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Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences has named Dr. Lori Teller as the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital's first clinical associate professor of telehealth.


Dr. Lori Teller

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 253, 10; 10.2460/javma.253.10.1203

The Houston native and CVMBS alumnus spent more than 30 years in private small animal practice before officially joining the college faculty this September.

Dr. Teller is currently creating the teaching hospital's telehealth program, which involves accounting for ways that clients and patients benefit from the service, noting workflow considerations, and keeping pace with the rapidly advancing communications technologies. She also spends a portion of her time as a primary care instructor at the hospital.

Elected to the AVMA Board of Directors three years ago, Dr. Teller has taken the lead in understanding the significance of telehealth for veterinary medicine. “I saw the handwriting on the wall,” she said. “I suggested to the AVMA board that this was really a hot area and was something we should be looking at.

“Shortly after that discussion, a committee was tasked within the AVMA, really a working group, to take a look at telemedicine and put something together.”

The result was “Telemedicine: Report of the AVMA Practice Advisory Panel (2016),” adopted by the AVMA House of Delegates in 2017 and available at https://jav.ma/teleRpt.


A new collaboration at Kansas State University is promoting the commercial development of GC376, an antiviral compound for feline infectious peritonitis, which previously has had no effective treatment or cure. Researchers at KSU and elsewhere have been working on antiviral drugs that inhibit a specific virus protease of some important human and animal viruses, and they were able to make very potent inhibitors of FIP. Kansas State has licensed GC376 to Anivive Lifesciences Inc. of California. The approval process, overseen by the Food and Drug Administration's Center for Veterinary Medicine, requires several steps documenting the efficacy, safety, and manufacturing of the compound. Researchers say it could take several years before GC376 will be available on the market.


Dr. Lisa C. Freeman was appointed president of Northern Illinois University on Sept. 20, becoming the DeKalb, Illinois, institution's 13th president as well as the first woman and veterinarian named to that position.

Dr. Freeman earned a veterinary degree in 1986 from Cornell University. Three years later, she received a doctorate in pharmacology from The Ohio State University, and she subsequently worked as a postdoctoral fellow and research scientist at the University of Rochester School of Medicine.

She joined NIU in 2010 as vice president for research and graduate studies. She previously spent 16 years as a faculty member at Kansas State University, where her roles included associate dean for research and graduate programs for the College of Veterinary Medicine.

Dr. Freeman had been serving as acting president for NIU since July 2017.

“NIU is home to world-class faculty, dedicated employees, and a diverse and proud student body, with an incredibly strong support network of alumni and donors,” said Dr. Freeman following her appointment. “I look forward to collaborating with the Huskie community to strengthen the transformative educational experience NIU provides regionally, nationally, and globally.”

AAHA Connexity takes on topics that keep veterinarians up at night

Conference themed on connecting, community covers practice management, personal well-being

By Katie Burns


Attendees pick a target at random during a session on “Leading your Team with Purpose” by Debbie Boone at AAHA Connexity, the revamped conference from the American Animal Hospital Association. If a practice owner doesn't give team members a specific target, Boone said, then they will choose their own. (Courtesy of AAHA)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 253, 10; 10.2460/javma.253.10.1203

The American Animal Hospital Association took a radically new approach to its annual conference this year. It forewent scientific subjects in favor of topics in practice management and personal well-being such as improving workplace culture, finding a balance between caring for others and caring for oneself, and marketing a practice's charitable activities.

AAHA Connexity, Sept. 12–16 in Denver, was an interactive conference for individuals from AAHA-accredited hospitals, with themes of connecting and community. AAHA limited attendance at Connexity, and the conference attracted a total of 619 attendees.

Ahead of the conference, AAHA released the publication, “Promoting Preventive Care Protocols: Evidence, Enactment, and Economics.” An analysis of Idexx Laboratories Inc. preventive care screening profiles from more than 5,000 practices found that for animals in all adult life stages, laboratory testing included in these screenings regularly yielded results that potentially warranted further action (see page 1208).

During the conference, Dr. Darren Taul assumed the office of AAHA president (see page 1209), and the association presented its AAHA-Accredited Practice of the Year Award (see page 1211).


Dr. Michael Cavanaugh, AAHA chief executive officer, gave an update on AAHA news during the first keynote address. He said the association is closing in on 4,500 accredited practices as members.

In October 2016, the association had announced that it was discontinuing hospital membership for nonaccredited practices. Nonaccredited AAHA member hospitals had until the end of June 2017 to enter into an agreement to become an accredited practice or to have a staff member become an individual member. As of Sept. 24, the association's membership encompassed a little more than 4,300 accredited practices as well as 5,680 individuals.

Dr. Cavanaugh also announced the new AAHA Pet Health Insurance Program through Petplan and the new AAHA Pet Wellness Plans through VCP. He said the goal is to take difficult financial conversations off the table as part of the AAHA Healthy Workplace Culture Initiative.

According to an AAHA announcement, the insurance program is designed to help clients pay for unexpected expenses associated with illnesses and accidents. Petplan will handle enrollment, underwriting, and claims management for the AAHA Pet Health Insurance Program and provide administrative support.

AAHA Pet Wellness Plans are designed to give clients peace of mind by providing access to important preventive care through affordable monthly payments, according to another announcement from the association. For the past six years, VCP has focused solely on creating comprehensive wellness plans for veterinary practices.

Also as part of the AAHA Healthy Workplace Culture Initiative, Dr. Cavanaugh announced a partnership with Aspire, a company that provides veterinary-specific tools to build a better workplace culture.


Dr. Heather Loenser, AAHA senior veterinary officer, spoke during the first keynote address about the new conference format.

“We polled our members to find out what was keeping you up at night,” Dr. Loenser said. “We designed a conference with you in mind.”

Members wanted to learn how to improve workplace culture, increase profitability, manage staff more creatively, decrease drama, and attract new clients. AAHA categorized the concerns into healthy practices, healthy leaders, and healthy teams, and devoted a day to each—along with a last half-day titled “Thank you, go-getters!”

Each day featured a keynote address. Scott Stratten spoke on “UnMarketing: Stop Marketing, Start Engaging.” Kevin Brown shared his message that heroes are extraordinary people who choose not to be ordinary. Alexandra Valentin of The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center presented on “Service Excellence Culture.” Curt Coffman concluded the conference with “Culture Eats Strategy for Lunch.”


Speaking at AAHA Connexity, Dr. Kimberly Pope-Robinson emphasized countering sinkers with balloons. Sinkers are the thoughts that pull people down, but balloons are whatever pulls people up. (Courtesy of Dr. Pope-Robinson)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 253, 10; 10.2460/javma.253.10.1203

During lunch breaks, attendees could check out experts from the Human Library for up to 15 minutes of personalized coaching on a variety of topics. Connexity also offered options for attendees to recharge, including yoga, fun runs and walks, a kilt run and walk, and a sensory wellness walk.


Dr. Edward W. Kanara has been a practice owner, has held senior executive positions at Pfizer Animal Health, and is now the managing member of the Kanara Consulting Group. He discussed workplace culture in the session “Culture Transformation: The Most Important Practice Leadership Decision You Will Ever Make” and wrote about the subject in “What Exactly is ‘Workplace Culture,’ and Why is Everybody Talking About It?,” a chapter in AAHA's Guide to Veterinary Practice Team Wellbeing.

“Culture is what results from the diligent adherence to established and expected workplace behaviors determined to be essential for achieving the organization's goals, as well as the avoidance of those behaviors that are deemed unacceptable,” Dr. Kanara wrote. “For a culture to thrive, there must also be a reward system in place for expected behaviors, along with appropriate consequences and accountability for unacceptable behavior.”

In his talk, Dr. Kanara recommended conducting a confidential survey with the practice team to assess workplace culture, making a plan to address the most important issues, and developing a list of expected and not-tolerated behaviors. Survey questions could include the following:

  • • What makes you proud to work here?

  • • What specific behaviors should we address to improve our culture?

  • • Is there something going on here that if it's not addressed, I may leave?

  • • Is there anything we do pretty well now that if we significantly improved, we could really “rock it”?

The session concluded with attendees putting together one-page action plans to take home.


Dr. Kimberly Pope-Robinson spoke on “Polarity: Caring for Others and Ourselves” and wrote the chapter “How to Continue to Find Joy in Veterinary Practice” in AAHA's Guide to Veterinary Practice Team Wellbeing.

As a veterinarian in practice and industry, Dr. Pope-Robinson pushed herself to her breaking point. She went on to write the book “The Unspoken Life: Recognize Your Passion, Embrace Imperfection, and Stay Connected.”

In her speaking and writing, she emphasizes countering sinkers with balloons. Sinkers are the thoughts that pull people down, but balloons are whatever pulls people up. Balloons can be mental, physical, emotional, or spiritual.

Dr. Pope-Robinson said balloons are not all about eating right, exercising, meditating, and doing yoga. They could be anything. A lot are in the creative space, such as knitting, doing hula, playing an instrument, drawing, or coloring.

Sinkers in veterinary practice can include hiring and firing, client reviews, branding, staff meetings, clients with no money, profitability concerns, and even finding time to stay current on the literature. General life pressures can include debt, significant others, and scheduling.

Dr. Pope-Robinson proposed taking an oath to honor oneself as a North Star for orientation in conjunction with the Veterinary Oath. The oath to honor oneself has the following four principles:

  • • Being mindful of my response.

  • • Creating my environment.

  • • Embracing my emotions.

  • • Finding self-forgiveness.


ANIMAL CAUSES THAT CLIENTS CARE ABOUT (Source: ‘cause Digital Marketing 2018 Veterinary Client Study)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 253, 10; 10.2460/javma.253.10.1203

Dr. Pope-Robinson had been giving all of herself for the Veterinary Oath. Her takeaway for attendees of the session was this: “You're normal, and you're not alone.”


Jane Harrell, president of ‘cause Digital Marketing, spoke on “Cause Marketing and the Veterinary Practice.” According to her company's 2018 Veterinary Client Study, 81.9 percent of pet owners with a regular veterinarian said seeing their animal hospital do charitable activities would make them more likely to stay and to recommend the hospital, but only 47 percent of all pet owners recognized that veterinary hospitals do anything to help animals beyond strictly paid-for services.

Harrell said cause marketing involves sharing values with clients, actively volunteering to help, and telling people about that volunteer work. The last piece is what's missing at most veterinary practices.

Practice teams feel like they have no time to market their charitable activities, are afraid of opening the floodgates, find talking about good deeds feels weird or like bragging, and believe clients will think the practice is overcharging. Harrell said the only risk that is real is that of being overwhelmed with requests. Practice teams should decide what is important to them, then pick a cause.

After the conference, Harrell reiterated, “The key is picking a cause that you're already contributing to and promoting it in a way that simultaneously limits additional requests.”

Cause marketing can save time by providing content for newsletters, social media, blogs, and in-hospital educational materials.

Harrell concluded the session with a workbook on getting started with cause marketing. According to the workbook, the top animal causes that clients care about are pet adoption and spay/neuter.

“It's not about giving something away,” Harrell said during the session. “It is about genuinely and authentically letting your community know who you are.”


Dr. Heather Loenser, AAHA senior veterinary officer, speaks during the first keynote address at Connexity. AAHA devoted a day each to healthy practices, healthy leaders, and healthy teams. (Courtesy of AAHA)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 253, 10; 10.2460/javma.253.10.1203


An analysis of Idexx Laboratories Inc. preventive care screening profiles from more than 5,000 practices found that for animals in all adult life stages, laboratory testing included in these screenings regularly yielded results that potentially warranted further action.

The analysis appears in the new publication “Promoting Preventive Care Protocols: Evidence, Enactment, and Economics” from the American Animal Hospital Association, developed with the support of an educational grant from Idexx.

Idexx offers practice management software as well as laboratory services. The section of the paper on “The Medical Case for Preventive Care Screenings” describes the analysis of Idexx data as follows:

“Using data gathered from practice management software, investigators examined the records from 5,016 North American veterinary practices. The objective was ‘to use a big-data approach to investigate the frequency of clinically significant abnormal profiles for apparently healthy adult dogs and cats of all adult life stages.’

“Investigators looked for profiles associated with consultations invoiced as a ‘wellness examination’ that included blood chemistry, complete blood count (CBC), and symmetric dimethylarginine (SDMA) tests. This yielded 268,817 profiles.”

Investigators categorized dogs age 3–6 years and cats age 2–8 years as adults, dogs age 7–10 years and cats age 9–13 years as seniors, and dogs age 11-plus years and cats age 14-plus years as geriatrics. The data from the wellness visits revealed findings requiring veterinary follow-up in 15 percent of adults, 21 percent of seniors, and 42 percent of geriatrics.

“Findings from the analysis of big data and traditional scientific inquiry seem to indicate that veterinarians who screen pets may find significant results for some pets that require additional discussion, monitoring, or workups,” according to the paper.

The publication provides a guide to help veterinary teams implement preventive care protocols and highlights the value of client communication. Another section of the paper covers “The Financial Case for Preventive Care Screenings.” The paper includes medical case examples for three cats and two dogs as well as financial case examples at two veterinary practices.


WHEN DOES A PREVENTIVE CARE PROFILE DEMAND ACTION? (For 268,817 wellness consultations at 5,016 clinics that submitted samples to Idexx Laboratories Inc.)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 253, 10; 10.2460/javma.253.10.1203

Taul takes turn at helm of AAHA

By Katie Burns


Dr. Darren Taul

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 253, 10; 10.2460/javma.253.10.1203

Dr. Darren Taul, 2018–19 president of the American Animal Hospital Association, is a sort of everyman of veterinary practice. Like most other practitioners, he is having trouble hiring right now. Like many practitioners over recent decades, he started out in mixed animal medicine but now focuses on small animal medicine.

He assumed the office of president during the association's new conference, AAHA Connexity, Sept. 12–16 in Denver. Joining him as AAHA officers are Drs. Guylaine Charette, Pembroke, Ontario, president-elect; Pamela Nichols, West Bountiful, Utah, vice president; Mark McConnell, Eugene, Oregon, immediate past president; and Dermot Jevens, Greenville, South Carolina, secretary-treasurer.

Dr. Taul grew up on a family farm in Kentucky. He said, “I just thought it was amazing to have our veterinarian come out to our farm and treat sick animals or deliver a calf—or be able to take our pets in—and it was like, wow, he was able to help us on every angle.”

Dr. Taul attended Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine, where he met his wife, Dr. Stacey Burdick-Taul. She earned her veterinary degree in 1995, and he earned his in 1996.

They moved to Lancaster, Kentucky, where he purchased Animal Hospital of Lancaster in 1999. The same year, she became a partner at Animal Hospital of Nicholasville in Nicholasville, Kentucky. He practiced mixed animal medicine for about a decade before switching to small animals and occasionally horses.

For about two decades, Dr. Taul was a solo doctor. A year ago, he purchased a second hospital, Animal Hospital of Danville in Danville, Kentucky. Also last year, he hired a fulltime associate and a part-time associate.

Even early on, Dr. Taul wanted to have an AAHA-accredited hospital, but he didn't go through the accreditation process until 2012. Shortly thereafter, he joined a North American Business Association group with AAHA, which later transitioned into one of the AAHA-Accredited Veterinary Management Groups through Veterinary Study Groups Inc. He also attended an AAHA Adventure Series pack trip and now facilitates this annual continuing education event. All this involvement led to him eventually becoming president of the association.

With Connexity, Dr. Taul said, “We are trying to help our members find solutions to real-world, everyday problems and allow them to network and connect with others so that they have resources that extend beyond just a conference.”

Dr. Taul said attendees at Connexity were talking about difficulties hiring, educational debt, and a lack of interest in practice ownership alongside ongoing corporate consolidation. In his case, his rural location compounds the hiring difficulties.


Dr. Guylaine Charette

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 253, 10; 10.2460/javma.253.10.1203

Among other new programs, AAHA introduced the Indispensable Associate Initiative in 2016 to drive practice success through associate advancement. Dr. Taul said the program has proven to be popular. The free program, currently open to 2014–18 graduates, helps new associates master key business and communication skills.


Dr. Pamela Nichols

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 253, 10; 10.2460/javma.253.10.1203

“AAHA's culture initiative began three years ago and is still ongoing,” Dr. Taul said. “AAHA's newest endeavor, reimagining accreditation, is just beginning.”

As AAHA president, Dr. Taul will focus on the association's three strategic objectives: to create a transformative AAHA member experience by growing essential relationships and reimagining accreditation, to increase awareness of the AAHA brand and the brand's influence on pet owners’ decision to choose accredited practices, and to promote a positive organizational culture in accredited practices.

For Dr. Taul and his practice team, becoming accredited was a statement: “This is how we're going to practice medicine. We're going to do our best day in and day out, every day.”


Dr. Mark McConnell

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 253, 10; 10.2460/javma.253.10.1203


The American Animal Hospital Association has recognized Country Hills Pet Hospital of Eden, Wisconsin, as the 2018 AAHA-Accredited Practice of the Year.

Country Hills Pet Hospital focuses on excellence through teamwork. The owner, Dr. Mark Thompson, said his staff is what makes him most proud of his practice.

Dr. Thompson joined Country Hills Pet Hospital in 1997 as an associate veterinarian and the only small animal doctor at the mixed practice. The small animal part of the practice achieved AAHA accreditation in 2000. Dr. Thompson became a co-owner in 2001, eventually becoming sole owner in 2008 and establishing the hospital as a small animal practice only. Dr. Stephanie Winske joined the practice last year.

Country Hills Pet Hospital sponsors the K9 unit for the local police department, providing free and discounted services. The practice also donates to scholarship funds for veterinary students and to various charities and organizations.

The other finalists for practice of the year were Frey Pet Hospital of Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Moorpark Veterinary Hospital of Moorpark, California; and Princeton Animal Hospital & Carnegie Cat Clinic of Princeton, New Jersey.

U.S. watches, prepares for African swine fever

Hemorrhagic disease spreading in China

By Greg Cima


Dr. Lori Teller

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 253, 10; 10.2460/javma.253.10.1203

A disease deadly to pigs has spread to at least 29 locations in China.

African swine fever, a highly contagious hemorrhagic disease, has infected pigs in some Chinese provinces with the highest densities of swine production, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Dr. Tom Burkgren, executive director of the American Association of Swine Veterinarians, said the causative virus is hardy, and there is no vaccine. European and Chinese producers have been unable to stop its spread.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations published a warning in September that African swine fever almost certainly will spread in Asia. China raises half the world's pigs and has a half-billion pig population.

The most virulent viral strain is fatal to all infected pigs, although it has no direct effects on human health, FAO information states. It travels through processed and raw pork and live animals, and the virus can survive months in cured or salted pork or in animal feed.

The U.S. lacks surveillance for ASF, so veterinarians’ best protection is awareness of the clinical signs, Dr. Burkgren said. Look at any case that might be compatible with ASF, and include the disease in the differential diagnosis, he said.

The virus can cause sudden death with few signs. It also can cause high fever, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, anorexia, skin hemorrhages, abortion, lost coordination, leukopenia, thrombocytopenia, and red spots on the ear tips, tail, and lower legs or hams, according to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and information from the Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine.

Pigs also can develop chronic infections with weight loss, low fevers, coughing, skin necrosis and ulcers, arthritis, and joint swelling.

In postmortem examinations, veterinarians may see lesions in many organs, especially the spleen, lymph nodes, kidneys, and heart. A fact sheet is available from Iowa State University's Center for Food Safety and Public Health at https://jav.ma/ASF (PDF).

In September, officials with the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service published a document that said they do not know or plan to test how likely it is that ASF could reach the U.S. through contaminated animal feed, which APHIS officials previously said was a likely vehicle for the spread of porcine epidemic diarrhea from China to the U.S. in 2013. PED has killed millions of neonatal pigs.

An article (https://jav.ma/swineviruses) published in March in PLOS One, a journal of the online Public Library of Science, indicates African swine fever virus may be among viruses that could survive in feed ingredients through 30 days of trans-Atlantic shipping from Poland to the U.S., a simulated route chosen because the disease is present in Eastern Europe.

Dr. Burkgren said producers need to know where their feed components originate. Feed producers import animal feed ingredients, particularly vitamins and amino acids, from China.

Veterinarians should learn what ingredients their feed suppliers import and what safeguards they use in manufacturing and transportation, Dr. Burkgren said. And veterinarians may find ways to improve clients’ biosecurity, such as limiting visits to their farms or eliminating feeding from food waste sources.

Veterinarians also should advise animal caretakers to watch for high death and illness rates and to review their biosecurity protocols. Identifying the first case quickly could be crucial, Dr. Burkgren said.

Researchers are trying to find ingredients that can reduce the viability of viruses in feed, following the example set by at least one product that reduces bacteria survival, Dr. Burkgren said. He noted that an antimicrobial additive, Sal Curb, is used in poultry feed to reduce Salmonella survival.

Even if someone identifies a product effective on viruses in feed, he expects getting Food and Drug Administration approval would take at least a few years.


Four flea and tick products may cause seizures, tremors, and lost coordination in some cats and dogs.

Food and Drug Administration officials have received thousands of reports of adverse events connected with three products—Bravecto, Nexgard, and Simparica—containing drugs in the isoxazoline class. The agency approved a fourth product, Credelio, containing a drug in the class this year.

“The FDA is working with manufacturers of isoxazoline products to include new label information to highlight neurologic events because these events were seen consistently across the isoxazoline class of products,” a Sept. 20 announcement states.

The agency has approved all four products since 2013 for treatment and prevention of flea infestations and treatment and control of tick infestations. They are safe and effective for most pets, but veterinarians should use patient medical histories to decide whether isoxazoline-class drugs are appropriate, the announcement states.

Siobhan DeLancey, who is a spokeswoman for the FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine, said the agency has received about 5,400 reports of adverse events connected with the drugs.

She provided a statement that said agency officials are seeing reports of neurologic events at similar rates across the isoxazoline product class, when those reports are compared with sales data. But the agency is unable to compare among products because it's impossible to know how many of the doses sold have been administered.

Researchers who conducted preapproval studies saw some of the neurologic signs, and some of the product labels already note that potential, DeLancey said. In the reports of adverse events since approval, some animals developed seizures with no known history of them.

Most of the reports involve dogs, but whether the risk is higher in dogs or cats is unknown. Only one of the products—Bravecto—is approved for use in cats.

FDA reports that summarize evidence used toward approval of the four products include descriptions of seizures, tremors, ataxia, and lethargy among a small number of dogs and ataxia in a few cats involved in clinical trials. Results of one trial for Simparica involving a small number of 8-week-old puppies, for example, indicated that those that received higher doses were more likely to have neurologic signs.

Be essential to thrive in cattle practice

Cattle veterinarians describe ways to meet changing client demands

By Greg Cima

Dr. W. Mark Hilton said veterinarians who have good technical skills may still be replaceable.

Those who know their clients’ goals may be indispensable.

Dr. Hilton, a senior technical consultant for Elanco Animal Health, told a crowd of cattle veterinarians they will learn better and foster better relationships by asking more questions. When talking with people on farms and ranches, listen to understand rather than respond, he said.

In a presentation at the American Association of Bovine Practitioners meeting Sept. 13–15 in Phoenix, Dr. Hilton recommended his colleagues create demand for advice, be exhaustive in their work, and provide products and services specific to each client.

Speakers at the meeting described ways veterinarians can improve demand for their services. Dr. Glenn Rogers, who was the conference program chair and became AABP president during the meeting (see page 1218), said he hoped the meeting would help attendees increase their value to clients and show them how to demonstrate that value.


Dr. Morgan McArthur said veterinarians are good at collecting and connecting information to solve problems, but building relationships and coaching clients are the secrets to becoming essential.

He said that, in human medicine, miscommunication is the most frequent cause of malpractice claims. And receiving questions feels good for clients, he said.

Dr. McArthur, who was the 1994 Toastmasters World Champion of Public Speaking, also recommended that veterinarians get leadership training from organizations such as Toastmasters International. And he encouraged veterinarians to consider other perspectives and connect with everyone on the farm team.

“As much as we love comfort, we don't learn much and grow much when we're comfortable,” Dr. McArthur said.

Dr. David Brennan, a mixed animal veterinarian in Ohio, said rural veterinarians have shifted from treating sick animals, which farmers want to do on their own, to acting as managers and consultants who can give clients the protocols and monitoring they want. Veterinarians can show clients where to invest to save money, how to design facilities for cow comfort, and what services they can offer.

Clinic owners also need to maintain updated facilities and practices that are attractive to associates and set fees that reflect professional services.

Dr. Franklyn B. Garry, an extension veterinarian for Colorado State

University, said veterinarians have the education and knowledge to explore, investigate, identify, and monitor health issues, as well as educate others and develop creative solutions. They can examine why cows are culled on dairies and why many culled cows arrive at slaughterhouses with major bruises.

Death losses are the most costly causes of herd removal, Dr. Garry said, yet they are poorly tracked in the dairy industry. Clinical disease can be just the tip of the iceberg, with many other cows at risk for the same outcome.

Veterinarians can conduct necropsies and teach others how to do them. Knowing how a cow dies requires investigation, yet, he said, veterinarians or others perform necropsies on only about 5 percent of cows that die on dairies.

Just as veterinarians drift from protocols, so will farm workers, he said. But coaching helps them make good decisions.


Dr. Arne Anderson once needed a taxi from his hotel to the airport after a presentation in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Hotel staff told him taxis wouldn't come so far to pick him up—even though one had dropped him off—and they recommended the ride-sharing service Uber.

He said his grandmother grew her own food, and his associate veterinarians have boxes of ingredients delivered to their door.

Dr. Anderson said rural communities need veterinary care, and veterinarians need to offer their services in the ways potential clients want them. Cattle owners have master's degrees, and they expect more than a bottle of medicine.

Veterinarians need to use their knowledge and show clients the differences between their services and those offered by their competitors.

“You should be more expensive,” he said. “You are going to make them money.”

Meredyth Jones, a veterinary clinical sciences faculty member at the Oklahoma State University Center for Veterinary Health Sciences, said the world is full of people willing to just give animals injections rather than find the sources of problems. Veterinarians are distinct in their ability to find usable diagnoses and solve problems affecting herds.

Dr. Jones has a pattern for each physical examination, and she recommends that veterinarians develop their own patterns that can help them avoid missing signs that could change their diagnoses. A ruminant with blindness, for example, may have central blindness from polioencephalomalacia or lead toxicosis or peripheral blindness from vitamin A deficiency, and treatment requires using pupillary light response to determine which diagnosis is right.


Dr. Morgan McArthur describes ways veterinarians could challenge themselves and become essential to clients at the American Association of Bovine Practitioners meeting this September in Phoenix. (Photo by Greg Cima)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 253, 10; 10.2460/javma.253.10.1203

Discovering disease in one animal can show the risk to a herd, Dr. Jones said. “This animal just was the one that showed you what everyone else needed,” she said.

Dr. Jones recommended writing reports for clients, focusing on one or two recommendations, and planning to fix more deficiencies later. And clients appreciate the commitment shown by follow-up calls.

John T. Groves, owner of Livestock Veterinary Service in Eldon, Missouri, said changing one element on a farm can set off a complex chain reaction.

Treating sick calves on a farm, for example, may improve survival rate, he said. But the client may see the health improvement as an opportunity to buy more calves, which brings more disease challenges, stretches the abilities of workers, and creates more illness on the farm.

Veterinarians can see trends and patterns, and they need to understand what drives them. The more they learn about a client's farm, the more influence they have over changes to come.

Stay essential by protecting selves, others

Presenters at AABP meeting say veterinarians need to address personal needs

By Greg Cima

Jen Brandt, PhD, said being essential to clients can be exhilarating and draining.

Dr. Brandt, member well-being and diversity initiatives director for the AVMA, told cattle veterinarians at an American Association of Bovine Practitioners meeting that veterinarians need to care for themselves. At the group's annual meeting Sept. 13–15 in Phoenix, a series of lecturers described ways veterinarians can become indispensable to clients (see page 1214).

Dr. Brandt was among several speakers who described ways veterinarians can keep themselves fit for work, protect others who work on client farms, and avoid bringing pathogens home.

Citing the Merck Animal Health Veterinary Wellbeing Study, the executive summary of which JAVMA published in its May 15 issue, Dr. Brandt noted that food animal veterinarians who responded to the survey were among groups that reported higher-than-average well-being.

“The prevalence of serious psychological distress was generally consistent across practice types, except that it was low to nonexistent for respondents in food animal practice,” the article states (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2018;252:1231–1238).

But Dr. Brandt said the study does not indicate those veterinarians are without stress.

She described the benefits of focusing on the control veterinarians have over their own lives, the influence of lack of sleep on work and relationships, and a misconception that self-care is easy. In addition to addressing physical needs such as nutrition and hydration, veterinarians can care for mental needs by making clients call the office rather than their personal phone or keeping a journal of things that make them grateful.

Scott J. Uhlenhake, a physical therapist from Ohio who has worked with cattle veterinarians, got attendees out of their chairs to stand, stretch, and think about their posture and movements. He described the best relationship between shoulder and arm positions while working, the risks from outstretched arms during work, the need to minimize or break up repetitive tasks, the ways people can put stress on joints while carrying heavy objects, and the help given by supportive shoes and good sleeping positions.

Even a few minutes of stretching outside a truck between calls can help, he said.


Dr. Noa Roman-Muniz, an associate professor in the Department of Animal Sciences and extension dairy specialist at Colorado State University, said farms are getting bigger and hiring more workers.

They come from various countries and often speak Spanish or K'iche’ as their first language, she said.

“We were not taught how to be experts in teaching, and now the farm managers are counting on us to teach,” she said.

She recommends that veterinarians, when talking with farm workers, listen, watch body language, encourage questions and stories, have humility, and emphasize that they share the goal of raising healthy and productive cows.

“At the end of the day, we all smell like manure,” Dr. Roman-Muniz said, quoting a friend.

By knowing what others go through on farms, veterinarians know what needs to change.

Michelle Calvo-Lorenzo, PhD, a technical consultant for Elanco Animal Health, said the welfare of workers on farms and ranches is tied to the welfare of cattle.

“We cannot forget about the social aspect or the people aspect of farming,” she said.

Attitudes influence people's behavior, which influences fear and stress levels in animals, affecting production.

The feedlot industry has low worker retention rates that may improve if employees are treated as professionals whose work contributes to a larger mission, she said. Give them meaningful work, help minimize stress, and build a culture with positive attitudes toward animals, she said.

Workers need training toward long-term career opportunities, Dr. Calvo-Lorenzo said. They also need to feel safe.


Dr. Danelle A. Bickett-Weddle talks about disease risk during the American Association of Bovine Practitioners meeting, held this past September in Phoenix. (Photo by Greg Cima)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 253, 10; 10.2460/javma.253.10.1203

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate that, in 2016, people working in cattle ranching and farming reported about five injuries for every 100 workers, whereas the mean for all industries was three per 100 workers. The rate is about even between dairy and beef production.

The veterinary profession—including veterinarians, veterinary technicians, and office staff—had a rate of 12 injuries for every 100 workers that year (see JAVMA, Nov. 1, 2018, page 1096).


Dr. Danelle A. Bickett-Weddle, associate director of the Center for Food Security and Public Health at Iowa State University, recommends finding out what disease risks keep clients up at night. Ask questions, listen, and address those needs first.

She also encouraged meeting attendees to think about how often clients bring in new animals, what tests are performed, and what the veterinarian and client do with that information. Disease risk can be managed but not eliminated, she said.

She noted the hierarchy of a hazard control system that ranks risk-reduction methods from most to least effective: elimination, substitution, engineering controls, administrative controls, and personal protective equipment. Eliminating or substituting for a lesser risk is impractical for preventing Salmonella infection, for example, but people add engineering controls that improve food handling and preparation and administrative ones such as procedures for cleaning and disinfecting areas where animals live, in addition to using PPE such as face shields and gloves.

She also cautioned that fomites can spread disease to vulnerable people. She knows of a veterinarian whose son was hospitalized with hemolytic uremic syndrome as a result of infection with Escherichia coli likely brought home from a client's farm.

Dr. Bickett-Weddle said dissolvable laundry bags, designed for travelers, could help. So could designating areas of a truck as clean or dirty and making sure items that risk spreading contamination stay, for example, in the back.

Dr. Bickett-Weddle also recommended consulting information from the Center for Food Security and Public Health and compendia from the National Association of Public Health Veterinarians.

Biosecurity is difficult, and it tends to be unnoticed when it is working, she said.

AABP president wants association to be indispensable

Dr. Glenn Rogers wants to help veterinarians, students adapt with cattle industries

By Greg Cima


Dr. Glenn Rogers (Courtesy of Dr. Rogers)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 253, 10; 10.2460/javma.253.10.1203

Just as veterinarians try to be indispensable to clients, Dr. Glenn Rogers thinks the American Association of Bovine Practitioners should be indispensable to veterinarians.

Dr. Rogers became AABP president during the organization's meeting Sept. 13–15 in Phoenix. He thinks the association can help members show the value of veterinarians’ services.

Veterinarians improve animal health and welfare, farm profits, and farmer quality of life, Dr. Rogers said. The veterinarians who help manage farm operations and understand their clients’ goals and challenges can offer more services and distinguish themselves from nonveterinarians who offer competing services.

Bovine practice and the AABP face challenges, he said.

The U.S. is losing small and mid-size dairies to low milk prices and industry consolidation. Veterinarians need to adapt as production changes and so do client and industry needs. Educational debt is high. Adjusting to rural life can be difficult, and veterinarians in cattle practice can encounter gender bias.

A recent AABP survey of graduating seniors indicated 17 percent of respondents thought gender bias hurt their efforts to get jobs. Dr. Rogers said the organization needs to study and remove obstacles to success, including gender bias.

As for adapting to rural life, Dr. Rogers said AABP leaders can advocate that veterinary students spend time on farms and ranches before graduation, and can help show young veterinarians the opportunities they have not only in practice but also in ancillary businesses, such as owning cattle.

Dr. Rogers said the AABP should keep working to attract veterinary students and recent graduates. The second AABP Recent Graduate Conference, Feb. 7–9, 2019, in Columbus, Ohio, will give veterinarians less than seven years out of school an education on clinical skills and business management.

Dr. Rogers said the AABP also plans to continue training young veterinarians at workshops on practice sustainability at least through 2020, with lessons on business management issues.

Dr. Rogers said the theme for this year's meeting, “Becoming Indispensable,” originated with a lesson given 35 years earlier by Dr. William D. Speer of DeWitt, Iowa, to Dr. W. Mark Hilton, who was one of this year's conference organizers. Dr. Hilton was a new veterinarian when Dr. Speer told him their goal was to become indispensable to clients by providing the best care. That requires ongoing education and a team of experts.


Dr. Rogers was a high school sophomore when he decided he wanted to become a veterinarian. He was involved in 4-H and the Future Farmers of America, and he showed steers and lambs. His local veterinarian, Dr. John Hays, and his FFA adviser, Dr. Marvin Cepica, influenced his decision.

Dr. Rogers loved the animals and people on ranches and wanted to work with cattle.

He attended his first AABP meeting in 1979 in San Antonio, when he was the president of the student chapter at Texas A&M University. His mentors and heroes had dedicated their lives to serving agriculture, and he would name his son, Ben, after one of them: Dr. Ben D. Harrington.

He would become director of the Texas VMA for 10 years, an officer in the Texas Academy of Veterinary Practice, district director for the AABP, and chair of the AABP Foundation. He was honored in 2016 to receive a call from the nominating committee chair who encouraged him to run for vice president, an elected position through which the office holder agrees to become president-elect and president in subsequent years.


Dr. Gerald Stokka, associate professor of livestock stewardship at North Dakota State University, has known Dr. Rogers since 1990, when both left private practice for graduate education at Kansas State University. Today, they talk about once a week.

“I love him to death, I really do—him and his family,” he said.

Dr. Stokka praised Dr. Rogers for his humility, honor, Christian faith, and respect for others. He described him as a servant leader whom Dr. Stokka admires and respects.

Dr. Stokka said that Dr. Rogers understands that cattle practitioners still see every animal brought to them—including dogs, cats, and horses—yet their roles on farms have evolved into providing management advice and maintaining food safety, along with long-standing duties to guard against foreign animal disease. They take responsibility for stewardship of animals, people, and the land, which Dr. Stokka expects Dr. Rogers will help demonstrate.

Dr. Rogers said he loves the AABP, being around other veterinarians who have similar experiences, and bovine medicine in general. By being president, he hopes to give back to the organization that has helped him through his career in private practice, academia, and industry.

This year's other officers include Dr. Calvin Booker, Okotoks, Alberta, president-elect; Carie Telgen, Greenwich, New York, vice president; and Dr. Mike D. Apley, Olsburg, Kansas, immediate past president.


By Malinda Larkin


Acorn Animal Hospital in Franklin, Massachusetts, is enrolled in the American Veterinary Medical Foundation's Veterinary Care Charitable Fund. The practice frequently holds fundraisers, including a Paint Your Pet event, to put toward the program. (Courtesy of Lisa Miracle)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 253, 10; 10.2460/javma.253.10.1203

Providing greater access to veterinary care for low-income pet owners remains an ongoing concern in the profession.

Researchers with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals published a study in 2015 on the re-homing of cats and dogs in the U.S. Among the 46 percent of survey respondents who said they gave up a pet because of a pet-related issue, 26 percent said they could not afford medical care for their pet's health problems (Open J Anim Sci 2015;5:435–456). When pet owners with incomes lower than $50,000 were asked which service might have helped them the most, the majority indicated free or low-cost veterinary care (40 percent).

Three years ago, the American Veterinary Medical Foundation launched its Veterinary Care Charitable Fund, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit program for AVMA members that helps practicing veterinarians provide charitable care in cases of financial need, neglect, or abuse.

Dr. Karen L. Davis, AVMF chair, said, “More than 1,000 hospitals (have) enrolled in this valuable program, resulting in increased access to medical care for animals who would otherwise be ineligible for treatment. Administration of the program is provided through the American Veterinary Medical Foundation, which simplifies the process for the practitioner. Truly, the VCCF ‘helps veterinarians help animals.’”

She also pointed out that clinics often have angel funds to cover charity cases that come through the door, but because the fund is a nonprofit organization, contributions are tax-deductible. Donations received by the AVMF fund for a particular clinic can be used at the veterinarian's discretion. The AVMF does not charge an annual fee. Instead, the Foundation withholds a small portion of donated funds to cover the program's administrative costs.

The VCCF has enrolled 1,171 practices in all 50 states and Puerto Rico since its inception, and $378,837 has been reimbursed in total. The mean reimbursement amount is $382, and 1,234 animals have been helped overall, according to AVMF data.

Lisa Miracle, hospital administrator for Acorn Animal Hospital in Franklin, Massachusetts, said her nine-doctor practice enrolled in the VCCF because staff members wanted to avoid having to tell clients they could help the patient only if the owner could afford to pay; otherwise, they would have to euthanize the animal.

“We're lucky. We're in an affluent area, so we're not having that conversation all the time, but we're in a position now where we have the opportunity to help people afford care that they otherwise could not,” Miracle said, noting that the hospital hasn't had an economic euthanasia case since enrolling in the program.

She says the AVMF's site is user-friendly and makes it easy to keep track of the account. It has been used sporadically, sometimes not for months at a time. About $1,500 was paid out last year. Often the money contributes to paying a part rather than all of a client's costs. Typical scenarios for using the VCCF include situations such as a septic focus in a dog that needs a dental procedure or when a number of expensive diagnostic tests have been run and the veterinarian wants to order one more test before making a diagnosis. “The conversation changes from ‘I can't afford it’ to ‘I can help cover’ like 99 percent of time. It's amazing. It's like you're giving them a life preserver. They feel less overwhelmed when someone is willing to help,” Miracle said.

She adds that most clients receiving help are elderly people who have strong attachments to their pets but also live on fixed incomes.

The hospital keeps a few thousand dollars in the account. Staff members actively raise money throughout the year for the program, which Miracle says has been a team-building experience.

“They are proud of the fact that we have this and we have put ourselves in a position to do the right thing every single time because we have it.”


By Greg Cima

Iowa State University officials plan to build a new $75 million veterinary diagnostic laboratory, reduced from a $124 million plan.

The prior plan would have included renovations to the existing Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory.

Starting in fall 2017, university officials sought $100 million in state funding toward the project and $20 million in donations, with the remaining $4 million coming from university funds, according to articles in Inside Iowa State, a university publication for faculty and staff. The university opened the current diagnostic laboratory in 1976 within the College of Veterinary Medicine building and updated it with a biosecurity addition in 2004.

Iowa's legislators voted to spend only $63.5 million, and university officials announced in September that the Board of Regents had approved planning for a $75 million laboratory instead.

Dr. Rodger Main, director of the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, said that, in the original proposal, the university would have spent $106 million on the new building and the rest on renovations. The building would have had a 150,000-square-foot footprint and about 83,000 square feet of rooms and other useable space, up from about 63,000 today. He said the planners for the new laboratory will need to decide what they can buy with $75 million and which functions will fit into the new building versus staying in the old space.

Dr. Main said the laboratory's functions have grown as agriculture has changed, and employment in the laboratory has expanded from 10 faculty members and 20 staff members when it opened to 25 faculty and 125 staff today. Those employees process about 85,000 case submissions and conduct 1.25 million diagnostic tests each year, university information states.

The laboratory needs adequate space to perform work that aids animal and human health, helps maintain access to export markets, and ensures products are ready for trade, Dr. Main said. The new laboratory also is needed to address biosafety and biosecurity deficiencies identified by the American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture requires AAVLD accreditation for laboratories that perform the diagnostic testing used to determine the health status of farms and animals. The new building will have heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems to meet biosafety standards and security to meet biocontainment standards, Dr. Main said, and the university will give the AAVLD annual progress reports during planning and construction.

Citing a recent economic study (Prev Vet Med 2018;151:5–12), Dr. Main said the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory at ISU provides economic benefits that are worth more than half the cost of the original proposal each year, and it would provide more than the full cost of the proposal during a year with an outbreak of a disease of high consequence.

North Carolina recovers from Florence

By R. Scott Nolen

When Hurricane Florence made landfall in southeastern North Carolina on Sept. 14, it was as a weakened Category 1 hurricane, not the Category 4 monster brewing over the Atlantic Ocean days before.

The relief was short-lived.

Florence dumped buckets of rain for several days across the region—a record 35 inches in one area—causing rivers to surge over their banks, across roads, and into farms and neighborhoods. State officials attribute 39 deaths to the storm, which displaced over 5,200 people.

Just over a thousand animals were evacuated or rescued from the floodwaters. Four million poultry and roughly 5,500 hogs did not escape the deluge, however. Livestock losses were projected at $23.1 million, a fraction of the total $1.1 billion hit to North Carolina's agriculture industry.

“These early estimates show just what a devastating and staggering blow this hurricane leveled at our agriculture industry,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. Later, Troxler requested $300 million from state lawmakers for cleanup and recovery efforts, with most of the funds going directly to farmers who lost crops and livestock.

Total estimated property damage left in Florence's wake is roughly $38 billion, according to the National Hurricane Center, making it the sixth-costliest hurricane in U.S. history.

Claire Holley, executive director of the North Carolina VMA, said the association was assessing damage to member practices as of early October. There were no reports of any having been destroyed, but many were damaged, she said.

“Folks are still trying to catch their breath and get back to some sense of order and normalcy, so letting us know their status is a secondary priority,” Holley explained. “Several practices have suffered damage from flooding and debris and are awaiting repair. In the meantime, they are still seeing patients as best they can.”

It was much the same with the Center for Marine Sciences and Technology, a research facility operated by North Carolina State University in Morehead City. An NCSU College of Veterinary Medicine spokesperson said the building had sustained “quite a bit of damage” but the extent was not yet known.

Faculty, staff, and students from the veterinary college helped rescue, shelter, and care for pets and livestock impacted by Florence. The AVMA supported these efforts with a $100,000 donation to the veterinary college through the American Veterinary Medical Foundation.

The week of the storm, Dr. Paul Lunn, dean of the veterinary college, loaded a van with donated supplies and delivered them to referring veterinarians in communities near the city of Wilmington, close to where Florence made landfall.

Dr. Kelli Ferris, a clinical assistant professor and general practice director with the veterinary college, oversaw more than 600 volunteers at a temporary staging area at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds, where 84 dogs and cats rescued from flooded animal shelters were housed. She and the CVM also organized the distribution of nearly 50 tons of hay and haylage to counties where flooding prevented livestock from grazing.

Fourth-year veterinary student Sarah Montoya was part of the team that took in donated supplies, cleaned, walked and fed animals, and assisted with physical examinations, laboratory work, and microchipping. “Each and every person, all of the 644 volunteers at our pop-up shelter, had something to offer,” Montoya said. “Among them were experienced veterinarians and rescuers working side by side with people who had never walked a dog.”

Many of the volunteers also assisted at a Red Cross co-located human and animal shelter in Chapel Hill, with the animals supervised by Dr. Brenda Stevens, a general practice clinical associate professor at the CVM who is also the North Carolina VMA president. For 13 days, the shelter took in animals, 191 in all, including dogs, cats, birds, fish, and guinea pigs.

Fourth-year veterinary student Alexandru Pop joined animal rescue groups, often by boat, to reach stranded animals, including horses and alpacas. Pop volunteered for two weeks, treating animals for severe dehydration, skin lacerations and infections, pneumonia, and hypoglycemia. “It really showed me how dynamic and creative the veterinary profession can be outside of day-to-day practice responsibilities,” Pop said.

The veterinary college opened temporary shelter space for horses at the Equine Health Center. The NC State Veterinary Hospital remained open for the duration of the storm and its aftermath, caring for many pets with a range of health issues stemming from the storm's impact.

One of the more notable Florence-related stories was the arrest of Tammie Hedges for allegedly violating the state Veterinary Practice Act. Hedges had housed 27 cats and dogs left by owners fleeing the storm at an unlicensed shelter in Rosewood near the Carolina coast. She was charged with a dozen misdemeanors for treating the animals with medications such as amoxicillin. Hedges was also charged with solicitation of a schedule IV substance for asking for a donation of tramadol.


Several horses are rescued from floodwaters unleashed by Hurricane Florence. (Courtesy of North Carolina State University CVM)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 253, 10; 10.2460/javma.253.10.1203

Less than a week later, District Attorney Matthew Delbridge dismissed all the charges, posting a statement on Facebook that read in part, “Dismissal of these criminal charges will minimize further distraction from my core mission of protecting the public from violent crime and allow the North Carolina Veterinary Medical Board to take whatever action they may deem appropriate.”


Alexandru Pop (standing), a fourth-year veterinary student at the North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine, helps treat two severely dehydrated and hypoglycemic alpacas. (Courtesy of NCSU CVM)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 253, 10; 10.2460/javma.253.10.1203


Several dogs were brought to the North Carolina State Fairgrounds, a staging ground for animals rescued from flooded shelters. (Courtesy of News and Observer Publishing)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 253, 10; 10.2460/javma.253.10.1203


By R. Scott Nolen

California has become the first state in the nation to allow veterinarians to legally talk with clients about cannabis as a treatment option for pets.

The new law, signed by Gov. Jerry Brown on Sept. 27, prevents the California Veterinary Medical Board from disciplining a veterinarian or denying, revoking, or suspending the license of a veterinarian solely for discussing the use of cannabis in an animal for medicinal purposes.

The veterinary board must develop guidelines for such discussions on or before January 2020 and post them on its website.

The California law authorizes veterinarians only to discuss medical marijuana with clients; prohibitions against recommending, prescribing, dispensing, or administering cannabis or cannabis products to an animal patient remain in place.

Additionally, the law prohibits a veterinarian from having a financial relationship with a licensed cannabis business in California, with violators facing fines and loss of their veterinary license.

States where medical marijuana is legal—29 so far, plus the District of Columbia—shield physicians from criminal and disciplinary actions for discussing marijuana with patients or recommending or prescribing marijuana to patients. With the recent exception of California, no similar allowances are made for veterinarians.

Introduced in February, Assembly Bill 2215 enjoyed broad support within the state's veterinary community and was endorsed by both the California and Southern California VMAs. “With the signing of the bill, at least now veterinarians can play the role of advisers and educators to pet owners seeking further information, rather than having to play a passive role and watching the multitude of nonprofessional resources be the educators and advisers to the pet owners,” said Dr. Laura Weatherford, president of the SCVMA.

Dr. Gary Richter owns Holistic Veterinary Care in Oakland, California, and was a chief advocate for AB 2215. He says the new law is a “big step in the right direction” for veterinarians and pet owners in California. “Until now, pet owners were being forced to get medical information from untrained people: pet store employees, cannabis dispensary workers, and the Internet,” Dr. Richter said.

Nevertheless, Dr. Richter believes changes made to the bill after its introduction create problems on a number of fronts. For instance, stripped from the original bill was language directing the state to establish guidelines ensuring the safety of cannabis products specifically marketed for pets. He also says the prohibition on conflicts of interest with a cannabis business will exclude veterinarians from product development.

“The only people in the state who are going to be forbidden to design cannabis medicines for pets will be the veterinarians,” Dr. Richter said. “This exclusion is not only illogical, it will slow the pace of research in the private sector and slow the development of new cannabis medicines.”


Morris Animal Foundation announced in late September that it has awarded $850,000 in support of wildlife research through grants to 15 studies and $30,000 in grants to fund three pilot studies in horse health with a focus on equine parasites and equine metabolic syndrome.


Hannah V. Siddle, PhD, of the University of Southampton in Southampton, England, was one of the wildlife researchers who received a grant from the Morris Animal Foundation. Her study, “Preventing the widespread transmission of a newly emerged contagious cancer in a vulnerable species, the Tasmanian devil,” received $127,999.

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 253, 10; 10.2460/javma.253.10.1203

The wildlife studies are as follows:

  • • “Identifying causes and potential remedies for spindly leg syndrome in captive amphibians,” Brian Gratwicke, PhD, Smithsonian Institution, $46,329.

  • • “Understanding genetic causes of decreased sperm quality (teratospermia) in the black-footed ferret (Mustela nigripes) using genomic tools,” Klaus-Peter Koepfli, PhD, Smithsonian Institution, $88,504.

  • • “Development of reptarenavirus reverse genetics techniques,” Luis Martinez-Sobrido, PhD, University of Rochester, $108,000.

  • • “Northeast regional meta-analysis of lead toxicosis impacts on bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus),” Krysten L. Schuler, PhD, Cornell University, $105,043.

  • • “Preventing the widespread transmission of a newly emerged contagious cancer in a vulnerable species, the Tasmanian devil,” Hannah V. Siddle, PhD, University of Southampton, $127,999.

  • • “Establishing tissue culture cell lines from reptiles, amphibians, and other captive and free-ranging wildlife,” Dr. Robert J. Ossiboff, University of Florida, $89,532.

  • • “Aortic aneurysms: An emerging health and welfare issue in bile-extracted bears,” Dr. Monica K.H. Bando, Washington State University, $38,538.

  • • “Patterns and consequences of microbiome ontogeny in a free-ranging mammal, the Cape buffalo,” Leigh Combrink, PhD, Oregon State University, $99,360.

  • • “Stress and health outcomes in muskoxen: Validating the use of qiviut cortisol and fecal glucocorticoid metabolites as stress biomarkers,” Dr. Juliette Di Francesco, University of Calgary, $77,950.

  • • “A nonsurgical method for suppressing gonadal activity in exotic and wildlife species using a novel antibody-guided, lipid-based nanocomplex technique,” Dr. Sandra L. Ayres, Tufts University, $10,800.

  • • “Identifying factors influencing parasite transmission in critically endangered Grauer's gorillas,” Neetha Iyer, University of California-Davis, $10,229.

  • • “Assessment of a novel lateral-flow device for rapid diagnosis of Aspergillus fungal infections in wild avian species,” Drs. Mark A. Pokras and Michelle Kneeland, Tufts University, $10,044.

  • • “Understanding the role of intrinsic physiological factors in the population recovery of Myotis lucifugus (little brown bats) from white-nose syndrome,” Christopher Richardson, PhD, Lesley University, $10,648.

  • • “Saving endangered frogs: Using RNA interference to reduce the virulence of the frog-killing fungus,” Alexandra A. Roberts, PhD, James Cook University, $10,800.

  • • “Reducing stress and improving supportive care during netgun capture of wildlife,” Dr. Annette T.S. Roug, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, $9,945.

The equine studies are as follows:

  • • “The taxa distribution of equine small strongyles following deworming,” Amy S. Biddle, PhD, University of Delaware, $10,757.

  • • “Paraoxonase-1 activity as a marker for diagnosis of equine metabolic syndrome,” Dr. Gabriele Rossi, Murdoch University, $9,355.

  • • “Changes in gut microbiome cause or effect of developing equine metabolic syndrome in Shetland ponies: A longitudinal study,” Dr. Mathijs J.P. Theelen, Utrecht University, $10,800.


Researchers have developed a vaccine that protects foals against infection with Rhodococcus equi, the most common and important cause of pneumonia in foals older than a few weeks. The vaccine targets a surface antigen found on many microbes, poly-N-acetyl glucosamine, meaning the vaccine has the potential to protect against other diseases.

Morris Animal Foundation funded the research team at Texas A&M University and Harvard Medical School. The team published the results online July 19 in PLOS Pathogens, a journal of the online Public Library of Science. The study is available at https://jav.ma/foalvaccine.

In addition to causing severe, insidiously progressive pneumonia, R equi can affect other structures in the body, such as the vertebrae and other bones, abdominal lymph nodes, eyes, joints, and brain. Fatality rates range from 20 to 40 percent of infected foals. There currently are no licensed vaccines to protect against foal pneumonia.

For the vaccine trial, the team first investigated whether vaccinating pregnant mares at three weeks and six weeks prior to predicted parturition protected the foals against pneumonia. The team found antibodies that ward off pneumonia were transferred to the foals via the mares’ colostrum, and those antibodies were able to keep almost all the foals born to vaccinated mares from contracting pneumonia.

Next, the team conducted a small randomized, controlled study of nine foals with R equi. Five foals were given serum with high concentrations of antibodies against R equi, and four were given standard plasma. All five foals receiving the hyperimmune serum were protected against R equi pneumonia, whereas the foals that received standard plasma all developed pneumonia.

What's in a name?

Veterinary Nurse Initiative faces an uphill battle

By Malinda Larkin

Two years ago, the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America formed the Veterinary Nurse Initiative coalition. Its purpose is to unite the profession under a single title—registered veterinary nurse—and push for uniform credentialing requirements and a uniform definition of scope of practice. Currently, a dozen states do not specify duties veterinary technicians can perform.

What's more, states may certify, register, or license veterinary technicians, or they may not recognize veterinary technicians at all. Eleven states privately credential via their state VMA or veterinary technician association, and in each of those states, credentialing is not mandatory. Utah is the only state that does not have any provisions for credentialing veterinary technicians. Of those states that do regulate veterinary technicians, most require successful completion of the Veterinary Technician National Exam; however, several states allow alternatives. Some states may also require a jurisprudence examination; others do not.

Such varying credential requirements have made it difficult for veterinary technicians to become credentialed in more than one state. In addition, there's no means of reporting a noncredentialed technician passing for a credentialed one in certain states, said Heather Prendergast, one of the leaders of the initiative. She presented at this year's Banfield Summit, held Sept. 10–11, in Portland, Oregon, which focused on the Veterinary Nurse Initiative for its theme.

“What we have in the industry is anyone is a vet tech. … Sometimes there is no protection for using that term, so to the clients, of course, they think we are all on-the-job trained. We don't elevate those who are credentialed or give them more to do over assistants,” Prendergast said. “Why do we do it? Because it's the way we practiced medicine decades ago. We still manage that way, and we still teach that way.” (See story, “Prime issue for veterinary technicians: Underutilization,” page 1233.)

Through standardization and increased public awareness of the credentials of registered veterinary nurse, “the profession will make strides towards better recognition, mobility and elevated practice standards, leading to better patient care and consumer protection,” according to the initiative's website, www.veterinarynurse.org.

The VNI's initial focus has been to introduce the name change to veterinary nurse—arguably the most contentious part of the effort. Doing so has resulted in strong pushback from nurses, while the veterinary profession takes a wait-and-see approach.


Early this year, the VNI pursued amendments to veterinary practice acts in Tennessee and Ohio that would establish the professional title of registered veterinary nurse. No other changes to the practice acts were needed because scope-of-practice definitions and credentialing requirements were already in place. The hope was that Tennessee and Ohio would be model states for the rest to follow.

In Tennessee, HB 2288/SB 2154 was introduced on Jan. 31, but it was never scheduled for a vote during the short legislative session. The initiative had the support of the Tennessee Veterinary Technicians Association, Lincoln Memorial University, and the University of Tennessee. The Tennessee VMA took a neutral position on the title change.

In Ohio, HB 501 was introduced on Feb. 13. The state House Agriculture and Rural Development Committee voted 14–1 in favor this spring, but the bill didn't advance before the legislature went on recess. The Ohio Association of Veterinary Technicians and Ohio VMA have come out in support of the initiative. Work will resume on pushing the bill forward later this year, said Ken Yagi, co-leader of the VNI. It will likely be reintroduced in 2019.

Both bills saw fierce opposition from the state nurses associations. Brian Burger, president of the Ohio Nurses Association, testified before the agriculture committee in late March that the title “nurse” has always been linked to the care of humans. Instead, he suggested, “Perhaps the title ‘veterinary practitioner’ would offer a solution to title confusion, without using another profession's well-established title.” In the veterinary profession, however, the term “practitioner” means a veterinarian in practice.

The Tennessee Nurses Association said it believes the Veterinary Nurse Initiative would undermine the title “nurse” and said it believes in “transparency of those who provide care for human beings and those who care for other forms of life.”

Ginny Nystrom, president of the Tennessee Veterinary Technicians Association, wrote in a letter to members: “To quote a section of the oath we all take once we as technicians graduate: ‘I solemnly dedicate myself to aiding animals and society by providing excellent care and services for animals, by alleviating animal suffering, and promoting public health.’ Human nurses are not the only profession that carries compassion, healing, holistic approach, and the desire to alleviate suffering.”

The VNI hopes to pursue the name change to veterinary nurse in a handful of states in 2019, including Ohio and Tennessee, though organizers will make a final decision after the November elections. Indiana is also a likely candidate. VNI leaders have contacted Indiana veterinary and veterinary technician organizations ahead of next year's legislative session, which begins in January.

The Indiana VMA board of directors discussed the initiative at its September meeting and sent a recommendation to its Legislative Working Group to investigate a road map to advance this concept in Indiana, said Lisa A. Perius, executive director of the IVMA. The association has not issued a position statement; nor has the Indiana Veterinary Technician Association.

To continue, the VNI will need more money. NAVTA started collecting money in 2017 for the initiative's legislative efforts, separate from the association's funds, and the VNI task force has raised additional funds, ensuring NAVTA membership dues were not used to fund the initiative.

“NAVTA has funded (the VNI) as far as it could; it only had so much in the treasury up to this point. We have had outside sponsors, but we cannot go any further. At best, we can still do one or two states. We should do five or six states … but it's a question of funding,” said Mark Cushing, legislative strategist for the VNI. “The initiative needs $250,000 per year, or about $50,000 to $70,000 per state.”


Janet Haebler, senior associate director of policy and state government affairs for the American Nurses Association, confirmed to JAVMA News that NAVTA approached the ANA about the name change to veterinary nurse in 2015 after a referral from the National Council of State Boards of Nursing. NAVTA asked the ANA last year for an official statement endorsing the change, which the ANA declined to make.

The ANA has stated that while it encourages the efforts of veterinary technicians to standardize their education and licensure, it opposes the title change.

“We are not suggesting any pet owner will confuse a staff member in a veterinary clinic or hospital as a human health care practitioner. The issue at hand is the title ‘nurse’ and the connotations and respect that come with that title,” Haebler said.

The Veterinary Nurse Initiative targeted two states in 2018—Tennessee and Ohio—to start its legislative efforts. Both were chosen because little more would be required than changing the professional title of “veterinary technician” to “veterinary nurse” in the state veterinary practice acts. The scope-of-practice definitions and credentialing requirements were already in place. The hope was that Tennessee and Ohio would be model states for the rest to follow.

STATUS: House Agriculture and Rural Development Committee voted 14–1 in favor. The legislation didn't move forward before recess; it will likely be introduced again next year.

STATUS: Taken off the calendar in the Senate Energy, Agriculture, and Natural Resources Committee. No further consideration taken in the House. It will likely be introduced again next year.


Ken Yagi (far right), co-leader of the Veterinary Nurse Initiative; Dr. Liesa Stone (middle), Ohio VMA president; and members of the Ohio Association of Veterinary Technicians take a break after a hearing before the Ohio House of Representatives Agriculture and Rural Development Committee this past spring to lobby in favor of HB 501 to change the title of veterinary technician to veterinary nurse. (Courtesy of Ken Yagi)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 253, 10; 10.2460/javma.253.10.1203

Australia and the U.K. already use the title “veterinary nurse,” but Lizzie Lockett, executive director of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, the veterinary licensing body for the U.K., cautions that switching to the title “veterinary nurse” may not be a panacea for all of the issues facing veterinary technicians, especially those related to recognition and value.

“We have had the title ‘veterinary nurse’ for many decades in the U.K. now, but we know that the level of professionalism our nursing team has—and the skills and knowledge they possess—remains undervalued by both the public and the veterinary profession,” she said.

The RCVS is trying to address the issue with its VN Futures project (https://jav.ma/VNfutures) to promote reward, recognition, and retention within the technician profession.

“This does not mean I am not supportive of the U.S. profession moving in whichever direction they feel most suits their ambitions, but just to stress that education around the role and value of the profession will need to continue,” Lockett said.

Deborah B. Reeder, executive director of the American Association of Equine Veterinary Technicians and Assistants, says the direction for the VNI has veered off course as it has yet to address national credentialing requirements or better professional recognition—both of which her organization supports.

Reeder says the VNI should be a concrete package that veterinary technicians can get behind rather than focusing on changing the name to veterinary nurse, which she estimates could take at least a decade and an exorbitant amount of money. She points to the tens of thousands of dollars already spent on two states, with little to show for it.

“It's become extremely frustrating and extremely divisive now, which is very unfortunate. What this all started for was more recognition. We're putting the cart before the horse. We need to educate first,” Reeder said.

She points to Canada, which uses the term “registered veterinary technician,” as a country that does a good job promoting that segment of the profession by educating the public about its role.

“The governing bodies have stood behind this, and they are truly supporting the title and the profession and what those people do. That's something we should model. They don't do it just during Veterinary Technician Week, but all year long,” Reeder said.

She also fears that having the ANA as an opponent, not an ally, in veterinary technicians’ fight for better recognition and standards will not bode well. Reeder is speaking from experience. Twenty years ago, she worked on a project to change the name “veterinary technician” to “veterinary nurse” in Texas. She recalls bringing the dictionary to the state senate hearing to point out that the definition of nursing didn't say human medicine only. But ultimately the power of the nurses associations proved to be too much.

“You can't fight and win a battle against the ANA. (Veterinary technicians) don't have that structure or foundation,” she said.


The VNI has so far gained 32 sponsors and supporters, including 17 position statements of support.

A few entities have switched to the title “veterinary nurse” in award names or adopted the new title, including Purdue University's veterinary technology program, which has now become its veterinary nursing program.

The NAVTA executive board itself has decided to not change the name of its organization until legislative changes have actually taken place. “We believe the VNI is a solution to several of the profession's issues, but we also realize that legislation moves very slowly and at its own pace. We do have plans to make changes as soon as it is practical,” said Mary Berg, NAVTA president.

Indeed, the initiative has generated widespread discussion, but the majority of organizations have not yet formulated a position statement on the issue. That's according to a survey of its members the Veterinary Medical Association Executives conducted in early October. Of the 46 respondents—about 40 percent of the membership—40 represent state VMAs, three represent local VMAs, and three represent allied or national organizations. The responses were as follows:

  • • The boards of directors at 32 organizations (70 percent of respondents) have had discussions about the Veterinary Nurse Initiative. Another three organizations (6 percent) have the topic slated on agendas for imminent discussion. The remaining 11 organizations (24 percent) have not discussed the VNI.

  • • In regard to determining a position on the issue, 35 organizations (76 percent) have not determined a position, while 11 organizations (24 percent) have determined a position. The positions reported include support, neutral, and opposed—with many of the responses reflecting nuanced positions (eg, supporting a uniform basis for credentialing while not endorsing use of the term “veterinary nurse”). Of the 11 organizations that have determined a position, eight are in support (of some or all components of the VNI), two are neutral, and one is opposed.

The AVMA is one of the organizations that is backing the campaign to standardize the credentials, scope of practice, and title for U.S. veterinary technicians. But the AVMA Board of Directors voted a year ago to remain neutral on a campaign goal that the title should be “registered veterinary nurse.”

At the Banfield Summit, Dr. Janet Donlin, AVMA CEO, highlighted the need for a professionwide dialogue about the value of credentialing veterinary technicians, particularly in light of concerns voiced by the Federal Trade Commission and some states about finding less-restrictive alternatives to occupational licensing requirements.

In August, the AVMA, American Association of Veterinary State Boards, Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges, and NAVTA released a joint statement of support for licensing requirements as an essential component of protecting public health and safety. Together, these groups are working to standardize and improve licensure standards for veterinarians and veterinary technicians.

The Federal Trade Commission and several states are increasingly reviewing occupational licensure requirements in order to decrease barriers to entry into trades and professions, Dr. Donlin said. Strict requirements for licensure to join a trade or profession have been viewed by the FTC as a driver of higher costs for consumers without countervailing benefits. Against this backdrop, the AVMA and NAVTA agree that the public would be better served if all 50 states required credentialing for veterinary technicians, she said.

Prendergast acknowledges that the initiative seeks to do a lot, and pushing it all through won't come easy.

“We have people saying change isn't happening fast enough. There are going to be some states that will be easier than others, and then there's Utah, where vet techs aren't in the practice act. So it's going to be several years, absolutely. We have 50 states we have to work in; it's not going to happen overnight. That's OK. We'll have long-term success.”

Prime issue for veterinary technicians: Underutilization

By Malinda Larkin


Dr. Daniel Aja, senior vice president and chief medical officer for Banfield Pet Hospital, said during this year's Banfield Summit, held Sept. 10–11 in Portland, Oregon, that his company has taken steps to further differentiate between veterinary technicians and assistants. Banfield employs about 1,500 veterinary technicians. (Courtesy of Banfield Pet Hospital)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 253, 10; 10.2460/javma.253.10.1203

Veterinary technicians in practice continue to struggle with low pay, compassion fatigue, and burnout as well as a lack of recognition and opportunities for career advancement, according to results from the 2016 National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America survey.

“They are working 50 hours a week, working so hard to make ends meet. A third of techs in the survey had two or three jobs. We're all going to burn out at that level,” said Heather Prendergast, co-leader of the Veterinary Nurse Initiative, during this year's Banfield Summit, held Sept. 10–11 in Portland, Oregon. The Veterinary Nurse Initiative seeks to unite veterinary technicians under a single title—registered veterinary nurse—and push for uniform credentialing requirements and a uniform definition of scope of practice. (See story, “What's in a name?” on page 1228.)

Prendergast continued, “The value of credentialing is so varied among states, but when there's no pay difference between on-the-job(–trained) or credentialed techs, why go to school and get a $30,000 loan and get paid the same amount as the assistant at $15 an hour?”

According to the survey's authors, some of the challenges for technicians have contributed to technicians leaving the profession. When asked how satisfied technicians were in their position, about half (51 percent) said they are very satisfied with their career and will stay in veterinary technology. Over half (56.7 percent) had changed their place of employment within the first five years in veterinary technology.

Unionization is a way of going after the issues differently than the initiative, said Ken Yagi, co-leader of the VNI, in reference to a few hundred employees at VCA and BluePearl clinics who voted to unionize this past year (see JAVMA, Sept. 1, 2018, page 541). He asked, “Why did we have to come down this road that there are such big issues going on? How did we come to this? Why did this happen?”

Kara Burns, executive director of NAVTA, points to underutilization of veterinary technicians as a major issue.

“What use is a credential if they're not being used?” she said. “This goes hand in hand with the VNI. We need to crack this nut sooner than later, or we're not going to have many vet techs left. For me, it's the general practices where we can get proper use of techs. No disrespect, but there shouldn't be the ‘I can train them on the job’ mentality.”



Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 253, 10; 10.2460/javma.253.10.1203

Dr. Daniel Aja, senior vice president and chief medical officer for Banfield Pet Hospital, said at the summit that one of the areas where his company has failed in the past was with veterinary technicians.

To rectify that, Banfield, which employs about 1,500 veterinary technicians, has taken steps to further differentiate between veterinary technicians and assistants, including pulling veterinary technician badges off technicians who were not credentialed. The company this spring increased the hourly pay of all technicians, tripled their continuing education allowance, and opened the company's conference partnership program to veterinary technicians. Through the program, veterinarians and veterinary technicians can apply to attend a national partner conference, and Banfield will pay for their airfare and hotel stay.

Dr. Aja noted that turnover of technicians was at 40 percent annually a few years ago, and now it is at 16 percent.

“But this doesn't solve the broader issue. What is the root cause of the issue? Why aren't they being used like they should?” Dr. Aja asked. “Vets are getting in the way. (Veterinary technicians) are not being used. They are glorified pet holders. (Not wanting to pay more) money is part of it, but they also want to be involved and are not being given a chance. The other is lack of respect. How do we talk about techs? Do people know about their education?”

Dr. Aja said Banfield is rolling out a pilot program this year that aims to use veterinary technicians more extensively, within the limits of their degree. The company is also training veterinarians to no longer do 30 tasks that veterinary technicians should be doing and that fit within most state guidelines for veterinary technicians.

“We are a proud supporter of the Vet Nurse Initiative. What we have to do throughout the profession is drive a shift. We need all of us together to do it. It's the right thing to do, not the easy thing to do,” Dr. Aja said.


The American Association of Bovine Practitioners honored 10 veterinarians and a student chapter for contributions to cattle, the association, cattle industries, and students.

Association leaders and sponsors gave the awards during the AABP annual conference this past September in Phoenix (see page 1214).

Dr. Henry Ceelen (Guelph ‘81) of Kemptville, Ontario, is the AABP Bovine Practitioner of the Year. The award honors veterinarians who are active in organized veterinary medicine and have made substantial contributions to bovine medicine.


Dr. Henry Ceelen

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 253, 10; 10.2460/javma.253.10.1203

Dr. Virginia Fajt (Auburn ‘95) of College Station, Texas, received the AABP Award of Excellence. It is given to AABP members in teaching, research, industry, or government for consistent and direct influence on veterinarians’ daily activities.


Dr. Virginia Fajt

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 253, 10; 10.2460/javma.253.10.1203

Dr. Dan Thomson (Iowa State ‘00) of Manhattan, Kansas, received the Zoetis Distinguished Service Award, which is given in honor of lengthy service to promote goals of the AABP and accomplishments that serve bovine agriculture through organized veterinary medicine.


Dr. Dan Thomson

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 253, 10; 10.2460/javma.253.10.1203

Dr. Shelia McGuirk (Georgia ‘77) of Dodgeville, Wisconsin, received the Merck Animal Health Mentor-of-the-Year Award. It is given to honor AABP members who have worked in veterinary medicine at least 25 years and have been advisers and role models to preveterinary or veterinary students.


Dr. Sheila McGuirk

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 253, 10; 10.2460/javma.253.10.1203

Dr. Ben Shelton (Tennessee ‘81) of Olin, North Carolina, and Dr. John Crews (Auburn ‘75) of Fort Meade, Florida, received the Boehringer Ingelheim Excellence in Preventive Medicine awards. Dr. Shelton received the award for contributions in dairy cattle medicine and Dr. Crews for contributions in beef cattle medicine. The award is given to honor veterinarians who have developed outstanding preventive medicine programs.


Dr. Ben Shelton

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 253, 10; 10.2460/javma.253.10.1203

Dr. Eric Behlke (Iowa State ‘10) of Okotoks, Alberta, received the Dr. James A. Jarrett Award for Young Leaders, an award given to veterinarians who are within 10 years of graduation and whose service to the AABP has enhanced the organization's mission and will help the organization remain successful.

Two veterinarians also were inducted into the Cattle Production Veterinarian Hall of Fame.


Dr. John Crews

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 253, 10; 10.2460/javma.253.10.1203

Dr. Delbert Miles (Missouri ‘66) was the 2018 inductee for work in the beef industry. He had jobs in mixed animal practice, academia, the pharmaceutical industry, and feedlot management before joining Veterinary Research and Consulting Services, where he has worked since 1984. He also is a former president of the Academy of Veterinary Consultants and a former AABP director.


Dr. Delbert Miles

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 253, 10; 10.2460/javma.253.10.1203

He was honored for his leadership and mentoring, including early leadership in the Beef Quality Assurance Program and design of low-cost treatment protocols that reduced stress on sick cattle.

Dr. Leland Allenstein (Iowa State ‘50) was posthumously inducted for his work in the dairy industry. He spent 40 years in dairy practice before working at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine from 1987–95. He died in 2011.


Dr. Leland Allenstein

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 253, 10; 10.2460/javma.253.10.1203

He was an AABP president, and he earned awards from state, university, and veterinary organizations for his service to the dairy industry. He was a columnist for Hoard's Dairyman and, for 30 years, the chief veterinarian of the World Dairy Expo.

He also was honored for bringing a stream of students into his practice and his love of dairy farmers, their families, and their cows.

The AABP also gave this year's Student Chapter Award to the chapter at Iowa State University and this year's Faculty Advisor Award to Dr. Derek Foster at North Carolina State University.


The Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine announced Sept. 27 that it has recognized two alumnae with its 2018 distinguished alumni awards.


Dr. Sharon L. Deem

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 253, 10; 10.2460/javma.253.10.1203

Dr. Sharon L. Deem (Virginia-Maryland ‘88) received the 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award. Dr. Deem has served as director for the Institute for Conservation Medicine at the Saint Louis Zoo since 2011. Previously, she worked for the Wildlife Conservation Society and the Smithsonian Institution's National Zoological Park. Her career has focused on diseases shared among domestic animals, wildlife, and people and on the impact of environmental change and human interactions on the health of wildlife populations.


Dr. Bom Spina Harris

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 253, 10; 10.2460/javma.253.10.1203

Dr. Bom Spina Harris (Virginia-Maryland ‘08) received the 2018 Outstanding Recent Alumni Award. Since earning her veterinary degree, Dr. Harris has practiced in central and eastern Virginia. In 2016, she opened her solo practice, Old Dominion Veterinary Services in Ruther Glen, Virginia, serving cattle as well as sheep, goats, swine, and camelids. Dr. Harris participates in the Mentor Program for veterinary students through the Virginia-Maryland veterinary college and the Virginia, Maryland, and West Virginia VMAs.


Below are some of the new listings of veterinary clinical studies in the AVMA Animal Health Studies Database. Information about participation in the studies is available at www.avma.org/findvetstudies.

  • • AAHSD004759: “Optimizing novel immunotherapy combinations targeting the tumor microenvironment in canine spontaneous osteosarcoma,” Tufts University.

  • • AAHSD004763: “Clinical efficacy of OsteoBioScaff for the treatment of elbow osteoarthritis in fourteen dogs (pilot),” Veterinary Orthopedic & Sports Medicine Group, Annapolis Junction, Maryland.

  • • AAHSD004767: “Evaluation of a novel ITK inhibitor in dogs with spontaneous T-cell lymphoma,” Hope Veterinary Specialists, Malvern, Pennsylvania.

  • • AAHSD004780: “UTMD-GLP-1 gene transfer in Doberman Pinscher dogs with congestive heart failure secondary to dilated cardiomyopathy,” Texas A&M University.

  • • AAHSD004790: “Silencing the canine SOD1 gene in central nervous system for treatment of degenerative myelopathy—a pilot study,” North Carolina State University.

  • • AAHSD004791: “Pilot study: Phase 2 of the MDH pipeline-Bortezomib as first line therapy for osteosarcoma,” North Carolina State University.



Dr. Booth (Iowa State ‘73), 70, Ames, Iowa, died Aug. 15, 2018. A diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons, he was an associate professor at the Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine. During his tenure, Dr. Booth served as director of biomedical communications from 2001–04 and directed veterinary education and technology services from 2004–09. He also chaired the veterinary college's Curriculum Committee from 2001–05. Earlier in his career, Dr. Booth served on the faculties of the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine and Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine. His wife, Marilyn; two sons and a daughter; and three grandchildren survive him. Memorials may be made to the Student Chapter of the AVMA, Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine, 1800 Christensen Drive, Ames, IA 50011.


Dr. Donavan (Iowa State ‘56), 86, Salida, Colorado, died May 20, 2018. He owned a mixed animal practice in Madison, Wisconsin, prior to retirement, including several satellite clinics and a mobile service. Dr. Donavan was a founding member of Cayman Veterinary Associates, providing veterinary care on the island. He helped establish a free children's zoo in Madison and volunteered at the Cayman Turtle Farm and the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Alaska. Dr. Donavan was a veteran of the Army, serving at Fort Dietrich Army Medical Center in Fredrick, Maryland, and Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, prior to establishing his Madison practice. His wife, Janet; three daughters and two sons; eight grandchildren; three great-grandchildren; and a sister survive him.


Dr. Elliott (Georgia ‘53), 93, Grand Ledge, Michigan, died June 16, 2018. A diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Pathologists, he worked for Upjohn Company in Kalamazoo, Michigan, as a veterinary pathologist prior to retirement. Dr. Elliott was a member of the Kalamazoo-Dunes Orchid Society. He served in the Navy during World War II. Dr. Elliott's three daughters, 11 grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren survive him. Memorials may be made to Kalamazoo Loaves and Fishes, 901 Portage St., Kalamazoo, MI 49001, or to Living Threads, a Christian organization that raises money via memory quilts to support needy children, at 100 South Pine St., Suite 145, Zeeland, MI 49464.


Dr. Haggerty (Cornell ‘73), 71, Tulsa, Oklahoma, died June 11, 2018. A small animal veterinarian, he owned Marina Animal Clinic in Tulsa. Dr. Haggerty's wife, Mariann; two daughters and a son; and four grandchildren survive him.


Dr. Harle (Texas A&M ‘72), 70, Baird, Texas, died Aug. 17, 2018. He was the founder of Callahan County Veterinary Clinic in Clyde, Texas, where he practiced mixed animal medicine until 2009. Dr. Harle later practiced from a home office, serving ranchers. Early in his career, he worked in Martindale, Texas. Dr. Harle was a past president of the Texas Academy of Veterinary Practice and a member of the Texas VMA, American Association of Equine Practitioners, and Texas Equine Veterinary Association. He was instrumental in the founding of a small animal emergency clinic in Abilene, Texas, and actively supported the establishment of a veterinary school at Texas Tech University in Amarillo.

Active in his community, Dr. Harle served two terms on the Baird Independent School District Board, was a past president of the Callahan County Water Supply Corp. and a past vice president of the Callahan County Sheriff's Posse, and was a member of the Callahan-Shackleford County Farm Bureau. His wife, Nicki; three sons; seven grandchildren; his father; and a sister survive him. Memorials may be made to First Presbyterian Church, P.O. Box 757, Baird, TX 79504, or Texas Tech Masked Rider Endowment Fund, Attn: Center for Campus Life, Box 45014, Lubbock, TX 79409.


Dr. Heinze (Kansas State ‘53), 92, Erie, Pennsylvania, died March 25, 2018. He was the founder of The Equine Veterinary Clinic in West Lafayette, Indiana, where he practiced until retirement in 1990. Following graduation, Dr. Heinze practiced small animal medicine for a year in Lincoln, Nebraska. He then moved to Pocahontas, Iowa, where he owned a mixed animal practice for five years. Dr. Heinze subsequently joined the Oklahoma State University Center for Veterinary Health Sciences as an assistant professor in large animal medicine. From 1961–67, he served as an associate professor at the Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine, after which he established his practice in West Lafayette.

Active in organized veterinary medicine, Dr. Heinze founded and served as chairman of the Indiana Association of Equine Practitioners and was a past president of the Indiana Thoroughbred Association and West Central Indiana VMA. In 2009, he received an Alumni Recognition Award from the Kansas State University Veterinary Medical Alumni Association. Dr. Heinze served in the Army during World War II and was a member of the American Legion. He was also active with the Kiwanis. Dr. Heinze's two daughters, a son, and three grandchildren survive him. His son, Dr. David Heinze (Purdue ‘76), owns Fox Valley Equine Practice in La Fox, Illinois. Memorials may be made to the My Mentor Honor Program, AAEP Foundation, 4033 Iron Works Parkway, Lexington, KY 40511, https://jav.ma/AAEPMentorHonor.


Dr. Marks (Wisconsin ‘89), 56, North Freedom, Wisconsin, died July 13, 2018. He served as senior veterinarian for the state of Wisconsin's Rural Electric Power Services program. Earlier in his career, Dr. Marks worked in New Glarus, Wisconsin, and practiced large animal medicine at Sauk Prairie Veterinary Clinic in Prairie Du Sac, Wisconsin. His wife, Heather; mother; and three brothers and two sisters survive him. Memorials may be made to Safe Harbor Child Advocacy Center, 1457 E. Washington Ave., Madison, WI 53703, or Heifer International, 1 World Ave., Little Rock, AR 72202.


Dr. Mathes (Kansas State ‘61), 91, Worthington, Indiana, died Aug. 25, 2018. He owned a mixed animal practice in Worthington for 57 years. Dr. Mathes served in the Army during World War II and was a member of the American Legion. He was also active with the Elks Club. Dr. Mathes is survived by two daughters and two grandchildren. Memorials toward the Greene County Humane Society may be sent to the Welch & Cornett Funeral Home, 23 S. Jefferson St., Worthington, IN 47471.


Dr. Norman (Oklahoma State ‘60), 82, Davis, California, died Aug. 17, 2018. He was extension veterinarian emeritus at the University of California-Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. During his tenure at UC-Davis, Dr. Norman also served as a lecturer in the veterinary school's Department of Medicine and Epidemiology. Earlier in his career, he was in private practice in New Mexico, Texas, Kansas, and Oklahoma; served as a Fulbright lecturer in physiology in Guatemala; worked as an animal production specialist in Paraguay; and served as extension beef cattle specialist and associate professor of animal science at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces. Dr. Norman was a charter diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Nutrition and a past president of the American Academy of Veterinary Nutrition. He was a member of the American Association of Extension Veterinarians, Society for Theriogenology, American Association of Bovine Practitioners, National Cattlemen's Beef Association, California Cattlemen's Association, and California VMA.

In 1994, Dr. Norman was named AAEV Extension Veterinarian of the Year, and, in 1999, he received a Distinguished Alumnus Award from the Oklahoma State University Center for Veterinary Health Sciences. He was the recipient of the AABP-Merial Excellence in Preventive Medicine Beef Award in 2001. Dr. Norman's wife, Cathy; a son and a daughter; and a grandchild survive him. Memorials may be made to the American Heart Association, 1710 Gilbreth Road, Burlingame, CA 94010.


Dr. Passovoy (California-Davis ‘67), 77, Chico, California, died June 19, 2018. During his career, he practiced mixed animal medicine at Chico Animal Hospital. Dr. Passovoy was active with the Elks Lodge and Noon Exchange Club and was a member of the National Ski Patrol for 50 years. His wife, Carol; two sons; three grandchildren; and a sister survive him.


Dr. Pygatt-Dankaro (Tuskegee ‘91), 56, Long Beach, California, died April 21, 2018. A small animal practitioner, she served as a relief veterinarian in Southern California. Dr. Pygatt-Dankaro was active with the vaccination program for animal owners in Lynwood, California, via the Southern California VMA. Her husband, Yusufu; her parents; and a sister survive her. Dr. Pygatt-Dankaro's father, Dr. Edward Pygatt (Tuskegee ‘56), is a retired small animal veterinarian in Lynwood. Memorials may be made to Tuskegee University, 1200 W. Montgomery Road, Tuskegee, AL 36088.


Dr. Roberts (Texas A&M ‘67), 74, Fredericksburg, Texas, died Aug. 14, 2018. A diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Radiology, he was a professor and head of anatomy and radiology at the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine prior to retirement. Previously, Dr. Roberts taught and served as director of radiological services at the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine. Early in his career, he was an associate veterinarian in a small animal and exotic practice in Houston; served as an instructor in radiology at the Texas A&M University and Auburn University veterinary colleges; was a staff radiologist in Austin, Texas; and served as a professor at the Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Roberts is survived by his wife, Karen; two sons and a stepson; five grandchildren; and a sister. Memorials may be made to the Australian Shepherd Health and Genetics Institute, 1338 Trouville Ave., Grover Beach, CA 93433.


Dr. Sloan (California-Davis ‘77), 73, La Crescenta, California, died Aug. 29, 2018. A small animal practitioner, he served as an associate veterinarian at Vanderhoof Veterinary Hospital in Altadena, California, and West Main Animal Hospital in Alhambra, California. Dr. Sloan also contributed his services to the San Gabriel Humane Society. He is survived by a brother and a sister. Memorials, with the memo line of the check notated to the Scott A. Sloan Award in Veterinary Medicine, may be made to the University of California-Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, P.O. Box 1167, Davis, CA 95617. They may also be made to the San Gabriel Valley Humane Society, 851 E. Grand Ave., San Gabriel, CA 91776.


Dr. Sokolowski (Illinois ‘65), 82, Atlanta, died Sept. 14, 2018. Following graduation and after earning his doctorate in nutritional biochemistry in 1965 from the University of Illinois, he began his career at Upjohn Company in Kalamazoo, Michigan, working in the animal health division. During his time at Upjohn, Dr. Sokolowski was awarded patents for the treatment of genital tract disease with prostaglandins and for treating pseudopregnancy, galactorrhea, and mastitis in mammals. He also managed the research and development of the drugs Prostin, Cheque Drops, and Lutalyse. In 1981, Dr. Sokolowki joined Gaines Pet Nutrition Center in Kankakee, Illinois, working in pet food research and development. After the acquisition of Gaines Foods by Quaker Oats in 1986, he developed Cycle Dog Food. From 1990 until retirement in 2000, Dr. Sokolowki worked for Kal Kan Foods in Los Angeles, serving initially as veterinary communications manager and later as professional services manager and spokesperson. In retirement, he wrote “Ask Dr. Jim” columns for several online pet sites and for magazines and newspapers.

Dr. Sokolowski was a past member of the American Veterinary Medical Foundation board of directors. He received the AVMA Gaines Award in 1980. Dr. Sokolowski is survived by his wife, Barbara; two daughters and a son; and eight grandchildren. Memorials may be made to Best Friends Animal Society, 5001 Angel Canyon Road, Kanab, UT 84741.


Dr. Stava (Colorado State ‘60), 86, Rushville, Nebraska, died July 27, 2018. Following graduation, he worked in Chadron, Nebraska, for several years. Dr. Stava then established a practice in Rushville, practicing primarily large animal medicine in the area until retirement. He was an Army veteran of the Korean War. Dr. Stava's wife, Katherine; two daughters and two sons; and eight grandchildren survive him.


Dr. Strandberg (Minnesota ‘57), 90, Alma Center, Wisconsin, died April 12, 2018. He practiced primarily bovine medicine in Alma Center for 40 years, establishing Strandberg Veterinary Service with his son, Dr. Hoyt Strandberg (Minnesota ‘76), in the mid-1970s. Dr. Strandberg was a past vice president of the American Jersey Cattle Association and served on the Wisconsin Veterinary Examining Board. In 2003, he received the AJCA Distinguished Service Award. Active in his community, Dr. Strandberg served as Jackson County coroner and was a member of the Alma Center-Humbird-Merrillan School Board and Jackson County Board. He was an Army veteran of the Korean War and received several honors for his military service, including the Silver Star, Combat Infantry Badge, and Purple Heart. Dr. Strandberg's four sons, a daughter, 10 grandchildren, 21 great-grandchildren, two sisters, and a brother survive him. His brother, Dr. Harold L. Strandberg (Minnesota ‘54), is a retired Army Veterinary Corps colonel.


Dr. Suro (Pennsylvania ‘60), 82, Littleton, Colorado, died Sept. 6, 2018. He began his career practicing small animal medicine in Philadelphia. In the 1960s, Dr. Suro moved to Denver, where he continued to practice small animal medicine, owning Anderson Animal Hospital in the 1980s. In 1988, he and his wife, Nanci, established MaxFund, a no-kill animal shelter and adoption center. Dr. Suro was a past president of the Denver Area VMS and a member of the American Animal Hospital Association. He is survived by his wife, four children, 10 grandchildren, a great-grandchild, and two half brothers and a half sister. Memorials may be made to MaxFund, 720 W. 10th Ave., Denver, CO 80204.


Dr. Terry (Cornell ‘65), 78, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, died Sept. 17, 2018. He began his career at Huntington Animal Hospital in Long Island, New York. In 1966, Dr. Terry took over the practice owned by his father, Dr. John W. Terry (Cornell ‘33), in Rockville Centre, New York, where he worked until retirement in 1990. He is survived by his wife, Joanne; three daughters and a son; nine grandchildren; and a brother and a sister. Memorials may be made to St. Ignatius Loyola, 9999 N. Military Trail, Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33410.

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