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The Equine Welfare Data Collective received funding from the Right Horse Initiative, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and the American Association of Equine Practitioners Foundation. (Courtesy of ASPCA)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 255, 10; 10.2460/javma.255.10.1083

The Equine Welfare Data Collective has released its first report after gathering data nationally on at-risk and transitioning equines.

One key takeaway from the analysis was that surveyed organizations with custody of these horses vary greatly in size, policies, programs, and intake methods, said Emily Stearns, program manager of EWDC.

“One uniting factor was that a significant number—over 30% of respondents—are relying on paper record-keeping methods,” Stearns said. “Transitioning to animal sheltering-specific software or some other software system could potentially help these organizations assess the success of their programs and, ultimately, assist more equines.”

The project plans to publish a report every six months and will continue to explore and identify key points as members of participating agencies analyze data from respondents. The EWDC is considering how to gather information on the length of stay and other equine-related demographics such as sex and age. The organization, created by the United Horse Coalition, a program of the American Horse Council, is also continuously working to increase its sample size and expand its survey questions.

A PDF version of the report can be found at jav.ma/Equinedata.


The American Association of Bovine Practitioners, with a grant of more than $230,000 from the Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture, continues to offer workshops on practice management targeting veterinarians in food animal practice who have graduated within the past 10 years.

Three-day workshops will be held in spring 2020, and participants will meet again in spring 2021. There is no fee to attend the workshops, held in St. Louis, and participants will receive a $900 stipend each year to offset travel and lodging expenses. Attendees will learn about tools for managing practice finances, how to evaluate the economic impact of new services, how to value a practice, and tools for managing human resources.

Enrollment is limited, and interested individuals must fill out an application. The online application is available at aabp.org/next_gen until Dec. 15.


The American Veterinary Medical Foundation has donated $10,000 to support the recovery from Hurricane Dorian.

The AVMF board of directors approved the donation to GreaterGood.org, a national nonprofit that works to improve the health and well-being of people, pets, and the planet. GreaterGood.org has worked with partners on the ground to deliver emergency supplies, transport, and medical care to animals and humans in the Bahamas affected by Dorian.

The AVMF has supported a number of storm relief efforts recently, donating $10,000 to the Nebraska VMA after major flooding in March, $20,000 to the Florida Veterinary Medical Association Foundation after Hurricane Michael in 2018, and $10,000 each to the North Carolina Veterinary Medical Foundation and Friends of the NCVMA Foundation after Hurricane Florence in 2018.

The Foundation also has an ongoing disaster relief program offering grants of up to $5,000 to help reimburse veterinarians for care provided to animals during disasters such as Hurricane Dorian. In 2018, the AVMF provided $146,000 in disaster relief grants to veterinarians, veterinary students, disaster response teams, and veterinary organizations.

Please send comments and story ideas to JAVMANews@avma.org.

Q&A: Banfield executive talks programs, policy, and practice

Dr. Molly McAllister, the company's new chief medical officer, acknowledges its impact on the profession at many levels as one of the largest employers of veterinarians

By Kaitlyn Mattson

Dr. Molly McAllister believes in a better world for pets and thinks that every child who wants to be a veterinarian deserves to be one.

Dr. McAllister, chief medical officer of Banfield Pet Hospital, has been with the company for seven years. She entered her new role in June after Dr. Daniel Aja took on a new position as innovation director at Banfield.

JAVMA News caught up with Dr. McAllister after Banfield's Pet Healthcare Industry Summit, held Sept. 12 in Portland, Oregon, to discuss her new role and new offerings at Banfield, including its ASK program, a suicide prevention training tool the company launched in September. She also touched on the company's decision to pay veterinary technicians more and the Veterinary Nurse Initiative as well as Banfield's involvement in antimicrobial stewardship, disasters, and access to care. The following responses have been edited for length and clarity.


A. One of my primary goals as chief medical officer is to ensure we are creating an engaging and healthy workplace for veterinary professionals so they can focus on what they do best: providing quality medical care to pets.

Banfield has a unique electronic veterinary health record database that contains more than 30 million pet health records from the millions of pets that visit our hospitals each year. A second goal of mine is to ensure we are sharing our data, insights, and best practices broadly to help advance the profession as a whole and not only improve the care that pets receive but also better understand how we can achieve the outcomes that are most important for each pet and client's relationship and quality of life.


A. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found one in six veterinarians has considered or attempted suicide, and one in 10 suffers from severe psychological distress. In short, the veterinary industry is in the midst of a serious mental health crisis.

Timed to coincide with National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month in September, Banfield announced a new suicide-prevention training called ASK: assess, support, and know. We designed ASK, the first of its kind, specifically for veterinary professionals to give them tools to recognize and address emotional distress and suicidal thoughts in themselves and others.

Because of the harrowing statistics, we also committed to close our more than 1,000 hospitals across the country for two hours each by Jan. 6, 2020, to facilitate interactive mental health and well-being training for our more than 19,000 hospital associates.

As the nation's largest general veterinary practice, we feel a responsibility to support the entire industry in addressing this mental health crisis, so we also pledged to make ASK available as a free resource to the profession and all U.S. veterinary colleges by Jan. 6, 2020.

ASK is just one piece of our holistic health and well-being approach, and we will continue to develop programs, tools, benefits, and services that address our people's needs.


A. At Banfield Pet Hospital and the Banfield Foundation, we believe all pets deserve access to veterinary care regardless of their circumstance.

Each year, Banfield and the foundation team up with nonprofit organizations to host more than 40 free preventive care clinics across the country that serve the homeless and other vulnerable populations of pet owners. The foundation donates medication, vaccines, and supplies to enable Banfield veterinarians to provide free veterinary services including core vaccines, wellness exams, heartworm testing and prevention, parasite and flea and tick prevention, as well as the opportunity to spend time with a veterinarian to answer questions and address concerns. In addition to preventive care clinics, Banfield offers a program called Help Overcome Pet Emergencies Funds. HOPE Funds enable qualifying low-income pet owners to apply for financial assistance in Banfield hospitals for pets that are experiencing life-threatening emergencies.

Another way we prioritize giving back to pets in need is through the foundation's Veterinary Assistance Grants, which provide nonprofit organizations the financial resources to implement and support programs that provide veterinary assistance to low-income pet owners. The foundation has five grant programs that enable veterinary care through nonprofit partners.

Since its inception four years ago, the foundation has awarded more than $7 million in grants impacting more than 3 million pets.


A. On the heels of Superstorm Sandy in 2012, there was significant impact to some of our associates; however, we lacked an effective process to provide support to them in their time of greatest need. Out of that disaster was born the Banfield Better Together Fund. Banfield associates can make a tax-deductible donation to the fund, and any associate personally impacted by a disaster can apply for a tax-free grant to provide support for short-term, immediate needs such as temporary housing, food, and clothing. Since its inception, the BBTF has awarded more than $150,000 in grants and, in 2019, was expanded to also support associates who are impacted by domestic violence.

The foundation also offers Disaster Relief Grants, which provide immediate financial support to nonprofit organizations that either have been impacted directly by a disaster or are assisting with pet-related impact work. Most recently, the foundation funded more than $30,000 worth of medical supplies to help the veterinary teams in the Bahamas deliver care to pets impacted by Hurricane Dorian.

In addition, the Banfield Foundation funds disaster response vehicles in Florida, Louisiana, Texas, and South Carolina that give first responders the ability to do everything from deploy full-service veterinary care in the aftermath of a disaster to temporarily kennel pets whose owners must evacuate to shelters. Thus far in 2019, the foundation has already funded more than $110,000 in Disaster Relief Grants.


Dr. Molly McAllister is the new chief medical officer of Banfield Pet Hospital. She started in her new position in June. (Courtesy of Banfield)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 255, 10; 10.2460/javma.255.10.1083


A. Banfield is a strong supporter of the Veterinary Nurse Initiative and its efforts to positively impact the practice of veterinary medicine by redefining the role of veterinary technicians, including proposing a nationwide standardization in title to registered veterinary nurse.

Variance in state practice acts and a lack of defined scope of practice, title protection, or title reciprocity for credentialed veterinary technicians across states means that nationwide title standardizations won't happen overnight; however, Banfield remains committed to supporting and investing in efforts to elevate and redefine this role as a practice and beyond.


A. At Banfield, we recognize the value of licensed veterinary technicians and believe that when veterinary professionals get to practice at the top of their license, it results in engaged clients and teams that deliver high-quality, compassionate care to pets.

Last year, we increased hourly pay for our veterinary technicians practicewide to support their financial health and commensurate with the market. We also tripled their continuing education allowance and expanded their learning opportunities. In addition, Banfield sponsors a program with Penn Foster College through which more than 2,000 Banfield associates who aspire to be veterinary technicians are currently enrolled. Recently, we expanded the program and invested in resources for all associates participating in the program to help them prepare for the Veterinary Technician National Exam.

Another way we are working toward strengthening the pipeline of veterinary technicians within the profession is through Banfield's new Veterinary Technician Externship Program. Through this program, veterinary technician students receive hands-on learning and coaching that they need to thrive in their new career, as well as school credit and, in some cases, compensation.

Since these changes have gone into effect, we've not only seen more veterinary technicians choosing to stay at Banfield, but we've also heard overwhelmingly positive anecdotal feedback that their needs and desires are being not just heard, but more importantly, acted on.


A. At Banfield, we know student debt can have a significant impact on the financial and thus mental and emotional well-being of veterinary professionals. Two years ago, we introduced an industry-leading Veterinary Student Debt Relief Program to help our doctors address this burden and support a holistic health and well-being approach for our associates.

The program includes three options for eligible doctors:

  • • A monthly contribution of $150 paid by Banfield directly toward qualifying student loans.

  • • A one-time $2,500 payment for each qualifying Banfield student program in which the doctor participated prior to graduating, for a maximum of $10,000.

  • • A low-interest refinancing option with supplementary 0.25% interest-rate reduction from a third-party financial institution.

In the first year since launching the program, Banfield contributed more than $4 million toward helping our veterinarians pay off their student loans and enabled over $10 million in educational debt refinancing for associates. Today, over 50% of our more than 3,500 veterinarians are currently participating in at least one of the program options.


A. When partnering with state VMAs, our goal is to create mutual partnerships that benefit our associates and the association. Several state VMAs offer practice discounts, and we ask VMAs to consider a discount when we are in partnership discussions depending on the number of Banfield associates in that state. We work to streamline and simplify the membership process as much as possible, including bulk enrollment and payment.

We also encourage our doctors to get involved with the VMA through volunteer roles and continuing education opportunities, along with various other valuable membership benefits. There are multiple factors we consider when identifying potential VMA partnerships, including but not limited to location of the VMA in relation to the number of Banfield veterinary professionals in that area.


A. As the nation's largest general veterinary practice, we're committed to using our size and scale to advance knowledge in the veterinary profession. One critical way we bring this to life is through our annual Veterinary Emerging Topics Report, which leverages our unique data set and insights to analyze and share information with the profession to help advance veterinary medicine.

In 2017, we released the first VET Report focused on antimicrobial usage when treating common canine infections and how a lack of awareness of antimicrobial use guidelines was reflected in prescription patterns among companion animal veterinarians. Our 2018 VET Report was a continuation of the 2017 report and examined treatment of common feline bacterial infections. Given the additional challenges associated with treating cats and ensuring compliance with prescribed treatment plans, we found there is tremendous room for improvement with antimicrobial use in cats.

Antimicrobial resistance is a growing threat to public health, and companion animal practitioners have an important role to play in the responsible stewardship of these powerful and important drugs.


A. At Banfield, we've prioritized innovative programs and benefits such as our ASK training, Veterinary Student Debt Relief Program, and comprehensive health, welfare, and time-away benefits, as well as flexible schedules and 100% practice-paid partial income replacement for full-time associates to cover illness, pregnancy, and unexpected events in life. Additional offerings include child care subsidies, continuing education funds, Banfield-sponsored industry memberships, community volunteering programs, stress resilience and energy management programs, and a series of free counseling services for associates and their families through our Associate Assistance Program.

We are continuously reexamining our compensation and benefits packages to ensure they're not only competitive but also meeting our associates’ needs and will continue to explore new ways to expand our benefit offerings in service of our associates’ health and well-being.


The AVMA has partnered with Paylocity to offer human resources management and payroll solutions to members with AVMA-exclusive pricing.

“Ask a colleague why they became a veterinarian. The answers may range from their love of working with animals, to scientific challenges, but I doubt doing payroll, scheduling and human resources duties would make the top 20,” said Dr. John Howe, AVMA president, in a Sept. 18 AVMA announcement about the partnership. “Offering Paylocity's modern, easy-to-use solutions to practitioners allows the veterinarian and clinic staff to get back to doing what they love, caring for animals.”

Paylocity's platform is designed to streamline workflows and reduce manual tasks for administrators and employees alike. The offering includes full-service payroll functionality and a wide range of HR functionality, including talent management, time and labor management, benefits administration, and third-party administration for benefits such as health savings accounts and flexible savings accounts.

The platform also features analytic reporting tools; integration with major retirement plans; general ledger, time, and attendance applications; and employee benefits solutions—all of which are available on web browsers and mobile devices with the Paylocity app.

Members of the AVMA can visit paylocity.com/AVMA to learn about member benefits and the partnership.


Federal investigators found veterinarians who work on farms largely comply with antimicrobial restrictions added three years ago.

A Food and Drug Administration assessment published in August indicates veterinarians, livestock producers, and feed mill operators evaluated by the agency seldom broke the rules on veterinary feed directives, which are similar to prescriptions.

Those directives became more widely used by livestock veterinarians starting in January 2017, when the FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine altered approvals for about 300 drug applications to eliminate over-the-counter access to the antimicrobials that had been administered in feed or water and are shared with human medicine, as well as end growth-related uses of those drugs. Agency officials had reached agreements with pharmaceutical companies to make those changes.

All affected drugs now must be used under a veterinarian's supervision to combat a specific pathogen.

The FDA report covers inspections during fiscal years 2016-18, from October 2015 through September 2018, or 14 months before the drug approval changes and 22 months since. FDA officials conducted 456 inspections, including at least 66 with veterinarians.

FDA began inspections of feed distributors, veterinarians, and animal owners to assess compliance with the VFD rules, focusing on education during the 2016-17 fiscal years. Of 187 sites visited, the inspectors found only three times when practices deviated enough to require agreements on voluntary changes.

In the 2018 fiscal year, the agency conducted 269 inspections and required agreements to make changes in 38. One inspection resulted in a warning letter to an Illinois feed mill accused of improper distribution of antimicrobial-containing feed, the lone enforcement action in the three years of inspections.

The veterinarians who were inspected issued VFDs with all required signatures 99% of the time and gave clients all required information 95% of the time. Errors included missing information on withdrawal times, missing instructions, and missing or erroneous cautionary statements.


The Association of Zoos and Aquariums announced it is phasing out the use of bullhooks for routine elephant care and training at member zoos by the start of 2021. The accrediting organization's board also approved a statement of intent to completely end the use of bullhooks except in emergencies and for nonroutine medical care by 2023.

The decisions, which were widely reported this past August, will affect roughly 30 zoos that still use bullhooks to various degrees.

Although the AZA would not comment for this article, Dan Ashe, president and CEO of the AZA, explained in an Aug. 21 interview with The Washington Post that the decision was not inspired by concerns about elephant welfare at AZA member zoos. Rather, he said, the board wanted its standards to “reflect modern zoological practice.”

In an internal survey this summer, nearly 80% of the 62 AZA zoos that care for 305 elephants said they do not use bullhooks or the changes would have no or little impact on their programs, Ashe told the Post.

“The fact that most of our members are not using bullhooks at all and are managing elephants quite successfully indicates that alternative procedures are available,” Ashe said. Additionally, given the instrument's historical association with abusive treatment of elephants, “the board decided this was a good step.”

Nicole Paquette, chief programs and policy officer for the Humane Society of the United States, welcomed news that the AZA had revised its standards regarding the use of bullhooks.

“A bullhook is an outdated, circus-style training tool that resembles a fireplace poker and is used to inflict pain and punishment on elephants,” Paquette said in a statement. She said circuses and roadside zoos with elephants continue to use bullhooks.

“We share the AZA's goals of ensuring that all animals receive the best possible care,” Paquette said. “We hope future revisions to its elephant standards also prohibit imports of wild-caught elephants, expand space requirements and ensure zoos with elephants are located in climates that provide elephants with year-round access to the outdoors.”

California and Rhode Island have banned the use of bullhooks, as have as more than a dozen city and county governments around the country.


A Triumph Foods pork processing plant in St. Joseph, Missouri, is shown in this photograph taken in April during a visit from Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. (Photo by Preston Keres/USDA)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 255, 10; 10.2460/javma.255.10.1083

FSIS privatizing some pig slaughter duties

Plant workers to sort animals, trim carcasses before federal inspection

By Greg Cima

Starting in December, workers at swine slaughter plants will be taking over some food safety duties now performed by federal inspectors.

Department of Agriculture officials finalized plans to shift those safety duties and remove production line speed limits in plants that opt to participate in the new slaughter system, as well as increase requirements for all swine slaughter plants to prevent contamination and test for pathogens. Agency announcements describe those changes as a modernization of the swine slaughter system of the past 50 years and an opportunity to improve food safety and animal welfare. Fewer USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service employees will work on production lines, shifting agency work toward checking sanitation efforts and ensuring animals are handled well.

Opponents predict contamination will rise with higher line speeds and more privatization. FSIS documents indicate slaughter line speeds have been limited to about 1,100 hogs per hour. Companies participating in a pilot program for the new slaughter system have reached speeds of 1,300 per hour.

FSIS officials published the rules Oct. 1 in the Federal Register, and they take effect Dec. 2.

Under the new slaughter system, FSIS inspectors will see healthier animals and carcasses with fewer defects, improving inspection efficiency, the rule states. Slaughter plants will operate as quickly as their facilities allow—as long as they prevent contamination with feces and pathogens.

Workers at slaughter plants that adopt the new system will sort live animals and remove unfit ones before their pre-slaughter inspection by FSIS officials. After slaughter, workers also would trim carcasses to remove parts with visible defects.

Dr. Michelle L. Sprague, who represents the American Association of Swine Veterinarians on the AVMA Animal Welfare Committee and is a former AASV president, said in an email that she thinks the new swine inspection system will improve swine welfare because federal inspectors will spend more time where animals are handled and housed.

“As such, they will be monitoring the unloading of animals from trucks, movement of animals throughout the facility, and feed and water availability in pens even more closely than they do today,” she said. “Increased federal monitoring of procedures that affect live animals is inherently a good thing and can only further improve processes and practices that impact those live animals and their welfare.”

Dr. Sprague also expects no change in the disease risks to swine and no increase in food safety risk for people. Inspectors will focus their attention where their expertise is needed, and FSIS veterinarians will oversee the inspection process.

FSIS officials received about 83,000 comments on the 2018 proposal, most of them letters from organizations advocating for consumers, animals, labor unions, and workers. Their criticisms included allegations the agency provided inadequate discussion and assessment of the proposal, used old or unpublished data to assess the pilot program, and performed too little oversight to say pilot programs were successes.

The Food Integrity Campaign of the Government Accountability Project, which advocates for whistleblowers, characterizes the new slaughter system as a dangerous shift of USDA inspector duties to untrained private workers. According to the organization, FSIS inspectors who worked in pilot plants for the new inspection process said in affidavits that sorters miss visible defects and contamination on fast-moving carcasses and that those who spot too many problems are threatened by their bosses.

FSIS employees still will conduct final inspections of carcasses. FSIS information indicates removing some agency inspectors from production lines will give them more time to verify that plants comply with sanitation and hazard control plans and to check whether workers are handling animals in a humane manner, according to the published rules.

Dr. Sprague also said that, at plants participating in the new slaughter system, federal inspectors will train slaughter plant employees to ensure they can meet federal standards, and slaughter companies will need to document that training. FSIS inspectors also will inspect all animals presented for slaughter and all carcasses, as required by law.

FSIS officials maintain that agency inspectors still will be the only ones performing inspections. They define the screening and removal of unfit animals and carcass defects instead as sorting, rather than inspection.

Activities that will be performed by private workers will include collecting samples from carcasses for microbial testing, cutting open mandibular lymph nodes and palpating viscera to check for disease, and otherwise watching for signs of infectious diseases that need to be reported to inspectors, notably including African swine fever and foot-and-mouth disease.

The FSIS will let some plant operators waive the lymph node and viscera examinations if they submit data indicating those activities are unnecessary.


Food and Drug Administration regulators want veterinarian oversight for all antimicrobials shared between animal and human medicine.

Agency officials added such restrictions three years ago to drugs administered to livestock through feed or water, but some livestock-use injectable drugs and other antimicrobial products remain available to anyone. Draft guidance published in September describes a multiyear plan to change approvals for those remaining over-the-counter drugs.

To restrict drug use in livestock feed and water, FDA officials reached agreements with pharmaceutical companies to require veterinary feed directives when those drugs are administered in feed or prescriptions when they are added to water. Those agreements came under a threat of regulatory proceedings against any companies that refused, and none did.

This year's proposal calls again for cooperation by drug companies.

The guidance published in September is only a draft, subject to editing after the agency considers comments. It describes a two-year transition that would start once a final version is published.

When the FDA added oversight to the antimicrobials administered through livestock feed or water, agency officials published a draft document in April 2012 and the final document in December 2013. The latter document's publication started a three-year transition through December 2016.

FDA officials also announced plans to give researchers at Kansas State University $500,000 for two studies to help define how long some antimicrobials should be administered to cattle. Agency officials have a goal of setting use durations for drugs that were approved without them.

The studies involve use of tylosin phosphate to prevent liver abscesses in feedlots and chlortetracycline for treatment of bovine anaplasmosis.


By Kaitlyn Mattson


Cactus wren (Photo by Brian Sullivan/Macaulay Library at Cornell Lab of Ornithology)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 255, 10; 10.2460/javma.255.10.1083

The breeding bird population in North America has decreased by 29% over the past 50 years. That means since 1970, the U.S. and Canada have lost 2.9 billion breeding birds, according to “Decline of the North American avifauna,” published Oct. 4 in the journal Science.

“Multiple, independent lines of evidence show a massive reduction in the abundance of birds,” said Ken Rosenberg, PhD, the lead author of the study, in a press release. “We expected to see continuing declines of threatened species. But for the first time, the results also showed pervasive losses among common birds across all habitats, including backyard birds.” Dr. Rosenberg is a senior scientist at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and American Bird Conservancy, two of the organizations involved in the study.

More than 90% of the losses—more than 2.5 billion birds—come from just 12 families, including the sparrows, blackbirds, warblers, and finches. The losses include species often seen at bird feeders, such as dark-eyed juncos—down by 168 million—and white-throated sparrows—down by 93 million. Eastern and western meadowlarks are down by a combined 139 million individuals. Even red-winged blackbirds—a common sight across the continent—have declined by 92 million birds, according to the study.

The study analyzed 143 weather radar stations to detect migratory birds in the air and collected data from independent sources such as the North American Breeding Bird Survey and the Christmas Bird Count, according to the press release.

“Our birds signal that our environment is in trouble,” said Dr. Robert Groskin, the executive director of the Association of Avian Veterinarians. “This is a wake-up call. This is happening now, the proverbial canary in the mine.”

The study did not investigate the cause of the population loss. However, the decline is similar to losses across the world, according to the report. The largest factor is likely the loss and degradation of habitat.

“People need to understand and realize that birds are important,” said Dr. Nicole Becich, associate veterinarian at Cheat Lake Animal Hospital and the Avian Conversation Center of Appalachia. She is also the co-chair of the AAV Conservation Committee. “They're so vital to the health of our waterways, to the health of a lot of our crops.”

The institutions involved in the study developed the following actions people can take in response to the population declines:

  • • Make windows safer by installing screens or breaking up the window's reflection by using film or paint.

  • • Keep cats indoors.

  • • Reduce lawns, and add native plants. Lawns don't offer enough food or shelter for many birds and wildlife, but the nectar, seeds, and berries from native plants can sustain birds.

  • • Avoid using pesticides, and consider buying organic food.

  • • Drink coffee that's good for birds. The majority of coffee farms grow their plants in the sun, destroying forests. Try to find and drink shade-grown coffee that is environmentally sustainable.

  • • Protect the planet from plastics by avoiding single-use bags, bottles, and wrappers.

  • • Watch the birds, and share what you see. Monitoring birds is essential to protecting them. Join a project such as eBird or Project FeederWatch to record your bird observations.

“It's important that people do things on an individual basis, one-on-one, but it's also important to speak to the people in charge of creating policies,” Dr. Groskin said. “Things will change when policy changes.”


(Courtesy of Cornell Lab of Ornithology)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 255, 10; 10.2460/javma.255.10.1083


By Kaitlyn Mattson

The U.S. Department of Education has only approved 1% of requests from borrowers applying to the Temporary Expanded Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. And the figures aren't better for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program as a whole.

According to a report from the Government Accountability Office, the PSLF program and the subsequent TEPSLF program are still denying most borrowers. As of June, of the 102,051 applications received and processed in the entirety of the PSLF program, only 1,216 had been approved, leaving 100,835 applications, or 99%, rejected. Further, the Department of Education only approved 661 of 54,184 requests from May 2018 to May 2019 for the TEPSLF program, an amount totaling about $26.9 million. Congress approved $700 million—$350 million for 2018 and $350 million for 2019—for the temporary expansion of the program. In September, the House of Representatives Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Investment held a hearing on the issue. Several witnesses spoke before the subcommittee. James H. Steeley, president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency, the loan servicer that handles the PSLF program, declined to attend. Most members of the subcommittee agreed that the program needs to be fixed.

The PSLF program was created in 2007 by President George W. Bush's administration. The program seeks to promote careers in public service by forgiving federal student loans for borrowers who have made 120 loan payments, or 10 years’ worth, and work in public service.

The AVMA was one of several organizations that requested the Department of Education improve the PSLF program in 2018 when the low acceptance rates were first reported. Some veterinarians take public sector jobs to take advantage of the forgiveness program, but it is unclear whether any veterinarians have been approved for the program.

Many borrowers have reported frustration with the system. A majority of the TEPSLF program applicants (71%) were denied because they had not submitted a PSLF program application, according to the GAO. Part of the temporary program requires that applicants apply for the PSLF program and, once rejected, apply for the TEPSLF program.

“The process can be confusing for borrowers who do not understand why they must apply separately for PSLF, a program they are ineligible for, to be eligible for TEPSLF,” said the GAO in its report, available at jav.ma/TEPSLF.

Some online documents from the Department of Education still do not include details about the TEPSLF program, including the Online Help Tool. The GAO concluded in its report that requiring all loan servicers to include TEPSLF program information on their websites and including TEPSLF program information in the Department of Education's online tool for borrowers would likely increase the likelihood that borrowers are able to obtain the loan forgiveness for which they qualify.


By Greg Cima

Environmental Protection Agency officials plan to reduce the use of animals in studies assessing the risks of pesticides and other potentially hazardous chemicals.

Alternatives include in vitro studies on human or animal cells, organ-on-a-chip models, and computer-based models.

Under a directive from EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, agency officials will reduce requests for and funding of studies that use mammals by 30% by 2025 and allow them only in exceptional cases by 2035. The agency is giving $4.25 million toward research on ways to reduce, refine, and replace testing on vertebrate species.

Pesticide makers have to test their products for effects on humans and the environment before they're allowed to sell them in the U.S., and that currently includes tests on animals such as rats, mice, rabbits, dogs, birds, and fish. EPA officials evaluate the resulting data and decide whether to grant product registration.

An EPA spokesperson provided a statement that laboratory animal testing gives a sense whether pesticides and patterns of use could cause maladies such as cancer, chronic disease, or reproductive and developmental toxicities. Pesticides may be tested on hundreds to thousands of vertebrates, depending on the toxicity and complexity of the chemicals.

The number of vertebrates used in toxicology studies submitted to the EPA each year ranges from 20,000 to more than 100,000, an agency spokesperson said. In 2017 and 2018, the EPA granted waivers that prevented use of about 57,000 animals over those two years and reduced costs by about $19 million.

Wheeler described the timetable for the planned reductions in a Sept. 10 memo to EPA staff, and agency officials published an announcement that day. The action follows legislation and previous agency actions with similar goals.

A law signed in June 2016, the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, requires that the EPA minimize use of vertebrates in chemical safety testing as well as study and promote alternatives. Agency officials published a reduction plan two years later, and an agency plan for fiscal years 2018-22 also expresses commitment to reducing reliance on animal testing.

Wheeler, in his memo, said those actions together have prevented research on an estimated 200,000 animals.

Dr. Joe Thulin, director of the Biomedical Resource Center at the Medical College of Wisconsin and president of the American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine, said nobody wants to use animals in research when they are unneeded. But he questioned whether nonanimal technologies will be reliable enough by the deadlines to replace animals, especially as surrogates for humans.

He also questioned whether the decision is based in science, rather than efforts to appease animal rights advocates. Dr. Thulin stressed that everyone wants to give animals the best care and eliminate unnecessary use.

Dr. David C. Dorman is president of the American Board of Veterinary Toxicology, a member of the National Academy of Science's Board on Environmental Studies and Toxicology, and a professor of toxicology at North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine. He said the NAS board discussed the EPA plan, which is consistent with some efforts by toxicologists for more than a decade to reduce reliance on animal testing.

Board members had concerns about the timeline set by the directive and whether the agency will impose firm deadlines on reducing animal use. Dr. Dorman expressed doubt that alternatives will be robust enough to replace all the studies described.

But Dr. Dorman said the directive also sets a goal and focuses attention, much as emissions limits and fuel efficiency standards do.

The grants from the EPA will fund studies at Johns Hopkins University to create a model for assessing developmental neurotoxicosis in humans, Vanderbilt University to test an organ-on-a-chip model to study damage caused by organophosphate leakage across the blood-brain barrier and the university's medical center to use those chips to study reproductive disorders in women and cellular responses to environmental toxicants, Oregon State University to test in vitro methods that incorporate fish to screen complex mixtures of chemicals, and the University of California-Riverside to create an inexpensive test that uses human cells to analyze possible skeletal embryotoxicants.



Dr. Mike Murphy

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 255, 10; 10.2460/javma.255.10.1083

Dr. Mike Murphy, most recently a veterinary medical officer with the Center for Veterinary Medicine at the Food and Drug Administration, joined the AVMA this past October as director of the Division of Animal and Public Health.

The division is within the AVMA's Public Policy Strategic Business Unit, which also encompasses the Animal Welfare Division and global outreach. As head of the DAPH, Dr. Murphy provides the vision, expertise, and leadership required to plan, develop, implement, and manage Association activities supported by the division.

Dr. Murphy comes to the AVMA after a decade with the FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine. He served in the Office of the Director since 2015 helping to handle a variety of issues such as the veterinary feed directive.

During his FDA tenure, Dr. Murphy was the agency's representative to the AVMA's task forces on the model veterinary practice act and antimicrobial stewardship in companion animal practice. He also was a member of the AVMA Judicial Council and the Association's committees on antimicrobials and veterinary specialty organizations.

Prior to joining the FDA, Dr. Murphy was a professor at the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine. He joined the faculty in 1987 to coordinate the veterinary college's toxicology program, provide diagnostic services, and teach veterinary and graduate students about toxicology. He retired from the university in 2009 as professor emeritus.

Dr. Murphy is a 1981 graduate of the Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. He has a doctoral degree in toxicology as well as a law degree, and he is a diplomate of both the American Board of Veterinary Toxicology and American Board of Toxicology.

“Hopefully, my experience in mixed animal practice, veterinary diagnostic laboratories, academia, and most recently the Center for Veterinary Medicine at FDA can complement the diversity of experience already at AVMA to help advance our profession,” Dr. Murphy said.



Morris Animal Foundation announced grants including funding for a study to test a probiotic treatment strategy in wild boreal toads under threat from disease caused by the fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis.

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 255, 10; 10.2460/javma.255.10.1083

Morris Animal Foundation announced this fall that it has awarded $1.1 million in grants for 17 studies on wildlife health, $1 million in grants for 16 studies on canine and feline health, and $940,000 in grants for 11 studies on the health of horses and alpacas.

As part of the wildlife studies, researchers will do the following:

  • • Study how human activities, such as landscape changes, impact the health and reproduction of African forest elephants.

  • • Evaluate factors affecting the delivery of a topically applied oral rabies vaccine for vampire bats in the wild.

  • • Test a probiotic treatment strategy in wild boreal toads under threat from disease caused by the fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis.

  • • Study the relationship between gut bacterial communities and gastrointestinal health in maned wolves.

As part of the canine and feline studies, researchers will do the following:

  • • Evaluate the potential of a novel drug derived from the feverfew plant to treat aggressive cancers in dogs.

  • • Develop an oral vaccine against feline enteric coronavirus to prevent its deadly mutated form, feline infectious peritonitis.

  • • Develop a rapid cageside test to help gauge the severity and prognosis of injuries to the central nervous system in dogs.

As part of the studies on horses and alpacas, researchers will do the following:

  • • Study equine herpesvirus-1 to better understand how the disease develops and spreads.

  • • Investigate the safety and effectiveness of a novel vaccine to protect horses against strangles, the infection caused by the bacterium Streptococcus equi.

  • • Gather baseline data on equine monocytes, important for fighting off infections and reducing inflammation.

  • • Determine appropriate dosing in alpacas for the antifungal medication fluconazole, a treatment for coccidioidomycosis, or valley fever.



Dr. Alfonso Clavijo

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 255, 10; 10.2460/javma.255.10.1083

Dr. Alfonso Clavijo is the new director of the Department of Agriculture's National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility in Manhattan, Kansas.

The NBAF is a state-of-the-art, high-security facility for research on foreign animal and zoonotic diseases that can affect livestock. It will replace Plum Island Animal Disease Center in New York.

The USDA announced this October that Dr. Clavijo, who started Oct. 13, is expected to play a key role in ensuring the smooth transition of responsibility from the Department of Homeland Security to the USDA once the 574,000 square-foot facility becomes fully operational in 2023.

“As NBAF's first permanent director, his extensive leadership experience will be a great asset in helping NBAF achieve its vision of being a national asset that protects U.S. agriculture and consumers through cutting-edge research, diagnostics, training, and development of vaccines and other countermeasures,” said Chavonda Jacobs-Young, PhD, administrator for the USDA Agricultural Research Service.

The ARS partners with the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to operate the NBAF, which is currently under construction and overseen by the Department of Homeland Security. Construction is scheduled to be completed in 2021.

Prior to Dr. Clavijo's appointment, he was laboratory executive director of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's National Centres for Animal Disease. There, he oversaw the administration of diagnostic services; research to detect and prevent transboundary, emerging, and zoonotic animal diseases; and facilities at biosafety levels 2-4.

Dr. Clavijo has held leadership or advisory positions at CFIA laboratories, as well as Kansas State University, Texas A&M University, the Pan American Health Organization, and National University in Bogota, Colombia.

He earned a veterinary degree in 1986 from National University and a doctoral degree in veterinary microbiology/virology in 1995 from the University of Guelph in Ontario.


An Atlanta-based charity that performed orthopedic surgeries on stray animals has shuttered following complaints from Georgia veterinarians that physicians with the organization were neither trained nor licensed to operate on animals.

Surgeons for Strays, a nonprofit practice started by orthopedic surgeon John Keating, MD, suspended operations Sept. 13.

“The GVMA believes the veterinary practice act prohibits human medical practitioners from performing surgeries on companion animals,” the association said.

Surgeons for Strays had treated approximately 70 dogs and cats, according to a profile of the organization in the June 2019 issue of AAOS Now, a publication of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons.

Dr. Keating was quoted as saying the animals his charity operated on were out of options in a Feb. 27 article in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

“Every single animal we have ever attended was homeless, without any resources, and the vast majority were on death row or languishing in rescues because nobody had the funds to fix them,” he said.

All surgical procedures were, according to published reports, performed in the presence of supervising veterinarian Dr. Michael Good, which the charity believed did not violate state law.

The GVMA received “numerous inquiries” from members on the matter, however. Area practitioner Dr. Alan Cross told Atlanta's Channel 2 Action News, “People who were not appropriately trained in veterinary medicine were caring for the animals, and we were concerned for their well-being.”


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 avma.org/findvetstudies.

  • • AAHSD005019: “Canine Chagas disease: Characterizing cardiac disease and developing screening recommendations for asymptomatic dogs seropositive for Trypanosoma cruzi,” Texas A&M University.

  • • AAHSD005020: “Minimally invasive, integrated endoscopic hemilaminectomy for Hansen type I intervertebral disc herniation in chondrodystrophic dogs,” Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine.

  • • AAHSD005021: “Evaluation of a high psyllium fiber diet in the management of canine constipation,” The Ohio State University.

  • • AAHSD005024: “ALT-803 immunotherapy for treatment of lung metastases,” University of California-Davis.

  • • AAHSD005025: “Complement inhibition in IMHA: A multicenter, double-blinded randomized controlled trial of intravenous C1-INH in dogs with intravascular hemolysis,” Cornell University.

  • • AAHSD005028: “The intestinal microbiome of dogs with idiopathic immune-mediated hemolytic anemia: an occult trigger for pathogenic autoimmunity?” University of Pennsylvania and Cornell University.

Speak my language

Veterinary medicine may face increasing challenges around language barriers

By Kaitlyn Mattson

Dr. Kayla Sample grew up wanting to be a veterinarian. As a Spanish and English speaker, she didn't realize until much later how beneficial being bilingual would be in her career.

“I am by no means as fluent as I want to be, and there's definitely medical terminology that I struggle with, but I feel that anytime a client has the ability to communicate in the language they prefer, the language they feel most comfortable with, that they are more likely to come to the veterinarian,” Dr. Sample said. She is executive director of the veterinary clinic run by the Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical School, a high school program in Fitchburg, Massachusetts, that offers 21 different vocational programs, including veterinary science, alongside a high school education.

Across the United States, people speak an estimated 350 different languages. According to Access to Care, a report from the Pet Health Equity Program at the University of Tennessee, only 2.6% of barriers to veterinary care are related to language. However, language barriers may become a bigger issue over the next few years as the population of the U.S. continues to become more diverse. By 2044, more than half of all Americans will belong to a minority group and by 2060, about one in five of the total U.S. population will be foreign born, according to U.S. Census projections.

“Anytime we have any kind of barrier, we are creating a reason why animals do not receive health care. And so, whether that's financial, language, or transportation—whatever it is—my goal as part of the community outreach field that I am in is to reduce any barriers that we have and keep animals healthy and inhibit relinquishment,” Dr. Sample said.

Meeting the need

Dr. Ruth Landau, owner of Dr. Ruth's Veterinary Services in the Indianapolis region, said communication can be difficult enough even when people speak the same language.

“I think being able to meet someone in their own language is very empowering. They're already coming in worried about their pet and not a native speaker. It's important to empower them,” she said.

Dr. Landau is a house call and relief veterinarian. She received her doctorate in epidemiology and public health at Purdue University; her thesis was on the preparedness of veterinary professionals to work with non-English speakers. She describes herself as a communicative Spanish speaker with a high level of social and medical Spanish. Even still, Dr. Landau keeps a medical English-to-Spanish dictionary in her pocket and uses online resources such as Google Translate when necessary.

Dr. Landau led a study that investigated whether small animal veterinary personnel are prepared to communicate with Spanish-speaking pet owners with limited English-language proficiency. The study used a survey to obtain information from 383 U.S. veterinary practices in 10 states with large established or fast-growing Latino populations. Dr. Landau found that only 8% of the responding practices had staff that could converse in Spanish (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2016;248:690-699). Further, the responses showed that making Spanish-speaking staff available and offering Spanish-language resources were associated with an increase in the number of Spanish-speaking clients with limited English proficiency seen on a weekly basis.

Dr. Landau suggests hiring bilingual staff members if a practice has a high volume of clients who are non-native English speakers and always asking clients what language they would like to speak in and what language they would like their materials in.

Learning a language

Although more veterinary professionals may benefit from learning a second language, few veterinary colleges offer language courses.

Shannon Zeller, a Spanish curriculum developer and instructor at Colorado State University, said, “There's just so much to be done during a DVM program that including a language course is really hard.” Zeller and Maura Velazquez-Castillo, PhD, a Spanish professor at CSU, helped develop a four-course series called Spanish for Animal Health and Care as a certificate program. CSU offers that series to resident undergraduate students and outside learners through its website.

Zeller and Dr. Velazquez-Castillo also collaborated with the CSU College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences on a series of four one-credit Spanish online language courses aimed at developing proficiency for future rural and mixed practice veterinarians. The series includes a 20-hour immersion course that is offered to third-year veterinary students and an introduction to Spanish for veterinarians that caters to students who have little to no Spanish coming into the veterinary college. Continuing education learners will be able to take the series starting in 2021.

Other veterinary colleges with language programs include Purdue University, which has a Spanish for Veterinary Medicine series consisting of student-taught lunch sessions.

“The Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine's offering of the Spanish for Veterinary Medicine lessons are a part of a larger mission within the college to develop globally conscious veterinary professionals that are prepared to engage, exchange, and collaborate with the world around them,” said William Smith II, director of global engagement at the veterinary college. “Along with improving one's overall Spanish language skills within a veterinary clinical setting, the lessons are designed to highlight the importance of communicating across cultures with the goal of effecting world change through the improvement of animal and human health.”

Given how difficult it can be to study a foreign language during a veterinary degree program, CE may be the next best option.

AtDove, an online CE resource from DoveLewis, a veterinary emergency and specialty hospital in Portland, Oregon, has had two requests for materials specifically related to language barriers. The organization is in the process of building training tools that will include articles and links to resources.

DoveLewis has 12 bilingual staff members, including front desk staff and veterinarians, and two of the employees know American Sign Language. Staff at DoveLewis also use apps such as Google Translate and Linguava, a phone service translator, to better assistant clients who are non-English speakers.

On the farm

Large animal veterinarians, from those employed in and around the U.S. dairy and meat industry to those who work at racetracks or processing plants, frequently find at least some Spanish language skills necessary to do their job well.

According to a report from Texas A&M University, more than half of U.S. workers in the dairy and meat processing industries are immigrants. Many speak Spanish.

Tips for breaking language barriers

Some veterinarians suggest the following tips when thinking about learning a new language or working with a diverse clientele:

  • • Perform an inventory of the languages spoken within the community.

  • • Carry a bilingual or multilingual medical terminology dictionary.

  • • Consult a copy of “Small Animal Practice Client Handouts” by Dr. Rhea V. Morgan to help prepare client education handouts in Spanish.

  • • Listen to podcasts and audiobooks in another language.

  • • Take an online course.

  • • Use Google Translate or similar programs when necessary.

  • • Sign up for a language immersion course (if you have the means and time).

  • • Speak the new language as much as possible, even if it's uncomfortable.

  • • Place posters and brochures in multiple languages throughout the practice.

  • • Hire someone who is bilingual.

  • • Look at the client while you are speaking, not at the translator, when using a translator.

For Dr. Ashley Swan, a bovine veterinarian in Michigan, taking the initiative to learn a language was a good option. In her case, the decision to learn Spanish wasn't necessarily a skills-based one but a personal choice, she said.

“I was bored on the farm and wanted to be able to communicate more than saying ‘open’ or ‘pregnant,'” Dr. Swan said. She took a Spanish language immersion course in Mexico and has been keeping up with it by watching YouTube videos and subscribing to magazines in Spanish.

“The biggest hurdle with any kind of language learning is just getting over that fear of not wanting to talk until you think everything's perfect,” Dr. Swan said. “A lot of us, especially as adults, want to say these really nice sentences, but in reality, you've got to go through the stages of just stumbling through and talking. The best thing to do to learn Spanish is to speak it.”

Industry ideas

Veterinary leaders spoke about language barriers during the Banfield Pet Healthcare Industry Summit on Sept. 12 in Portland, Oregon. Banfield Pet Hospital launched an interpreter service pilot program in June at several California locations and at its headquarters call center in Vancouver, Washington. The service offers clients an over-the-phone interpreter in 350 different languages. The program has since expanded to 186 hospitals in California, Arizona, and New Mexico. It will be available nationwide next year.

Banfield implemented its interpreter service as a part of efforts to build a culture of inclusion and diversity for its clients and associates, said a Banfield spokesperson.

The company launched the interpreter program with guidance from Unidos, Banfield's associate-led Latino diversity resource group, according to the spokesperson. Banfield also recently relaunched a fully translated Spanish-language version of its website.

More than language

Although language may be a key piece to consider when a practice's client base is diverse, it shouldn't be the only thing. Some industry experts and veterinary colleges say the focus should be on providing culturally competent care, which is defined as providing care to a pet regardless of the owners’ race, gender, ethnicity, background, English-language proficiency, or literacy.

Banfield, for example, suggests the following four items when working to develop cultural awareness: understand one's personal values and cultural beliefs, understand other's values and cultural beliefs, engage in cross-cultural interactions, and increase skills to gather more information about other cultures and assess differences.

Dr. Kayla Sample may have grown up with Spanish, but she is still working to enhance her skills, she said. She takes a night class to keep up with her language skills and she listens to a human-medicine podcast in Spanish to learn medical terminology.

She also understands how difficult it may be for veterinary students to include a language course within their four-year program. However, she does believe it is necessary for more veterinary professionals to be bilingual, and she hopes that people graduating from veterinary school will one day reflect the diversity within their communities.

“I just graduated, so I understand that we're trying to cram so much into their heads during those four years, but I also think it is a skill that is absolutely necessary,” Dr. Sample said. “And so I don't have the perfect answer on exactly how we can bridge this gap, but what I do think we can do is start by building a team.”


Phi Zeta, the international honor society of veterinary medicine, announced the winners of the 2019 Research Manuscript Awards at its July annual meeting. Established in 1978, these awards recognize outstanding scholarship and research in matters pertaining to the welfare and disease of animals. The winner in each category receives an engraved plaque and a $1,000 check.


Dr. Alyssa Sullivant

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 255, 10; 10.2460/javma.255.10.1083

The award in basic sciences went to Dr. Alyssa Sullivant (Mississippi State ‘07) at the Omega chapter of Phi Zeta at Mississippi State University. Her winning paper was “Identification of histamine receptors in the canine gastrointestinal tract” (Vet Immunol Immunopathol 2016;182:29-36). Dr. Sullivant is a faculty member in the Department of Clinical Sciences at Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine. She completed an internship in internal medicine and oncology followed by a residency in small animal internal medicine, both at Mississippi State. Her primary research interests include gastroenterology and respiratory diseases.

The award in clinical sciences was awarded posthumously to Dr. Daniel K. Newhard (Florida ‘14) at the Epsilon chapter of Phi Zeta at Auburn University. His winning paper was “A prospective, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study of sacubitril/valsartan (Entresto) in dogs with cardiomegaly secondary to myxomatous mitral valve disease” (J Vet Intern Med 2018;32:1555-1563). Dr. Newhard completed a small animal rotating internship at Louisiana State University, followed by a cardiology internship at Auburn. He recently had completed a cardiology residency at Auburn. His family and fiancée requested that his monetary award be donated to the Dr. Danny Newhard Scholarship.


The late Dr. Daniel K. Newhard

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 255, 10; 10.2460/javma.255.10.1083


The American Veterinary Dental College welcomed 16 new diplomates following the board certification examination it held June 4-6 in Las Vegas. The new diplomates are as follows:


Jennifer Alterman, Salt Lake City

Williana Basuki, Sharon, Massachusetts

Chris Carter, Santa Rosa, California

Kristina Feigin, Andover, Massachusetts

Todd McCoy, Friendswood, Texas

Kevin Ng, Ithaca, New York

Donald Otten, Tempe, Arizona

Adriana Regalado, Vancouver, British Columbia

Curt Ritchie, Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Amy Rossi, Albuquerque, New Mexico

Kelly Saverino, Philadelphia

Allen Skinner, San Diego

Ignacio Velazquez-Urgel, Sabadell, Spain

Lenin Villamizar, Raleigh, North Carolina


Apryle Horbal, Pittsburgh

Brad Tanner, Lexington, Kentucky



Emerald Coast Veterinary Conference, June 26-30, Miramar Beach, Florida


Veterinarian of the Year

Dr. Bill Sternenberg (Auburn ‘68), Montgomery. Dr. Sternenberg practices at Goodwin Animal Hospital in Montgomery, which is accredited by the American Animal Hospital Association. He previously owned Sternenberg Animal Hospital and was a partner at Brown-Sternenberg Animal Hospital, both in Montgomery. Dr. Sternenberg is a past president of the Alabama Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners, Central Alabama VMA, Alabama Brangus Breeders Association, and Lowndes County Cattlemen's Association. A member of the ALVMA executive board, he is a past chair and treasurer of the association's Political Action Committee and has served on its Grievance Committee. Dr. Sternenberg has also served on the board of the American Brangus Breeders Association and is a member of the Alabama Cattlemen's Association.


Dr. Bill Sternenberg

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 255, 10; 10.2460/javma.255.10.1083

Distinguished Service Award

Dr. George L. Wood Jr. (Auburn ‘76), Selma, for exceptional achievements and contributions to the advancement of the profession. Dr. Wood began his career working in Tuscaloosa before founding Selma Animal Hospital, where he has practiced for more than 40 years. A past president of the Alabama VMA, he serves on its Nominating Committee and its Constitution and By-Laws Committee. Dr. Wood is also a past president of the West Alabama VMA.


Dr. George L. Wood Jr.

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 255, 10; 10.2460/javma.255.10.1083

Layperson of the Year

Linda Keller, Birmingham. A licensed veterinary technician, Keller works at Veterinary Specialists of Birmingham. She is also active with the Emergency Animal Clinic in downtown Birmingham, serving as its secretary. Earlier in her career, Keller worked at Alford Avenue Veterinary Hospital in Birmingham.


Linda Keller

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 255, 10; 10.2460/javma.255.10.1083

Special Award

Dr. John Hammons (Auburn ‘77), Athens, for exceptional and outstanding service to the veterinary medical profession. Dr. Hammons owns Town and Country Animal Hospital in Athens, which is accredited by AAHA. Earlier in his career, he worked in Jefferson City, Tennessee. Dr. Hammons is a past president of the Alabama and North Alabama VMAs.


Dr. John Hammons

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 255, 10; 10.2460/javma.255.10.1083

Service Award

Drs. Shelby Agnew, Huntsville; Belinda Eckoff, Birmingham; Pamela Guy, Tuskegee; Winston Pirtle Sr., Montgomery; and Ralph Womer, Auburn


Drs. Alan Jones, Hazel Green, president; Randy Davis, Tuscumbia, president-elect; Steven T. Murphree, Cullman, vice president; Susan Parsons, McCalla, treasurer; Hank Lee, Atmore, immediate past president; and member at large—Dr. Frances Phillips Kendrick, Selma


Dr. Alan Jones

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 255, 10; 10.2460/javma.255.10.1083


Dr. Randy Davis

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 255, 10; 10.2460/javma.255.10.1083



128th annual meeting, Aug. 11-14, Sioux Falls


The event featured continuing education; a pre-meeting seminar from South Dakota State University Extension, teaching veterinarians how to communicate with farmers and ranchers; and case presentations from the SDSU Animal Disease Research and Diagnostic Laboratory. Dr. Jane Christopher-Hennings, head of the SDSU Department of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences and director of the ADRDL, spoke on the SDSU-University of Minnesota's 2+2 program, a collaborative program in rural veterinary medical education, and the new addition to the ADRDL building. The SDVMA Alliance raised more than $11,000 in a benefit auction, to be used toward scholarships for veterinary and veterinary technology students.


Veterinarian of the Year

Dr. Dale Miskimins (Iowa State ‘78), Elkton. Dr. Miskimins heads the necropsy section at the ADRDL. Earlier, he practiced large animal medicine in central South Dakota.


Dr. Dale Miskimins

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 255, 10; 10.2460/javma.255.10.1083

Distinguished Service Award

Dr. Steve Tornberg, (Iowa State ‘79), Harrisburg, for bringing distinction to the veterinary profession through devotion to the care and well-being of animals, support for the profession, and contributions to the community. Dr. Tornberg is the former owner of Dakota Large Animal Clinic in Harrisburg, where he focused on equine medicine. He is a past president of the SDVMA.

Emerging Leader Award

Dr. April Schilder (Iowa State ‘14), Highmore, won this award, given to a member who has graduated in the preceding 10 years and has displayed outstanding accomplishments in veterinary research, private practice, regulatory services, civic activities, or organized veterinary medicine. Dr. Schilder is part owner of Prairie View Veterinary Clinic, practicing mainly at the Highmore location. She also serves as market veterinarian for Fort Pierre Livestock Auction Inc.


Dr. April Schilder

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 255, 10; 10.2460/javma.255.10.1083

Outstanding Veterinary Technician

Kim Hunt, Brandon. Hunt has worked at Horizon Pet Care in Brandon since 2010. She previously worked in Nevada for several years. Hunt is known for her patience and energy and her willingness to assist after hours and during weekends.

Bill Davis Award

Mike Palmer, Sturgis, won this award, given to the sales representative of a veterinary supply company who has demonstrated an unusual degree of service and assistance to veterinarians and the veterinary profession in South Dakota. Palmer works for Animal Health International, based in Sturgis.

Life Membership

Drs. Kay Burkhart, Valley Springs; Ron Good, Parker; Craig Hansen, Howard; Tom Heirigs, Madison; Dale Miskimins, Elkton; Ken Schaffer, Lennox; and Michael Dickmann, George, Iowa


Drs. Ethan Andress, Hettinger, North Dakota, president; Chanda Nilsson, Groton, president-elect; Carolyn Geis, Pierre, vice president; Matt Stork, Sioux Falls, secretary-treasurer; Mark Braunschmidt, Garretson, immediate past president; Chris Chase, Brookings, AVMA delegate; Cindy Franklin, Yankton, AVMA alternate delegate; Angela Anderson, Sioux Falls, District 1 representative; Heidi Sorenson, Watertown, District 2 representative; and Sandra Wahlert, Hot Springs, District 3 representative


Dr. Ethan Andress

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 255, 10; 10.2460/javma.255.10.1083



Dr. Bastian (Cornell ‘63), 91, Friedens, Pennsylvania, died July 13, 2019. He practiced mixed animal medicine in Somerset, Pennsylvania, for more than 30 years. Earlier, Dr. Bastian worked in Centreville, Maryland, and served in the Air Force, attaining the rank of captain.

In 1997, he traveled to Nepal for a short-term mission with the Christian Veterinary Mission. Dr. Bastian was elected to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in 1998, representing Bedford and Somerset counties for 10 years. His wife, Susan; two sons and three daughters; and 16 grandchildren survive him. One son, Dr. Scott F. Bastian (Wisconsin ‘91), is a veterinarian in Friedens.

Memorials may be made to Samaritan's Purse, P.O. Box 3000, Boone, NC 28607.


Dr. Caton (Auburn ‘49), 96, Tallahassee, Florida, died May 6, 2019. In 1957, he established Underhill Animal Hospital in Orlando, Florida, where he practiced small animal medicine until retirement in 1986. Earlier, Dr. Caton owned a large animal practice in Orlando. He was a founding member of the Veterinary Emergency Clinic of Central Florida.

Dr. Caton served in the Army Air Forces during World War II, attaining the rank of first lieutenant. His son, daughter, and two grandchildren survive him.


Dr. David (Missouri ‘54), 92, Beverly Hills, California, died May 11, 2019. Following graduation, he moved to Chicago and subsequently established McCormick Animal Hospital, a small animal practice in Skokie, Illinois. From 1988-97, Dr. David owned Valley Animal Hospital in Van Nuys, California. He continued to work at the practice until retirement in 2012.

Dr. David served in the Army Air Forces from 1945-48. He is survived by two daughters, a son, and five grandchildren. Memorials may be made to The Blue Card, an organization that provides direct financial assistance to needy survivors of the Holocaust, and sent to 171 Madison Ave., Suite 1405, New York, NY 10016, bluecardfund.org.


Dr. Decher (Cornell ‘51), 91, Hendersonville, North Carolina, died May 23, 2019. He practiced in West Islip, New York, for 40 years. Dr. Decher is survived by his wife, Joanne; a son and a daughter; and a grandchild.


Dr. Fisher (Iowa State ‘00), 64, Aventura, Florida, died March 29, 2019. During her career, she owned a small animal practice in Vancouver, Washington. Dr. Fisher also worked at animal shelters in Fargo, North Dakota, including Cats Cradle Shelter Inc.

Her husband, Mark; her mother; and a sister survive her. Memorials may be made to Cats Cradle Shelter Inc., 9 Ninth St. S., Fargo, ND 58103.


Dr. Howard (Georgia ‘61), 89, Newport News, Virginia, died June 15, 2019. He practiced small animal medicine at Colony Animal Hospital in Newport News for 39 years. Dr. Howard served in the Navy from 1953-57.

His wife, June; a stepson; two stepgrandchildren; and four step great-grandchildren survive him. Memorials may be made to the Alzheimer's Association, National Capital Area Chapter, 8180 Greensboro Drive, Suite 400, McLean, VA 22102, alz.org; Peninsula Humane Society & Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, 523 J. Clyde Morris Blvd., Newport News, VA 23601, peninsulaspca.org; or Grace Episcopal Church, P.O. Box 123, Yorktown, VA 23690.


Dr. Jenkins (Tuskegee ‘57), 85, Long Beach, California, died Sept. 14, 2019. He was a former interim president of Tuskegee University. Following graduation, Dr. Jenkins worked briefly for the Department of Agriculture in Boston. He subsequently joined the Air Force, attaining the rank of captain. While stationed in Greenland in 1958, he discovered the first confirmed case of rabies on the island. Dr. Jenkins led the team that established a rabies eradication program there and published his findings in JAVMA in 1960.

Following his military service, he established a small animal practice in Compton, California, and later in Long Beach, California. Dr. Jenkins retired from practice in 1979 and went on to found and serve as president of a real estate investment and property management company based in Fullerton, California, with branches in several states. In 2013, he was appointed interim president of Tuskegee University, serving in that capacity for a year.

Known for his efforts to advocate for minorities, he served on a minority recruitment committee at the University of California-Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, established a scholarship fund for students in need at Tuskegee University, and with his wife, Roberta, established the Matthew and Roberta Jenkins Family Foundation, awarding grants and scholarships to students, institutions, and local organizations. Dr. Jenkins authored the book “Positive Possibilities: My Game Plan for Success.”

He was a past president of the Sierra VMA; served as a trustee and board president of Compton College; was a trustee of Tuskegee University, a past chair of the veterinary school's advisory board, and a past president of the Tuskegee University Foundation; and was a member of the California and Southern California VMAs. Dr. Jenkins received several honors, including a Tuskegee Institute Alumni Merit Award in 1975, the Tuskegee VMA's Distinguished Alumni Award in 1982, and the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education's Distinguished Alumnus Citation in 1984.

He is survived by his wife, three children, six grandchildren, and a great-grandchild. Memorials, toward the Math Collaborative Program at David Starr Jordan High School, may be sent c/o Doris Robinson, Jordan High, 6500 Atlantic Ave., Long Beach, CA 90805.


Dr. Loufman (Ohio State ‘46), 96, Elyria, Ohio, died July 9, 2019. He owned Ridgeville Animal Hospital in North Ridgeville, Ohio, for several years. Dr. Loufman also served as a veterinarian for horse racetracks in Ohio.

He was a member of the Elyria Rotary Club. Dr. Loufman is survived by his son, daughter, six grandchildren, and a great-grandchild. Memorials may be made to First Congregational United Church of Christ Food Pantry, 330 2nd St., Elyria, OH 44035.


Dr. Markley (Kansas State ‘57), 85, Howard, Kansas, died May 22, 2019. He was in mixed animal practice in Howard from 1960 until retirement in 1998. Earlier, Dr. Markley worked as a federal veterinarian in Burns, Oregon, and practiced in Pocahontas, Iowa.

He was a member of the Kansas VMA. Dr. Markley is survived by his wife, Lois; a son and a daughter; and two grandchildren.


Dr. Sullivan (Ohio State ‘76), 72, Marysville, Ohio, died July 29, 2019. A small animal veterinarian, he owned Marysville Animal Care Center for 37 years prior to retirement in 2016. Earlier, Dr. Sullivan worked in Roanoke, Virginia, and practiced at Beechwold Veterinary Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

He was an Army veteran of the Vietnam War, attaining the rank of first lieutenant. Dr. Sullivan is survived by his wife, Susan; a son and a daughter; and four grandchildren. Memorials may be made to Union County Humane Society, 16540 County Home Road, Marysville, OH 43040.


Dr. Vail (Iowa State ‘52), 95, Bentonville, Arkansas, died Aug. 3, 2019. He practiced mixed animal medicine in Hillsboro, Illinois, prior to retirement in 1988. Dr. Vail was an Army veteran of World War II.

His two sons, five grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren survive him. Memorials may be made to Horses for Healing, 14673 Daniels Road, Bentonville, AR 72712.


Dr. Young (Illinois ‘59), 91, Sparta, Illinois, died April 21, 2019. He practiced in Sparta prior to retirement. Dr. Young was an Army veteran of the Korean War.

His wife, Gloria; three daughters and a son; 10 grandchildren; and 21 great-grandchildren survive him. Memorials may be made to Randolph County Humane Society, 414 W. Belmont St., Sparta, IL 62286.

Please report the death of a veterinarian promptly to the JAVMA News staff via a toll-free phone call at 800-248-2862, ext. 6754; email at news@avma.org; or fax at 847-925-9329. For an obituary to be published, JAVMA must be notified within six months of the date of death.

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