AVMA looks to Congress for STUDENT DEBT RELIEF

Students and veterinarians press lawmakers to reauthorize Higher Education Act, end VMLRP tax

Story and photos by R. Scott Nolen

William Willis can't remember a time when he didn't want to be a veterinarian. With no veterinary college in his home state of Alaska, Willis enrolled at Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine in 2016 with plans of returning to Anchorage after graduation to practice on exotic production animals, such as reindeer and musk ox, as well as wildlife.

The reality of graduating with approximately $150,000 in student loan debt may require Willis to defer practicing in his native Alaska, however.

“The high cost of living in Anchorage and the limited amount of mixed animal practice opportunities there, coupled with my student debt, may make it financially unfeasible to return home,” Willis said. “Alaska has a need for veterinarians in all disciplines, but my debt load may make me reconsider my focus or change where I practice.”

Willis' plight is symptomatic of the high price of veterinary education in America, a consequence of a confluence of reduced state funding for higher education, the costs of new college facilities and technologies, and the increasing requirements for earning a veterinary degree.

In 2016, more than 41 million borrowers owed around $1.3 trillion in student loan debt, making it the second highest U.S. consumer debt category after mortgage debt and higher than both credit card and car loan debt. Approximately 25 percent of borrowers are struggling to repay their student loans.

According to the 2017 AVMA Report on Veterinary Markets, the mean debt incurred by 2016 veterinary graduates while they were veterinary students was $141,000. A majority of debt incurred by veterinary students is attributed to the cost of tuition and fees (71.2 percent), with the remainder composed of living expenses (17.2 percent), transportation (3.7 percent), books and materials (3.2 percent), veterinary equipment (2.1 percent), and all other expenses (2.6 percent) (see page 1344).

These new veterinarians expected to earn a mean starting salary of roughly $73,812 for a full-time position, the AVMA survey also found.

The high debt load and low starting salary compared with health care professions with equivalent educational requirements is troubling to veterinary leaders, who see it as an unsustainable trend with negative impacts, both personal and professional. Earlier this year, nearly a hundred veterinary students and veterinarians traveled to Washington, D.C., to lobby Congress for educational debt relief as part of the AVMA's ninth annual Legislative Fly-In.

Over the course of the event, held April 23–25, 92 participants, including Willis, heard from veterinary policy experts and spoke to their elected representatives about two bills that offer some relief for veterinarians' educational indebtedness: the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program Enhancement Act and the Higher Education Act.

The VMLRP Enhancement Act is bipartisan legislation introduced in March that would repeal the tax on a Department of Agriculture program that pays off up to $75,000 in student loan debt for veterinarians who spend three years working in underserved areas of the country (see JAVMA, May 1, 2017, page 951). More than 350 veterinarians have been placed in 45 states, Puerto Rico, and U.S. federal lands since the VMLRP's implementation in 2010.

The Internal Revenue Service currently deducts 39 cents of every dollar Congress appropriates to the program. Were Congress to repeal the withholding tax, the AVMA estimates enough money would be freed up for one additional veterinarian to participate in the program for every three already enrolled.


William Willis (right), an Anchorage, Alaska, native who attends Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine, talks with Alaska's junior U.S. senator, Dan Sullivan, about the veterinary student debt problem and ways Congress can help.

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 250, 12; 10.2460/javma.250.12.1334

Rachel O'Leary expects to owe around $121,000 when she graduates from the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine in two years. Growing up on a farm in Janesville, Wisconsin, O'Leary knew about the costs of earning a veterinary degree going in. But the prospect of spending years paying off student loans while earning a modest income didn't deter O'Leary from pursuing a career practicing on dairy and beef cattle.

The VMLRP is an important program, O'Leary said, and she hopes to take advantage of it to offset some of her debt. “If you're going into the food animal medicine industry, you're not going into it for the money,” she said. “With this loan repayment program, we can make it possible for veterinary students to pay off their loans sooner, grow their businesses faster, and achieve a higher quality of life.”

Willis sees the VMLRP as a way he can bring needed food animal veterinary services to underserved Alaskan communities without going further into debt. “Alaska currently has five VMLRP positions—all deemed as high to critical need, which have never been filled since the program was enacted. Personally, I am considering participating in this program when I graduate,” Willis said.

Willis and O'Leary, along with the other AVMA fly-in participants, met with staff of their congressional representatives in the House and Senate to educate staff members about the need for repealing the VMLRP tax and to ask that lawmakers support the bill. Since the visit to Capitol Hill, two senators have signed on to the VMLRP Enhancement Act as co-sponsors, and five members of the House had promised to do so as well.

Fly-in participants also discussed the Higher Education Act, which represents the greatest legislative opportunity to alleviate student indebtedness. Enacted by President Lyndon Johnson in 1965, the HEA dictates the administration of all federal loan assistance for students in postsecondary education. In 2013, the law was scheduled for reauthorization, a process during which Congress could potentially revise the terms offered on student loans and the repayment options available to borrowers. Partisan gridlock has so far prevented the HEA from being renewed, however.

Responding to growing concerns over veterinary student indebtedness, the AVMA, the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges, and veterinary colleges have coalesced around the Fix the Debt initiative. The national campaign is directed at convincing lawmakers to ease the educational debt burden and make the federal student aid system more amenable to the needs of veterinary students and recent graduates. The Fix the Debt website went live in May and is available at http://aavmc.org/fix-the-debt.aspx.

Gina Luke, an assistant director at the AVMA Governmental Relations Division, which hosted the fly-in event, told participants the two associations will not be advocating alone. “We will be joined by associations representing other health professions and their respective student members,” Luke said.


Gina Luke, an assistant director with the AVMA Governmental Relations Division, briefs attendees of the annual AVMA Legislative Fly-In on the Higher Education Act and the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program Enhancement Act.

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 250, 12; 10.2460/javma.250.12.1334

The AVMA's priorities for the HEA reauthorization are as follows: end origination fees, a tax on student loans ranging from 1.073 percent to 4.292 percent; restore subsidized Stafford Loans for veterinary students; maintain federal loan borrowing limits for veterinary students at current levels ($47,167 annually, $234,000 aggregate); maintain the Perkins Loan Program; lower interest rates, which are actually increasing this year starting July 1 from 3.76 to 4.45 percent for undergraduate loans, from 5.31 to 6 percent for unsubsidized graduate Stafford Loans, and from 6.31 to 7 percent for Grad PLUS Loans; permit borrowers to refinance federal student loans; continue the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program; increase awareness about income-driven loan repayment plans; and expand financial literacy.

When Rachel Leist graduates from The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine in 2020, she'll have a veterinary degree and $175,000 in student loan debt. Leist, who wants to work in academia doing pathology, is considering applying for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program after college. The PSLFP incentivizes working in designated public sector jobs that promote public and animal health in exchange for federal student loan forgiveness after 10 years of full-time service.

“Following my passion into a high-need area that often pays substantially less money will only be possible with assistance from sources like the PSLF program,” Leist said. “For me personally, reauthorizng and improving the Higher Education Act to better reflect veterinary salaries and debt, as well as improving the PSLF program, would have a great impact on my ability to excel in my career while paying off my extensive loan burden.”

With the shrinking congressional calendar and considerable amount of time and attention the HEA will require from lawmakers, Kevin Cain, director of governmental affairs for the AAVMC, says it's highly unlikely Congress will reauthorize the act in 2017. Regardless, the work has already begun, Cain told fly-in attendees, noting that the House Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Development this past March had a hearing on improving federal student aid.

“Lawmakers will introduce legislation throughout the 115th Congress dealing with some aspect of higher education,” Cain explained, “so it is imperative that veterinarians and aspiring veterinarians become engaged in the fight to save financial aid for current and future students.”

Learn more about the AVMA's work in the area of federal student aid policy in the Advocacy section at www.avma.org under “National Issues.”

John de Jong wants to make AVMA a household name

Candidate for AVMA president-elect hopes to raise Association's status

Interview by R. Scott Nolen

After more than two decades of volunteer service with the AVMA, Dr. John de Jong says he's ready for the organization's most visible office. As the sole candidate for 2017–18 AVMA president-elect, Dr. de Jong is expected to be elected by the AVMA House of Delegates this July and succeed Dr. Michael Topper as president next year. The small animal practitioner from Weston, Massachusetts, and 1985 graduate of the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University recently spoke to JAVMA News about his plans if he becomes AVMA president and the state of veterinary medicine as he sees it.

What do you hope to accomplish as AVMA president?

My hope would be to continue the good work of my predecessors and the organization as a whole to protect, promote, and advance the veterinary profession.

During my years on the Board of Directors, we began listening more to our members, becoming a member-driven organization. That is exactly what we must be doing. We also must be mindful of the fact that the AVMA cannot be everything to everybody, so it is imperative that we focus on what is important to the members. Our members have repeatedly identified advocacy, education, and economics as the top three areas where they want the AVMA to work on their behalf. It is these three pillars on which I will focus my efforts should I be honored to be elected. Needless to say, we must also work on wellness, increasing professional diversity, and so much more.

The AVMA has served the profession, its members, and the public for over 150 years and is unquestionably the global leader in organized veterinary medicine. Today, our profession faces many daunting challenges, most especially concerning its economic health. We even face challenges from within our own profession over who will speak on veterinarians' behalf. We must ensure that the AVMA—an organization that has served us well for so many generations of veterinarians—continues as our primary voice! In recent years, we have done a much better job of being a member-driven organization. If we continue to do so, then there is no veterinary group, association, or conference that can match what the AVMA can do.

We must stay united as a profession, through the AVMA, working collaboratively to maintain progressive and open-minded relevance and success while holding true to our core values of ethics, professionalism, fair and decent care, promoting animal welfare, and listening to our members.

What skills and experience do you bring to the office?

More than two decades of participating in organized veterinary medicine, I believe, have helped prepare me for this important position. Working at the state, regional, and national levels has created in me an appreciation for the complexities and challenges of our profession. Eighteen years of volunteer service with the AVMA—first in the HOD and on the (House Advisory Committee), then as a member of the Board of Directors, including a year as its chair—have hopefully prepared me well to represent our diverse membership. Personally, I have boundless energy and enthusiasm for our great profession. I listen well, I try to be balanced yet bold when needed, I am honest, and I say what I mean.

What do you see as the role of the AVMA president?

The role of the AVMA president is multifaceted. First and foremost is the responsibility to be the face and voice of the profession to the public both nationally and internationally. This is spelled out in our bylaws. Secondly, the position carries additional responsibilities as a voting member of the Board of Directors, and, as president-elect, one chairs the sessions of the HOD.

This year, I have gained a somewhat different perspective of our profession as a candidate for office and not a member of AVMA leadership. We desperately need to be a bigger national presence, and I look forward to the day when most of the American public knows what the acronym AVMA stands for and (the AVMA) is on a par with the AMA, the ADA, and the ABA. The office of AVMA president can potentially achieve that by being increasingly vocal and visible through strong public relations, marketing, and advocacy like the honor I had last year testifying in Congress on behalf of our AVMA against the Fairness to Pet Owners Act.

I envision the AVMA president as our primary spokesperson, appearing on television and radio with a calf or chicken to promote veterinary medicine by talking about food safety, public health, epidemiology, and the human-animal bond. If the public gains a better appreciation for the breadth of what we do, then we eventually can earn more respect and financial compensation. It is a noble challenge, and I know we can achieve this because after all, people love their animals, and we are the caretakers of their animals.

In your mind, what are the opportunities and challenges facing the U.S. veterinary profession?

The opportunities and challenges are both unique and yet are inextricably intertwined. We need to regain our trusted leadership role in the area of animal welfare, which has been somewhat usurped by well-intended but often emotionally driven individuals or groups. We must maintain our leadership in this and so many other areas by advocating for policies based on science, and we should always promote that. We need to promote our profession while inspiring young people to consider all the career options in veterinary medicine, paying special attention to underserved practice areas, research, epidemiology, and one health, while also ensuring that rural areas are a prosperous place for veterinarians to practice.

A major challenge we have always faced is veterinarians have never been compensated fairly compared to our human health care colleagues. The reality is that veterinarians have often undervalued themselves, and we need to change that culture by cheerleading more for ourselves.

Veterinarians have repeatedly overcome zoonotic disease challenges, making the American food supply the safest and cheapest in the world. Unfortunately, the public does not fully appreciate all the veterinary profession does to protect our public health and food supply.

Another member concern is the consolidation and corporatization of our profession. What will that mean to private practices? Workforce issues are nothing new to veterinary medicine, but practice owners report increasing difficulties hiring personnel, both veterinarians and paraprofessional staff. Also, the trend toward specialization will likely continue to strain general practices. Last but not least, we must protect ourselves from letting people outside our veterinary profession or those who do not work with our direct supervision from providing services that only we should.

What's your assessment of the AVMA's continuing efforts directed at increasing member value?

I have been gratified that we are making strides in the right direction. We advocate nationally and assist states and allied groups in their legislative and regulatory efforts. Our insurance trusts provide a good value and are exploring ways of providing more. Our veterinary economic division, only a few years old, has provided members with valuable information that can be leveraged toward improving their incomes. Concerns about the Council on Education have resulted in improvements to the accreditation processes. Moreover, we are experiencing an unprecedented level of collaboration with the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges, veterinary students, and our allied groups. United we stand stronger!

Is there more the AVMA can do to promote the veterinary profession and educate the public about everything veterinarians do for animals as well as society?

Hell, yeah! I think I have already covered that. Not only should the AVMA president, officers, Board members, House members, and volunteers speak up, but all veterinarians need to avail themselves of promoting our profession through traditional media channels, social media, and all means possible. People love animals, and we are the go-to people for their care.

Realistically, what can the AVMA do to help ease the educational debt burden on recent veterinary graduates? What about increasing starting salaries?

This is a complex and difficult issue. If we begin by improving the appreciation the public has for veterinarians, incomes can increase and we can pay doctors a better wage. Paying new graduates more is not that simple because it has to come from somewhere, and experienced veterinarians aren't making enough, either. The AVMA already advocates in Congress for the reduction of student debt. All veterinarians need to speak up, however, at all levels of government to provide better funding for veterinary education. This is just one good reason why we should all support AVMA's (Political Action Committee). We need to be creative in funding veterinary education so as to reduce student costs. However, this problem is not just affecting veterinary medicine but higher education as a whole.

The veterinary profession was once entirely made up of men. Now the pendulum is swinging in the opposite direction. What are your thoughts on veterinary medicine becoming a predominately female profession?

I just returned from a meeting where I heard two veterinary school deans articulate exactly how I feel about this topic. I do not think it is any more appropriate to be female-dominated than to be male-dominated. There should be no disparity in income between the genders for the same work, and if we promote our profession and educate young students at an early age as well as provide a reasonable income and lifestyle, then perhaps we can have better balance.

How do you see telemedicine and telehealth changing the practice of veterinary medicine in the coming years?

The train has already left the station in some respects, yet I believe that the integrity of the veterinarian-client-patient relationship must be maintained. This rapidly evolving area of technology is one that we need to embrace and not fight since it is inevitably going to happen. How we let that occur is up to us.

A few years ago, AVMA leadership attempted to reform the Association's governance structure, from the Board of Directors and House of Delegates to councils and committees. Those efforts largely came to naught. Is this something that should be revisited or not?

Candidly, I do not think it entirely came to naught. We convened two advisory panels that looked at bringing individuals from different entities together; the experiment worked and might be revisited. There have been governance changes on the Board with expansion of the Board of Governors, a strategic management process, a new budgeting process, and more, making for a more efficient, responsive, and effective Board. The HOD also has undergone some changes with the makeup of the HAC going from (members representing) categories to all at-large members. Councils and committees also now have a more uniform system of term lengths. Students are more integrally involved, and all entities are constantly reviewed on a regular basis. AVMA governance must always be adaptable to change to serve the membership as needed.

Is there anything else you want to discuss?

A few years ago, my wife asked me what I got out of organized veterinary medicine. The answer came to me in a flash. Besides the countless close friendships I have made and the professional collegiality working together to make a difference for our profession, it is (continuing education) on steroids. By being involved in organized veterinary medicine, I have learned far more than I would have by simply being in practice, and as such, it has been intellectually fulfilling.

I hope that together we can ensure the survival, growth, and success of organized veterinary medicine and the AVMA. In 2015, the AVMA launched a new brand that included the words, “Our Passion. Our Profession.” It is with that same optimistic and new, yet timeless approach that I urge all members to get involved, for together our passion for our profession can and will be the future of the AVMA. It will be my great honor and privilege to serve the AVMA, our profession, and my colleagues as AVMA president.

Women leaders continue to build their ranks

Men still hold a majority in organized veterinary medicine leadership

By Malinda Larkin


Dr. Lori Teller (center) is one of the founding members of the Women's Veterinary Leadership Development Initiative. She and Drs. Karen Bradley and Stacy Pritt, also founding members, now serve on the AVMA Board of Directors. (Photos by R. Scott Nolen)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 250, 12; 10.2460/javma.250.12.1334

Back in 2013, a group of folks, including Drs. Karen Bradley and Stacy Pritt, met at the AVMA Annual Convention to discuss something that had been bothering them.

“The biggest thing we all had in common was we had been in our careers 15–20 years, and we had put ourselves in leadership positions and realized there weren't enough women following or joining our ranks,” Dr. Bradley said. “So we thought, ‘What can we do to get more women?”’

The women, along with the late Dr. Donald F. Smith and Julie Kumble, decided to start a Facebook group to make fellow veterinarians aware of available leadership positions. And thus was born the Women's Veterinary Leadership Development Initiative, now a national nonprofit dedicated to advancing women in the profession.

Dr. Lori Teller, one of the founding WVLDI members, said, “When it was started, we were not a membership organization, we were an initiative, but we had so many who wanted to join and contribute, so we created a professional partnership network.”

WVLDI not only is active on social media, including LinkedIn and Facebook, but also hosts networking events at major veterinary conferences and webinars. Among the topics that the organization tackles are practice ownership, career transitions and opportunities, and parenting and work-life balance.

Dr. Pritt, a past president of WVLDI and another founding member, said one of the best things WVLDI has done is start the conversation about gender in the veterinary profession, especially considering the dramatic gender shift that has happened, how quickly it has occurred, and what it means for the profession as it moves forward.

Data from the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges show that from 1970–2017, the rate of enrollment for female students at U.S. veterinary colleges increased from 11 to 80.5 percent. Further, the 2013 U.S. Veterinary Workforce Study found that women represented 50 percent of the workforce, with a projected increase to 71 percent by 2030.

WVLDI members' presentations at major conferences have helped veterinarians better understand issues such as the gender pay gap and lack of representation among leadership, Dr. Teller added. “Our workshops have given participants the tools to apply to create solutions. On campuses, we've helped students develop their skills and to appreciate the importance of leadership in their careers,” she said.

Leadership is always part of the discussion, particularly within the context of organized veterinary medicine. And WVLDI's leaders have walked the walk when it comes to that topic. Three of them serve on the AVMA Board of Directors. Dr. Pritt was elected vice president this past January by the AVMA House of Delegates, and Drs. Teller and Bradley were elected as district representatives and began their terms in July 2015 and August 2016, respectively.

Dr. Pritt pointed out that she succeeded Dr. Rebecca Stinson as AVMA vice president, the first time two women have consecutively held the same AVMA Board position. “We want more of that,” she said.

Progress is evident when looking at the ranks of the AVMA. About 42 percent (281 of 677) of volunteer leadership positions within entities such as the House of Delegates, Board of Directors, councils, and committees were filled by women for the 2016–2017 Association year compared with 14.5 percent (64 of 441) in 1997 and 25.6 percent (157 of 613) in 2007. And now, about one-third of House and Board members are women. Twenty years ago, about 10 percent of House members were women, and only one woman was on the 18-member Board—Dr. Mary Beth Leininger as president, the first woman in the position. The Association may even see a fourth woman as president soon, with WVLDI advocate Dr. Angela Demaree declaring her candidacy for president-elect for 2018–2019.


Dr. Rachel Cezar, WVLDI president, spoke at the 2017 AVMA Veterinary Leadership Conference. She and other WVLDI members will give presentations at the 2017 AVMA Convention, too.

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 250, 12; 10.2460/javma.250.12.1334

“Whenever you have members of a board from diverse background, decision-making improves,” Dr. Teller said.

Academia, too, has made strides with female leadership. In 2017, women accounted for 36.4 percent of tenure-track faculty at U.S. veterinary colleges, up from 32.6 percent in 2012. The number of female administrators at these institutions has jumped from 28 to 42 percent in just five years.

Dr. Bradley, who was the founding president of WVLDI, said she's proud of the work of WVLDI and knows it will be in good hands. She and Drs. Pritt and Teller resigned from the organization's board, effective Dec. 31, 2016.

“To tell you we wouldn't have WVLDI without these three women would be an understatement. These leaders have not only created WVLDI, but they continue to inspire many veterinary colleagues and students to continue pursuing opportunities to lead the veterinary profession,” wrote Dr. Rachel Cezar, current WVLDI president, in a March 22 blog post on the organization's website.

The three plan to continue attending events and moderating presentations. Dr. Teller said she would like to see WVLDI expand and grow “like a spider web” to branch out and reach more people exponentially.

“I hope it continues to inspire early-career veterinarians to look at how serving as a leader in organized veterinary medicine can help their career, serves the profession, and gives personal fulfillment,” Dr. Pritt said.

Book written about veterinary leadership

Two founders of the Women's Veterinary Leadership Development Initiative have put out a book titled “Leaders of the Pack: Women and the Future of Veterinary Medicine.”

The book, published March 15, was written by Julie Kumble, CEO of Greater Good Leadership, and the late Dr. Donald F. Smith, dean emeritus of Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine.

The two interviewed a number of people, researched prevailing themes, and studied trends from the past.

“One thing became clear. If the profession is more than half female and students at veterinary schools are over 75 percent female, the future of veterinary medicine depends on strong leaders. Those leaders need to represent who veterinarians and their clients are today: women,” Kumble wrote on her website, www.juliekumble.com.

The book explores themes in leadership and wellness, spotlights successes, and examines challenges.

Temple Grandin, PhD, a professor of animal science at Colorado State University, wrote in a review for the book: “Many different women tell their stories on how to be successful. ‘Leaders of the Pack’ has four big take-home messages. Sometimes the door to opportunity will open in an unexpected place. Have the confidence to walk through it. To become a leader in your profession, you need to have perseverance. When the going gets rough, you have to just keep going. In my own career, I found mentors who helped me. Mentors will seek you out if you are enthusiastic. The last message is become a good communicator and public speaker.”

The book is available from Purdue University Press as an ePub, PDF, or paperback at http://jav.ma/leadersofthepack.

Students limited in ability to control educational debt

By Barbara Dutton

Tuition at U.S. veterinary colleges has increased substantially over the past two decades, at some colleges by as much as 300 percent, according to the 2017 AVMA Report on Veterinary Markets.

The increase varies widely across institutions, however. At the University of Wisconsin, for example, in-state tuition went up 71 percent—approximately $8,000—over the 18-year period ending in 2016, while the University of Minnesota, by comparison, saw a 315 percent increase in tuition over the same period—an increase of more than $32,000.

“Budget cuts and reallocation of state resources often chip away at school funds' appropriations, and so this cost is absorbed by students through increased tuition,” explained Bridgette Bain, PhD, assistant director for analytics in the AVMA Economics Division. She and the entire division work to monitor the costs of veterinary education as well as analyze how tuition changes across institutions affect the market for veterinary education and, in turn, the market for veterinarians.

One area of expense that Dr. Bain sees as having a less pronounced effect on the cost of obtaining a veterinary degree is the cost of living—a factor over which students appear to have more control (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2016;249:285–288).

“The cost of living across schools varies relatively minimally in comparison to the variability in respective tuition and fees at these schools,” she said. “Students are often resourceful, minimizing cost of living, and more frequently than not report living expenses that are below what the financial aid offices at these institutions recommend. Since students generally report frugality in their expenditures, we do not find substantial variability in the cost of living across various states at veterinary colleges.”

The entire report is available for free download by AVMA members at http://jav.ma/2017markets. The report series is available for purchase by nonmembers at www.avma.org/products.

Barbara Dutton is the economics writer/content coordinator for the AVMA Veterinary Economics Division.


Source: 2017 AVMA Report on Veterinary Markets

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 250, 12; 10.2460/javma.250.12.1334

Groups making free accounting codes for pet practices

Veterinary organizations are developing a free standardized bookkeeping structure that practices could use to measure performance.

In April, the AVMA Board of Directors voted to endorse an American Animal Hospital Association and Veterinary Management Groups project to create a chart of accounts containing standardized accounting codes for companion animal practices, which could use the chart to classify and aggregate revenue, expenses, and balance sheet accounts. At press time, the chart was expected to be available free of charge starting in June on AAHA's website, www.aaha.org.

AAHA has produced and sold previous editions of its own chart of accounts.

An AVMA@Work blog post published following the Board's April meeting indicates practice owners want and need to compare their financial performance with industry standards, yet developing those standards requires standard methods of collecting practice data.

Katherine Wessels, AAHA senior manager for member experience and communications, said the standardized accounting codes used in the chart will let the profession develop better measures of veterinary practice finances and help practitioners organize their practice finances in line with accepted accounting principles. That alignment will help veterinarians analyze their practices' performance using industry statistics, she said.

Free webinar makes case for veterinary forensics career

Anyone interested in investigating a career in forensic veterinary medicine now has the chance to hear from one of the field's top experts.

The AVMA Veterinary Career Center is hosting a free, one-hour webinar from noon to 1 p.m. CDT on July 11 featuring Dr. Melinda Merck, a forensic veterinarian and owner of Veterinary Forensics Consulting in Austin, Texas.

Dr. Merck assists investigators of animal cruelty with crime scene investigation and examination of live and deceased victims, frequently testifying as a veterinary forensics expert. She helps with large-scale operations including exhumations of burial sites and examination of skeletal animal remains.

Dr. Merck is the founding chair of the board of directors for the International Veterinary Forensic Sciences Association. She serves on the World Small Animal Veterinary Association's Animal Wellness and Welfare Committee and the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys' Animal Cruelty Advisory Council. Dr. Merck developed the first veterinary forensics course for the University of Georgia and University of Florida veterinary colleges.

Although a forensic veterinarian may never have a typical day, attendees will learn about the inner workings of a career in veterinary forensics and the education, skills, and experience necessary to enter this field of veterinary practice.

Register for the webinar at http://jav.ma/vetforensicswebinar. Viewers will earn one continuing education credit.

New service helps veterinarians navigate online review sites

The AVMA has expanded its program on cyberbullying and online reputation management through its partnership with Bernstein Crisis Management Inc. to offer a discount to AVMA members on Your Review Genius, a new service from Bernstein that helps businesses navigate online review sites.

Your Review Genius connects veterinarians with a Bernstein consultant who will analyze practice reviews daily and zero in on the negative and potentially harmful ones. Bernstein experts will guide the practice's reaction, whether that means going through the removal process, writing a response that will win over other searchers, or finding outside-the-box solutions.

On the flip side, it's important that practices gather positive reviews, helping create a cushion of goodwill against negative reviews that appear for even the best of businesses. Your Review Genius software helps a practice identify happy clients and guide them to leaving positive reviews.

Members of the AVMA can subscribe to Your Review Genius for $250 per month. Nonmembers pay $275 per month. The minimum subscription period is three months. Details are at www.yourreviewgenius.com.

Heartworm infections, cases per practice on the rise

By Greg Cima


(Courtesy of CAPC)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 250, 12; 10.2460/javma.250.12.1334

Heartworm transmission is expected to increase across the U.S. this year, a result of above-average precipitation and temperatures during 2016, according to the nonprofit Companion Animal Parasite Council.

The prediction follows an increase in heartworm cases over the past several years, according to separate survey results from the American Heartworm Society.

A CAPC announcement from April—which includes predictions about Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, and ehrlichiosis—states that weather conditions have been perfect for breeding by the mosquitoes that transmit heartworms.

“Given the ongoing trend toward above average temperatures and rainfall, CAPC is forecasting high levels of heartworm disease activity in 2017 for most of the country, with an especially active year for the Western United States,” the announcement states.

The AHS survey results show the mean number of heartworm infections seen per veterinary clinic was 22 percent higher in 2016 than in 2013. The data also indicate 23 percent of respondents saw more heartworm cases, and 20 percent experienced a decline.

“When veterinarians study our new heartworm incidence map, they will note that the distribution of heartworm cases hasn't changed dramatically since we surveyed veterinary practices three years ago,” AHS President Christopher Rehm said in the announcement. “What caught our attention is that the number of heartworm-positive cases per practice is on the rise.”

AHS incidence maps are available at www.heartwormsociety.org/veterinary-resources/incidence-maps.

The five states with the greatest incidence of heartworm infections in 2016 were, in order, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Texas, and Tennessee, the AHS announcement states.

The CAPC predicts more heartworm disease in the lower Mississippi Valley, where it already is rampant, as well as in the Rockies and westward, where heartworm “may not be foremost on the veterinarian's mind.” Heartworm activity also is expected to be higher than usual in New England, the Ohio River Valley, the Upper Midwest, and the Atlantic Coast states.

But West Texas, from Amarillo to Laredo, is expected to have no increase and may have a decline in heartworm disease cases.

Lyme disease range expanding

The CAPC also predicts Lyme disease will continue expanding its range and warned that veterinarians in the Dakotas, Iowa, Missouri, southern Illinois, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, and North Carolina should be aware of the disease and vigilant in testing and protecting patients. The disease is of particular concern in Pittsburgh and elsewhere in western Pennsylvania, and the council also predicts increased caseloads in New York, northwestern Wisconsin, and northern Minnesota.

Ehrlichiosis problematic, anaplasmosis unchanged

The CAPC is predicting higher-than-usual ehrlichiosis activity in eastern Oklahoma, the Ohio River Valley, southern Virginia, and northern North Carolina. But prevalence could be stable or down in the Great Plains.

The council also predicts no substantial change in anaplasmosis activity in 2017 but recommends testing for it in Northern California, western Pennsylvania, and New York when diagnostics rule out Lyme disease.

Campaign helps veterinarians tout health benefits of pets

The main theme of a new campaign is the idea of prescribing Dog (bestfriendor) or Cat (purrfectis) to people. Videos instruct viewers to “Ask your veterinarian about Dog” or “Ask your veterinarian about Cat.”

Zoetis partnered with the Human Animal Bond Research Institute to launch the Pet Effect campaign in February to promote the health benefits of pet ownership.

The AVMA has long promoted the science behind the physical and emotional aspects of the human-animal connection. A longtime supporter of HABRI, the AVMA began supporting the Pet Effect campaign during National Pet Week in May.

In an announcement, Dr. J. Michael McFarland, group director for companion animal marketing at Zoetis, said the hope is that the Pet Effect campaign will help veterinarians explain the health benefits of pet ownership for people.

According to the announcement, these benefits include lower blood pressure, reduced risk of heart disease, stress reduction, and decreased rates of anxiety and depression. Research also has found that being exposed to pets can help prevent allergies in children and build immunity. According to a poll conducted by HABRI, 97 percent of physicians in family and general practice believed there are health benefits to having a pet, and most have recommended a pet to a patient.

A HABRI survey of pet owners found that 61 percent would be more likely to visit their veterinarian if the veterinarian discussed the human health benefits of the human-animal bond.

The Pet Effect campaign features videos, posts for social media, fliers and posters, and other materials that veterinarians can share with clients to explain the health benefits of pet ownership. Campaign details and materials are available at https://veterinarian.thepeteffect.org.

Phenobarbital bottles contain wrong tablets

Bottles of phenobarbital contained tablets twice the strength listed on the label, leading to a recall starting in April.

The manufacturer expanded the recall in May to include four strengths of phenobarbital and one amitriptyline HCl product.

C.O. Truxton issued the recall April 21 for 1,000-count bottles labeled as containing 15 mg tablets but actually containing 30 mg tablets, according to a Food and Drug Administration announcement. Phenobarbital is used as a sedative or anticonvulsive.

On May 8, the FDA announced that the recall was expanded to include 30 mg, 60 mg, and 100 mg tablets of phenobarbital and 50 mg amitriptyline HCl tablets. The company had received no complaints about those products but issued the recall out of caution.

The recall affects 18 lots of tablets.

The following recalled 1,000-count bottles of 15 mg phenobarbital tablets have an NDC of 0463-6160-10: lot 70915A, expiring August 2017; H15A55 and 70952A, expiring November 2017; and 71162A, expiring October 2018.

The following recalled 1,000-count bottles of 30 mg phenobarbital tablets have an NDC of 0463-6145-10: lot 70926A, expiring November 2017; 70981A, expiring January 2018; and H15A59, expiring August 2018.

The following recalled 1,000-count bottles of 60 mg phenobarbital tablets have an NDC of 0463-6151-10: lot 70881A, expiring July 2017; H15A68, expiring January 2018; 70980A, expiring February 2018; and 71416A, expiring May 2020.

The following recalled 100-count bottles of 100 mg phenobarbital tablets have an NDC of 0463-6152-01: lot 70989A, expiring February 2018; and 70973A, expiring January 2018.

The recall affects two sets of 1,000-count bottles of 100 mg phenobarbital tablets. The following have an NDC of 0163-6152-10: lot 70973A, expiring January 2018; H15A76, expiring February 2018; and 71346A, expiring December 2019. The rest have an NDC of 0463-6152-01 and a lot number of 70989A, and they expire in February 2018.

And the recalled 100-count bottles of 50 mg amitriptyline tablets have an NDC of 0463-6352-10 and a lot number of C0260416A, and they expire in March 2018.

Truxton also is answering questions at 856-933-2333 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. EDT weekdays. The FDA provides information on filing adverse event reports connected with veterinary drugs at http://jav.ma/reportadverse.

Polymer chip models may improve drug testing

By Greg Cima


An Emulate organ chip that is used as a liver model (Courtesy of Emulate)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 250, 12; 10.2460/javma.250.12.1334

Translucent polymer chip models, about the size of a AA battery, could provide drug candidate safety data with greater speed and accuracy than from testing in animals and cells.

Federal drug authorities will help develop and test those chips over the next few years, starting with those designed to mimic a human liver and animal livers.

Food and Drug Administration officials announced in April plans to evaluate tissue chips—also known as organs-on-chips—produced by one company, Emulate. FDA information indicates the chips could be used to test the effects of candidate pharmaceuticals and biologics as well as pathogens, biological hazards, cosmetics, and dietary supplements. Future tests could involve chip models for kidneys, lungs, and intestines.

An announcement from Emulate indicates that, in the agreement, FDA officials will evaluate and qualify use of Emulate's organs-on-chips technology for toxicological testing in product evaluations. The studies will use Emulate's chips, instruments, and software, which the company claims create a predictive model with more precision and detail than other preclinical testing methods, including cell culture– and animal-based testing.

“In the collaboration, FDA and Emulate researchers will initially use Emulate's Liver-Chip from multiple species (Human Liver-Chip, Dog Liver-Chip, and Rat Liver-Chip), to conduct studies to assess the cross-species differences in toxicology data between humans and animal species,” the Emulate announcement states.

The FDA and National Institutes of Health have been funding tissue chip research since at least 2010, when they awarded money to Harvard University for development of a heart-lung tissue chip model for drug safety and efficacy testing, NIH information states. The NIH National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences has been working since 2012 with other NIH entities, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the FDA, and pharmaceutical companies on the Tissue Chip for Drug Screening program. The program is intended to develop platforms that can support living human tissues and cells, model the structure and function of human organs, and combine those models into an integrated system that can mimic complex functions of a human body.

NIH information indicates the chip models of organs should be faster and more effective in evaluating safety of a candidate drug, vaccine, or biologic agent. Geoff Spencer, a spokesman for the NIH translational sciences center, said the research supported through the center has shown great promise, but predicting how much difference the chip models could make would be premature.

Information he provided indicates about 90 percent of candidate drugs fail during human clinical trials because 30 percent are unsafe, and 60 percent are ineffective.

In October 2016, the center also announced $6 million in awards to establish three tissue chip testing centers. Investigators at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Texas A&M University plan to validate tissue chip platforms, and recipients at the University of Pittsburgh will establish a tissue chip database for each organ platform, NIH information states.

Another announcement from October 2016 indicates the center had allocated $13.5 million toward research using tissue chips to create human disease models that could be used to evaluate candidate drugs. The models would help scientists assess biomarkers, bioavailability, efficacy, and toxicity of candidate therapeutics prior to clinical trials, NIH information states.

And the center has partnered with the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space to refine tissue chip technology for biomedical research at the International Space Station, where the chips could be used to study effects of reduced gravity.

FDA fighting fraudulent cancer treatments

Companies told to stop making treatment claims for people, pets

By Greg Cima

Fourteen companies are accused of making fraudulent claims their creams, supplements, teas, or oils could help treat or prevent cancer.

One of them, Nature's Treasures of Glendale, California, is accused of claiming its topical antioxidant cream can help people and pets suffering from cancer, liver problems, arthritis, kidney disease, and inflammation.

In April, Food and Drug Administration authorities ordered that the companies stop making unproven claims about their products or else the agency could respond by seizing products, seeking injunctions, or prosecuting those responsible. Letters sent to some of the companies also warned against continued misuse of diagnostic tools.

In addition to the cancer-related claims were claims that products could “inactivate” HIV, lower cholesterol, eliminate arthritis-related pain, kill pathogens, cure impotence, protect against ultraviolet radiation, and cure dysentery, among a variety of others.

The FDA's April 17 letter to Nature's Treasures indicates the company was selling at least seven products through false medical claims—including the OxiCell cream the company is accused of claiming had cancer-fighting properties in humans and pets—as well as marketing an unapproved telethermographic system as a method of breast cancer detection. The FDA has cleared telethermographic systems only as adjuncts to other clinical diagnostic procedures, the letter states.

A sales page for OxiCell was removed from Nature's Treasures' website by April 25, when FDA officials publicized the warnings, but a version cached by Google April 19 indicates the company had been selling the skin cream at $40 per 1.6 ounce bottle with claims it “protects and preserves brain, liver, immune function, cellular, muscle & energy production.” The company also appears to have claimed the product protected mitochondria and restored antioxidant levels exhausted by influences ranging from cigarette smoke to exercise.

None of the other companies was accused of selling products as animal drugs, but the FDA letter to one, Caudill Seed & Warehouse in Louisville, Kentucky, states that one of the sites Caudill uses to market its broccoli seed–based supplement includes claims that substances in broccoli sprouts “protect animals against chemically induced cancer.”

Donald D. Ashley, director of the Office of Compliance in the FDA Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, and Douglas Stearn, director of the Office of Enforcement and Import Operations in the FDA Office of Regulatory Affairs, co-authored an FDA column that describes sellers of fraudulent cancer products as people who exploit fears to peddle untested and possibly dangerous products. Their column was posted in the FDA Voice, the agency's blog.

“These companies used slick ads, videos, and other sophisticated marketing techniques, including testimonials about miraculous outcomes,” the column states. “Often a single product was promoted as a treatment or cure for multiple diseases in humans and animals.


These are some of the products sold with false cancer treatment claims, according to FDA authorities. OxiCell (second from left) was marketed for use in people and pets. (Courtesy of FDA)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 250, 12; 10.2460/javma.250.12.1334

“Hoping to skirt the law on a technicality, some sellers made false claims and then in small print provided a disclaimer that their products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.”

The column also alleges these companies change the names of their products, companies, and websites in efforts to escape FDA enforcement. Still, the FDA has issued more than 90 warning letters over the past 10 years to companies marketing fraudulent cancer products, they wrote.

Guilty plea for counterfeit drug packaging

The CEO of a packaging company has entered a guilty plea to a charge he made counterfeit labels and packaging for veterinary drugs.

Paul S. Rodriguez, CEO of Action Packaging & Design of Santa Ana, California, had been accused of making the imitation labels, boxes, and documentation for Frontline and Frontline Plus, which are flea and tick control products from Merial, and labels for Rimadyl, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug from Zoetis. He is scheduled for sentencing Oct. 2.

He was accused of shipping the labels, documentation, and packaging he made to a location in Houston. Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Rodriguez said in court that Paul Rodriguez was the subject of an undercover investigation, and he had sent the counterfeit materials to a warehouse operated by the Department of Homeland Security, according to information provided by Angela Dodge, spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Southern District of Texas.

No information about the basis for the undercover investigation was available at press time.

Accreditation appeal denied, Arizona plans to try again

Program failed to meet some standards but will resubmit proposal

By Malinda Larkin


The Thomas W. Keating Bioresearch Building at the University of Arizona houses basic research in agriculture, medicine, pharmacy, and engineering. It would be one of the facilities used by faculty and students at the proposed School of Veterinary Medicine. The program has met the AVMA Council on Education accreditation standard for research programs but falls short in four of the 11 accreditation standards. (Courtesy of University of Arizona)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 250, 12; 10.2460/javma.250.12.1334

The AVMA Council on Education has upheld its decision to deny a letter of reasonable assurance to the University of Arizona's Marley Foundation Doctor of Veterinary Medicine Program. The UA succeeded with seven of the 11 accreditation standards, and will continue to work to earn the COE's designation, according to an April 27 university press release.

“It's been a rigorous process and we've learned a great deal about what is required to meet the COE's requirements for accreditation, and the UA remains committed to achieving that designation for our program,” said Andrew Comrie, PhD, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost, in the release. “Accreditation should be viewed as a process, not an obstacle, and pursuing accreditation is central to our goal of providing a superior program of the highest quality.”

UA started the process to seek COE accreditation when the School of Veterinary Medicine conducted a feasibility study in 2013 and asked that year for a consultative site visit from the COE; the visit took place Jan. 13–15, 2014. Arizona filed a letter of application with the COE in 2014, seeking a letter of reasonable assurance of accreditation. A council site team traveled to Tucson for a comprehensive site visit Jan. 24–28, 2016. This past October, the council voted to deny a letter of reasonable assurance of accreditation.

Reasonable assurance does not confer accreditation but is a first step toward earning provisional accreditation and, ultimately, accreditation. The classification means the developing college has demonstrated that it has a realistic plan for complying with COE standards. A college granted reasonable assurance must offer admission to its first class of students and matriculate them within three years.

The UA appealed the COE decision this past December.

In March, the council reversed part of its earlier decision and approved the program's plans for a research program, but issues with four other standards remain (Standard 2 Finances, Standard 4 Clinical Resources, Standard 6 Students, and Standard 8 Faculty). These will be addressed in a revised submission, the release stated.

The council also substantially shortened the waiting period before the UA could reapply for consideration. Although it could have required a 12-month wait after the appeal, the COE said it would allow Arizona to reapply as soon as June 14.

The UA already has begun several efforts for the resubmission, according to the university press release. Those include hiring Mark Cushing, founding partner of the Animal Policy Group, as a consultant.

Cushing worked with Ross University and the National Autonomous University of Mexico as they pursued, and later received, COE accreditation. He also is helping Lincoln Memorial University College of Veterinary Medicine in its efforts to earn accreditation; he currently serves as LMU's vice president for public affairs and as university counsel.

Arizona has also opened a search for a permanent dean of veterinary sciences to lead the university's efforts to establish a veterinary sciences faculty, create the curriculum, and establish a program for clinical training. The dean of veterinary sciences will report to Dr. Comrie, with additional reporting responsibilities to Dr. Shane Burgess, vice president for agriculture, life, and veterinary sciences and for cooperative extension.

The UA also plans to appoint an interim dean of veterinary sciences to accelerate the accreditation efforts, according to the release. Dr. Burgess currently holds this position.

Arizona's proposed veterinary program is composed of the preprofessional program and the professional School of Veterinary Medicine; the COE decision impacts only the professional program. For more information, visit https://vetmed.arizona.edu.

The proposed UA program would be the only public veterinary medical education program in Arizona. Midwestern University, a private, not-for-profit health care university based in Glendale, Arizona, received a letter of reasonable assurance from the COE in January 2013. It's on track to receive full accreditation in 2018 at the time its first students are graduating.

UC-Davis plans revamp of teaching hospital complex

In 1970, the University of California-Davis School of Veterinary Medicine opened the doors to its $6 million Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital.

During the ensuing years, the hospital has provided—and pioneered—advanced technologies and treatments, including kidney dialysis, pacemakers, joint replacements, cancer treatments, and stem cell therapy. The hospital now has 34 specialties.

Designed to serve 3,000 patients annually, the teaching hospital has seen its yearly caseload top 51,000 patients, according to a university press release. To keep pace with this growing demand, the veterinary school plans to extensively update and expand the hospital.

The school is in the early stages of developing the physical layout. The reported $508 million effort will be done in phases, allowing for new construction and continued operation of current clinical services and patient care.

Major areas to be built over the next 10 years include centers for livestock and field service, equine performance, all-species imaging, and equine surgery and critical care as well as a new small animal hospital and community practice and surgery. Planning for the first phases of the small animal, livestock, equine, and laboratory projects is underway. Additional examination space for small animals and exotic animals is also being considered.


A rendering of the proposed small animal clinic at the University of California-Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, part of the teaching hospital revamping (Courtesy of UC-Davis)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 250, 12; 10.2460/javma.250.12.1334

About $65 million has already been raised to launch the first phase, in which groundbreaking is expected to begin next year. Additional funding will come from further philanthropy as well as the veterinary school's budget for infrastructure, to prepare the grounds and provide utilities.

The first patient care service of the veterinary medical complex planned to come online is the livestock and field service center. In designing the center, the school consulted with Temple Grandin, PhD, known for her work in engineering humane animal facilities and systems. Dr. Grandin met with campus architect Bill Starr to refine preliminary plans for the center—to design the best possible environment for livestock patient handling care and clinical teaching, emphasizing modern concepts in animal welfare, according to the release.

Perdue is first veterinarian to head U.S. Agriculture Department

Dr. Sonny Perdue was sworn in as the 31st secretary of the Department of Agriculture on April 25, becoming the first veterinarian to serve as agriculture secretary and as part of a U.S. president's Cabinet. The Senate confirmed President Donald Trump's pick to head the USDA the previous day by a vote of 87 to 11.


Dr. Sonny Perdue (Courtesy of USDA/Lance Cheung)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 250, 12; 10.2460/javma.250.12.1334

“The only legacy that I seek is the only one that any grandparent or parent seeks: to be good stewards, and to hand off our nation, our home, our fields, our forests, and our farms to the next generation in better shape than we found it,” Dr. Perdue said. “Making sure that Americans who make their livelihoods in the agriculture industry have the ability to thrive will be one of my top priorities. I am committed to serving the customers of USDA, and I will be an unapologetic advocate for American agriculture.”

According to a USDA statement, Secretary Perdue's policies as agriculture secretary will be guided by four principles. First, empower the nation's agriculture and agribusiness sector to create jobs, to produce and sell the foods and fiber that feed and clothe the world, and to reap the earned reward of that labor. “It should be the aim of the American government to remove every obstacle and give farmers, ranchers, and producers every opportunity to prosper,” the USDA said.

Second, prioritize customer service for U.S. taxpayers and consumers. They will expect—and have every right to demand—that their government conduct the people's business efficiently, effectively, and with the utmost integrity, according to the USDA.

Third, as Americans expect a safe and secure food supply, the department will continue to serve in the critical role of ensuring the food Americans eat meets the strict safety standards already established. “Food security is a key component of national security, because hunger and peace do not long coexist,” the USDA said.

And finally, always remember that America's agricultural bounty comes directly from the land.

The AVMA welcomed Secretary Perdue's confirmation in a statement saying that with the country facing challenges and opportunities requiring veterinary expertise, such as animal health and food safety, having strong veterinary leadership at the department is more important than ever.

“Veterinarians possess unique medical expertise that drives scientifically sound policy decisions,” the AVMA said. “Veterinary leadership at all levels of the USDA is crucial to creating and executing effective policies, and Secretary Perdue's appointment is an encouraging sign that veterinarians will continue to be valued at the agency.”

Dr. George Ervin “Sonny” Perdue III was born in Perry, Georgia, to a farmer and schoolteacher in 1946. After receiving his DVM degree from the University of Georgia in 1971, Dr. Perdue served in the Air Force until 1974, retiring as a captain. Following a brief stint practicing veterinary medicine in Raleigh, North Carolina, he returned to Georgia, where he became a small-business owner and, eventually, a public servant.

Dr. Perdue spent a decade in the Georgia senate before twice being elected governor, first in 2002 and again four years later by nearly a 60 percent majority.

Mahr one-health professorship established at Iowa State

An endowed professorship has been created in Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine through a gift from a former AVMA president, Dr. Roger Mahr, and his wife, Marilyn.

The Dr. Roger and Marilyn Mahr Professorship in One Health will further empower Iowa State with visionary leadership to promote and help facilitate innovative, multidisciplinary collaboration that embraces the university's land grant mission, according to a March 21 statement from the university.


Dr. Roger Mahr

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 250, 12; 10.2460/javma.250.12.1334

One health is the collaborative effort of multiple health science professions and their related disciplines working locally, nationally, and globally to attain optimal health for people, animals, and the environment.

Dr. Mahr, a small animal practitioner from St. Charles, Illinois, served as 2006–2007 AVMA president. During his presidency, he expressed his vision for the One Health Initiative, which the AVMA established in collaboration with the American Medical Association in 2007.

“Iowa State's land grant mission, which focuses on collaborative education, research, and outreach, is truly consistent with the one-health approach,” said Dr. Mahr, a 1971 Iowa State veterinary graduate. “This professorship will inform all audiences, including students, faculty, and researchers, about the importance of transcending institutional and disciplinary boundaries and transform the way human, animal, plant, and ecosystem health professionals work together to improve the health of all living things and the environment worldwide.”

The Mahrs have long supported lowa State's One Health initiative. The College of Veterinary Medicine's One Health Lectureship Series was established in 2011 in honor of Dr. Mahr as he served as the CEO of the One Health Commission, which was headquartered at Iowa State from 2011–2013.

The Mahr Professorship in One Health will also coordinate Iowa State's one-health courses and training opportunities, promote and illustrate the importance and value of the one-health approach, and pursue innovative and entrepreneurial opportunities for Iowa State to lead, connect, and engage in various one-health agendas.

Tennessee VMA

Event: Music City Veterinary Conference, Feb. 24–26, Murfreesboro

Program: The meeting drew more than 400 veterinarians, 230 veterinary technicians, 85 veterinary students, and 30 practice staff. On offer were in excess of 100 hours of continuing education.

Awards: Lifetime Achievement Award: Dr. D.J. Krahwinkel, Knoxville. A 1966 graduate of the Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Krahwinkel served as a professor of surgery at the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences from 1975–2010. He is part of the team at Veterinary Care and Specialty Group and the Regional Institute for Veterinary Emergencies and Referrals, both in Chattanooga. A past president of the TVMA, Dr. Krahwinkel is a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons, American College of Veterinary Anesthesiologists, and American College of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care. He is active with the Christian Veterinary Mission. Distinguished Service Award: Dr. Stephen Galloway, Oakland. A 1996 graduate of the North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine and a diplomate of the American Veterinary Dental College (Equine Dental Specialty), Dr. Galloway owns Animal Care Hospital in Oakland. He serves on the AVDC Equine Specialty Executive Committee, is a past chair of the American Association of Equine Practitioners' Dentistry Committee and AAEP Scope of Practice Task Force, and is a past president of the Tennessee Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners and TVMA. Young Veterinarian Award: Dr. Marisa Shulman, Chattanooga. A 2009 graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Shulman practices at Riverview Animal Hospital in Chattanooga. She is a past president of the Hamilton County VMA and has served as a member-at-large on the TVMA executive board representing east Tennessee. Legislator of the Year: Andy Holt, Dresden. A member of the Tennessee House of Representatives, Holt was recognized for his support of the veterinary profession. He helps other legislators understand veterinary legislation and the association's position on legislation. John C. New Service Award: Amy Brown, Nashville, won this award, given in recognition of an individual who promotes the well-being of people through interaction with animals. Brown is a rescue liaison between the Woodbine community in Nashville and veterinarians, arranging transportation and funding for pets in the area to receive veterinary care, and educating people on animal husbandry and use of medication.

Officials: Drs. Joe Ed Conn, Whites Creek, president; Russell Reel, Morristown, president-elect; Danny Walker, Martin, vice president; Margaret Phillips, Franklin, secretary-treasurer; Susan Moon, Memphis, immediate past president; and members-at-large—Drs. Richard Buchanan, Sweetwater, and Joanne Hibbs, Corryton (east Tennessee); Jeremy Keen, Collierville, and Bob Parker, Memphis (west Tennessee); and Doug Balthaser, Columbia, and Mandy Hagan Willis, Morrison (west Tennessee)

Obituaries AVMA member AVMA honor roll member Nonmember

Horace G. Blalock Jr.

Dr. Blalock (Georgia ‘54), 87, Evans, Georgia, died April 13, 2017. Following graduation, he joined the University of Georgia Diagnostic and Research Laboratory in Tifton. In 1957, Dr. Blalock established Highland Animal Hospital, a mixed animal practice in Augusta, Georgia, later founding another practice in nearby Columbia County.

Dr. Blalock was a past president of the Georgia VMA and Southern Veterinary Medical Federation, served as Georgia's alternate delegate or delegate to the AVMA House of Delegates from 1977–1990, and was a past member of the Georgia State Board of Veterinary Medicine. In 1994, he was named Georgia Veterinarian of the Year, and, in 2008, he received the GVMA J.T. Mercer Lifetime Achievement Award. Dr. Blalock helped establish the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine Alumni Association.

He is survived by his wife, Doris; two sons and two daughters; seven grandchildren; and two great-grand-children. Memorials may be made to First Baptist Church of Augusta, 3500 Walton Way Extension, Augusta, GA 30909, or Leader Dogs for the Blind, 1039 S. Rochester Road, Rochester Hills, MI 48307.

Joseph F. Chabot

Dr. Chabot (Oklahoma State ‘63), 77, North Grafton, Massachusetts, died Jan. 10, 2017. He owned a small animal practice in Lexington, Massachusetts, for 37 years. Dr. Chabot later served as an associate clinical professor of biomedical sciences at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University until retirement. His wife, Mary Ellen; a son and a daughter; and four grandchildren survive him.

Robert L. Felker

Dr. Felker (Colorado State ‘56), 84, Green Valley, Arizona, died Dec. 30, 2016. A small animal practitioner, he was a past president of the Colorado VMA and Denver Area VMS.

Hugh A. Haller

Dr. Haller (Colorado State ‘62), 83, Moffat, Colorado, died Jan. 31, 2017. He worked as a federal veterinarian in New Mexico for 14 years prior to retirement in 2005. Earlier, Dr. Haller was a partner at Valley Veterinary Clinic in Alamosa, Colorado, and owned a practice and raised Herefords in Colorado's San Luis Valley. A lifetime member of the Colorado VMA, he received the CVMA 50-year Service Award in 2012.

Dr. Haller is survived by his wife, Gretchen, and a son. His brother-in-law, Dr. Martin T. Shellabarger (Colorado State ‘70), is a mixed animal veterinarian in Moffat.

Robert B. Lank

Dr. Lank (Kansas State ‘42), 97, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, died April 16, 2017. Following graduation, he practiced in Louisiana at Ferriday and Bastrop before joining the faculty of the Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine as an assistant professor in 1948. He subsequently served as professor, head of the Department of Veterinary Science, and associate dean of the veterinary school, retiring as emeritus in all three positions. As associate dean, Dr. Lank played a pivotal role in the design, planning, and building of the veterinary school. He also served on the LSU System Boyd Professor Review Committee.

Dr. Lank was a past chair of the AVMA Council on Education, served as Louisiana VMA delegate to the AVMA House of Delegates from 1967–1980, and was a member of the House Advisory Committee. He was a past president of the Louisiana VMA, the Kansas State University Veterinary Medical Alumni Association, and the East Baton Rouge Cattlemen's Association. In 1962, Dr. Lank was named Louisiana Veterinarian of the Year, and, in 1984, he received the first LSU-CVM Alumni Chapter Award of Merit. He was also a past recipient of the Presidential Certificate of Appreciation and the Meritorious Service Award from the Selective Service Advisory Committee.

In his community, Dr. Lank was a past president of the Baton Rouge Kiwanis Foundation, chaired the EBR Mosquito Abatement and Rodent Control Board, and was a member of the Downtown Kiwanis Club and Red Stick Forestry Association. Memorials, with the memo line of checks notated to the Dr. Robert Lank Memorial Scholarship, may be made to the LSU Foundation, 3796 Nicholson Drive, Baton Rouge, LA 70802.

Christ V.R. Mueller

Dr. Mueller (Minnesota ‘68), 74, Marshfield, Wisconsin, died Oct. 13, 2016. He practiced mixed animal medicine in Marshfield.

Jerry L. Schrader

Dr. Schrader (Kansas State ‘57), 84, Great Bend, Kansas, died Feb. 11, 2017. In 1959, he established Countryside Veterinary Associates in Great Bend, where he practiced mixed animal medicine until his death. Prior to that, Dr. Schrader worked in Iowa and Arkansas for two years. A member of the Kansas VMA, he represented the association on the Governor's Pet Advisory Board and was named 2013 Veterinarian of the Year. Dr. Schrader was a past president of the Golden Belt Humane Society and a member of the American Quarter Horse Association. He served on the board of trustees of Barton Community College and was active with the Great Bend Elks Lodge. Dr. Schrader is survived by his wife, Yvonne, and a stepson. Memorials may be made to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, TN 38105.

David R. Sidel

Dr. Sidel (Auburn ‘63), 78, Mobile, Alabama, died Dec. 30, 2016. A small animal veterinarian, he practiced at Theodore Veterinary Hospital in Theodore, Alabama. Dr. Sidel's four daughters, six grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren survive him. Memorials may be made to Animal Rescue Foundation, 6140 Rangeline Road, Theodore, AL 36582, or Roxbury Rescues, 5761 Highway 90 W., Theodore, Alabama 36582.

Charles G. Sims

Dr. Sims (Georgia ‘52), 88, Greensboro, North Carolina, died Dec. 16, 2016. He practiced mixed animal medicine in Greensboro for 60 years. Dr. Sims was a Navy veteran of World War II, receiving a Victory Medal for his service. He is survived by his wife, Karen; four daughters and a son; and seven grandchildren.

Memorials may be made to Hospice Care Center of Alamance, 914 Chapel Hill Road, Burlington, NC 27215, or Charles G. Sims Foundation for Education, 7B Corporate Center Court, Greensboro, NC 27408.

Donald E. Smith

Dr. Smith (Iowa State ‘53), 91, Verona, Wisconsin, died March 31, 2017. Following an internship at Angell Memorial Animal Hospital in Boston, he established Pioneer Veterinary Clinic, a mixed animal practice in Elizabeth, Illinois. In 1974, Dr. Smith moved to Mondovi, Wisconsin, where he practiced large animal medicine at Buffalo Valley Veterinary Service. He retired in 1986. Dr. Smith helped establish the Northern Illinois VMA. He was a member of the Lions Club for 30 years.

Dr. Smith is survived by his wife, Susan; a son and two daughters; and four grandchildren. His son, Dr. Barney Smith (Iowa State ‘81), practices small animal medicine in Verona. Memorials may be made to the Sierra Club, 754 Williamson St., Madison, WI 53703, or Memorial United Church of Christ, 5705 Lacy Road, Fitchburg, WI 53711.

Ray L. Taylor

Dr. Taylor (Michigan State ‘50), 90, Paris, Illinois, died March 31, 2017. Following graduation, he worked briefly in West Lafayette, Indiana. Dr. Taylor subsequently moved to Paris, where he spent the rest of his career, beginning in large animal practice, focusing later on small animals. He served on the Edgar County Fair Board for 35 years and was a member of the Rotary Club, Shriners, Masonic Lodge, and Elks Club.

Dr. Taylor was a veteran of the Navy. He is survived by three daughters and a son, seven grandchildren, and 10 great-grandchildren. Memorials may be made to University of Illinois Extension for Edgar County 4-H, 210 W. Washington St., Paris, IL 61944.

Edwin A. Wagner Jr.

Dr. Wagner (Pennsylvania 77), 64, Lewisberry, Pennsylvania, died Dec. 6, 2016. He owned Valley Green Veterinary Hospital, a small animal practice in Goldsboro, Pennsylvania. Dr. Wagner was a member of the Pennsylvania VMA and Veterinary Orthopedic Society. His wife, Somjit, survives him. Memorials may be made to the Humane Society of the Harrisburg Area, 7790 Grayson Road, Harrisburg, PA 17111, www.humanesocietyhbg.org, or The Last Chance Fund, 8574 Paxton St., Hummelstown, PA 17036, www.PaVetFoundation.org.

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    William Willis (right), an Anchorage, Alaska, native who attends Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine, talks with Alaska's junior U.S. senator, Dan Sullivan, about the veterinary student debt problem and ways Congress can help.

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    Gina Luke, an assistant director with the AVMA Governmental Relations Division, briefs attendees of the annual AVMA Legislative Fly-In on the Higher Education Act and the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program Enhancement Act.

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    Dr. Lori Teller (center) is one of the founding members of the Women's Veterinary Leadership Development Initiative. She and Drs. Karen Bradley and Stacy Pritt, also founding members, now serve on the AVMA Board of Directors. (Photos by R. Scott Nolen)

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    Dr. Rachel Cezar, WVLDI president, spoke at the 2017 AVMA Veterinary Leadership Conference. She and other WVLDI members will give presentations at the 2017 AVMA Convention, too.

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    Source: 2017 AVMA Report on Veterinary Markets

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    (Courtesy of CAPC)

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    An Emulate organ chip that is used as a liver model (Courtesy of Emulate)

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    These are some of the products sold with false cancer treatment claims, according to FDA authorities. OxiCell (second from left) was marketed for use in people and pets. (Courtesy of FDA)

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    The Thomas W. Keating Bioresearch Building at the University of Arizona houses basic research in agriculture, medicine, pharmacy, and engineering. It would be one of the facilities used by faculty and students at the proposed School of Veterinary Medicine. The program has met the AVMA Council on Education accreditation standard for research programs but falls short in four of the 11 accreditation standards. (Courtesy of University of Arizona)

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    A rendering of the proposed small animal clinic at the University of California-Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, part of the teaching hospital revamping (Courtesy of UC-Davis)

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    Dr. Sonny Perdue (Courtesy of USDA/Lance Cheung)

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    Dr. Roger Mahr