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Unlocking the genetic secrets of your dog

Genetic panel testing for breeds and hereditary disorders promises insights for dog owners, breeders, and veterinarians

By Katie Burns

Want to know what mix of breeds your dog is? Want to know which hereditary disorders your mixed-breed or purebred dog is at risk for or carries?

About a decade ago, companies began marketing panel tests that incorporated multiple genetic markers to help dog owners, breeders, and veterinarians determine a dog's ancestry. Recently, companies have expanded into panel testing for multiple genetic disorders in dogs.

Among the companies offering both breed identification and testing for genetic disorders are Mars Veterinary, which offers the Wisdom Panel, and the startup Embark Veterinary Inc., which operates in partnership with Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine.

In a related development, the AVMA House of Delegates passed a policy in January on “Inherited Disorders in Responsible Breeding of Companion Animals.” The policy encourages research, continuing education, and outreach on inherited disorders in companion animals (see JAVMA, March 1, 2017, page 478).

Tests for breed identification can provide information about the genetic makeup of a dog and, potentially, its predisposition to certain conformational, health, and behavioral characteristics, said Dr. Urs Giger, a veterinarian with a focus on clinical genetics as a professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. Regarding panel testing for genetic disorders, he said, “This is really a breakthrough and will be something that will be changing the approach to hereditary disease screening.”

Testing to determine the ancestry of mixed-breed dogs is more of a novelty in the mind of Dr. Jerold Bell, a solo practitioner at Freshwater Veterinary Hospital in Enfield, Connecticut, and adjunct professor of clinical genetics at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University. But he believes that panel testing for genetic disorders could become mainstream in a short period of time.

Mars Veterinary

Mars Veterinary, a business unit of Mars Petcare, introduced the Wisdom Panel to veterinarians in 2007 as a blood test and to consumers in 2009 as a cheek swab test. The first versions of the panel focused only on breed ancestry, using 321 genetic markers to identify the breed makeup of dogs.

Dr. Angela Hughes, a veterinarian who is the veterinary genetics research manager for Mars Veterinary, said blood is the gold standard for a good-quality DNA sample, and the best use of the test results is in conjunction with a veterinarian. She said, “It's one thing to know that your dog is a German Shepherd–Chow mix. It's another to understand what that means medically and behaviorally and nutritionally for the dog. It takes it from a gee-whiz curiosity level to an applicable test.”

Dr. Hughes said Mars Veterinary has built a large database of purebred dogs and improved the Wisdom Panel algorithm over time. By 2014, the panel also had expanded to include testing for 13 mutations and markers associated with genetic disorders.

In 2015, the company switched to a panel with 3,000 genetic markers, incorporating the MyDogDNA test from Genoscoper Laboratories of Finland.

At $84.99, Wisdom Panel 4.0 is a cheek swab test for breed identification that also screens for the mutations associated with multidrug sensitivity and exercise-induced collapse. Blood tests that provide breed identification and screening for more than 140 mutations and markers associated with various disorders, including multidrug sensitivity and EIC, are available through Banfield Pet Hospital, a Mars Petcare subsidiary, and through veterinarians who offer a test from Royal Canin, another Mars Petcare subsidiary.

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Dr. Angela Hughes is the veterinary genetics research manager with Mars Veterinary, which offers panel tests for breed identification and genetic disorders. She thought her dog, Rimsky, was a Papillon. Mars Veterinary's Wisdom Panel identified him as a Cocker Spaniel and Maltese mix. (Courtesy of Mars Inc.)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 250, 6; 10.2460/javma.250.6.580

For dog breeders, the $99.99 Optimal Selection cheek swab test provides an analysis of dogs being considered for breeding that covers genetic diversity of the individual dog, the diversity of the dog in relation to others in the breed, and the overall diversity in the breed; tests for traits such as coat colors and types; and screening for more than 150 mutations and markers associated with disorders.

Mars Veterinary incorporated the mutations for multidrug sensitivity and EIC into its Wisdom Panel 4.0 “because we felt those were ones that owners could actively work to improve the health of their own dog by avoiding situations or scenarios where the dog could get into trouble,” Dr. Hughes said.

She said many dog owners wonder what mix of breeds their dog is. She had her own dog for nine years before testing. According to the results, he is not a Papillon but a Cocker Spaniel and Maltese mix.

Regarding panel testing for genetic disorders, Dr. Hughes said, “We feel it's going to, in the next five years or so, really transform the veterinary practice. If you know in advance, when this dog is a puppy, how it's going to deal with certain medications, what is its risk for a number of diseases, that sort of thing, it's really important to incorporate that.”

For cat breeders, Mars Veterinary launched a $69.99 Optimal Selection cheek swab test in November 2016. The test screens for 29 mutations and markers associated with various disorders and provides an analysis of traits such as coat color and length.

Embark Veterinary Inc.

Embark Veterinary Inc., in partnership with the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, introduced the Embark Dog DNA Test last year. The $199 cheek swab test analyzes a dog's ancestry, risk of genetic disorders, and heritable traits.

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The Embark Dog DNA Test from Embark Veterinary Inc., a panel test for breed identification and genetic disorders, found that Geno is a carrier of hyperuricosuria and is homozygous for the genetic variant that causes low baseline concentrations of alanine aminotransferase. (Courtesy of Patrick Coy and Embark Veterinary Inc.)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 250, 6; 10.2460/javma.250.6.580

The company was founded by Ryan Boyko and his brother, Adam Boyko, PhD, chief scientific officer and an assistant professor of biomedical sciences at the Cornell veterinary college. The brothers had been traveling the globe collecting DNA samples from dogs as part of their passion for canine genomics.

Dr. Boyko said they founded Embark to deploy a model “of having people who wanted to know more about the genetics of their dog actually mailing the DNA to us, and we could tell them about that, instead of us having to go out all over world to do it.”

The Embark test incorporates more than 200,000 markers, he said, “and, now, that dog can get enrolled in all sorts of genetic association studies.” He conducted a genetic association study in his laboratory with 5,000 dogs, but human studies can have tens or hundreds of thousands of subjects.

The current version of the Embark test reports results on more than 160 mutations and markers associated with disorders as well as ancestry and traits such as body size. Dr. Boyko said, “We want (Embark) to be a tool that veterinarians can use.” Embark has created a downloadable report for veterinarians to see the key genetic data for a dog at a glance. The company offers its test to veterinarians at wholesale price to sell in their clinics.

With genetic testing in dogs, Dr. Boyko said, most dog owners think first about breed mix, but then think about health. He said breeders are interested in testing for genetic disorders and genetic diversity.

Embark will send updates to customers if researchers find a new genetic mutation or marker that is associated with a disorder and that is testable on the company's platform. The company also is validating tests for additional genetic disorders.

Dr. Boyko said Embark can't diagnose a condition in a dog. He said, “All we can do is give information that will be useful for a veterinarian to know in order to make the diagnosis. Our goal is to cut out unnecessary testing and to reduce the amount of time it takes a vet to make a successful diagnosis,” by providing one panel test for multiple disorders.

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Embark Veterinary Inc. provides veterinarians with a report summarizing results of the Embark Dog DNA Test. The report features the predicted adult weight, a chromosome painting of the breed mix, and a health report indicating whether a dog is at risk for or a carrier of certain genetic disorders. This report is for a dog adopted by Ryan Boyko, company co-founder. (Courtesy of Embark Veterinary Inc.)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 250, 6; 10.2460/javma.250.6.580

In October 2016, Embark partnered with Dognition, which sells online assessments of dog cognition, to study dog genetics and behavior. Dr. Boyko and other researchers will explore the origin of behavioral tendencies, effective training methods for various ages and stages, the effects of environment and breed on behavior, and the rate of cognitive decline in relation to genetics and breed.

Clinical genetics

Dr. Giger of the University of Pennsylvania says genetic evaluation for dog breed and appearance is of general interest and can be helpful in, say, predicting the adult size and characteristics of a mixed-breed puppy. He said, “Some of it is also just keen interest in knowing more about ancestry, as it is in humans.”

He said screening dogs for genetic disorders can guide diagnosis, treatment, and breeding. A dilemma is deciding whether it is valuable to screen a dog for all known genetic disorders or to restrict screening to disorders recognized in the dog's particular breed.

“There are certain breeds where specific mutations recognized in other breeds have not been reported before, and we do not yet know for that particular breed whether that (mutation) is going to cause the same disease, a more severe disease, or no disease,” Dr. Giger said. “That's probably particularly important for genetic markers and predispositions to disease rather than established specific disease-causing mutations.”

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Rocco was a puppy when his family adopted him. Mars Veterinary's Wisdom Panel determined that he is a mix of Rat Terrier, Miniature Poodle, and Shih Tzu. Knowing the breeds in Rocco's makeup and his eventual size helped in planning for his nutritional needs. (Courtesy of Mars Inc.)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 250, 6; 10.2460/javma.250.6.580

Dr. Giger said dog owners need genetic counseling alongside panel testing. He said, “It will be very daunting for a primary care clinician to analyze the huge amount of information and guide owners and breeders about each abnormal test result and associated disease.” He said there is a need for written resources, contacts for more information about the meaning of test results, and, in some cases, involvement of veterinary genetic counselors.

Dr. Giger was an author of a study led by researchers from Genoscoper Laboratories and the University of Helsinki involving the MyDogDNA panel test (see story, page 586). He believes panel testing, not testing for individual markers or mutations, is likely to be the way of the future. He said panel testing will make the whole process a lot less expensive and much more streamlined. Panel testing also will result in better estimates of the breed-specific prevalences of certain mutations or markers and can be a research tool to generate new information.

An important issue still to be resolved is that some genetic mutations that have been discovered have been patented, limiting the availability of testing. In 2013, however, the Supreme Court held that naturally occurring DNA sequences cannot be patented.

“We are in the best time to eliminate many of these known devastating diseases and genetic predispositions, and a lot more tests, and possibly whole genome sequencing, will become common practice,” Dr. Giger said.

Group launches initiative to harmonize genetic testing for dogs

The International Partnership for Dogs has launched the Harmonization of Genetic Testing for Dogs initiative to provide practical support to address challenges accompanying the increasing emergence of new canine DNA tests and testing laboratories.

According to an announcement, “With no existing national or international standards of accreditation, or standardization oversight group, there is a growing need for a reliable third party neutral organization that can provide guidance surrounding test reliability, laboratory quality assurance processes and procedures, test applicability by breed, and provide counseling regarding interpretation and best use of genetic test results.”

The goal of the IPFD initiative is to create an open-access, searchable, and sustainable online resource to do the following:

  • • Catalog information provided voluntarily by commercial test providers for genetic testing in dogs.

  • • Describe expertise, quality assurance, activities, and resources of the test providers.

  • • Host expert panel reviews of genetic tests and the tests’ reliability and applicability.

  • • Coordinate a program for standardized proficiency testing, potentially with peer review and auditing.

  • • Assemble existing and new resources for genetic counseling and education, plus provide the foundation for future developments.

The first phase is to develop a working prototype of the online resource. A multiple-stakeholder steering committee will oversee the initiative. Initial funding for the prototype comes from IPFD Founding Partners, the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals, and the American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation.

In practice

At Freshwater Veterinary Hospital, Dr. Bell does not use panel testing for genetic disorders in dogs yet. He said, “Ideally, it's going to develop where we will have all of the known genetic markers in these panels, so that you run it on one patient, and then you know exactly what mutations they carry.”

Right now, he said, one breed has this test, and another breed has that test. One test is run at one place and one at another. For some breeds, you have to run multiple tests at different places. Dr. Bell said, “You're paying for each individual test and drawing multiple either blood samples or cheek swabs to send to all the different places. It makes it very confusing, and it makes it very arduous to just try to do the right thing to determine what the genetic background is of a particular dog.”

With panel testing, he said, the question of whether to test disappears, and the question is what to do with the test results. He said, “To me, that's a great first step.”

But is it the burden of the testing agency or the responsibility of veterinarians to interpret results and provide genetic counseling? Dr. Bell said some breeders might understand the results better than some veterinarians.

“There's a whole lot of education that is going to need to get filled in, in terms of using these the right way, because there is a great chance of using these tests the wrong way” and actually limiting genetic diversity, he said.

Dr. Bell also expressed concerns about minimum standards for laboratories that offer genetic testing.

With panel testing, he believes it's best for dog owners to work with veterinarians and for veterinarians to learn more, through avenues such as continuing education, about what the tests mean and how to provide genetic counseling.

At AVMA Convention 2017 this July in Indianapolis, Dr. Kari Ekenstedt will present sessions on genetic testing in dogs and cats, common canine and feline genetic disorders, determining the breeds in a mixed-breed dog, and genetics in purebreds, designer breeds, and mixed breeds.

Dr. Bell has had clients who did a breed analysis of their mixed-breed dogs for curiosity's sake, but not for medical reasons. He believes that companies offering panel testing for genetic disorders alongside breed analyses could make a difference in disease prevention.

Regarding panel testing generally, he added, “The bottom line is I think that this is the future of genomic medicine.”

Disease-associated gene variants widespread across dog breeds

By Katie Burns

Genetic panel testing has found that mutations or markers associated with disorders in certain dog breeds also occur in other breeds, according to a recent study.

On Aug. 15, 2016, PLOS One, a multidisciplinary online journal of the Public Library of Science, published “Genetic panel screening of nearly 100 mutations reveals new insights into the breed distribution of risk variants for canine hereditary disorders.”

Researchers primarily from Genoscoper Laboratories of Finland and the University of Helsinki tested nearly 7,000 dogs representing about 230 breeds for 93 disease-associated variants, using Genoscoper's MyDogDNA panel test. Genoscoper markets the test to consumers in Europe. In the United States, Mars Veterinary, maker of the Wisdom Panel breed identification test, has incorporated the MyDogDNA test into the Optimal Selection product for dog breeders and into products available through Mars Petcare subsidiaries Banfield Pet Hospital and Royal Canin.

The researchers write in the study abstract: “In addition to known breed disease-associated mutations, we discovered 15 risk variants in a total of 34 breeds in which their presence was previously undocumented. We followed up on seven of these genetic findings to demonstrate their clinical relevance.” Among other findings, the researchers report additional breeds harboring variants causing factor VII deficiency, hyperuricosuria, lens luxation, von Willebrand disease, multifocal retinopathy, multidrug resistance, and rod-cone dysplasia.

Jonas Donner, PhD, is one of the lead authors of the study and the head of research and development at Genoscoper Laboratories. He told JAVMA News that the researchers “hypothesized that most mutations would lead to similar disease signs in the additional breeds we discovered them in.” They confirmed the hypothesis for six of the seven mutations they followed up on, all except the variant associated with multifocal retinopathy.

“We believe that our study has provided evidence for the utility of comprehensive screening for inherited disorders across the dog community,” Dr. Donner said. “Increased awareness of the common and widespread occurrence of genetic variants predisposing to disease is needed.”

He continued, “We need adaptation on the part of multiple stakeholders and organizations to best achieve demystification of genetic information and to ensure accurate genetic counseling on what a genetic test result means and does not mean for the individual dog and its breed. We believe that this goal is best achieved by an interaction on multiple levels: testing laboratories assuming responsibility for the accuracy of the DNA test, veterinary clinicians providing health care and recommending appropriate treatment options, breed clubs providing general and specific breeding advice under the umbrella of national kennel clubs, and researchers providing thought leadership and guidance grounded on valid scientific results rather than opinions.”

The study is available at http://jav.ma/diseasegenes.

Study identifies common and breed-specific illnesses in cats

The most common health issues in cats have to do with the mouth, according to a recent study out of the University of Helsinki. The research group also identified nearly 60 illnesses specific to particular breeds.

The study, “Health and behavioral survey of over 8000 Finnish cats,” appeared Aug. 29, 2016, in the online journal Frontiers in Veterinary Science.

Among all cats, the category of disease with the highest prevalence was dental and oral diseases, at 28 percent. The most common conditions were dental calculus and gingivitis, at 21 percent and 8 percent respectively. Other disease categories with a high prevalence included skin disorders, 12 percent; urinary tract disorders, 12 percent; digestive tract disorders, 11 percent; ocular disorders, 10 percent; musculoskeletal disorders, 10 percent; and disorders of the genitals in female cats, 17 percent.

Although the researchers identified nearly 60 breed-specific diseases, only six of the diseases have known associated genetic mutations. Among other findings, the study revealed the prevalence of asthma among Korats and a renal disease in Ragdolls.

The study also provides preliminary information on cat behavior and differences among breeds. For example, British Shorthairs are calmer than many other breeds, while Turkish Vans and Bengals are more active and aggressive.

The study is available at http://jav.ma/felinedisease.

Practices busier than ever, except for one time of year

Report gives insight into practice trends, pet owner decision-making

By Malinda Larkin

Veterinary practice owners who have noticed a slight decline in patient visits, particularly around the holidays, might be onto something.

An examination of the effects of seasonality on veterinary practices shows that 27.9 percent of revenue in veterinary practices comes from the first quarter, 28.6 percent from the second, 24.9 percent from the third, and only 18.5 percent from the fourth.

“Being able to confidently predict your clinic's busy and slow seasons will allow you to make business decisions more effectively. For instance, if you or members of your staff want to take an extended amount of time off, or if you are planning a remodeling project for your clinic, it is best to schedule this time within the fourth quarter,” according to the 2016 AVMA Report on the Market for Veterinary Services, made available this February for free download by AVMA members.

Controlling for the effects of seasonality, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that overall spending on veterinary services among a sample of U.S. consumers dropped between 2005 and 2014. That means even though the prices of veterinary services steadily increased over this period, the amount spent with veterinary service providers decreased for this sample population. The authors of the AVMA economic report suggest this indicates either a decline in the number of pets or less frequent visits by pets to veterinary service providers.

The 2016 AVMA Report on the Market for Veterinary Services, the fourth and final of the AVMA's 2016 Economic Reports series, also has information on practices’ capacity relative to demand, including regional and practice-type variations; opportunities associated with pet insurance, with information on preferences of possible policy buyers; and a look at the habits of dog owners in purchasing veterinary services in the Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, area.

Operating at full capacity

Despite the possible decline in visits among the BLS’ sample population, a key finding from the AVMA report is that the percentage of veterinary practices that indicated they were working at full capacity increased between 2012 and 2015. AVMA capacity surveys in 2012, 2014, and 2015 found that the percentage of U.S. practices working at full capacity increased from 35 percent in 2012 to 40 percent in 2014 and 39 percent in 2015.

From 2014–2015, food animal practices in particular saw a large increase in this area, while mixed animal practices saw a drop, and equine and companion animal practices experienced only modest change.

The current estimate of 7.1 percent excess capacity in 2015 has decreased from 12.5 percent in 2012 and 7.7 percent in 2014. This measure is related to underemployment and refers to unused but available ability for veterinarians to deliver services. The 2012–2014 figures have been adjusted from the originally reported 17.2 and 13.3 percent, respectively, after re-weighting and reanalyzing the data and factoring in an updated AVMA workforce model.

The forecast is that just 5.7 percent of available veterinary services in the U.S. will be unused by 2017 and that that figure will remain flat through the remaining forecast period, which ends in 2025. The improved excess capacity estimates are attributable largely to two causes. First, the economy has improved, leading to increased demand by consumers, coupled with a drought in the West that has increased the price of livestock. Second, no new veterinary colleges appear to be on the horizon after Lincoln Memorial University and Midwestern University graduate their first classes next year. After 2018, the study's authors anticipate, the number of annual veterinary graduates will stabilize at about 4,290.

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Money spent quarterly on veterinary services among a sample of about 7,000 households (Source: 2016 AVMA Report on the Market for Veterinary Service)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 250, 6; 10.2460/javma.250.6.580

EVEN THOUGH THE PRICES OF VETERINARY SERVICES HAVE BEEN STEADILY INCREASING OVER THIS PERIOD (BLS, 2014), THE AMOUNT SPENT AT VETERINARY SERVICE PROVIDERS IS DECLINING FOR THE CONSTANT SAMPLE (POPULATION) SIZE.

Pet insurance decision-making

Results from two studies conducted in 2015 and 2016 also appeared in the economic report. One of them, a joint study by the AVMA and Mississippi State University, sought information about the willingness of pet owners to purchase pet health insurance and preferences among various potentially available policy options. For example, pet owners who considered their pet to be part of the family and those who expected a pet to require medical care were found to be more likely to purchase pet health insurance. While the study found no evidence to suggest that income affects the decision to buy insurance, owners who responded that an unanticipated, $1,000 veterinary bill would present financial difficulty were more likely to buy insurance.

Further: “Insurance buyers, the study suggests, are sensitive to product pricing: As the price increases, the likelihood that a consumer will purchase pet health insurance drops. As a policy's reimbursement percentage increases, however, a consumer is more likely to buy pet health insurance. And, inclusion of unlimited benefits and a wellness plan will increase the probability that a consumer will purchase a pet health care plan.”

When respondents were asked what they looked for when purchasing pet insurance, 51 percent said that they were looking at the insurance premium.

Competition from multiple sources

In addition, a small-scale pilot study looked at choices made by dog owners in the Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, area when obtaining pet care products and services. The National Center for Food and Agricultural Policy, with funding and direction from the AVMA, conducted the research, in part, to evaluate potential differences among local and national markets. Findings showed that some health issues, such as flea and tick problems, diarrhea or vomiting, and even injuries were addressed at home, while others—including intestinal worms; ear, eye, or dental problems; and skin or fur maladies—were more likely to be addressed during a routine checkup than with a separate visit to a veterinary clinic or hospital. A veterinary clinic or hospital did emerge as the choice for routine checkups among most respondents who indicated that they had taken their dog somewhere for this type of examination in the preceding 12 months.

Also within Raleigh-Durham, the pilot study discovered that veterinarians faced competition from animal shelters and public clinics for spaying and neutering dogs. “A consumer decision, it could be speculated, influenced by the fact that sterilization is provided free of charge by humane societies and public clinic providers,” according to the report. Even though a pet is spayed or neutered only once, the price charged for the package of veterinary procedures, medications, and services it entails could determine whether a dog owner opts for sterilization. The same was not found to be true regarding euthanasia. The study concluded that, for the area surveyed, veterinary clinics or hospitals, exclusively, “maintain the market for euthanizing dogs.”

Lastly, the study's results showed that veterinarians serving the community surveyed also faced some competition in retail sales from big-box pet stores. Data on purchasing patterns for product types and providers of such showed that pet-focused retail stores led in special food and dental products, and online sources, along with grocery stores and other retail outlets, led in vitamin supplement purchases. Veterinary clinics and hospitals, though, maintained an advantage in flea and tick product purchases among the survey community.

More items of note

Other notable findings reported in the 2016 AVMA Report on the Market for Veterinary Services are as follows:

  • • The mean size of a clinic in the sample, according to the 2015 AVMA Capacity Survey, was 3,478 square feet, and it had just over three examination rooms and served 70 patients per veterinarian per week.

  • • The 2015 avian influenza outbreak, the total cost of which is estimated at a minimum of $1 billion, led to a massive increase in the demand for veterinary services.

2017 economic report

Also, in March, the AVMA released the 2017 AVMA Report on Veterinary Markets, a summary of the 2016 AVMA Economic Summit, as the first of four economic reports for this year. All economic reports are available at www.avma.org/products for free download by AVMA members or for purchase by others as a series.

Call for applications for AVMA veterinary educator grants

The AVMA will begin accepting applications in early April for the 2017 AVMA Veterinary Educator Professional Development Grant.

Each grant provides up to $1,000 for on-site professional development for veterinarians and veterinary staff teaching at veterinary colleges represented in the Student AVMA House of Delegates.

Last year, a dozen grants totaling $10,000 were awarded to 11 veterinary colleges to support training programs addressing such areas as faculty mentorship, clinical communication, and leadership development.

In 2017, the AVMA Board of Directors increased the grant funding from $10,000 to $14,000.

The grant application period will begin April 3 and end June 30. Priority will be given to professional development in the following areas: communication training, leadership development, wellness or mental health training, financial or business skills training, and diversity training.

For additional information, contact Dr. Caroline Cantner, assistant director of the AVMA Membership and Field Services Division, by email at ccantner@avma.org, or by calling 224-213-4366.

In Florida, screwworm moves inland from Keys

Report finds infestation likely has human source

The Agriculture Department's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service in January confirmed a report of New World screwworm infestation in a stray dog near Homestead, Florida, nearly a hundred miles northeast of where the parasite was discovered last October, more than 30 years since its eradication in the United States.

The dog was isolated and its wounds treated. This was the first confirmed case of screwworm infestation on Florida's mainland. The parasite was found months earlier in more than 130 endangered Key deer from National Key Deer Refuge on Big Pine Key (see JAVMA, Jan. 15, 2017, page 137).

Also in January, APHIS released a report outlining the initial findings of its epidemiologic investigation of the Big Pine Key infestation. While no specific source was identified, the evidence strongly suggests humans introduced fly larvae to the island.

“This means that humans may have entered the country unknowingly infested with (New World screwworm) larvae, or they may have unknowingly brought animals infested with NWS larvae,” APHIS announced Jan. 6.

The report suggested that NWS was most likely introduced during the spring of 2016 in the lower Florida Keys, where Key deer provided a suitable host for the fly to become established.

Since the initial discovery, 13 keys have been documented to have screwworm infestations, mostly involving the Key deer population, with five confirmed infestations in domestic animals. Animal health and wildlife officials have been working aggressively to eradicate the pest. Extensive response efforts have included fly assessments to determine the extent of the infestation, release of sterile flies to prevent reproduction, and disease surveillance to look for additional cases in animals.

Officials have received substantially fewer reports of adult screwworm flies in the area and seen fewer cases of infected Key deer. By early January, fly assessments had been conducted on 40 keys.

Additionally, the USDA has released 112 million sterile flies from 34 ground release sites in the Florida Keys and the Homestead area, according to data provided Feb. 10 by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. During the 1950s, the department developed a method for eradicating the screwworm by releasing infertile flies into screwworm-infested areas. When they mate with wild females, no offspring result. With fewer fertile mates available in each succeeding generation, the fly breeds itself out of existence.

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Sterile screwworm flies (Courtesy of USDA APHIS 2016, PIO Pam Manns)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 250, 6; 10.2460/javma.250.6.580

The USDA used this technique to eradicate screwworm from the U.S. and worked with other countries in Central America and the Caribbean to eradicate it there as well.

Human cases of infestation with New World screwworm are rare, but they have occurred. No human cases had been reported in Florida as of press time in February.

Additional information about the screwworm infestation is available at www.aphis.usda.gov, including the report “Investigation into Introduction of New World Screwworm into Florida.”

Corrections

Mars Petcare acquired BluePearl Veterinary Partners in 2015. The article “Veterinarians Incorporated” in the March 1, 2017, issue of JAVMA, pages 470–476, incorrectly identified the business that acquired BluePearl.

Dr. Michael Kolatis, Columbia, South Carolina, is immediate past president of the South Carolina Association of Veterinarians, whose 2016 annual conference was reported on in the Feb. 15, 2017, issue of JAVMA, pages 361–362.

Researchers focus on Border Collie collapse

Many veterinarians and dog owners may not know about Border Collie collapse, a form of exercise intolerance in Border Collies, Australian Kelpies, and related breeds in the United States, Canada, and Australia. Dogs with BCC are normal at rest, but after five to 15 minutes of strenuous exercise, they can develop incoordination and altered mentation.

Two consecutive issues of the Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association, published late in 2016, featured a study on exercise in dogs with BCC and a survey on observations of dogs with the condition.

“(BCC) is not rare and is a significant problem in the breed,” said lead researcher Dr. Sue Taylor, a professor of small animal medicine at the University of Saskatchewan Western College of Veterinary Medicine, in the newsletter AAHA NEWStat.

It is not known how serious a problem BCC is because a diagnostic test to confirm the condition doesn't exist. On the basis of the questionnaire results and a video analysis study, Dr. Taylor said in the newsletter her team has discovered “dogs with BCC have a very typical appearance and altered mentation during collapse episodes—they have an episodic neurologic disorder brought on by exercise or hyperventilation or exercise induced hyperthermia.”

What this means is strenuous exercise causes episodes and that veterinarians can look for a specific set of signs when diagnosing BCC. Dr. Taylor suggested looking for “episodes of collapse that always follow strenuous excited exercise, with features that include altered mentation, ataxia in all four limbs, pelvic limb scuffing, and increased extensor tone.”

Before diagnosing BCC, veterinarians should rule out other causes of collapse. Dr. Taylor's studies have shown that dogs with the condition have “normal cardiac function and normal metabolic testing before exercise and during collapse as well as normal muscle biopsies.” These values are comparable with those of normal Border Collies performing the same exercise, though dogs with BCC have an increase in body temperature after exercise.

The only treatment for BCC is to avoid strenuous exercise, especially in hot weather, as a form of prevention. Exercise should be stopped as soon as a dog shows the first signs of a collapse, and dogs with signs should be cooled.

Outbreak of Seoul virus in humans linked to pet rats

An outbreak of Seoul virus linked to pet rats had infected at least 13 people as of Feb. 15. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was assisting health officials in 15 states in investigating the outbreak.

Two individuals who operated a home-based rat-breeding facility in Wisconsin became ill in December 2016. One was hospitalized. The ill individuals purchased rats from suppliers in Wisconsin and Illinois. The investigation into the outbreak revealed additional people who tested positive for Seoul virus.

Seoul virus is a member of the Hantavirus family of rodent-borne viruses and is carried in the wild by Norway rats. The virus does not make rats sick, but people can become infected through exposure to infectious body fluids or bites from infected rats. There is no evidence of human-to-human transmission of Seoul virus. The virus is found in rats throughout the world, but most human infections are recorded in Asia.

The investigation into the outbreak indicated that potentially infected rodents might have been distributed or received in Alabama, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, and Wisconsin.

State's divorce law revamped to consider animal well-being

By Malinda Larkin

In the eyes of the law, pets are considered personal property. That is to say, they're looked at no differently than furniture or tools.

But adding complexity to that legal status is a recent amendment to Alaska's divorce law. The state has become the first in the country to require courts to take into consideration “the well-being of the animal” in custody disputes involving nonhuman family members.

Gov. Bill Walker signed HB 147 in October 2016, and it became effective Jan. 17. It is the first law in the nation to specifically require courts to address the interests of companion animals when deciding how to assign ownership in divorce and dissolution proceedings. It is also the first to allow joint custody of a pet.

In a blog post, the Animal Legal Defense Fund called the provision requiring consideration of animals’ well-being when deciding their legal ownership “groundbreaking and unique.”

“Even though judges throughout the U.S. can already choose, in their discretion, to consider an animal's best interests, no other state legislature has required judges to do so when adjudicating property distribution upon the dissolution of a marriage,” the Jan. 20 post read.

Because animals are classified as personal property under the law, courts typically resolve these disputes on the basis of the property status of the animal. Essentially, the judge decides who is the more rightful owner. The ALDF said that although judges are not mandated by state legislatures to consider an animal's well-being or treat the animal differently from other property that must be fairly divided after dissolution of a marriage, a handful of cases have acknowledged that people have a special relationship with their companion animals that sets pets apart from other types of property.

However, it remains to be seen whether other states will adopt similar legislation. In addition, some court cases in recent years have attempted to change the long-standing legal precedent of animals as personal property but failed. One case in Texas involved the owners of a wrongfully euthanized dog who tried to recover “sentimental” or “intrinsic” damages for the loss of the pet. The state's Supreme Court in 2013 reversed a controversial ruling by a state appellate court that would have allowed noneconomic damages and would have essentially changed the legal status of pets.

The Alaska amendment was sponsored by former Rep. Liz Vazquez, who has been an assistant attorney general, prosecutor, and administrative law judge, and the late Rep. Max Gruenberg, who was a family lawyer.

The new amendments in HB 147 also make Alaska the 32nd state to allow courts to include pets in domestic violence protective orders and require the owners of pets seized in cruelty or neglect cases to cover the cost of their shelter, according to the Animal Legal & Historical Center at Michigan State University.

FDA addresses modern genome editing technologies in animals

To address the use of modern genome editing technologies in animals, the Food and Drug Administration has drafted an update to existing guidance regarding genome editing in animals. The existing guidance focuses on recombinant DNA.

According to a Jan. 18 post in the FDA Voice blog, “When animals are produced using genome editing, FDA has determined that, unless otherwise excluded, the portion of an animal's genome that has been intentionally altered, whether mediated by rDNA or modern genome editing technologies, is a drug because it is intended to alter the structure or function of the animal and, thus, subject to regulation under our provisions for new animal drugs.”

Individuals or groups should submit comments on the draft guidance by April 19 to ensure consideration before the FDA begins work on the final version of the guidance.

The agency is seeking input on two major categories of questions:

  • • How should the FDA refer to these animals?

  • • Is there any existing empirical evidence demonstrating that certain types of genome editing might pose minima risk?

Details are available http://jav.ma/FDAgeneediting.

Veterinary technicians add laboratory animal specialty

By Malinda Larkin

The National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America approved the establishment of the Academy of Laboratory Animal Veterinary Technicians and Nurses this past November. That makes the new group the 14th veterinary technician specialty.

Stephen Cital, executive director of the new specialty and a veterinary anesthetist with expertise in exotic animals, was part of a group of research veterinary technicians who first met in 2010. They went on to create what is now known as the Society of Laboratory Animal Veterinary Technicians, with the intention of creating the veterinary technician specialty for research technicians. The society started the process of petitioning to be recognized in 2014.

He credits the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science with working closely with the society to create a veterinary technician specialty that complements AALAS’ technician certifications and encourages collaboration. With AALAS support, the society also received letters of support from the American Society of Laboratory Animal Practitioners and American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine, Cital said.

The new laboratory animal organization, which operates under the acronym ALAVTN, will develop examinations and certification standards. Over the next few years, it plans to roll out three main categories of specialization. They are as follows:

  • • Research clinical nursing in traditional, nontraditional, or large animal species.

  • • Research surgeon.

  • • Research anesthetist.

Unlike veterinarians, veterinary technicians do not have residency programs to qualify for taking the board examination, but instead, use years of experience, skills lists, and a case log to qualify. Having an inclusive examination similar to veterinary specialties would be limiting for this clinical medicine–based specialty, Cital said.

“We did this, wanting to be inclusive of all technicians providing medical- or research-based care in the various aspects of the research world. It is also very important that the academy produce veterinary technicians who are dedicated to supporting best clinical practices and are truly advocates not only for the science but are also involved in excellent animal welfare,” he added.

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(Courtesy of Stephen Cital)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 250, 6; 10.2460/javma.250.6.580

ALAVTN's first certification examination is expected to be for research clinical nurses working with traditional laboratory animal species at the 2017 AALAS National Meeting, Oct. 15–19 in Austin, Texas. Application packets are available on the ALAVTN website, www.alavtn.org, and are due April 4.

The other veterinary technician specialties are dentistry, anesthesia/analgesia, internal medicine, emergency and critical care, surgery, equine, zoology, behavior, clinical practice, nutrition, clinical pathology, dermatology, and ophthalmology.

New resources promote reducing radiation exposure

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(Source: Idexx)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 250, 6; 10.2460/javma.250.6.580

Veterinary team members are being reminded to reduce the risk posed to them by radiation exposure during imaging with information provided at www.lowerthedose.org. Radiation, of any magnitude, presents health risks, including the increased chance of genetic mutations and cancer, it states.

The website highlights three steps—based on the ALARA principle of keeping doses “as low as reasonably achievable”—to mitigate radiation exposure and help create a safer workspace. They are as follows:

  • • Minimize the time of exposure to directly reduce radiation dose.

  • • Double the distance between one's body and the radiation source.

  • • Use absorber materials for beta particles, X-rays, and gamma rays.

The American College of Veterinary Radiology, National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America, and Idexx created the website late in 2016 to encourage veterinary teams to take action in this area.

Educational resources posted on the site include a radiography positioning guide to help veterinary staff position pets for clear imaging, and an archived webinar on radiation safety. Plus, a free online course titled “Digital Radiography: Introduction, Radiation Safety and Positioning for the Small Animal” is available for three hours of veterinary continuing education approved by the Registry of Approved Continuing Education. Further, quick links to each state's radiation guidelines have been posted.

Site visitors are encouraged to “take the pledge” to lower the dose of radiation used when capturing images. Part of the pledge encourages the following:

  • • Reviewing imaging protocols regularly, ensuring that only the minimum amount of radiation necessary is used to acquire diagnostic-quality mages.

  • • Familiarizing oneself with the benefits of hands-free radiography.

  • • Taking radiographs of lead aprons no less than once a year to examine them for cracks.

FDA warns of dog deaths from owners’ topical cancer medication

The Food and Drug Administration has received reports of five dogs dying after ingesting their owners’ topical cancer medication, fluorouracil cream.

On Jan. 18, the FDA issued an alert to pet owners, veterinarians, health care providers, and pharmacists that pets are at risk of illness and death when exposed to the medication.

In one case, two dogs began playing with a tube of the cream, and one punctured the tube before their owner could retrieve it. The dog that punctured the tube began vomiting, experienced seizures, and died 12 hours later.

In another case, a dog ingested the contents of a tube of the cream. The owner realized the dog had ingested the medication and rushed it to the veterinarian. The veterinarian attempted treatment, but the dog's condition declined over three days, and the dog was ultimately euthanized.

Although the FDA had not received reports involving cats, they are expected to be extremely sensitive to fluorouracil cream. If a person applies the cream to an afflicted area and touches a cat, the cat could ingest the medication when grooming.

RMM, veterinary medicine's ‘unofficial philosopher,’ at 90

Cartoonist and writer Robert Morton Miller is too busy to slow down now

By R. Scott Nolen

Dr. Robert Morton Miller, the witty sage behind the long-running “Mind Over Miller” column in Veterinary Medicine magazine and the cartoons published under the moniker “RMM,” turned 90 on March 4. He may be too busy to notice, however.

“I only retired from practice,” Dr. Miller said. “I'm busy all day, every day.”

It's early February, and Dr. Miller and his wife, Debby, have just returned from the Pomona Horse Expo to their home in Thousand Oaks, California, where, in 1956, he opened Conejo Valley Veterinary Clinic after receiving his DVM degree from Colorado State University. Three decades later, Dr. Miller had left the practice to travel the world, teaching equine behavior and promoting his imprint training method for newborn foals, which had become a global phenomenon.

The Pomona Horse Expo is one of many equine- and veterinary-related meetings the Millers continue to attend throughout the year. In addition to being a much-sought-after speaker, Dr. Miller has authored more than a dozen books as well as numerous scientific papers and articles for veterinary journals and equine magazines. Several collections of his cartoons have been published and also featured at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum's Cowboy Cartoonists Art Show.

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Dr. Robert Morton Miller (Images courtesy of the Miller family archives)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 250, 6; 10.2460/javma.250.6.580

Dr. Harry Werner, the 2009 American Association of Equine Practitioners president, called Dr. Miller “the unofficial philosopher-in-residence of veterinary medicine” and described him as an exemplar of ethical practice, devoted to patients and their owners, and having a high level of clinical competence. Dr. Werner is not alone in his assessment of Dr. Miller; in 1995 he was awarded the Leo K. Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year Award, one of several accolades Dr. Miller has received during his storied career.

“Known to generations of veterinarians by his nom de plume RMM, (Dr. Miller's) cartoons have brought smiles and laughter to anyone familiar with the trials, tribulations, and joys of veterinary practice,” Dr. Werner said. “They have also caused us to often laugh at ourselves and, perhaps, rethink how we might improve both our clinical and communications skills.

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Dr. Robert and Debby Miller

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 250, 6; 10.2460/javma.250.6.580

“It is said that ‘the wisdom of the wise is an uncommon degree of common sense.’ If I were to highlight only one of Bob's many qualities, it would be his unfailing common sense.”

Dr. Miller continues to write and cartoon, using both mediums to channel his singular perspective on veterinary medicine inspired by 32 years as a mixed animal practitioner.

In a typical “Mind Over Miller” column published in an April 2006 issue of Veterinary Medicine magazine, Dr. Miller wrote about the time he helped castrate a captive, 9,000-pound elephant. The chief surgeon was Dr. Murray Fowler—a professor of zoological medicine at the University of California-Davis School of Veterinary Medicine known as the father of zoological medicine, and since deceased—who, at the time, was the only person to castrate an elephant and have the animal survive. Dr. Fowler arrived at the Sacramento airport carrying a 3 1/2-foot steel écraseur for the procedure. As Dr. Fowler passed through security with his carry-on luggage, the security officer asked him to unwrap the écraseur.

“I can't,” he explained. “It's a sterilized surgical instrument.”

The officer lifted the submachine-gun-size package and asked, “What kind of surgical instrument?”

Dr. Fowler, who was dressed in a field jacket, blue jeans, and work boots, said, “It's for castrating elephants. I'm on my way to Los Angeles to castrate an elephant.”

The security officer reacted to this in a completely unreasonable manner, and Dr. Fowler nearly missed his flight before it was determined he was a professor and not a terrorist.

Assisting Drs. Fowler and Miller in the elephant castration was Dr. James Peddie, then an associate at the Conejo Valley Veterinary Clinic, which had a large wildlife importer for a client. Dr. Peddie had no formal training with non-domestic animals when he joined the practice. As “the new guy,” he didn't feel qualified to work with exotic animals. Dr. Miller's response was simple.

“By virtue of your training, you are qualified to work on anything which flies, walks, crawls, slithers, or swims except humans,” recalled Dr. Peddie, who later served as AVMA treasurer.

“You are as qualified as anyone to diagnose and treat these species. To get started in these cases, forget they are an exotic species, and think of them as being a domestic species with which you feel diagnostically and medically comfortable, and proceed ahead.”

Dr. Peddie was with the clinic for more than a year before he realized his mentor was actually the veterinary cartoonist RMM. Looking for an article in the clinic library, Dr. Peddie spied the same book of RMM cartoons he had enjoyed as a student at Cornell University. Flipping through its pages, he recognized the names of several local veterinarians he'd come to know since joining the practice. Then he saw that the book was dedicated to the cartoonist's wife, Debby.

“I have to admit, it was like being hit by a semitruck when I realized RMM was Robert Morton Miller, DVM, my mentor and partner,” Dr. Peddie said. “He had never said one word about his notoriety.”

I love a parade!

By Susan C. Kahler

With the presidential inaugural parade in full swing, Dr. Joe Kinnarney made his way down Pennsylvania Avenue from 4th to 18th streets, alongside horses ridden by young equestrians from an Indianapolis military academy. Dr. Kinnarney and two other representatives of the AVMA and its Political Action Committee, Drs. Larry Corry (2009–2010 AVMA president) and Gary Bullard (PAC board member), were spread out but within eyeshot of each other during the Jan. 20 event.

“Regardless of our political background, those of us who were there were there for AVMA. We weren't there for politics. We were there to support the veterinary agenda,” said Dr. Kinnarney, AVMA immediate past president.

That evening, they traded their marching gear for tuxedos and headed to the bipartisan Ag Ball, where they met agriculture secretary nominee and veterinarian Sonny Perdue and talked with members of Congress, including a ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee. Two days earlier, they met with Rep. Ted Yoho of Florida at a reception the veterinarian congressman hosted.

It was Dr. Vito DelVento who invited the AVMA officials to be in the parade and got them credentialed. As chief veterinary medical officer for the District of Columbia Department of Health, he oversees the diverse Animal Services program. He also is executive director of the D.C. Board of Veterinary Medicine. “We walked in the parade to be a set of hands, should something go wrong along the parade route with any of the horse groups,” he said. “We had 227 horses participate.” The service and police dogs fell under federal jurisdiction.

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Dr. Joe Kinnarney at the inaugural parade (Photo by Natalie Thomas, AVMA GRD consultant)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 250, 6; 10.2460/javma.250.6.580

Animal Services employees spent three months planning, in collaboration with the Secret Service, Homeland Security, Metropolitan Police, and Metropolitan Fire and Ambulance Rescue teams. They worked out logistics for transporting horses in and out on Inauguration Day, with road and bridge closures. They oversaw each animal's health certificate, vaccination status, and security clearance. They performed physicals and fitness checks the day before.

The horses arrived several days in advance, from as far as California, and were housed in Maryland at Prince George's Equestrian Center. On parade morning, they were shipped in waves to L'Enfant Plaza in southwest D.C. Police dogs sniffed the tack and equipment for explosives before the horses were tacked up. Dr. DelVento said Homeland Security then checked each horse for indications of foul play, “any areas that would lead us to believe that something has been planted under their skin. So they're looking for obvious signs of sutures or lacerations.”

Finally, the horses were wanded with a metal detector and taken to the “clean zone” that extended from the Capitol to the White House and placed in formation. Dr. Kinnarney said, “It was exciting to be behind the scenes and see how security worked, how we went from what they call a dirty zone to a clean zone.”

Drs. Andrew and Jayme Hennenfent assisted in the parade. As senior zoonotic epidemiologist for the D.C. DOH, Andrew led the epidemiology team that did human and animal surveillance. Jayme assisted as a D.C. State Animal Response Team veterinarian.

This being Dr. DelVento's third inaugural parade, he has worked out some kinks. “We make certain there is plenty of hay and water available because it's such a long day for the horses. We've had a dramatic reduction in incidences relating to horses being bored and getting anxious. I have two veterinary teams available that day, positioned at the beginning and end of the parade route, mostly to help sedate horses and take the edge off, if need be, to prevent a much bigger problem if an animal gets frazzled and potentially becomes explosive.” Two equine ambulance teams were also at the ready.

“While this day's events are going on, you need to stop and take in the moment,” Dr. DelVento said. “You realize the entire country's watching, and you're right in the middle of a historic moment.”

Foundation announces grants for canine, feline health research

Morris Animal Foundation announced nine newly funded studies to improve canine health and five to improve feline health.

The grants for canine health research total nearly $830,000 and support nine researchers at seven universities. The canine studies funded for 2017 in the 2016 grant cycle focus on the following:

  • • Controlling the spread of antimicrobial-resistant Staphylococcus infection.

  • • Finding new therapy targets for mast cell tumors.

  • • Evaluating a new treatment for immune-mediated hemolytic anemia.

  • • Curbing tumor growth and chemotherapy resistance in canine hemangiosarcoma.

  • • Developing a canine influenza vaccine.

  • • Investigating gallbladder disease.

  • • Understanding the genetic risk of developing calcium oxalate urinary stones.

  • • Searching for genetic mutations for inherited ocular melanosis.

  • • Detecting and preventing bladder stones in Miniature Schnauzers.

The grants for feline health research total nearly $568,000 and support five research teams at four universities.

The feline research funded for 2017 in the 2016 grant cycle focuses on the following:

  • • Investigating a new treatment for oral squamous cell carcinoma.

  • • Studying cats with a protective immune response to feline enteric coronavirus, which can mutate and cause feline infectious peritonitis, with the aim of identifying targets for a vaccine strategy.

  • • Investigating the effectiveness of a novel drug to maintain and extend diabetic remission in cats.

  • • The use of DNA sequencing technology to better understand the biological mechanisms that help cats fight off viral infections.

  • • Studying methods of measuring chronic pain in cats with osteoarthritis and other degenerative joint diseases to improve diagnostic and treatment strategies.

American College of Veterinary Behaviorists

The American College of Veterinary Behaviorists welcomed five new diplomates following the board certification examination held Sept. 24–25, 2016, in Raleigh, North Carolina. The new diplomates are as follows:

Shana Gilbert-Gregory, Sunbury, Ohio

Jillian Orlando, Raleigh, North Carolina

Eranda Rajapaksha, Hondiyadeniya, Sri Lanka

Leslie Sinn, Hamilton, Virginia

Jacqueline Wilhelmy, Philadelphia

Missouri VMA

Event: 125th annual convention, Jan. 19–22, Columbia

Program: The convention offered 60 continuing education lectures and drew more than 500 attendees.

Awards: Veterinarian of the Year: Dr. Gregory A. Popp, Jefferson City. A 1974 graduate of the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Popp owns Weathered Rock Veterinary Clinic in Jefferson City. He is chair of the MVMA LLC, the for-profit partnership entity between the association and the Missouri Veterinary Medical Foundation, and is a member of the MVMF. President's Award: Jed Hayes, Kansas City. Hayes is territory manager for Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica. He previously worked for Sanofi-Aventis Pharmaceuticals and Ortho-McNeil Pharmaceutical. William A. Wolff Volunteerism Award: Dr. Catherine Vogelweid, Columbia, was honored for her service to veterinary medicine in Missouri and her work with the association's Volunteer Veterinary Corps. A 1980 graduate of the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Vogelweid serves as a clinical professor in the Department of Veterinary Pathology at the veterinary college. She is a diplomate of the American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine. Legislative Award: Dr. Mel Falk, Independence, won this award for moving the association's legislative agenda forward. Immediate past president of the association, Dr. Falk owns Hidden Valley Animal Hospital in Independence. Missouri Veterinary Medical Foundation Distinguished Service Award: Bruce Addison, St. Joseph. Addison is the founder and president of Addison Biological Laboratories. He serves on the foundation's board of directors. Honorary Membership Award of the Missouri Academy of Veterinary Practice: Dr. Craig Payne, Clark, won this award, given for distinguished or meritorious service to the veterinary profession. A 1993 graduate of the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Payne is associate extension professor with the veterinary college's Veterinary Medical Extension and Continuing Education Department. He is a past president of the MVMA.

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Dr. Gregory A. Popp

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 250, 6; 10.2460/javma.250.6.580

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Dr. Clifford J. Miller

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 250, 6; 10.2460/javma.250.6.580

Business: The association announced the creation of a practice membership task force to look into the feasibility of offering a practice membership package in lieu of individual memberships within a practice, and a well-being task force to investigate resources that can be offered to MVMA members dealing with well-being issues. Also announced was the release of a mobile app related to the federal veterinary feed directive.

Officials: MVMA—Dr. Clifford J. Miller, Moberly, president; Dr. Cynthia Vedder-Penrod, Fulton, president-elect; Dr. Carol Ryan, Troy, vice president; Dr. Shelia L. Taylor, Springfield, secretary-treasurer; Dr. Mel H. Falk, Independence, executive board chair and immediate past president; and Richard D. Antweiler, Jefferson City, executive director. Missouri Academy of Veterinary Practice—Dr. Lauren Smith, Kansas City, president; Dr. Jessica Stroupe, Armstrong, president-elect; Bruce Whittle, Trenton, vice president; and Richard Antweiler, Jefferson City, executive secretary-treasurer Missouri Veterinary Medical Foundation—Dr. William J. Shore, St. Louis, board chair; Philip R. Brown, Chillicothe, board vice chair; George Buckloo, Lake Tapawingo, secretary-treasurer; and Dr. Roger Dozier, Jefferson City, museum director

Obituaries: AVMA member AVMA honor roll member Nonmember

Jim W. Airhart

Dr. Airhart (Texas A&M ′66), 74, Mesquite, Texas, died Dec. 18, 2016. He owned Town East Animal Hospital, a small animal practice in Mesquite, for 46 years. Earlier, Dr. Airhart was a captain in the Army, working in the biological warfare division at Fort Detrick, Maryland. He served on the Texas VMA board of directors and was a member of the Texas Academy of Veterinary Practice and Mesquite Rotary Club. Dr. Airhart's wife, Jetta; four children and two stepchildren; and seven grandchildren survive him.

Donald W. Allgood

Dr. Allgood (Iowa State ′57), 82, Burlington, Iowa, died Nov. 18, 2016. Following graduation, he moved to Burlington and established Allgood Veterinary Clinic, where he practiced mixed animal medicine for more than 50 years.

Dr. Allgood was a past president of the Iowa VMA and founding director of the People-Pet Partnership at the Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine. In 1992, Iowa State University awarded him the Stange Award, its highest alumni honor, for distinguished service in veterinary medicine.

In his community, Dr. Allgood was a past president of the Burlington Education Foundation and Burlington School Board, was active with the Rotary Club and United Way, and served on the Burlington Public Library task force. He is survived by his wife, Sandra; four daughters and three sons; 21 grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.

Memorials may be made to the Dr. Don Allgood Living Waters Ministry Fund, First Presbyterian Church, 321 N. 5th St., Burlington, IA 52601; Friends of the Burlington Public Library Foundation, 210 Court St., Burlington, Iowa 52601; or Des Moines County Humane Society, 2000 N. Roosevelt Ave., Burlington, IA 52601.

Theodore L. Bellhorn

Dr. Bellhorn (Auburn ′73), 69, Oviedo, Florida, died Dec. 5, 2016. A diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine, he began his career in small animal practice in Lakeland, Florida. Dr. Bellhorn subsequently owned Seminole Veterinary Hospital in Sanford, Florida. He later taught at the University of Tennessee, worked in California, and served as an associate clinical professor at the Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine. In 2002, Dr. Bellhorn received the Dean's Award for Teaching Excellence at Auburn. He co-founded the Central Florida Academy of Veterinary Medicine and was a member of the Florida VMA.

Dr. Bellhorn is survived by his wife, Marilyn; two sons; and four grandchildren. Memorials for research on progressive supranuclear palsy may be made to CurePSP Inc., 404 Fifth Ave., 3rd Floor, New York, NY 10018, www.curepsp.org.

Thomas R. Bello

Dr. Bello (Texas A&M ′68), 81, Southern Pines, North Carolina, died Oct. 4, 2016. An equine veterinarian, he was president of Sandhill Equine Center in Southern Pines since 1978 and was an adjunct professor of veterinary medicine at the North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine since 2000. Known for his research on the effects of pharmaceuticals on equine health, Dr. Bello also consulted for several pharmaceutical companies worldwide.

He began his career at Louisiana State University as an associate professor of veterinary science. Dr. Bello subsequently became a professor and served as an associate member of the LSU graduate faculty and as an equine clinician during his tenure. He also served briefly as a visiting professor of large animal surgery and medicine at Auburn University in 1975. From 1977–1978, Dr. Bello was director and surgeon at the North Carolina Veterinary Research Foundation in Southern Pines.

He was a member of the American Association of Equine Practitioners and American Association of Veterinary Parasitologists and a fellow of the American Academy of Veterinary Pharmacology and Therapeutics. Dr. Bello served on the Morris Animal Foundation Colic Panel from 1982–1986. His two sons survive him.

Donna L. Dutton

Dr. Dutton (Auburn ′79), 62, Lawrenceburg, Kentucky, died Dec. 20, 2016. She owned a small animal practice in Kentucky's Anderson County for several years. Dr. Dutton is survived by her husband, Clayton Weber; two daughters and a son; and a grandchild. Memorials may be made to Anderson Humane Society, P.O. Box 494, Lawrenceburg, KY 40342.

Ronald R. Fuller

Dr. Fuller (Ohio State ′58), 83, Newark, Ohio, died Jan. 10, 2017. He was the founder of Newark Animal Hospital, where he practiced mixed animal medicine for more than 50 years. Early in his career, Dr. Fuller worked in Toledo, Ohio. In retirement, he presented equine seminars.

Dr. Fuller was a past president of the Ohio VMA; was a member of the American Association of Equine Practitioners, United States Trotting Association, and American Animal Hospital Association; and served on the Ohio governor's advisory committee on Standardbred racing. He was also active with the Rotary Club and Boy Scouts of America.

Dr. Fuller's wife, Sharon, and two daughters survive him. Memorials may be made to the Newark Catholic Foundation, 1 Green Wave Drive, Newark, OH 43055; Newark Rotary Club Foundation, P.O. Box 8705, Newark, OH 43058; or Foundation for Hospice of Central Ohio, P.O. Box 430, Newark, OH 43058.

Nicholas S. Gorham

Dr. Gorham (Michigan State ′67), 78, Foster, Rhode Island, died July 23, 2016. He owned Foster Veterinary Clinic, where he practiced mixed animal medicine for more than 30 years. Dr. Gorham is survived by two daughters and two grandchildren. Memorials may be made to the Scituate Animal Shelter, 106 George Washington Highway, Clayville, RI 02815.

Scott T. Griffin

Dr. Griffin (Oklahoma State ′00), 43, Muskogee, Oklahoma, died Nov. 13, 2016. A small animal veterinarian, he owned Animal Clinic of Rogers in Rogers, Arkansas, for more than 10 years. Dr. Griffin is survived by his parents, a brother, and two sisters. Memorials may be made to St. Paul United Methodist Church, 2130 W. Okmulgee St., Muskogee, OK 74401, or Humane Society of Cherokee County, P.O. Box 1354, Tahlequah, OK 74465.

Kenneth B. Haas

Dr. Haas (Ohio State ′49), 88, Kalamazoo, Michigan, died Dec. 13, 2016. He worked in the medical services department of Upjohn Company in Kalamazoo prior to retirement.

Dr. Haas began his career practicing small animal medicine in Chicago. He subsequently moved to Kansas City, Missouri, where he worked as an assistant editor for a veterinary medical publication. Dr. Haas later served as an adjunct professor of health sciences in the College of Health and Human Services at Western Michigan University and was affiliated with the university's physician assistant program. He received the William G. Birch Association Educational Excellence Award in 1977 and again in 1985.

Dr. Haas co-authored Business Practices in Veterinary Medicine with his father, the late Kenneth B. Haas Sr., EdD. For several years, he coordinated donations of veterinary textbooks and miscellaneous other supplies for educational purposes in Latvia. During the Korean War, Dr. Haas was commissioned as a first lieutenant in the Army Veterinary Corps. He was a member of the Lions and Elks clubs.

Dr. Haas is survived by his wife, Rae; two daughters and a son; and a grandchild. Memorials may be made to the American Veterinary Medical History Society, 23 Wedgewood Drive, Ithaca, NY 14850.

Bobby J. Herlovich

Dr. Herlovich (Georgia ′58), 84, Preston, Georgia, died Nov. 20, 2016. A small animal veterinarian, he owned Lemon Bay Animal Hospital in Englewood, Florida, from 1978 until retirement in 1997. Before that, Dr. Herlovich owned Charlotte Animal Hospital in Charlotte Harbor, Florida. He served in the Army during the Korean War. Dr. Herlovich was a member of the Masonic Lodge and Rotary Club.

He is survived by his wife, Francine; two daughters; five grandchildren; 10 great-grandchildren; and a great-great-grandchild. Memorials may be made to Suncoast Humane Society, 6781 San Casa Drive, Englewood, FL 34224.

Robert B. Miller

Dr. Miller (Kansas State ′55), 85, Columbia, Missouri, died Oct. 4, 2016. In 1973, he joined the veterinary faculty of the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine as a research associate, retiring in 1999 as an associate professor of veterinary pathology. Dr. Miller later served as director of the veterinary college's Missouri Institute for Cattle Establishment Program for several years. Prior to joining academia, he practiced large animal medicine in Eureka, Kansas, and co-owned a mixed animal practice in Warrensburg, Missouri.

Dr. Miller was a diplomate and a past president of the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners, a past president of the Western Veterinary Conference, and a past director of the American Association of Bovine Practitioners. He was also a member of the American Animal Hospital Association and Missouri VMA and an honorary member of the Missouri Academy of Veterinary Practice. In 2004, the Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine honored him with the Alumni Recognition Award. Dr. Miller received the WVC Meritorious Service Award in 2010 and was named Missouri Veterinarian of the Year in 2012.

He is survived by his wife, Phyllis; two daughters and a son; and three grandchildren. Memorials may be made to the Missouri United Methodist Church (elevator fund), 204 S. 9th St., Columbia, MO 65201, or Dr. Bob Miller Food-Animal Scholarship, c/o Development Officer, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO 65211.

Gerald D. Mitchell

Dr. Mitchell (Michigan State ′54), 85, Bonita Springs, Florida, died Nov. 11, 2016. From 1956–1988, he practiced in Carleton, Michigan, initially in mixed animal medicine, focusing later on small animals. Earlier, Dr. Mitchell served in the Army during the Korean War, attaining the rank of first lieutenant. He was a member of the Southeastern Michigan VMA. Dr. Mitchell's wife, Jean; two sons; and three grandchildren survive him.

Philip D. Moorhead

Dr. Moorhead (Kansas State ′57), 83, Tucson, Arizona, died Dec. 15, 2016. He served as a veterinary pathologist with the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center in Wooster for 22 years prior to retirement. Earlier, Dr. Moorhead worked in Palestine, Illinois. His wife, Pat; three children; and six grandchildren survive him.

Bruce J. Netschert

Dr. Netschert (Cambridge ′80), 66, Clifton, Virginia, died Nov. 29, 2016. He owned Clifton-Centreville Animal Clinic, a small animal practice in Centreville, Virginia, since 1984. Dr. Netschert also volunteered his services to the Fairfax County Police Department K-9 Unit and to Guiding Eyes for the Blind, held free spay-and-neuter clinics, and participated in investigations related to humane treatment of animals. His wife, Donna, and a daughter survive him.

Memorials may be made to the National Audubon Society, 11100 Wildlife Center Drive, Reston, VA 20190, www.audubon.org.

Gabriel Nossov

Dr. Nossov (Kansas State ′47), 90, Austin, Texas, died Dec. 17, 2016. He began his career working for the Department of Agriculture in Albany, New York, and Springfield, Massachusetts. In 1948, Dr. Nossov joined the Army Veterinary Corps, retiring as a colonel in 1977. From 1976–1993, he was a professional services veterinarian and Western regional manager for Hill's Pet Products. Dr. Nossov later served as a consultant with Innovative Veterinary Diets for a year. He was a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Preventive Medicine and a lifetime member of the Texas VMA.

Dr. Nossov is survived by his longtime companion, Mary Adelman; a daughter and two sons; two grandchildren; and a great-grandchild. His daughter-in-law Dr. Patricia C. Nossov (Texas A&M ′82) is a retired Army Veterinary Corps veterinarian. Memorials may be made to AMEDD Museum Foundation Inc., P.O. Box 8294, San Antonio, TX 78208.

Wallace G. Rightmire

Dr. Rightmire (Washington State ′51), 91, Lynden, Washington, died Dec. 23, 2016. Following graduation, he worked briefly in Snohomish, Washington. Dr. Rightmire subsequently moved to Bellingham, Washington, where he served as a partner at Ebright Animal Hospital, practicing mixed animal medicine for almost four decades. He was charter president of the Washington State University Veterinary Alumni Association, receiving the WSU Alumni Achievement Award in 1982. Dr. Rightmire was a member of the Rotary Club of Bellingham, served on the Samish Camp Fire Council Board, and was active with the Boy Scouts of America. He served in the Army Air Corps during World War II.

Dr. Rightmire's two daughters, six grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren survive him. Memorials may be made to the Dick Rightmire Memorial FFA Scholarship, P.O. Box 74, Ferndale, WA 98248, or Mount Baker FFA Boosters (memo line notated to Dr. Rightmire Memorial Fund), P.O. Box 162, Deming, WA 98244.

Jared K. Rodgers

Dr. Rodgers (Tufts ′07), 56, Carmel, California, died Jan. 9, 2017. He was a relief veterinarian in Carmel, working both in emergency medicine and general practice. Early in his career, Dr. Rodgers practiced in Ellsworth, Maine. His wife, Alison Meyers, survives him. Memorials may be made to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, P.O. Box 96929, Washington, DC 20090.

John G. Simpson

Dr. Simpson (California-Davis ′63), 85, Camarillo, California, died Nov. 27, 2016. Following graduation, he served as a captain in the Marine Corps. During his subsequent 40-year career in California, Dr. Simpson directed the pathology branch of the marine bioscience facility at what used to be a naval air station in Point Mugu, California; consulted for Sea World; owned an animal pathology service; served as a clinical assistant professor of pathology at the UC-Davis School of Medicine; and co-founded Newbury Park Veterinary Clinic in Newbury Park, California. While working at Point Mugu, he also trained and cared for dolphins and porpoises used in the detection of submarines and bombs during the Vietnam War.

Dr. Simpson's wife, Cynthia; a son and a daughter; and three grandchildren survive him. Memorials may be made to the Humane Society of the United States, Dept: Memorial Donations, 1255 23rd St. NW, Suite 450, Washington, DC 20037.

Louis J. Villa

Dr. Villa (Guelph ′54), 93, Winnipeg, Manitoba, died Nov. 15, 2016. He owned Villa Veterinary Clinic, a small animal practice in Winnipeg. Dr. Villa was a member of the Rotary Club. He is survived by his wife, Adriana; two daughters and a son; and five grandchildren. Memorials may be made to the Winnipeg Humane Society, 45 Hurst Way, Winnipeg, MB R3T 0R3, Canada, or Rotary Club of Winnipeg West (Golden Rainbow Fund), 1405 St. Matthews Ave., Winnipeg, MB R3G 0K5, Canada.

William V. Wellnitz

Dr. Wellnitz (Auburn 71), 69, Pewee Valley, Kentucky, died Oct. 26, 2016. Primarily a small animal veterinarian, he most recently worked at Chenoweth Lane Pet Clinic in Louisville. Dr. Wellnitz began his career as a captain in the Air Force. He subsequently practiced mixed animal medicine in Cynthiana, Kentucky, for two years. Dr. Wellnitz went on to own Plantation Animal Clinic in Louisville, Kentucky, for several years. His wife, Sue; two children; and a grandchild survive him.

Memorials, notated in memory of Dr. William Wellnitz, may be made to the Auburn University Foundation, College of Veterinary Medicine, 317 S. College St., Auburn, AL 36849.

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