The ALL for Students program—with ALL being an acronym for Achieving, Leading, Learning—was announced this past September. For the joint initiative, the AVMA and AVMA PLIT each contributed $100,000 and the Student AVMA kicked in $33,000, giving each of the 32 student chapters of the AVMA and the one associate organization in the SAVMA House of Delegates $7,000 for the 2013–2014 school year. The American Veterinary Medical Foundation distributed the funds.

The two-year pilot program may be extended, contingent on results of program evaluations.

Student officers shared ways their chapters used the money to benefit their student members during the SAVMA Educational Symposium in March at Colorado State University. The main categories for use of funding were community outreach, professional development, wellness, and leadership events, but it was up to the students to determine specific projects.

Mississippi State University's student chapter, for example, created a travel fund that awarded 35 scholarships to students involved in community outreach and professional development. Recipients headed to international locations such as Nicaragua, Bolivia, and Haiti as well as to U.S. sites, including the Marine Veterinary Medicine program in College Station, Texas, and the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens in Carlsbad, California.


Dr. Hannah Kaase (Mississippi ‘14), Andrea Garton (Mississippi ‘15), Clay Ivey (Mississippi ‘16), and Theresa Smith (Mississippi ‘16) had their veterinary training trips partially funded, thanks to money their student chapter of the AVMA received through the ALL for Students program. (Photos courtesy of Mississippi State University SCAVMA)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 245, 1; 10.2460/javma.245.1.10


Dr. Hannah Kaase (Mississippi ‘14), Andrea Garton (Mississippi ‘15), Clay Ivey (Mississippi ‘16), and Theresa Smith (Mississippi ‘16) had their veterinary training trips partially funded, thanks to money their student chapter of the AVMA received through the ALL for Students program. (Photos courtesy of Mississippi State University SCAVMA)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 245, 1; 10.2460/javma.245.1.10

At Texas A&M University, the chapter hosted a mock professional job interview program to help students hone their interviewing skills.

The University of California-Davis chapter opted to address community health issues by starting a one-health clinic with students from the university's medical school to provide human and veterinary health care in low-income areas.

Another creative idea came from the University of Florida, which is starting a Leadership Lunch with the dean and other administrative officials of the College of Veterinary Medicine. These sessions will have one representative from each veterinary-related student club get together with SCAVMA leadership to discuss important issues and provide updates on campus activities, so that all the clubs are coordinated and have an opportunity to communicate with the college's leadership.

Florida's student chapter also partnered with the Veterinary Business Management Association to help with its first career day.

Many other student chapters use the funds to provide transportation to the SAVMA Symposium, bring in speakers, or host events for their communities on topics such as wellness and disaster preparedness.

3-D printing makes its way to veterinary medicine

Veterinary colleges at the forefront

By Malinda Larkin

The future is here as veterinarians explore the clinical applications of 3-D printers.

The technology of 3-D printing, also called additive manufacturing, works like this: On the basis of instructions from computer-assisted design programs, layer after layer of material is laid down in specific shapes. 3-D printing can create a solid object of virtually any shape and can use an assortment of starting materials, including plastic, metal, ceramic, and even living cells. 3-D printing is different from traditional manufacturing techniques, which rely on the removal of material by cutting or drilling, for example.

“The technology for this has existed since the 1980s,” said Steven Lucero, mechanical engineer and manager of the Translating Engineering Advances to Medicine Prototyping Facility at the University of California-Davis. “But we've only seen it emerge into clinical practice in the last few years, as many of the patents on this technology are expiring and the marketplace is becoming more competitive as a result. Consequently, we're finally getting to see the great benefits that can come from this technology.”

Finding the perfect fit

In the veterinary field, 3-D printing is being used most often at the veterinary teaching hospitals.

Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine may have been one of the first veterinary institutions to use 3-D printing, back in 2009, thanks to a collaboration with the university's College of Engineering.

An engineering professor and a graduate student helped Dr. Ursula Krotscheck, assistant professor of small animal surgery, prepare for a surgery on Bekka, a young German Shepherd Dog with an angular limb deformity. The computed tomographic images didn't tell the entire story, and to be fully prepared for surgery, Dr. Krotscheck wanted a chance to study the bones.

Dr. Krotscheck was able to do just that before performing the two-hour surgery in May 2009. The engineering professor, Dr. Hod Lipson, and graduate student Daniel Cohen used a 3-D printer to fabricate medical models based on CT scans that showed the bones in Bekka's leg. Dr. Krotscheck used these physical models to better plan the operation and customize metal plates that would be needed during surgery.

“I knew what plate to use, how to contour the plate, where it should sit on the bone, and where the cuts should be made,” Dr. Krotscheck said. “All the decision-making was done 24 hours in advance. Having access to the models prior to surgery decreased the length of time Bekka was under anesthesia, decreased the time surgery took from start to finish, and ultimately decreased the risk of infection.”

Fabricating the bones took approximately nine hours, making the technique well suited for a scheduled—as opposed to emergency—surgery. The use of 3-D printing has been reported in the scientific literature for use with dogs only once, in 2008, according to Cornell.

“An excellent tool”

Since then, the technology has gained some popularity.

Auburn University's Veterinary Teaching Hospital purchased a 3-D printer in July 2013 with a grant from the College of Veterinary Medicine. The printer cost about $2,500, including an extended warranty, and the software cost around $11,000. However, the models themselves—printed with a plastic-based polymer—cost only a few dollars, and the cost is not passed on to the client if the surgeon has one printed prior to the procedure.

Dr. Adrien-Maxence Hespel, a radiology resident at the college, said they print models on a case-by-case basis, generally reserving the technique for the most complicated cases. So far, multiple prototypes have been designed for small animal and equine surgeries.

In one instance, Auburn faculty performed a CT scan on a horse that had been kicked in the face and sustained a complicated fracture to the eye. They printed a model of the horse's head to get a better idea of which implants to use and which parts of the bone had to be pushed in or pulled out.

“Thanks to a computer, we were able to create a 3-D model on a screen, but allowing this model to be printed gives us an excellent tool for communicating with our colleagues and clients,” Dr. Hespel said. “The 3-D printer allows the surgeons to evaluate more approaches to solve a problem preoperatively and may help them in deciding which solution is optimal for the patient.”

He added, “As the models can be sterilized, they can even be used during surgery as quick reference.”

Auburn faculty have also printed models of airways in dogs and cats so that when students are performing endoscopic examinations, the model can be used as a navigation map. They're currently working on printing a full-sized dog such as a Labrador Retriever that can be used to teach students how to identify abnormalities of the vertebral column or lungs.


Dr. Judith A. Hudson, a radiology professor at Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine, and Dr. Adrien-Maxence Hespel, a radiology resident, pose near a full-size dog skeleton that took almost eight days of continuous 3-D printing to bring all the parts together. This model will be used in radiology rounds as a teaching model. (Courtesy of Auburn University CVM)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 245, 1; 10.2460/javma.245.1.10


A 3-D model of a patient's skull printed at the University of California-Davis (Courtesy of University of California-Davis SVM)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 245, 1; 10.2460/javma.245.1.10

Skull and bones

The University of California-Davis School of Veterinary Medicine has been using 3-D printing technology to help in the area of maxillofacial surgeries. The Dentistry & Oral Surgery Service at the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital has been partnering for about a year and a half with the UC-Davis Translating Engineering Advances to Medicine Prototyping Facility in the Department of Biomedical Engineering to create a cutting-edge teaching and clinical tool that has helped make maxillofacial surgeries safer and easier for clients to understand.

Currently, DOSS is the only service unit of the VMTH that uses 3-D printing to assist with surgical procedures. The staff create 3-D printed skulls for every patient that needs any maxillofacial reconstruction as well as for certain patients that require advanced dental surgeries. They are using this technology generally two to three times a month.

“It's one thing to study a CT image on screen—we learn a tremendous amount about a patient that way,” said Dr. Frank Verstraete, chief of DOSS. “But to be able to hold a replica of that same image in your hand and see exactly what your patient's skull looks like takes the experience to a completely different level. The advantages of that are tenfold compared to a screen image.”

CDC warns of flawed rabies certificates

Federal officials have warned that the U.S. could be seeing an increasing number of dogs entering the country without proper rabies vaccination.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a May 27 health alert to veterinarians that the agency has received an increasing number of anecdotal reports about dogs imported with questionable or inaccurate rabies vaccination certificates.

The rising number of reports within the past two years have come from U.S. Customs and Border Protection as well as state and local health and agriculture departments, said Benjamin N. Haynes, a spokesman for the CDC. The CDC is developing a study of imported dogs to determine what proportion have questionable certificates.

The CDC's May health alert cites instances in which importers provided documents that stated the arriving dogs were older than 4 months and immunized against rabies, but those dogs were as young as 4 weeks. Other importers have provided false birth location or breed registration information.

The reports given to the CDC indicate the dogs have come from rabies-endemic countries on at least four continents, Haynes said.

The CDC has received no reports of confirmed rabies among dogs that have entered the country accompanied by documents stating they were vaccinated against rabies, he said.

“It is possible that some dogs in the United States that die from rabies might not be recognized as having been imported because their owners might not have been informed about the origin of the dogs before obtaining them,” Haynes said. “Additionally, some dogs that die from rabies may have been misdiagnosed; in some cases, rabies infection does not follow the typical presentation and can be mistaken for other diseases, such as severe gastrointestinal disease that results in death.”

FDA investigation focuses on compounded drugs

The Food and Drug Administration is reminding horse owners and veterinarians of the potential dangers of compounded drugs. The agency issued an advisory on this topic after two lots of compounded combination drug products containing pyrimethamine and toltrazuril, which are used to treat equine protozoal myeloencephalitis, were associated with adverse events in 10 horses in early May.

The products were compounded by Wickliffe Pharmacy of Lexington, Kentucky. One lot was compounded as a paste and one as an oral suspension. All the products in these lots have been accounted for and are no longer in distribution, according to the FDA.

Agency testing has determined that one lot of product contained higher concentrations of pyrimethamine than the labeling indicated. Adverse events associated with high doses of pyrimethamine include seizures, fever, and death.

The FDA received reports of adverse events—including seizures, fever, and death—involving two horses in Kentucky and eight horses in Florida that were administered these products. Four horses had died or been euthanized, and six horses were recovering as of late May.

During the course of its investigation into the adverse reactions, the FDA became aware that high dosages of pyrimethamine may have been used by some practitioners with negative results. The usual dosage of pyrimethamine in horses is 1 mg/kg/d, which has been shown to be safe for the treatment of EPM in an FDA-approved combination product containing pyrimethamine and sulfadiazine. Other drugs that have been evaluated and approved by FDA for the treatment of EPM are ponazuril and diclazuril.

The FDA's advisory notice said that compounded combination products are not approved animal drugs. Additionally, toltrazuril is not approved for use in horses.

“In general, the FDA has serious concerns about unapproved animal drugs, including certain compounded animal drugs. These drugs are not evaluated by FDA and may not meet FDA's strict standards for safety and effectiveness. Unapproved animal drugs also may not be labeled or advertised appropriately,” according to the advisory notice.

The FDA encourages horse owners and veterinarians to report to the agency any signs such as seizure, fever, or collapse in horses that might have received high dosages of pyrimethamine. Owners and veterinarians can report complaints about FDA-regulated animal drug products by calling the consumer complaint coordinator in their area or by filing a veterinary adverse drug reaction report. Information on reporting consumer complaints can be found at http://goo.gl/JtGYFA.

FDA continues investigating jerky treats, companies react to problems

The Food and Drug Administration had received, as of May 1, more than 4,800 complaints of illness in animals that ate jerky pet treat products, nearly all of which were imported from China.

Petco and PetSmart announced in May that they would stop selling all dog and cat treats made in China. Nestle Purina announced on May 30 that it had offered $6.5 million to settle claims that its jerky pet treat products made in China had sickened dogs.

On May 16, the FDA released an update on its investigation into jerky pet treat products. The complaints of illness involve more than 5,600 dogs and 24 cats as well as three people and include more than 1,000 dog deaths.

Following an October 2013 request for veterinarians to share cases, the FDA received many well-documented reports that are providing valuable information. Out of this effort, the agency has had the opportunity to perform necropsies on 26 dogs. Thirteen dogs appeared to have causes of death not related to consumption of jerky pet treat products. Eleven had indications of kidney disease, and two had signs of gastrointestinal disease.

The agency is collaborating with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on a study to determine whether sick dogs are eating more of the products than healthy dogs are.

On May 20, Petco announced it will stop carrying Chinese-made dog and cat treats by the end of 2014 at its more than 1,300 locations nationwide.

PetSmart then announced it will stop selling Chinese-made dog and cat treats by March 2015. The chain also has more than 1,300 locations nationwide.

Nestle Purina did not admit fault in offering to settle claims that its Waggin’ Train and Canyon Creek Ranch jerky pet treat products made in China had sickened dogs. The agreement also would require Nestle Purina to undertake enhanced quality assurance measures and modify certain language on product packaging. At press time, court approval of the agreement was pending.

Restricting ownership of wild animals

As Ohio's animal ownership restrictions take effect, some owners seek permits or surrender animals

By Greg Cima


A bear relinquished to state authorities in Ohio (Courtesy of the Ohio Department of Agriculture)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 245, 1; 10.2460/javma.245.1.10

Dr. Gary Riggs has seen tigers that were kept in a basement, a bear caged outside a restaurant drive-through, and mountain lions left lame from improper declaw operations.

He has seen a 500-pound tiger that lived on a diet of canned Vienna sausages and junk food.

“All you have to do is pay a visit to a local exotic animal sanctuary,” he said. “All these animals have stories behind them that would break your heart.” Dr. Riggs was a consultant for the Akron Zoo for 25 years, and he now works with wildlife sanctuaries and owns three practices in northeastern Ohio. This spring was the second one in his state without exotic animal auctions, which had been sources of impulse purchases of bears, lions, tigers, wolves, and venomous snakes.

“Over the years, I've just seen too many of these large animals, exotic animals, have miserable lives, and things end badly,” he said.

Starting in September 2012, Ohio's state law prohibited auctions of animals deemed to be dangerous, a classification that includes venomous snakes, primates, and big cats. Since the start of this year, the law has prohibited all methods to buy, breed, or otherwise receive such animals, with exceptions for organizations such as zoos and research institutions.

Ohio residents now need permits to continue owning animals affected by the law. Getting a permit involves meeting species-based requirements affecting housing, security, identification, veterinary care, and diet.

Ohio Gov. John R. Kasich signed the law restricting animal possession about eight months after a Zanesville, Ohio, man released some 50 tigers, wolves, bears, lions, and other animals and killed himself in October 2011. Police killed all of the animals with the exception of six that were captured.

Polly Britton, legislative agent for the Ohio Association of Animal Owners, said in a message to JAVMA News that the new restrictions on animal ownership had not improved conditions for people or animals. The association had opposed the 2012 legislation that led to the sales ban and ownership restrictions that took effect this year.

“From the animal owners’ perspective, the new law is not only unnecessary (these animals have been living comfortably and securely for many, many years and have been no threat at all to the public) but it is also dangerous and cruel to the animals themselves,” she wrote.

Britton said the conditions described by Dr. Riggs still would have been eliminated if legislators had instead required that all animal owners comply with the less costly housing and veterinary care requirements of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, which regulates wild animal exhibitors. Owners obeying the federal rules still could have bred, sold, and exhibited their animals, she said.

Permits required

By late May, the Ohio Department of Agriculture had issued 53 permits affecting 97 animals and was considering applications for another 21 permits that would affect 208 animals.

Some of the animals covered by approved permits are 46 primates, 11 alligators, seven bears, and six tigers. Those affected by pending permit applications include 73 lions, tigers, or crossbreeds; 28 bears; and 11 primates.

Erica Hawkins, a spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Agriculture, said the state had not denied any permit applications, and no animals had been confiscated. But animal owners had voluntarily relinquished about three dozen animals to the state—including alligators, bears, a wolf, a serval, and a cougar—which are living in a state facility while the state works to find them homes in sanctuaries.

Those figures do not include animals that owners sent directly to sanctuaries or moved out of state.

Dr. Tony M. Forshey, Ohio's state veterinarian, said most animals that had arrived at the facility had some degree of metabolic disease, and only one of four animals that arrived in the preceding two weeks was in good health. Many had not been fed good diets, and some lived on what roadkill their owners could scavenge.


Private wildlife possession in Ohio

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 245, 1; 10.2460/javma.245.1.10

Dr. Forshey said that now, animals in private hands, overall, are housed in better conditions than they were prior to the change in the law.

Hawkins noted it is likely far more people own wildlife than have sought permits, but the state cannot scour backyards to find where such animals are held. Those in the agriculture department have had difficulty persuading animal owners to work with them.

Seven animal owners challenged the law but were defeated in district and appellate courts, with the most recent defeat in a March 2014 ruling from the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. At least two of those owners since have received permits and two others have applied.

Robert M. Owens, who represented the owners in the courts, said he is preparing to petition the U.S. Supreme Court to take the case.

“There are animals that have been with these owners more than 20 years, and some of them are very much geriatric animals,” he said. He described the possibility of removing such animals from longtime habitats as “heart-wrenching” and “dangerous,” and work to meet the state's requirements has been difficult.

“I think it's just very sad—the impact on both the animals and the owners,” he said. “There is very much an emotional element to this that goes far beyond the arcane legal elements.”

Owens also said older animals could be in danger if placed under anesthesia to add the microchips required under the new law.

Britton said a 1-year-old African lion, Zaria, which had lived in east-central Ohio, had neurologic signs and died a few days following anesthesia to implant a microchip after the law was passed in 2012. She also cited cases in Ohio and elsewhere in which anesthesia was connected with deaths and other adverse events in exotic animals.

Risks and restrictions

Dr. Riggs said he feels sorry for clients who have provided good care but have had difficulty reaching compliance with the law, although some have been able to more easily adapt by classifying their homes as secondary confinements. But he knows some animal owners have surrendered their pets to sanctuaries because they thought they wouldn't be able to comply.

He noted that people who retained their animals but did not seek permits may be afraid to seek veterinary care, but he acknowledged some of those owners may not have done so before the law was passed. He does expect the law will help those animals covered by permits.

Tiger cubs can stop being cuddly after a month, and the animals usually suffer when people respond by removing teeth and claws, he said.

“Not all exotics make good pets, and not all people can take care of them,” he said. “And, hopefully, we're going to err on the side of animal health, whereas in the past, I don't think we have.”

Jack Advent, executive director of the Ohio VMA, said the state has fewer such animals, as they have been relocated to sanctuaries outside the state. He said the new law is helping ensure animals are given appropriate care.

The Ohio Animal Health Foundation also has awarded grants to help relocate animals that needed to be moved following passage of the law, Advent said.

Tim Harrison, director of the Dayton-based Outreach for Animals, described wildlife owners as people who have good hearts and want to help wild species, although their tigers, for example, will never help the wild population in India. He lately tells people that cats and dogs need homes, and wild animals should be left alone.

Harrison, who is a retired police officer and a paramedic, gives presentations on the dangers of wild animals kept as pets. One was an April 25 presentation during the All Ohio Pediatric Trauma Symposium in Miamisburg, Ohio. Health care employees are hungry for information on the variety of animals living in their communities, he said.

He noted that a bear can injure a human in ways that are traumatic even to paramedics and emergency room employees, and hospitals may not have the anti-venom needed to respond to a bite from a Black Mamba.

Harrison said conditions are improving in Ohio, as nobody in the state is still selling tiger cubs. But he has heard of people who owned large predators moving to neighboring West Virginia.

But West Virginia House Bill 4393, signed into law March 21 and effective June 4, created the state's Dangerous Wild Animals Act, which has similarities to the Ohio law. It will prohibit acquiring animals deemed to be dangerous and eventually require that those with such animals obtain permits, which will require meeting standards on care, housing, security, and insurance.

Dr. Jewell Plumley, West Virginia's state veterinarian, said state agencies were developing the rules that will govern the types of animals affected, housing requirements, and registration requirements.

Tracy Coppola, campaigns officer for the International Fund for Animal Welfare, said there is no way to know how many wild animals are privately owned in the U.S., but big cats are estimated to number in the thousands. More tigers are in private hands in the U.S. than are in the wild, she said.

The IFAW is pushing for passage of the federal Big Cats and Public Safety Protection Act, H.R. 1998, which would prohibit acquiring many types of large wild cats. Coppola said such animals should never be pets or exhibits in private roadside zoos, people should not have to worry about escapes and maulings, and sanctuaries should not have to struggle to keep up with an influx of discarded wildlife.

Survey to probe veterinarians’ mental health

By Malinda Larkin

Anecdotal evidence and a handful of studies have indicated that veterinarians with certain personality traits or exposure to certain risk factors may be vulnerable to mental illness and even suicide. And while the topic of wellness and mental health has been gaining prominence in the profession, a lack of comprehensive data remains a problem.

To assess the prevalence of U.S. veterinarians who recently experienced serious mental illness or contemplated suicide, the National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians is partnering with Auburn University, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and other stakeholders to conduct a nationwide survey of veterinarians beginning July 1 and ending Sept. 30.

The research study, titled “Stress and health among veterinarians,” is being conducted by Tracy Witte, PhD, an assistant professor in the Auburn University psychology department, in collaboration with physicians and veterinarians at the CDC, state health departments, and state agricultural agencies.

Specifically, the purpose of this study is to assess the prevalence of mental illness and prior suicidal thoughts among U.S. veterinarians and to identify key stressors veterinarians experience and their perceived access to mental health treatment. The online survey asks about stressors related to veterinary practice, past history of depression and suicidal behavior, perception of mental illness, and access to mental health treatment. The survey takes about 10 minutes; participants will remain anonymous.

The principal co-investigator, Randall J. Nett, MD, is a career epidemiology field officer for the CDC stationed at the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services. He is married to a veterinarian and became interested in the suspected high suicide rate among veterinarians after reading a relevant article in JAVMA (see JAVMA, Nov. 15, 2013, page 1368).

“We did a literature search, and it did not seem like there was a lot of great information on the state of mental health in veterinarians in the nation,” he said.

The original plan was to survey Montana veterinarians, but it continued to expand in scope as more states and entities heard about the project to where now, all 50 states are being asked for their involvement.

“We're excited about hopefully getting a large number of veterinarians to respond to the survey to get a better understanding of mental health needs in that population,” Dr. Nett said.

“We recognize there are a lot of ailing veterinarians out there, and it seems like from limited published evidence that there are many states where there are not active wellness programs and there's probably lots of prevention opportunities not being taken advantage of currently.”

On completion of the survey and analysis, the investigators plan to share the results with participating entities.

Dr. Nett says the hope is the survey results can better inform key decision-makers to reduce the barriers veterinarians seem to face in seeking mental health treatment and figure out how to minimize the impact of mental health issues on veterinarians.

“We think it will provide a good snapshot of how prevalent mental illness is in the U.S. among veterinarians. Depending on the results and what actions are taken by key decision-makers, we may do a follow-up survey,” Dr. Nett added.

Women's leadership group goes to school

Three campuses have formed WVLDI chapters, with more on the way

By Malinda Larkin


Four classmates from Cornell University participate in a mentoring exercise during the course Women's Leadership in Veterinary Medicine. (Courtesy of WVLDI)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 245, 1; 10.2460/javma.245.1.10

The Women's Veterinary Leadership Development Initiative has taken hold on veterinary college campuses.

The first three student chapters have formed at Cornell University, Texas A&M University, and the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, the WVLDI announced May 13. They have been officially sanctioned by their respective universities.

It all started when Dr. Donald F. Smith, former dean of the veterinary college at Cornell University, and Julie Kumble, acting CEO of the Women's Fund of Western Massachusetts, taught a one-day symposium, Women's Leadership in Veterinary Medicine, to 35 Cornell veterinary students on March 1. The course inspired students to start their own chapter of the WVLDI.

Students at other veterinary colleges became interested in the idea after hearing what the Cornell students did during WVLDI sessions at the Student AVMA Educational Symposium, held in March at Colorado State University.

“The WVLDI board is thrilled with this engagement. From my perspective, the students at SAVMA ignited a fire discussing women's leadership issues and have done more in a short time than I dreamed possible,” said Dr. Karen Bradley, a founder and president of the WVLDI.

She added, “We're catching up, actually, to the students.”

The WVLDI, created in July 2013 and formalized as a 501(c)3 in January 2014, provides a platform to facilitate and encourage women to more fully participate in veterinary leadership roles, not only in organized veterinary medicine but also in corporate, government, private practice, and academic positions. The WVLDI board already has a student subcommittee; three members from academia, all located on the campuses of the three founding chapters; and a student member, Cassandra Tansey, who is in her fourth year at Texas A&M.

The WVLDI has encouraged the veterinary students to take ownership of the effort they've started and has acted as a resource for the student chapters as they begin. Board members have provided background information on the current state of women in veterinary medicine and offered advice on presentation topics and speakers.

Tansey said, “The purpose of the student chapters mirrors that of the WVLDI: to support women in seeking and achieving leadership, policy, and decision-making positions within all areas of professional veterinary activity. These determined and talented young women are exactly who we need in private practices, in local and state VMAs, and in veterinary colleges, shaping and expanding the future of veterinary medicine.”

Dr. Bradley anticipates the WVLDI board, which next meets during the AVMA Annual Convention in July in Denver, to have a strategic planning session that will include discussion of how to further work and coordinate with the student chapters. Also at the convention, the WVLDI will host eight sessions or other events. Details will be in the convention newspaper and on the AVMA convention website, www.avmaconvention.org.

Dr. Bradley said additional chapters at the following universities could potentially be up and running by the fall: Tufts University, University of California-Davis, Colorado State University, Purdue University, and St. George's University.

The three existing student chapters have already begun planning and hosting events designed to equip students with the leadership skills they'll require in the future, such as negotiation workshops and public speaking exercises. In addition, they hope to create a starter kit of sorts for chapters that are forming, such as a sample charter and bylaws and other resources.

Tansey, who is president of the Texas A&M student chapter of the WVLDI and immediate past president of the campus’ student chapter of the AVMA, is also working on creating a WVLDI student chapter board liaison position with SAVMA.

Externships abroad a draw for some students

Fourth-year clinical rotations are a rite of passage for U.S. veterinary students. Most complete them in their area of interest or a clinic where they might already have a job offer. But some students elect to take a more unconventional route and do an externship abroad. And there are more opportunities than some may expect.

According to the AVMA Student Externship Locator, 21 externships are listed in the international category. These range from the Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital in the Middle East to the Esther Honey Foundation in the South Pacific, which is the Cook Islands’ only veterinary clinic.

Dr. Derrick Hall, AVMA assistant director for student affairs, explained the appeal this way. “I think some veterinary students are really looking at all the different possibilities that a career in veterinary medicine can offer them. Through an increase in exposure and knowledge of one health and public health via school and clubs, some veterinary students are seeking out broader ranges of experiences, and many times, finding these experiences internationally.

“I believe the international component appeals to them because they get to be exposed to a totally different culture along with learning and improving their skills in veterinary medicine.”

Dr. Chase Crawford (Texas ‘14), a former Student AVMA information technology officer, focused on issues related to one health when he was a veterinary student at Texas A&M University. His passion led him to do an externship with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in Rome as well as the World Health Organization in Geneva.

In the summer of 2013, he spent 10 weeks at the FAO working with the Global Early Warning System team. They were responsible for the global surveillance of zoonotic diseases to detect and assess the risk of outbreaks such as H7N9 influenza in China and the Middle East respiratory syndrome. Because the GLEWS team is a collaboration between the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), FAO, and WHO, Dr. Crawford was able to continue this work with the WHO's Food Safety and Zoonoses Department from January to March of this year.

“It was a unique experience that I would encourage any veterinary student with an interest in global health to take advantage of,” Dr. Crawford said.

Dr. Elise Ackley (Louisiana ‘14), a former SAVMA president, also completed an international externship with the WHO. For six weeks, she worked with the Department of Control of Neglected Tropical Diseases. Specifically, Dr. Ackley worked on rabies control and elimination strategies with pilot programs in KwaZulu-Natal, a province of South Africa; Visayas, Philippines; and Bali, Indonesia. A few other projects she worked on were overhauling the WHO rabies website, publishing an executive summary on the 2013 WHO Expert Consultation on Rabies, and working with WHO regional offices to collect epidemiological data for leptospirosis burden of disease.

Both Drs. Crawford and Ackley have been selected as 2014–2015 AVMA Congressional Fellows and will serve for one year in Washington, D.C., starting in August (see page 21).

National Academies of Practice accepts 17 veterinary fellows

The National Academies of Practice, an interdisciplinary organization of health care practitioners and scholars, held an April 4–6 forum on “One Team—One Health” in Alexandria, Virginia. Dr. John R. Herbold is president of the NAP for 2013 and 2014.

The NAP accepted the following 17 individuals as new fellows of the Veterinary Medicine Academy.

Dr. Marianne Ash (Purdue ‘77) is director of animal programs for the Indiana State Board of Animal Health and an adjunct professor at the Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine. She has been involved with food animal production and food safety for more than 30 years.

Dr. Beth Boynton (Minnesota ‘80) is a professor of wellness at Western University of Health Sciences College of Veterinary Medicine. She established the community practice at the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine. Previously, she worked in small animal and equine practice.

Dr. Michael D. Dykes (Auburn ‘82) is vice president for government affairs with Monsanto Co. out of Washington, D.C. He is responsible for the development and implementation of the company's U.S. government affairs strategies and programs. His responsibilities also include Monsanto's state and local government affairs and Canadian government affairs.

Diane A. Fagen is the librarian for the AVMA and a library clerk at the University of Illinois at Chicago's Crawford Library of the Health Sciences-Rockford. She is pleased to have made links between the two entities—particularly by educating medical, nursing, and pharmacology students about including veterinary medicine in literature searches.

Dr. Marthina Lee Greer (Iowa ‘81) and her husband, Dr. Daniel W. Griffiths, own Veterinary Village LLC, a small animal practice in rural Wisconsin. They also own International Canine Semen Bank-Wisconsin. Dr. Greer earned her legal degree from Marquette University and is a partner at Animal Legal Resources LLC.

Dr. Carolyn J. Henry (Auburn ‘90) is a professor at the University of Missouri-Columbia College of Veterinary Medicine and School of Medicine. She previously was on the faculty of Washington State University. She is a past president of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine specialty in oncology.

Dr. Laura L. Hungerford (Michigan ‘80) is a professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. She serves as senior adviser for science policy in the Office of New Animal Drug Evaluation at the Food and Drug Administration's Center for Veterinary Medicine.

Dr. Calvin M. Johnson (Auburn ‘86) is dean of the Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine and a professor in the college's Department of Pathobiology. His laboratory investigates the pathogenesis of feline immunodeficiency virus in domestic cats as a biomedical model for HIV in children.

Dr. Arthur L. Lage (Iowa ‘67) is director of the Harvard Medical School Center for Animal Resources and Comparative Medicine. He is a member of the board of the One Health Commission and a past president and chairman of the Board of Regents of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine.

Dr. Michael D. Lairmore (Missouri ‘81) is dean of the University of California-Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. He previously served as associate dean for research and graduate studies at The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine. His research focus is on the pathogenesis of retroviral diseases.

Dr. Julie K. Levy (California-Davis ‘89) is director of Maddie's Shelter Medicine Program at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine. Her research and clinical interests center on the health and welfare of animals in shelters, feline infectious diseases, and humane alternatives for cat population control.

Dr. Lila Miller (Cornell ‘77) is vice president for shelter medicine with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. She previously ran a clinic in an under-served area of New York City. She is a co-founder of the Association of Shelter Veterinarians.

Dr. Allan J. Paul (Illinois ‘77) is associate dean for public engagement at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine, a professor in the college's Department of Pathobiology, and chair of the department's Division of Parasitology. He was in private practice from 1980–1997.

Dr. Charles Mark Russell (Auburn ‘82) is founder and director of Whitesburg Animal Hospital in Huntsville, Alabama. He serves on the board of the Animal Emergency Clinic of North Alabama and the Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine Hospital Board. He is a past president of the Alabama VMA.

Leland S. Shapiro, PhD, is chair of the Agriculture Department and director of the Pre-Veterinary Science Program at Pierce College, a community college in Los Angeles. He helped establish the three-year preveterinary program and has been an educator for 38 years in the veterinary field.

Dr. Margaret R. Slater (Cornell ‘86) provides epidemiologic and statistical support for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Previously, she was on the faculty at the Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. She works on the problem of free-roaming cats and dogs.

Dr. Cheryl M. Stroud (Mississippi ‘81) is executive director of the One Health Commission, which promotes interdisciplinary collaboration to improve human, animal, and environmental health. She helped create the North Carolina One Health Collaborative. She previously has worked in industry, academia, and private practice.

CDC confers Steele award on Buttke

Lt. Cmdr. Danielle Buttke (Cornell ‘09) received the 2014 James H. Steele Veterinary Public Health Award from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in April at the 63rd annual Epidemic Intelligence Service Conference. The agency gives the award to current and recent EIS officers for their contributions to veterinary public health and one health.


Lt. Cmdr. Danielle Buttke

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 245, 1; 10.2460/javma.245.1.10

Dr. Buttke is the one-health coordinator for the National Park Service, and she was honored for domestic and international work on environmental health, one health, and zoonotic disease.

The award is named for the first chief of the CDC's Veterinary Public Health Division.

Florida establishes new equine complex


An architect's rendering of the University of Florida's new equine sports performance complex (Courtesy of University of Florida CVM)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 245, 1; 10.2460/javma.245.1.10

The University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine dedicated a new equine sports performance complex June 6 that cost $600,000. Located behind the Large Animal Hospital, the new complex will be large enough to accommodate most performance disciplines, such as show jumping, dressage, western sports, and driving. The veterinary college sees approximately 500 lameness cases a year.

Dr. Alison J. Morton, director of the Large Animal Hospital's lameness and imaging service and an associate professor of large animal surgery, said the complex is “life-changing” for those who do a lot of performance horse lameness work.

“The biggest advantage it provides us is a safe environment to watch horses work under saddle. For performance horses with subtle issues, this is critical. The majority of the time, we would be looking for a musculoskeletal cause of decreased performance, but certainly this opens the door to more active examinations of horses with potential upper airway, neurological, and cardiovascular disease, too,” Dr. Morton said.

Another benefit, she said, is that practitioners and students can perform their routine in-hand examination on both hard and soft surfaces in a safe, enclosed area with comfort. Before, they had to work in direct sunlight on scorching summer days or work in the rain and wait for it to stop to continue with examinations.

The complex also allows for evaluation of issues that are apparent only during a performance, including subtle gait abnormalities and lameness, respiratory and cardiac issues, and neurologic problems. In addition to being a resource to the horse owners, the new complex will provide educational benefits for faculty and veterinary students.

The UF Equine Lameness & Imaging Service is the only such veterinary facility in the state and offers the following treatment capabilities:

  • • A Lameness Locator system.

  • • Nuclear scintigraphy.

  • • Computed tomography.

  • • 1.5-T MRI.

  • • Treadmill endoscopy.

  • • Laser surgery.

  • • Stem cell-based therapies.

Florida VMA

Event: Annual conference, April 25–27, Lake Buena Vista

Awards: Lifetime Achievement Award: Dr. Ernest C. Godfrey, Largo, for outstanding contributions to the association and veterinary medicine. A 1968 graduate of the Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Godfrey owns and serves as managing partner of Pinellas Animal Hospital in Pinellas Park. He also owns Seminole Boulevard Animal Hospital in Largo and is co-director of the St. Petersburg Animal Emergency Clinic. A past president of the FVMA, Dr. Godfrey is chair of the FVMA Program Committee and serves as the association's alternate delegate to the AVMA House of Delegates. He is a member of the AVMA Political Action Committee Policy Board and a past member of the AVMA State Advocacy Committee. Distinguished Service Award: Drs. Jerry P. Shank, Fort Lauderdale, and Stephen A. Shores, Gainesville, for exceptional achievements and contributions toward the advancement of veterinary medicine and the veterinary profession. A 1970 graduate of The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Shank has owned Shank Animal Hospital in Fort Lauderdale for 40 years. He is also the founder of the South Florida Academy of Veterinary Medicine. A past president of the FVMA, Dr. Shank serves as president of the Broward County VMA. A 1964 graduate of Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Dr. Shores owns Shores Animal Hospital in Gainesville. A past president of the FVMA, he chairs its Legislative Committee and serves as its delegate to the AVMA House of Delegates. Veterinarian of the Year: Dr. Jacqueline S. Shellow, Hollywood. A 1987 graduate of the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Shellow is a partner at Teigland, Franklin and Brokken, DVM's, P.A. in Fort Lauderdale, a specialty equine practice. She serves on the FVMA Legislative Committee and is a council member of the Florida Association of Equine Practitioners.


Dr. Ernest C. Godfrey

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 245, 1; 10.2460/javma.245.1.10


Dr. Jerry P. Shank

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 245, 1; 10.2460/javma.245.1.10


Dr. Stephen A. Shores

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 245, 1; 10.2460/javma.245.1.10


Dr. Jacqueline S. Shellow

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 245, 1; 10.2460/javma.245.1.10


Dr. Donald H. Morgan

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 245, 1; 10.2460/javma.245.1.10


Dr. Richard M. Carpenter

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 245, 1; 10.2460/javma.245.1.10

Officials: Drs. Donald H. Morgan, Largo, president; Richard M. Carpenter, Fort Myers, president-elect; Richard B. Williams, Jacksonville, treasurer; Jerry L. Rayburn, Winter Haven, immediate past president; and AVMA delegate and alternate delegate—Drs. Stephen A. Shores, Gainesville, and Ernest C. Godfrey, Largo

Distance learning program director recognized

Dr. James Hurrell (Michigan ‘74), director of Penn Foster College's Veterinary Technician Distance Education Program, received the United States Distance Learning Association's 2014 International Distance Learning Award in May.

The USDLA awards were created to acknowledge major accomplishments in distance learning and to highlight distance learning instructors, programs, and professionals who have achieved and demonstrated extraordinary results through the use of online, videoconferencing, satellite, and blended-learning delivery technologies.

John G. Flores, executive director of USDLA, said, “Penn Foster has raised the bar of excellence, and we are truly honored by Dr. Jim's contributions within all distance learning constituencies.”


Dr. James Hurrell

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 245, 1; 10.2460/javma.245.1.10

Penn Foster's more than 9,500 enrolled veterinary technology students are located across the U.S. and earn an associate's degree at graduation. The distance education program is one of eight recognized by the AVMA Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities.

Before arriving at Penn Foster two years ago, Dr. Hurrell started the Veterinary Technology Program at Delgado Community College in Louisiana and was also program director at Macomb Community College in Michigan. In all, he has been a veterinary technology program director for over 30 years. Dr. Hurrell currently lives in Louisiana.

Obituaries: AVMA member AVMA honor roll member Nonmember

David E. Bartlett

Dr. Bartlett (Colorado ‘40), 97, Madison, Wisconsin, died May 8, 2014. Charter president of the American College of Theriogenologists, he worked for American Breeders Service Inc. in DeForest, Wisconsin, from 1953–1979, continuing as a consultant until 1991. During his 26-year career with ABS, Dr. Bartlett served as vice president of production and directed the production division.

He began his career with the Department of Agriculture's former Bureau of Animal Industry in Virginia and Oklahoma, working on the eradication of tuberculosis and brucellosis. A year later, Dr. Bartlett was transferred to the USDA's research center in Beltsville, Maryland, where he remained for seven years, researching bovine venereal trichomoniasis. In 1948, he joined the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine as a professor of gynecology and obstetrics. Dr. Bartlett went on to earn his doctorate in pathology, obstetrics, and gynecology from the university in 1952.

Known for his expertise in artificial insemination, he shared his knowledge with several countries, participating in projects in the Azores, Brazil, Mexico, Dominican Republic, and Trinidad and Tobago. Dr. Bartlett served as a senior veterinarian/commander in the United States Public Health Service Inactive Reserve Corps and was a member of the United States Animal Health Association, American Dairy Science Association, National Association of Animal Breeders, Conference of Public Health Veterinarians, and Wisconsin VMA. He received the AVMA Borden Award in 1970 and was honored by the Italian Society for Progress in Animal Production in 1972 and Colorado State University in 1976. Dr. Bartlett received the WVMA Meritorious Award in 1977 and was the recipient of the 1980 NAAB Distinguished Service Award.

The ACT and Society of Theriogenology established the annual David E. Bartlett Lecture and Lifetime Achievement Award in 1984.

Dr. Bartlett is survived by his wife, Marjorie; two sons; four grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren. One son, Dr. Paul Bartlett (Missouri ‘79), is a professor at the Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine. Memorials may be made to Luther Memorial Church Foundation, 1021 University Ave., Madison, WI 53715; Oakwood Foundation Inc. (ministries for seniors), 6201 Mineral Point Road, Madison, WI 53705, https://oakwood-foundationinc.org; or Lutheran Church of the Holy Trinity, 77-165 Lako St., Kailua-Kona, HI 96740.

Harry W. Boothe

Dr. Boothe (Ohio ‘44), 91, Auburn, Alabama, died Dec. 27, 2013. A small animal veterinarian, he and his brother, the late Dr. Norris E. Boothe (Ohio ‘54), co-owned Sauganash Animal Hospital in Chicago prior to retirement. Earlier in his career, Dr. Boothe practiced at Lake Shore Animal Hospital in Chicago and worked for Armour Pharmaceutical Company in Kankakee, Illinois.

He was a past president of the Chicago VMA and a past executive director of the Illinois State VMA. Dr. Boothe was the recipient of the ISVMA 1979 Veterinary Service Award. In 1984, he was honored with the ISVMA President's Award.

Dr. Boothe is survived by his wife, Alberta; a daughter and a son; four grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren. His son and daughter-in-law, Drs. Harry W. Boothe Jr. (Michigan ‘70) and Dawn M. Boothe (Texas ‘80), serve on the veterinary faculty of Auburn University. Dr. Boothe's grandson, Matthew Boothe, is a fourth-year veterinary student at Auburn.

Memorials may be made to the American Veterinary Medical Foundation, 1931 N. Meacham Road, Suite 100, Schaumburg, IL 60173.

Glenn P. Deal Sr.

Dr. Deal (Auburn ‘48), 87, Taylorsville, North Carolina, died March 25, 2014. During his 43-year career, he practiced in North Carolina at Winston-Salem, Wilkesboro, and Taylorsville. Dr. Deal served eight years as mayor of Taylorsville, chaired the Alexander County Commission from 1970–1978, and was a past member of the Taylorsville Town Board of Commissioners. His wife, Rosemary; three sons and two daughters; 10 grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren survive him.

Howard W. Dickmann

Dr. Dickmann (Texas ‘43), 94, St. Louis, died April 29, 2014. A mixed animal veterinarian, he owned Dickmann Animal Hospital in Perryville, Missouri, where he practiced for 43 years. Dr. Dickmann was a member of the Missouri and Southeast Missouri VMAs. He served in the Army Veterinary Corps during World War II, attaining the rank of captain. Dr. Dickmann was a member of the American Legion and Perryville Lions Club. He is survived by his wife, Susan; a daughter and a son; five grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren. Memorials may be made to Immanuel Lutheran Church and School, 453 North West St., Perryville, MO 63775.

Roland B. Fowler

Dr. Fowler (Cornell ‘57), 80, Plantsville, Connecticut, died Feb. 6, 2014. A small animal veterinarian, he practiced at Mattatuck Animal Hospital in Waterbury, Connecticut, prior to retirement. Dr. Fowler began his career at Cheshire Veterinary Hospital in Cheshire, Connecticut. He later worked at Pleasant Valley Animal Hospital in Pleasant Valley, New York, and owned Plainville Animal Hospital in Plainville, Connecticut. Dr. Fowler's wife, Lorna, survives him.

Memorials may be made to Jim Marshall Farms Foundation Inc., 1978 New Boston Road, Chittenango, NY 13037; or Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation Inc., 103 Vision Way, Bloomfield, CT 06002.

Norman M. Held

Dr. Held (Kansas ‘58), 87, Ventura, Iowa, died March 22, 2014. Following graduation, he became a partner in a mostly large animal practice in Ventura, where he worked until 1992. After that, Dr. Held practiced part time at the same clinic until 1996. He was a life member of the Iowa VMA. Active in civic life, Dr. Held was a past mayor of Ventura and served on the city's council for more than 35 years. He was an Air Force veteran of the Korean War, attaining the rank of 1st lieutenant. Dr. Held is survived by his wife, Dorothy; a daughter; a stepson and a stepdaughter; two grandchildren; two stepgrandchildren; and three great-grandchildren. Memorials toward the Ventura Gun Club Youth Program may be made c/o Dorothy Held, 211 Westview Drive, Box 170, Ventura, IA 50482.

Donald W. Lohman

Dr. Lohman (Michigan ‘66), 78, Vicksburg, Michigan, died March 26, 2014. A small animal veterinarian, he and his wife, Dr. Carol A. Neal (Michigan ‘66), co-owned Portage Animal Hospital in Portage, Michigan, from 1981 until his retirement in 2005.

Earlier in his career, Dr. Lohman worked at Carclay Animal Hospital in Plymouth, Michigan. He was a member of the American Animal Hospital Association and Michigan and Southwestern Michigan VMAs. Dr. Lohman was also a member of the Portage Jaycees and Vicksburg Rotary Club. He served in the Air Force from 1954–1959.

Dr. Lohman's wife; daughter and son; and four grandchildren survive him. Memorials may be made to the Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine, East Lansing, MI 48824; or Michigan Animal Health Foundation, 2144 Commons Parkway, Okemos, MI 48864.

Charles W. Raker Sr.

Dr. Raker (Pennsylvania ‘42), 93, Honey Brook, Pennsylvania, died Feb. 16, 2014. A charter diplomate and a past president of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons, he retired in 1985 as chief of large animal surgery at the University of Pennsylvania's New Bolton Center. Dr. Raker was also the Lawrence Baker Sheppard Professor of Surgery at the School of Veterinary Medicine from 1967 until retirement.

Following graduation, he worked in South Orange, New Jersey, and Norristown, Pennsylvania. In 1950, Dr. Raker joined the veterinary faculty of the University of Pennsylvania as an assistant professor of veterinary medicine. During his 35-year tenure, he served as director of clinics, headed the large animal clinic, and developed the first internship in equine medicine and surgery at the university.

Dr. Raker was a member of the American Association of Equine Practitioners, New York Academy of Sciences, and Pennsylvania, Keystone, and Brandywine VMAs. In 1967, he was named Pennsylvania Veterinarian of the Year. The Charles W. Raker Chair in Equine Surgery was established at the University of Pennsylvania in 1985. Dr. Raker also received an AAEP Distinguished Educator Award in 2000 and the ACVS Foundation Legend Award in 2007.

He is survived by two sons, three grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren. Memorials toward the Charles Raker Endowed Opportunity Scholarship Fund or The Tamworth Fund may be made c/o Jane Simone, Penn Veterinary Medicine, New Bolton Center, 382 W. St. Road, Kennett Square, PA 19348.

Ross A. Smart

Dr. Smart (Colorado ‘57), 87, Logan, Utah, died March 14, 2014. He served on the veterinary faculty of Utah State University for 44 years. Dr. Smart was a past secretary of the Utah VMA. He was honored by the Utah Turkey Marketing Board for outstanding research in 1984 and was named USU Mortar Board Top Professor in 1992. That year, Dr. Smart also received the UVMA Distinguished Service Award, and, in 1993, he was named USU College of Agriculture Distinguished Professor. The Ross A. Smart Animal Diagnostic Laboratory at USU was established and dedicated in 1994.

Dr. Smart served in the Navy from 1944–1946. His wife, Darlene; three sons and three daughters; 20 grandchildren; and 13 great-grandchildren survive him. Memorials may be made to the Ross A. and Darlene Smart Scholarship Endowment, College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences, Utah State University, 4800 Old Main Hill, Logan, Utah 84322.

James C. Wilkinson

Dr. Wilkinson (Georgia ‘57), 81, Chilhowie, Virginia, died March 26, 2014. He practiced mixed animal medicine in Chilhowie. Dr. Wilkinson was a member of the American Association of Bovine Practitioners, Virginia VMA, Smyth County Farmers Association, and Washington County Farmers Co-Op. Active in civic life, he was a charter member of the Chilhowie Jaycees and a member of the Chilhowie Lions Club, Chilhowie Town Council, and Smyth County Chamber of Commerce. In 2013, the chamber of commerce honored Dr. Wilkinson as Farmer of the Year for his service to the farmers of the county.

His wife, Laura; a daughter and a son; and a granddaughter survive him. Memorials may be made to Chilhowie United Methodist Church, P.O. Box 367, Chilhowie, VA 24319.

  • View in gallery

    Dan Loper, a veterinary student in the class of 2015 at the University of Illinois, listens to the heart of Gary the ferret at Chicago Exotics Animal Hospital. Loper would like to work with exotic pets after graduation. (Photo by Katie Burns)

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    Ownership of exotic companion mammals (Source: U.S. Pet Ownership & Demographics Sourcebook, 2012 edition)

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    Dr. Byron de la Navarre, owner of Animal House of Chicago, performs a physical examination on the practice's resident bunny, Chocolate Chip. (Photo by Katie Burns)

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    An anesthetized ferret undergoes upper gastrointestinal endoscopy at Avian & Exotic Animal Veterinary Service at Memphis Veterinary Specialists in Cordova, Tenn. (Courtesy of Dr. David E. Hannon)

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    Dr. Stephanie Moy of Chicago Exotics Animal Hospital examines Pickles the hedgehog, in because of diarrhea. (Photo by Katie Burns)

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    Colleen M. Barnett brought Gary the ferret to Chicago Exotics Animal Hospital for a checkup on geriatric conditions. (Photos by Katie Burns)

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    Lauren Karavites brought Pickles the hedgehog in because of diarrhea.

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    Daniel Kovacevich brought Mickey the rabbit in for a recheck for her heart disease.

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    Chris the guinea pig undergoes an annual examination at Chicago Exotics Animal Hospital. (Photo by Katie Burns)

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    Dr. Larry G. Dee

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    Dr. Joseph H. Kinnarney

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    Dr. Elise Ackley

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    Dr. Chase Crawford

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    Dr. Carolyn La Jeunesse

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    Dr. Hannah Kaase (Mississippi ‘14), Andrea Garton (Mississippi ‘15), Clay Ivey (Mississippi ‘16), and Theresa Smith (Mississippi ‘16) had their veterinary training trips partially funded, thanks to money their student chapter of the AVMA received through the ALL for Students program. (Photos courtesy of Mississippi State University SCAVMA)

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    Dr. Hannah Kaase (Mississippi ‘14), Andrea Garton (Mississippi ‘15), Clay Ivey (Mississippi ‘16), and Theresa Smith (Mississippi ‘16) had their veterinary training trips partially funded, thanks to money their student chapter of the AVMA received through the ALL for Students program. (Photos courtesy of Mississippi State University SCAVMA)

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    Dr. Judith A. Hudson, a radiology professor at Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine, and Dr. Adrien-Maxence Hespel, a radiology resident, pose near a full-size dog skeleton that took almost eight days of continuous 3-D printing to bring all the parts together. This model will be used in radiology rounds as a teaching model. (Courtesy of Auburn University CVM)

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    A 3-D model of a patient's skull printed at the University of California-Davis (Courtesy of University of California-Davis SVM)

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    A bear relinquished to state authorities in Ohio (Courtesy of the Ohio Department of Agriculture)

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    Private wildlife possession in Ohio

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    Four classmates from Cornell University participate in a mentoring exercise during the course Women's Leadership in Veterinary Medicine. (Courtesy of WVLDI)

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    Lt. Cmdr. Danielle Buttke

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    An architect's rendering of the University of Florida's new equine sports performance complex (Courtesy of University of Florida CVM)

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    Dr. Ernest C. Godfrey

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    Dr. Jerry P. Shank

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    Dr. Stephen A. Shores

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    Dr. Jacqueline S. Shellow

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    Dr. Donald H. Morgan

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    Dr. Richard M. Carpenter

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    Dr. James Hurrell