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IN SHORT

COMMENTS SOUGHT ON PROPOSED SPECIALTY ORGANIZATION IN NEPHROLOGY AND UROLOGY

The organizing committee for the proposed specialty of small animal nephrology and urology is seeking to establish a new veterinary specialty organization, the American College of Veterinary Nephrology and Urology.

The committee previously had petitioned the AVMA American Board of Veterinary Specialties for recognition of nephrology and urology as a new specialty within the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine. Now the committee is petitioning the ABVS for recognition as a new separate specialty organization instead.

The ABVS is seeking comments from the public and the profession regarding the proposed specialty organization focused on nephrology and urology.

Training requirements for the proposed specialty include completion of a two-year, web-based core curriculum and at least three full-time-equivalent years of focused clinical experience in nephrology and urology.

All AVMA-recognized specialty organizations and specialties comply with recognition guidelines outlined in the ABVS Policies and Procedures manual. People are encouraged to refer to those guidelines when developing comments regarding the proposed specialty organization focused on nephrology and urology.

Information about the proposed specialty is at jav.ma/ABVS. Send comments regarding recognition of nephrology and urology as a veterinary specialty organization to ABVS@avma.org. Comments must be signed and received no later than July 6.

ACID REFLUX DRUG PULLED FOR CONTAINING CARCINOGENIC CONTAMINANT

Manufacturers of ranitidine drugs were asked to withdraw both prescription and over-the-counter versions from the market immediately by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on April 1.

The agency has been investigating the contaminant N-Nitrosodimethylamine in ranitidine medications, commonly known by the brand name Zantac and used in human and veterinary medicine. NDMA is a probable carcinogen.

“The agency has determined that the impurity in some ranitidine products increases over time and when stored at higher than room temperatures and may result in consumer exposure to unacceptable levels of this impurity,” according to an FDA statement.

French drugmaker Sanofi already announced a recall this past October of the over-the-counter version of the acid reflux medication in the U.S. and Canada over concerns about possible contamination from NDMA. This action followed recalls by manufacturers and retailers of generic versions of the drug.

Last summer, the FDA conducted laboratory tests and found NDMA in ranitidine in low amounts. New FDA testing and evaluation confirmed that NDMA amounts increase in ranitidine even under normal storage conditions and that the longer the length of time since a ranitidine product was manufactured, the greater the amount of NDMA. The amount of NDMA in the ranitidine product may rise above the acceptable daily intake limit.

USDA MOVES TO ESTABLISH NATIONAL LIST OF REPORTABLE ANIMAL DISEASES

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is seeking stakeholder input as the department considers establishing a National List of Reportable Animal Diseases.

The USDA said the new list is necessary to streamline state and federal cooperative animal disease detection, response, and control efforts. Establishing a single list would consolidate and enhance current disease reporting mechanisms and would complement and supplement existing animal disease tracking and reporting at the state level.

The proposed regulations would establish the NLRAD with two categories—one for notifiable diseases and conditions and another for monitored diseases—and would specify reporting responsibilities for veterinarians and other animal health professionals encountering animal diseases, disease agents, or conditions listed as monitored or notifiable. The USDA also issued a draft NLRAD System Standards Document with the proposed rule.

The comment deadline is June 1. Comments can be submitted online through the Federal eRulemaking Portal at regulations.gov under docket APHIS-2017-0002 or via mail to Docket No. APHIS-2017-0002, Regulatory Analysis and Development, PPD, APHIS, Station 3A-03.8, 4700 River Road Unit 118, Riverdale, MD 20737-1238.

Pet relocation guidelines reflect lessons learned

AVMA, Association of Shelter Veterinarians offer best practices for dog and cat transportation

By R. Scott Nolen

Thousands of dogs and cats are transported across the United States every year as part of relocation programs for shelter animals. These increasingly common programs free up valuable space and resources at source shelters and reduce the number of animals euthanized because of local overpopulation.

While the benefits of relocating shelter animals are widely recognized, stories about the early days of shelter-to-shelter transportation gone wrong still resonate today. With that in mind, the AVMA and Association of Shelter Veterinarians have developed best practices to help minimize the risks when transporting animals either across town or across the country.

The AVMA-ASV document, “Non-emergency relocation of dogs and cats for adoption within the United States: Best practices,” published this March, is intended to apply to all types of pet relocation, regardless of purpose, distance, or parties involved, with the exception of disaster situations.

“These guidelines reflect lessons the shelter and veterinary communities have learned over the past several years about transporting adoptable animals,” said Dr. Kendall Houlihan, an assistant director in the AVMA's Animal Welfare Division. She is also staff consultant to the AVMA Animal Welfare Committee, which developed the guidelines with the ASV.

IN THE BEGINNING

The initial AVMA policy on relocating pets for adoption, approved by the Association in 2013, was 119 words long.

The new AVMA-ASV guidelines are 3,662 words in length and cover topics ranging from clear communication between participating shelters to ideal transportation conditions to preventing infectious diseases to special considerations for young animals, cats, and brachycephalic dogs.

“Good relocation programs do not transport dogs or cats that pose a significant risk of transmitting infectious diseases to the destination facility or community, or those that pose a public health risk because of aggression or zoonotic disease,” the guidelines state. “They carefully screen animals for infectious diseases and aggressive behavior before they are allowed to travel. They also provide vaccinations, parasite treatment and prevention, and other needed medical treatment before transport.”

Consulting a veterinarian when establishing criteria for animals eligible for relocation is encouraged.

“Choosing which dogs and cats to transport can be complex,” the guidelines state. “For example, selecting dogs based on lowest risk for heartworm disease (e.g., 8 weeks of age and already receiving heartworm prevention) may be at odds with choosing dogs that are safest to transport when considering viral diseases.”

BY THE NUMBERS

The number of dogs and cats relocated for adoption annually is an open question. No national system tracks these exchanges. The AVMA-ASV guidelines encourage organizations to document how many animals are moving through their relocation programs, recording each animal's species and age as well as the incidence of behavioral and medical conditions.

Since starting its relocation program in 2014, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has transported more than 141,000 companion animals on over 6,200 trips throughout the U.S., making it the largest national transporter of animals, according to Dr. Stephanie Janeczko, ASPCA vice president of shelter medicine services.

The program works with over 40 source shelters across 27 states, nearly 100 destination shelters in 35 states, and five way stations located in California, Kansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia.

The ASPCA regularly receives applications from shelters interested in joining its animal relocation program, Dr. Janeczko said. Once a shelter completes a comprehensive application process and if it meets the requirements to be approved, the ASPCA provides ongoing education, coaching, and additional support to ensure successful integration into the relocation program. At that point, source and destination shelters are paired on the basis of travel distance, the types of animals available at the source shelters, and the types of animals requested by the destination shelters.

Each shelter in the ASPCA program is typically scheduled for two transports a month. “This regular flow of animals gives source shelters more breathing room to work on programs in their communities and work within their shelter to help lessen the need for relocation as a tool moving forward,” Dr. Janeczko said.

MEETING NEEDS

The relocation of rescued animals has occurred in the U.S. for decades but really took off in 2005 with the emergency response to Hurricane Katrina. That's when numerous animal welfare organizations came together to transport large numbers of displaced animals from the South to the North.

A combination of spay-neuter programs, adoption programs, and safety net programs, most recently, have contributed to higher adoption rates—especially for dogs—at shelters in certain parts of the country, Dr. Janeczko said. These shelters now act as destination shelters for animals from source shelters in certain parts of the country where animal homelessness remains a challenge.

“The ASPCA has stepped in to make these connections amongst shelters through its relocation program, which moves animals from shelters in areas of high homeless and pet overpopulation to destination shelters, where the same animals are in higher demand and will have a greater chance of being adopted,” Dr. Janeczko said.

The San Diego Humane Society is unique in that it is both a receiving and a source shelter, according to Sarah Thompson, the organization's director for rescue for the San Diego campus. “When we have space, we're happy to bring in animals from shelters that are jampacked, and when we're jampacked, we have shelters that are willing to take animals from us when they have the space,” Thompson explained.

She said San Diego Humane received roughly 2,573 companion animals from local and regional shelters outside the San Diego Animal Welfare Coalition between 2015 and 2019 and transported approximately 449 animals to other shelters during the same period.

SAFETY FIRST

Transporting animals, whether by car, van, or plane, does have some risks. Although rare, accidents do happen, animals can become ill from the stress of travel, and sometimes undetected diseases spread to destination shelter populations. The importance of biosecurity protocols at source and at destination shelters involved in relocation was underscored in 2019 when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention temporarily suspended dog imports from Egypt because of rabies concerns.

The AVMA-ASV guidelines stress screening of animals for infectious diseases and providing vaccinations, parasite treatment and prevention, and other necessary medical treatment prior to transport. Most jurisdictions require a certificate of veterinary inspection or health certificate for animals being relocated across state lines, the guidelines state.

As Dr. Janeczko pointed out, relocation programs are a key component of a multifaceted strategy to save animal lives.

“To maximize impact,” she said, “animal relocation should be used in conjunction with additional programs that meet community-specific needs.

“These often include spay-neuter, safety net services such as alternatives to shelter intake, progressive adoption policies, access to basic veterinary care, effective public policy, and community-focused humane education.”

SHELTERS FEEL PRESSURE OF PANDEMIC

By R. Scott Nolen

The nation's animal shelters are straining under the pressure of the COVID-19 pandemic as they deal with reduced staff and volunteers in light of government safety rules to halt the spread of the novel coronavirus.

“COVID-19 is putting an immense amount of stress on animal shelters across the country,” said Matt Bershadker, president and CEO of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. “This is an unprecedented and ever-changing situation, and each shelter is facing unique challenges specific to its communities.”

The ASPCA is strongly encouraging members of the public in a position to help homeless animals to contact their local shelter immediately to find out what it needs, Bershadker said.

To assist animal welfare organizations and financially struggling pet owners during this crisis, the organization has launched the ASPCA COVID-19 Relief & Recovery Initiative, a $5 million response effort that will grant a minimum of $2 million to animal welfare organizations in critical need of funds and provide pet food to vulnerable pet owners through regional pet food distribution centers in several cities.

Many state and local governments are exempting animal shelters from safety orders and allowing them to remain open during the pandemic. Mindful of limiting exposure to the novel coronavirus, shelters have instituted such practices as appointment-only and call-ahead adoptions, drive-up fostering and adoptions, and online training.

While adoption and foster rates vary throughout the year, Bershadker said the ASPCA had experienced a nearly 70% increase in animals going into foster care through the organization's New York City and Los Angeles foster programs, compared with the same time period in 2019.

“Since March 15, we have seen more than 600 people complete the online foster application for our New York City and Los Angeles foster programs,” he said. “The general expected number of foster sign-ups at this time of year is approximately 200.”

There is currently no evidence that animals can infect people with the COVID-19 virus. In fact, it appears that infected humans are a risk to certain animal species. In most instances of animals that have tested positive for the virus, the animals had been exposed to a person sick with COVID-19 (see page 1074).

Out of an abundance of caution, the AVMA—in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the shelter medicine community—published recommendations for the shelter community in March concerning the intake of pets from homes where a person with COVID-19 is present.

Key recommendations from the guidelines include:

  • • Stay safe if collecting animals from sick people's homes.

  • • Use gloves and reusable personal protective equipment (gowns, coveralls, and footwear).

  • • Bathing of the animals is not necessary.

  • • House exposed animals separately from the general animal population.

  • • Allow dogs to be walked outside for exercise and elimination.

  • • Limit close contact with humans.

  • • Avoid direct contact with other animals.

  • • Sanitize as usually recommended; spot cleaning is preferred.

  • • Once in shelter, hold for 14 days prior to adoption or foster.

During an April 2 webinar on the guidelines, Dr. Sandra Newbury, head of the Shelter Medicine Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine, encouraged pet owners to treat their animal companions the same as any family member by preventing their exposure to people infected with the COVID-19 virus.

“There is no evidence that pets play an epidemiological role in this pandemic,” Dr. Newbury said, “and it's essential that people protect their pets from the virus.”

Human-to-animal COVID-19 spread not common

Routine testing of animals not recommended despite its availability

By Malinda Larkin

Pet owners took notice when Hong Kong animal health authorities announced in late February that oral and nasal samples from a 17-year-old Pomeranian tested weakly positive for SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. They worried when, according to an April 22 announcement by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, two cats in the state of New York tested positive for the virus. These were the first cases found in pets in the U.S.

Still, health organizations from the AVMA to the CDC to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) are saying the same thing: There is no evidence to suggest that animals infected by humans are playing a role in the spread of COVID-19, and the human outbreak is being driven by person-to-person contact. However, these health organizations do recommend, out of an abundance of caution, that people ill with the coronavirus limit contact with animals.

What's not as widely discussed is that there is evidence that transmission of SARS-CoV-2 from humans to dogs and cats is uncommon, says one expert on infectious disease. Instead, what veterinarians are more likely to find are the usual respiratory ailments in animals that are coughing.

Dr. Jane Sykes, chief veterinary medical officer and associate dean of veterinary medical center operations at the University of California-Davis, added that it is critically important that pet owners not overreact to these few cases involving animals that test positive and that pet owners do not abandon their pets.

TESTING IN ANIMALS

Worldwide, there were nearly 2.5 million human cases of COVID-19 and 178,845 human deaths as of mid-April. Comparatively, the few domestic animals that have previously tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 include the Pomeranian, a 2-year-old German Shepherd Dog in mid-March in Hong Kong, a domestic cat in Hong Kong, and another cat in Belgium, with both the cats testing positive in late March, according to news and public health reports.

The Pomeranian was quarantined, and additional nasal and oral samples also tested weakly positive. Another dog and a cat from the same household tested negative. Subsequently, a spokesperson from the Hong Kong Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department confirmed on March 26 that a positive result had been obtained at the World Health Organization reference laboratory at the University of Hong Kong, and the dog had been infected by the virus.

On March 25, the AFCD reported that virus was isolated from one or more samples collected from the German Shepherd Dog and, on April 3, reported that the dog developed neutralizing antibodies to the virus. The German Shepherd Dog lived with a person with COVID-19 and was quarantined, as was a 4-year-old mixed-breed dog from the same household that tested negative. Neither of the dogs showed signs of disease, and none of the people handling the dogs during quarantine were reported to develop COVID-19.

The owner of the cat in Belgium had COVID-19. The cat was positive for SARS-CoV-2 by a polymerase chain reaction-based assay and had clinical signs of vomiting, diarrhea, and respiratory disease, according to an April 3 update from the World Small Animal Veterinary Association. The condition of the cat reportedly improved nine days after the onset of clinical signs. Dr. Sykes noted that the cat was not examined by a veterinarian, and the owner collected the samples.

The cat in Hong Kong was reported to be subclinically infected with SARS-CoV2. The owner had COVID-19, and the cat was quarantined on March 30. Nasal, oral, and rectal swab samples tested positive, and follow-up samples on April 1 were also positive, according to the Hong Kong AFCD.

The USDA National Veterinary Services Laboratories said April 5 that it tested samples from a tiger at the Bronx Zoo in New York City after several lions and tigers at the zoo showed signs of respiratory illness. Public health officials believe the large cats became sick after being exposed to an infected—but unknown—asymptomatic zookeeper. The zoo has been closed to the public since mid-March, and the first tiger began showing signs of sickness on March 27.

By April 3, three other tigers and three lions were showing clinical signs consisting of a dry cough and some wheezing, according to the OIE. Samples were collected from the first tiger and were confirmed positive for SARS-CoV-2. The other animals with clinical signs and a fifth tiger that never developed a cough later tested positive via a fecal sample test that did not require the animals to be anesthetized.

Finally, the two cats in the state of New York lived in separate areas. A veterinarian tested the first cat after it showed mild respiratory signs. No person in the household was confirmed to be ill with COVID-19. “The virus may have been transmitted to this cat by mildly ill or asymptomatic household members or through contact with an infected person outside its home,” according to the CDC and USDA.

Samples from the second cat were taken after it showed signs of respiratory illness. The owner tested positive for COVID-19 prior to the cat showing signs. Another cat in the household showed no signs of illness.

Both ill cats tested presumptive positive for SARS-CoV-2 at a private veterinary laboratory. The confirmatory testing was conducted at the NVSL. Both cats were expected to make a full recovery, according to the announcement.

LOOKING AT THE EVIDENCE

Although these cases have drawn much attention, Dr. Sykes said, what often gets buried in stories is how uncommon it is for animals to be infected.

For one, the Hong Kong AFCD had conducted tests on 27 dogs and 15 cats quarantined from households with confirmed COVID-19 cases or in close contact with confirmed patients, and only the two dogs and the cat had tested positive for the virus. None of the animals had clinical signs of disease.

In addition, Idexx Laboratories Inc. said March 13 that the veterinary diagnostic company had tested more than 4,000 samples from dogs, cats, and horses with a PCR assay, and no evidence of the coronavirus had been found, although these were stored samples, and it is unclear to what extent the animals had been exposed to infected people. The samples were collected over a four-week period starting on Feb. 14 from animals in South Korea and the U.S., including impacted areas such as Seattle. The results were confirmed using three assays from the CDC run in parallel. Idexx also noted that its testing has now expanded into Canada and European Union countries, including areas with high rates of COVID-19 in humans, and all tests continued to be negative.

In mid-April, the company announced it was launching a commercial test for SARS-CoV-2 in animals for veterinarians to use, even though routine testing of animals is not recommended by the CDC, AVMA, and others.

Two recent research findings have purported to show evidence that some animals can be infected with SARS-CoV-2 or develop COVID-19.

A report from China published April 8 in the journal Science (jav.ma/SARS-CoV-2study) found that cats and ferrets are theoretically susceptible to infection with SARS-CoV-2, that cats could transmit the infection to other cats, and that ferrets could transmit it to other ferrets, whereas dogs did not transmit infection to a small number of other dogs. Younger cats, age 70–100 days, were reportedly more susceptible than 8-month-old cats.

Dr. Sykes urged caution in reading too much into the paper. The results are based on laboratory experiments involving a small number of animals, including very young kittens, that were deliberately given very high doses of the virus.

“That situation may not be possible to replicate in the field,” she said. “The important thing is that people understand that they're seeing things about cats spreading infection to other cats, but we've not seen that in the real world,” nor have similar findings been described by other researchers.

On April 2, a pre-print manuscript was published in bioRxiv, an open-access pre-print repository for the biological sciences, that described a survey of a random-source domestic cat population in Wuhan, China. The researchers performed serologic testing on serum collected from 39 cats before the COVID-19 outbreak and from 102 cats after the outbreak. Of the 102 cats tested after the outbreak, 15 were positive for antibodies against SARS-CoV-2. Dr. Sykes pointed out that the cats were from shelters and other sources and the extent of their contact with people with COVID-19 was not reported. The researchers also stated that there was no cross-reactivity of their assay with feline coronavirus. The paper is available at jav.ma/Wuhancats.

“Currently, we don't have any evidence that dogs and cats, and even ferrets, can transmit SARS-CoV-2 to humans outside the laboratory, either as fomites or as virus shedders,” Dr. Sykes said.

If dogs and cats “in the field” can shed the virus, it's possible the amount of virus shed is too low for transmission to occur, especially if there is no respiratory disease to create airborne droplets for transmission, Dr. Sykes added.

Another manuscript in bioRxiv, published April 9, described testing 21 pets—9 cats and 12 dogs—of 18 French veterinary students, 11 of which had shown clinical signs of COVID-19. No animals tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 by PCR assay, and no antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 were detectable in their blood. The paper is available at jav.ma/vetstudents.

HANDLE WITH CARE

At the same time, veterinarians should be vigilant about the possibility of infections in animals in contact with people who have COVID-19.

The AVMA, CDC, Association of Shelter Veterinarians, and shelter medicine programs at veterinary colleges released “Interim recommendations for intake of companion animals from households where humans with COVID-19 are present” in late March (see page 1073). The document contains a reminder to house pets in the home when possible. If sick people must care for pets or be around animals, they should wash their hands before and after the interaction. If temporary sheltering of pets becomes necessary, bathing of pets on intake is not needed, but the pets should be housed with minimal contact with other animals.

Dr. Sykes says any pet that develops respiratory illness is much less likely to be infected with the novel coronavirus than with a typical canine or feline respiratory virus or bacteria, including coronaviruses that only infect dogs, such as canine respiratory coronavirus.

“Pet owners should be told to have their pet evaluated by a veterinarian if signs of a runny nose or eyes, cough, or sneezing develop and not allow their pet to contact other animals in the meantime,” she said.

Veterinarians who may want to test pets for SARS-CoV-2 have to contact state animal health officials first. USDA information states, “At this time, testing for companion animals will only be done if animal and public health officials agree testing should occur due to a link to a known human case of COVID-19.”

After the decision is made to test, the state animal health officials would designate a state-appointed veterinarian, a USDA-accredited veterinarian, or a foreign animal disease diagnostician to collect the sample. State animal health laboratories may conduct animal testing, but any positive samples would need to be confirmed through additional testing by the USDA's National Veterinary Services Laboratory.

“What's important for vets to know is that a single positive test result on an apparently healthy domestic animal, like the Hong Kong cat, when it's done as a screening test, has predictive value problems. When prevalence of infection is really low … that magnifies the potential for false positives,” Dr. Sykes said.

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Veterinary Services Laboratories tested samples from Nadia, a 4-year-old female Malayan tiger at the Bronx Zoo, who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. She, her sister, two Amur tigers, and three African lions had developed a dry cough, and all are expected to recover, according to the zoo. Later, the other animals with clinical signs and a fifth tiger that never developed a cough tested positive. These were the first reported animal cases in the U.S. (Courtesy of Bronx Zoo)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 256, 10; 10.2460/javma.256.10.1069

Research delayed, rodent populations reduced during pandemic

Universities try to reduce risk to humans, maintain animal welfare as studies halted

By Greg Cima

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An employee of Yerkes National Primate Research Center at Emory University wears personal protective equipment while working near monkeys. The institution houses about 3,300 nonhuman primates. (Photos courtesy of Emory University)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 256, 10; 10.2460/javma.256.10.1069

Universities delayed new studies this spring to reduce contact among people, including researchers and animal caregivers.

Those delays often involved reducing breeding of research animals and sometimes depopulating mice. Even after campuses reopen, rebuilding many of these populations could take months.

Laura J. Knoll, PhD, professor of medical microbiology and immunology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health, said university officials strongly encouraged that investigators reduce their populations of easily replaceable animals because the university would be short staffed. She had about 700 mice prior to the pandemic, and she estimated two-thirds were euthanized.

“They want us to get the numbers down as much as possible in the facilities,” Dr. Knoll said. “They are working with limited animal care staff.”

She said reducing the human health risk was the right decision, rather than maintaining large populations of mice.

Dr. Knoll studies Toxoplasma gondii, and her team recently identified why cats are the only natural hosts for a phase of T gondii's life cycle. She used that knowledge to induce that phase in mice.

The university was maintaining mice from rare or expensive breeding lines, she said. If researchers can return to campus this summer, she said, breeding and buying replacement mice likely would delay any experiments until late fall.

Dr. Janet Welter, chief campus veterinarian at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said the university had suggested that principal investigators stop breeding mice and rats that they could buy from vendors.

No universitywide policy required depopulating research animals, but she said individual units may have issued other instructions.

Dr. Welter said long-term projects continue, including a study started more than 20 years ago on aging in primates. And some current research includes COVID-19 transmission and vaccine studies.

“I am so impressed by the response this university has had to this unprecedented pandemic that we are dealing with,” Dr. Welter said.

Cornell University announced March 15 it suspended noncritical research. In a publicly available letter, Provost Michael Kotlikoff and Vice Provost for Research Emmanuel Giannelis wrote to campus colleagues that Cornell would reduce laboratory research and other nonessential research activities by March 18.

“Research that is essential for the understanding and reduction of COVID-19 risk should continue,” the letter states. “Beyond this, we ask that only those research activities that are absolutely necessary to retain critical research assets for long-term progress are conducted on campus.”

Cornell spokeswoman Melissa Osgood said about 10% of the university's rodent population was euthanized, which will slow current studies and delay future ones.

The Congressional Research Service published a report April 10 on the pandemic's interruptions to federal research and development—which includes research by federal employees and outside research funded by federal agencies—and to conferences where scientists share knowledge. The report notes that, even among ongoing research projects, the altered schedules, increased distances between employees, and extra time spent on emergency planning reduced efficiency, if not also quality.

PROTECTING PEOPLE AND ANIMALS

Dr. Joyce Cohen is associate director of animal resources at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center and associate professor in the Emory University School of Medicine Division of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. Her center stocked up on food, bedding, and other supplies for the animals, as well as focused on animal welfare and care as employees adapted to the pandemic.

Dr. Cohen's institution has about 3,300 nonhuman primates and about 5,000 rodents. The center split staffing so half of animal care and veterinary employees work each day, reducing the overall risk that teams will become sick and require isolation. She also adjusted husbandry schedules, for example, to reduce how often the staff sanitize cages, but she noted daily cage cleaning continues.

The risk of COVID-19 infection in primates also is a concern, Dr. Cohen said, citing preliminary evidence that rhesus macaques inoculated with the virus can become infected. Staff members wear personal protective equipment while working with nonhuman primates and watch for respiratory illness.

“We're putting together a colony screening program to start doing some antibody testing to look for any signs of infection in the colony,” she said. “We've already started screening animals that will be utilized on COVID-19 research.”

Dr. Douglas K. Taylor is senior veterinarian in the Emory University School of Medicine Division of Animal Resources and a professor of pathology and laboratory medicine. He said Emory's main campus keeps about 85,000 research animals, mostly mice. That figure does not include the rodents at the primate research center.

Emory followed guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on social distancing and personal protection, instituting rotating schedules and telecommuting, he said. Along with those measures, the university also directed investigators to consider which studies were time sensitive, critical, ongoing, or able to be delayed.

Dr. Taylor has seen a 10–15% drop in the institution's animal census since the pandemic began, mostly in the mouse population. He attributed the decline to a combination of euthanasia at the conclusion of experiments, preparations for worst-case scenarios that include short staffing, and conservation of resources by limiting breeding and suspending intake of new animals.

Dr. Taylor said animal welfare considerations have been second only to human safety concerns.

Dr. Nina Woodford, attending veterinarian for Washington State University and director of the Office of the Campus Veterinarian, said research slowed as the institution told staff members to stay home or come in for reduced hours.

WSU delayed starting any studies that require long-term monitoring or extensive time in close contact with others in a laboratory, Dr. Woodford said. Some of the drug dependency studies, for example, involve conditioning animals, performing memory tests, and working closely with people and animals, she said.

“While we are finishing any ongoing studies, we're taking a pause at starting any new ones of that nature,” she said.

The university also slowed breeding of research rodents and fish, and the rodent population has declined 15% as studies concluded and breeding halted, she said. WSU also had some teaching laboratory-use livestock that were sent to market ahead of schedule, she said.

“We have asked our researchers to identify what we call ‘priority save’ animals in the event that we would have to do more culling,” she said.

That would occur if too few people were available to feed and care for all of the animals, she said.

Once people are able to return to the university, Dr. Woodford thinks resuming many studies would require months. But studies using commercially available mouse strains would resume more quickly.

Robert Taft, PhD, is director of reproductive technologies and business development at The Jackson Laboratory, a nonprofit institution that breeds mice for use in research. Dr. Taft said JAX remains open and continues selling all of its genetic lines of mice. The types of mice ordered shifted, though, toward mice modified to express human-type cell receptors that allow infection with COVID-19.

He also saw a surge of requests to cryopreserve genetic lines. The institution is planning for a possible surge in demand as studies resume, and JAX can build colonies ahead as investigators share their plans. The institution also continues providing services such as testing half-lives of antibodies and characterizing mouse models through assays.

DISASTER PLANS INCLUDE PANDEMICS

Tracy Parker, president of the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science, said federal regulators require that all facilities conducting animal research have disaster plans, and many of those plans have included pandemic response scenarios since an outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome. AALAS forums provided anecdotes on how facilities have executed those plans, with some continuing operations through teams providing daily care for animals. Some facilities donated PPE and other supplies to local hospitals, and some offered to aid studies on potential antiviral treatments, Parker said.

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The Emory University School of Medicine Division of Animal Resources maintains about 85,000 research animals, mostly mice.

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 256, 10; 10.2460/javma.256.10.1069

Dr. Jennifer K. Pulliam, senior director of the Division of Comparative Medicine at the New York University School of Medicine, wrote in correspondence published in March in Nature that the COVID-19 pandemic could create shortages in staffing and supply chains in research institutions.

“As someone who helped labs to retool after Hurricane Sandy hit in 2012, I advise research groups to build up substantial reserves of crucial animal-care and laboratory supplies,” she wrote. “These include personal protective equipment as well as food, water and bedding for the animals.

“Individually ventilated cages can be brought in to cut back on cage-cleaning requirements. Back-up for services such as animal care and health checks will be necessary.”

In an interview with JAVMA News, Dr. Pulliam said NYU investigators canceled some short-term experiments and ended others quickly. But the university maintained staff to care for remaining rodents.

“There are animal experiments that are specifically related to COVID-19,” she said. “Those are going full steam ahead, as you can imagine.”

NYU also increased use of cryopreservation following Hurricane Sandy, and it's now used to save most unique rodent lines, Dr. Pulliam said. Other lines are maintained in breeding colonies.

In disasters and routine days alike, institution leaders need to focus on their people, Dr. Pulliam said. They need workforces that are resilient through their passion for their work, ability to adapt to change, and empowerment to make decisions.

Administrators need to consider these needs ahead of disasters, when they won't have time, she said.

SPIKE PROTEIN MAY CONTAIN KEY WEAKNESSES IN COVID-19 VIRUS

By Greg Cima

Gary Whittaker, PhD, said a shared feature across coronaviruses could be a key vulnerability for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

Dr. Whittaker is a professor of virology at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine and one of the infectious diseases and epidemiology section chiefs in the Master of Public Health program. He has studied the proteins, structures, and epidemiology of coronaviruses since 2003, starting with the virus that causes severe acute respiratory syndrome and including the viruses that cause Middle East respiratory syndrome and feline infectious peritonitis.

He is focusing his own research on the spike protein coronaviruses use to bind with a host cell's receptors and fuse with its membrane. Coronaviruses mutate often, especially at that infection site, forming variants and allowing adaptation to new hosts and tissues more quickly than most other pathogenic viruses.

Dr. Whittaker is helping lead a group of laboratories studying the COVID-19 virus, animal susceptibility, or use of existing treatments to combat the disease. Veterinary faculty at Utah State University, for example, led work through the university's Institute for Antiviral Research to investigate effects of the coronavirus and to test antiviral compounds and licensed drugs that could help people fight the coronavirus, using hamsters modified to be susceptible to infection.

The genetic sequences that encode the COVID-19 virus spike protein that binds with human cells were previously unseen in SARS-like coronaviruses, Dr. Whittaker said. That variation may help the virus spread more easily among humans than the SARS virus—which was deadly but not as easily spread.

Researchers at the University of Minnesota, in an article preview published March 30 by Nature, also indicated they found different mutations that let the COVID-19 virus bind more securely to human cells than the 2002–03 SARS coronavirus. In a university announcement, the researchers described mutations that formed a molecular ridge in the COVID-19 virus's spike protein, giving it a similar but more compact structure than the one on the SARS coronavirus and letting the virus attach more strongly to human cell receptors.

That work, the announcement states, could guide development of monoclonal antibodies that target the binding site or vaccines that target the spike protein.

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This transmission electron microscopic image shows a COVID-19 coronavirus isolate, colorized in blue, from the first known U.S. case. (Courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 256, 10; 10.2460/javma.256.10.1069

Dr. Whittaker said a common mutation in the feline infectious peritonitis virus's spike protein activation site transforms the virus from one that is highly transmissible but relatively benign to a variant that is lethal but tougher to transmit. The COVID-19 coronavirus, in contrast, has an unusual combination of both transmissibility and lethality.

His research group is looking for key features shared across coronaviruses affecting humans and animals. He sees potential that a drug could target the fusion peptides that become exposed when a coronavirus attaches to a host cell.

“We're looking at small molecules, peptide inhibitors, antibodies, as well as a kind of vaccine idea to target the activation but really also target the fusion peptide, which is the common denominator for all coronaviruses,” he said.

Such a drug could, in theory, work in the same way as some investigational treatments tested against Ebola virus infection, Dr. Whittaker said.

One coronavirus that causes the common cold is highly related to a bovine coronavirus, he noted, and its emergence in humans has been traced back to a rise in the farming of cattle at higher densities during the 19th century. Another coronavirus of humans, likely originating from a bat in the Middle Ages, may have caused epidemics or a pandemic during that time.

When animals are gathered in close proximity and exhibit high stress—whether in a market, stable, or animal shelter—the viral load builds, he said. Contact with humans during that stress increases the risk a coronavirus will jump species. Stress management and veterinary care can manage that risk and help prevent future outbreaks, he said.

“This is where veterinarians have a major role in human public health,” he said.

Some states temporarily modify CE requirements as social distancing continues

Online continuing education sees rise in interest as in-person events dwindle

By Kaitlyn Mattson

As social distancing and shelter-in-place orders continue in most cities and states, related to the novel coronavirus pandemic, many events across the world where veterinary professionals would have obtained the necessary continuing education credits to keep their licenses in good standing have been postponed or canceled. Several states have temporarily modified their CE requirements in response. However, there could be the potential for licensing delays.

The AVMA is monitoring how states are changing their policies and providing updates through a document that can be found at jav.ma/stateorders.

The American Association of Veterinary State Boards is also keeping track of how states are changing requirements and guidelines. That resource can be found at jav.ma/AAVSBlist.

STATE TO STATE

As of press time in mid-April, at least 20 states had made short-term changes to their CE requirements, around 18 states had updated their telehealth guidelines, and 18 AAVSB jurisdictions had changed their business practices, such as being closed to walk-ins, according to information provided by the AVMA and AAVSB.

Idaho, per a temporary rule change, has said licensees who have CE due for this year will only be required to submit 10 CE credit hours, and all can be done online. Veterinarians in the state typically need 20 CE credits for renewal.

“I have spoken with veterinarians around the state that are happy about the change,” said Jeremy Brown, the executive director of the Idaho Board of Veterinary Medicine. He said he received calls from veterinarians before the temporary change who were concerned about meeting requirements. The temporary rule will be in place until the end of the legislative session in 2021.

Other states have made similar changes such as Minnesota, which is offering a 24-month extension to veterinarians who cannot obtain sufficient CE credits by the March 1, 2021, renewal date.

CANCELED MEETINGS

Most state VMAs that typically hold their annual conferences in April, May, and June have canceled this year's events. Several other events such as the British Small Animal Veterinary Association Congress and the 2020 Texas A&M University Veterinary Technicians Conference will also not be held.

But some conferences and conventions later in the year are still moving forward, with meeting organizers reporting that they are monitoring the situation and weighing their options.

The World Small Animal Veterinary Association Congress was still on as of press time in mid-April. The event is set for Sept. 23–26 in Warsaw, Poland.

VIRTUAL LICENSING

As governors across the U.S. continue to order residents to shelter in place or extend previous stay-at-home orders, veterinary board members and staff members have shifted to working remotely, which has come with logistical challenges that could cause licensing delays.

Jim Penrod, executive director of the AAVSB, said the majority of state boards are working through the challenges successfully.

For example, getting fingerprints for a criminal background check is difficult during this time, so licenses in Minnesota will be issued temporarily after searching a date of birth and a name, said Dr. Julie H. Wilson, executive director of the Minnesota Board of Veterinary Medicine.

“At this point, Minnesota does not expect a significant delay in license issuance,” she said.

However, there is concern around the closure of the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination testing centers and whether recent veterinary graduates will face licensing issues. The NAVLE is administered at Prometric Testing Centers throughout the U.S., Canada, and other selected locations worldwide.

“If a student graduates from a veterinary college but has not passed the NAVLE, he or she has no more legal privilege than a kennel worker,” Dr. Wilson said.

Dr. Heather Case, CEO of the International Council for Veterinary Assessment, the company that administers the NAVLE, said it is difficult to say how many centers have been closed.

“Centers are closed for different time frames due to their respective national, state, or local responses to the outbreak,” she said. For example, Prometric has closed all of its centers in the U.S. and Canada until May 1 and in the United Kingdom until April 30. Some sites are closed through early May.

ICVA decided to give all current April NAVLE candidates an extension to June 30 to allow for testing. ICVA has also provided candidates with an option to defer, at no additional fee, to the November-December 2020 testing window.

The vast majority of current fourth-year veterinary students set to graduate in May have reportedly already taken NAVLE.

Other issues related to licensing include the need for board meetings to be public. Veterinary boards are having to figure out how to notify the members of the public and give them access to virtual meetings, Penrod said.

“In general, we are seeing that they are responsive to licensing requests. I have only seen one example of a board saying they might have a delay,” he said.

The AAVSB also has released an online license verification service through its fee-based Vault Premium Transfer Service for veterinarians who are seeking licensure in another state. The tool is meant to increase the efficiency of the licensure process and speed up the ability of the regulatory board to issue licenses, Penrod said. The tool has been in development for a while, but he said this is a good time to release it.

The online tool would allow a state to verify licensees are in good standing, the expiration date of their license, and their license number.

The Vault Premium Transfer Service is available at jav.ma/vault.

ONLINE ALL THE TIME

While veterinary professionals face decreased in-person opportunities for CE, online ones are seeing an obvious rise.

Online resources such as AVMA Axon, Vet Girl on the Run, Vet Bloom, and Vet 360 offer virtual informational and CE sessions that veterinary professionals can take advantage of.

Dr. Kevin Dajka, AVMA chief of professional development and strategic alliances, said AVMA Axon's online offerings have seen an increase in traffic, in part, because of the recently developed COVID-19 Update series. These webinars focus on four key areas that the pandemic is impacting in the veterinary profession right now: small business, essential practice resources, economic impact, and well-being. Members of the AVMA can access axon.avma.org with their login, and anyone else can view the webinars once they create a profile with the AVMA.

Vet Bloom, an online CE company, has a free course for dealing with COVID-19-related anxiety at jav.ma/COVIDanxiety.

VetBloom is also working to help veterinary professionals and partnering with associations that have postponed or canceled events such as state VMAs and veterinary technician associations so the associations can provide free CE to their members during this time.

In a separate effort to help veterinary professionals facing CE-related challenges, the AAVSB changed its Registry of Approved Continuing Education requirements on March 20 to allow live and interactive webinars to count as in-person meetings. More information can be found at aavsb.org/ce-services.

The AAVSB also announced that the National Examining Board of the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association will recognize applicants who have completed the AAVSB Program for the Assessment of Veterinary Education Equivalence as being eligible to apply for veterinary licensure in Canadian provinces.

FARM VETERINARIANS ADJUST TO REDUCE COVID-19 RISK

By Greg Cima

This spring, veterinarians spent less time in barns and more time helping farm workers stay healthy.

Veterinary organizations, academic centers, and livestock industries also provided guidance on how to prevent transmission of the COVID-19 virus on farms and in agricultural communities. The guides emphasized reducing contact among farm workers, letting people onto farms only if their work is vital, and disinfecting surfaces such as keyboards and doorknobs.

Dr. Montserrat Torremorell from the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine and Dr. Jeff Bender of the university's School of Public Health wrote in March that swine veterinarians are being asked to think like occupational health specialists who can help protect farm employees, their families, and other people who work in the pork production supply chain. Drs. Torremorell and Bender also noted, in an article from the university's Swine Group, predictions that the pandemic would spread to rural communities, which tend to have older populations than cities and less access to health care.

It also states that veterinarians need to consider the potential that this coronavirus could affect pigs.

“Although there are no documented cases of COVID-19 in pigs, we need to recognize that viruses can be promiscuous,” the article states. “We need to protect the pigs.”

On April 12, Smithfield Foods announced an indefinite closure of the company's production facility in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, citing COVID-19 infections. The plant employs 3,700 people and produces 4%-5% of U.S. pork, according to the announcement. The Washington Post reported April 16 that a series of closures and slowdowns reduced production among beef plants, and national production dropped 25% in one week.

Dr. Abbey Canon, director of public health and communications for the American Association of Swine Veterinarians, said in a message that swine veterinarians provide essential services, some of which can be performed without physical examinations and others that often can be provided with few or no other people around.

“We know some swine vets are implementing AASV's guidelines and are visiting farms and evaluating animals without a caretaker present when they can do so safely and getting history before and following up by telephone or e-mail,” she wrote.

Farms, packing plants, and veterinary teaching hospitals staggered staffing to limit contact among employees and prepare in case a whole shift of employees required quarantine, Dr. Canon said. She also hopes farms use the Farm Crisis Operations Planning Tool—developed in part by the AASV and available through aasv.org—which helps farm operators consider how farms can maintain essential operations in emergencies.

“It's a priority to make sure swine vets have the important information they need to stay healthy and continue meeting a critical need in public and animal health, and we'll continue to provide guidance and more information as it becomes available,” Dr. Canon wrote.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services also created guidance for migrant farm workers and their employers. That document warns that people who have developed lung disease through exposure to agricultural pesticides and fungi are at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19.

People with COVID-19 symptoms should live in separate rooms, with separate bathrooms, from healthy people, North Carolina's guide states. Farms should take steps such as stocking surgical face masks, identifying nearby health care facilities that provide free or low-cost care to uninsured people, teaching workers about disease prevention, and notifying public health departments about illnesses.

Dr. Suzanne Dougherty, executive vice president of the American Association of Avian Pathologists, knew of poultry companies that reduced travel for their veterinarians, and some allowed visits to barns only for health emergencies. Poultry companies encouraged their veterinarians to work from home, she said, although she noted many often practice some telemedicine and likely found that transition easy.

Farm service technicians and managers often send photos of birds that died or necropsies, and diagnostic laboratories remained open though run by fewer people, she said.

Poultry companies also reduced contact among employees, and each company and facility maintained contingency plans in case the coronavirus spread among employees.

In late March, the American Association of Bovine Practitioners started surveying members on how the pandemic affected their practices.

Dr. K. Fred Gingrich II, executive director of the AABP, said bovine medicine has few routine or unnecessary procedures to eliminate. Some members told him they practiced physical distancing among people on farms and in the clinic, where possible. Others closed their store fronts to the public, as well as gave clients recommendations on ways to protect employees against transmission.

AABP leaders develop d a document, “Resources for cattle veterinarians regarding the COVID-19 outbreak.”

It states, “Cattle veterinarians and producers have a primary role in maintaining a safe, secure and stable food supply, therefore cattle veterinarians must maintain access to the clients and patients they serve even during the pandemic outbreak of COVID-19 while incorporating preventive measures to decrease the risk of infection to themselves and others.”

The document discourages hoarding of veterinary supplies, as well as notes state efforts to increase physical distancing and preserve medical supplies by discouraging elective veterinary procedures. And, like many guides, it encourages good hygiene, staying home when ill, maintaining physical distance among people, and allowing only essential visitors to work sites.

The AVMA, too, has put together resources on considerations for food animal and equine veterinarians during the COVID-19 pandemic, available at avma.org/coronavirus.

EQUINE VETERINARIANS FOCUS ON ESSENTIALS, KEEP DISTANCE

By Kaitlyn Mattson

Some equine veterinarians are changing how they practice as recommendations on physical distancing and shelter-in-place orders continue in most U.S. states.

The American Association of Equine Practitioners has released several resources for equine veterinarians who are working amid the COVID-19 outbreak. These include a guide to safe interactions with clients and a fact sheet on equine coronavirus. The resources can be found at jav.ma/equinecovid.

Dr. Erin Trawick-Smith, an equine veterinarian in Connecticut, said she is trying to interact with people as little as possible.

For example, her full-time veterinary technician is currently working from home doing paperwork so they don't have to share a car. Dr. Trawick-Smith is only doing visits to administer core vaccines and treat emergencies, but she has also asked that only one owner be present during a visit.

“I don't want to expose (the owners), and they're pretty isolated, and I am out and touching things, (so) I am more exposed,” she said. However, not exposing owners is difficult sometimes because some people don't respect the rule to stay at least 6 feet away.

She said most people she has interacted with have been nice about keeping a distance, but she's talked to friends who have not been so lucky.

Dr. Rob Franklin, a partner at Fredericksburg Equine Veterinary Services in Texas, said that the clinic has made appointments very easy for clients so the clinic can provide patient care and protect both clients and the staff.

“This includes offering drop-off appointments, farm calls, and telemedicine appointments. We have also minimized our appointments to have only one owner representative per horse and no more than two people in our waiting room at a time,” he said. “We don't handshake, fist-bump, or have contact with the client in any way. It is a very socially awkward time when trying to build trust with new clients or saying hello to old friends.”

Dr. Trawick-Smith said the way equine veterinarians interact with their clients is one of the big differences between equine and small animal practice.

“You are on their property,” she said. “With small animal, it is your facility. … Equine veterinarians have our own set of anxieties with our clients because of the strange, 24/7 relationship we have with them, and this is compounding it.”

Dr. Trawick-Smith said she isn't too nervous about the future of her business because she has so many primary care clients, but she thinks a lot of businesses are going to be hit hard by the COVID-19 outbreak.

SURVEY FINDS DECLINING PRACTICE REVENUE, MOVE TOWARD TELEMEDICINE

By R. Scott Nolen

While each day of the COVID-19 pandemic brings updated case numbers, less is known about how small businesses are weathering the viral storm.

A survey of roughly 215 veterinary practices in the northeastern United States and approximately a hundred practices in other parts of the country offers a glimpse of the financial and operational impacts on a segment of the industry.

Independent Vets, which provides relief veterinarians to animal hospitals in the Northeast, conducted the survey through the week of April 14.

The survey found that three-quarters of veterinary hospitals reported a reduction in revenue of more than 20%, with roughly a third reporting reductions of 40% or more. Sixty-two percent of veterinary hospitals said they are or will be applying for a loan from their bank or a local, state, or federal agency.

Forty-three percent of veterinary hospitals saw a reduction in appointments of over 40%. About a third of veterinary hospitals reported appointments had dropped between 20% and 40%.

Practices said the main drivers for their revenues to return would be recapturing wellness visits that were canceled, nonessential surgeries that were postponed, and dental visits that were postponed.

Veterinary practices in the Northeast have reduced operating hours more drastically than practices elsewhere in the United States, the survey found. Northeastern veterinary practices are also reporting much larger reductions in appointments.

Compared with the Northeast, other regions are showing greater decreases in staffing, with more staff members being unwilling to work or needing to care for children at home. This is compounded with a higher stress level reported in other regions, compared with the Northeast.

Matt Shivers, director of business development for Independent Vets, believes the difference in regional stress levels is a result of experience. “This virus hit the Northeast earlier and harder than many parts of the country, some of which are just now seeing increases in the number of COVID-19 cases,” Shivers said.

Roughly 90% of practices had adopted curbside drop-off and were no longer allowing clients into the hospital. Approximately 70% of veterinary hospitals were practicing virtual checkout and were handling billing procedures via phone and video calls.

An earlier iteration of the survey, of more than 230 practices in the Northeast through March 29, found that more than half (57%) of practices reported difficulties in acquiring supplies, with personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies being the most difficult products to secure.

The survey found that veterinary hospitals are experimenting with remote medicine. Most practices are increasing text messages with clients and are communicating electronically with clients to follow up on ill patients and perform rechecks.

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What impact is COVID-19 having on the revenue of your hospital?

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 256, 10; 10.2460/javma.256.10.1069

Many comments showed veterinary hospitals are more actively researching telemedicine options at this time, the survey found.

Sixty-six percent of respondents are “very” or “extremely” confident business will return to normal. Two-thirds estimate June or July will be when they return to normal or improve.

A PDF of the Independent Vets survey results is available at jav.ma/indevets.

PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE VETERINARIANS WORK TO PROTECT PEOPLE DURING PANDEMIC

By Greg Cima

As people returned to the U.S. from areas with COVID-19 outbreaks, federal veterinarians helped protect them and the communities where they arrived.

They also worked to identify the people at highest risk and help people protect themselves.

Capt. Marvin L. Thomas, chief veterinarian for the U.S. Public Health Service since March 1, works as surgery service chief in the National Institutes of Health Office of Research Services Division of Veterinary Resources, through which he provides resources to institutions with laboratory animals. He said USPHS veterinarians flew to outbreak sites and U.S. entry points. There, they screened airline passengers and talked with them about their health.

Other USPHS veterinarians trained people in the U.S. on procedures for putting on and taking off personal protective equipment and worked to contain the risk from people returning to the U.S. from Wuhan, China, the city where the first cases of the novel coronavirus were reported on Dec. 31, 2019. Many of the USPHS veterinarians are members of rapid response teams that work in medical teams that help prevent further outbreaks.

The veterinarians responding to this pandemic include seasoned disease responders, some of whom performed fieldwork during the Ebola outbreaks.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, in a message sent to NIH employees March 27, said more than 1,200 USPHS Commissioned Corps members and 2,400 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention staff members had been deployed since Jan. 17. Those figures would include veterinarians, physicians, and other health care professionals.

Capt. Casey Barton Behravesh, director of the One Health Office for the CDC National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, led the CDC's one-health team during the immediate response to the pandemic, connecting health care providers across medical disciplines and giving the public information on the safety of pets and other animals, including animals shipped from outbreak areas. Some of the public information included reminding people to stock up on pet supplies and stressing the importance of individual efforts such as hand washing and routine disinfection.

Dr. Barton Behravesh also was one of the veterinarians on public health teams who helped track high-risk people and keep them in quarantine, as well as looked for people who developed illnesses consistent with COVID-19 and needed isolation. After a brief stint working among epidemiologists studying the virus, she returned to the one-health team.

She said veterinarians possess unique training for dealing with infectious diseases, taking on myriad roles including disease surveillance, infection control, repatriation and quarantine, and contact identification to find people at highest risk of becoming infected.

She also said veterinarians in clinical practice can help by translating science to their clients and, in doing so, add to the work by public health veterinarians in government agencies. Clinical practitioners are trusted information sources in their communities, and everyone has a role in protecting people and animals, she said.

Coronavirus stimulus packages to aid workers, small businesses

Veterinarians affected by pandemic eligible for loans, tax breaks, debt relief

By Malinda Larkin

In March, Congress passed a $2 trillion measure to provide economic relief to people and businesses facing hardship or economic ruin from the coronavirus pandemic. As of mid-April, the U.S. economy had lost 22 million jobs over the previous four weeks, according to data from the Department of Labor on claims for unemployment benefits.

The programs and initiatives in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act—signed into law March 27—are intended to strengthen the national response to COVID-19 and give small-business owners as well as certain other employers the financial support they need to survive. Two of its major programs ran out of money in a matter of weeks because of overwhelming demand, and a bill providing additional funding was signed into law April 24.

Following are some of the highlights of the CARES Act.

PAYCHECK PROTECTION PROGRAM

About $350 billion was set aside originally for the Paycheck Protection Program, which provides cash-flow assistance through federally guaranteed loans via the Small Business Administration to employers who maintain their payroll during this emergency. Applicants are required to provide a good-faith certification that the loan is needed because of economic uncertainty and the funds will support retaining workers. Funding is issued by banks or credit unions.

There is also a loan-forgiveness component for the Paycheck Protection Program, with the amount of the loan that can be forgiven equal to the payroll costs—capped at $100,000 cash salary plus benefits per employee—along with covered mortgage interest, covered rent, and covered utilities incurred during the eight-week period beginning on the date the lender makes the first disbursement of the PPP loan to the borrower. However, there are provisions to reduce the amount forgiven based on workforce and pay reductions.

Small businesses and other eligible entities are able to apply to the program if they were financially harmed by COVID-19 between Feb. 15 and June 30. They flooded SBA-approved lenders with PPP requests once the application window opened April 3. On April 16, the SBA announced it would stop accepting applications after approving more than 1.6 million loans submitted by nearly 5,000 lenders and exhausting the initial funding. The AVMA Congressional Advocacy Network sent an alert for AVMA members to call their legislators. Congress provided an additional $310 billion for the PPP with the bill in late April.

The AVMA recommends any veterinary practices interested in the loan program should work with a lender to get their application in the queue. More information is available at jav.ma/PPPloanapplication.

ECONOMIC INJURY DISASTER LOANS AND ADVANCES

Economic Injury Disaster Loans are lower-interest loans issued directly by the SBA. They are available to small businesses to pay for expenses that could have been met had the disaster not occurred, including payroll and other operating expenses, through the end of the year. While the program is authorized to make loans of up to $2 million, news reports indicate that because of the large number of loan applications and the funding available, the SBA is limiting the amount of EIDL loans to $15,000 plus the potential for a grant of $1,000 per employee up to $10,000. The SBA has not yet publicly confirmed the limits, but this would represent a substantial change to the loan program.

Economic Injury Disaster Loan advances are meant to provide emergency advances of up to $10,000 to small businesses. To access the advance, the small business must first apply for an EIDL, then request the advance. If the borrower is ultimately denied the EIDL, the advance will not be required to be repaid and may be used to keep employees on the payroll, pay for sick leave, meet increased production costs because of supply chain disruptions, or pay business obligations, including debts, rent, and mortgage payments.

Again, the SBA announced in mid-April it was unable to accept new applications for the EIDL, including advances, because the agency ran out of money. Congress approved additional funding for the program with the bill in late April.

Eligible businesses are able to apply for both an Economic Injury Disaster Loan and advance as well as a PPP loan, but they cannot use their EIDL for the same purpose as their PPP loan, according to guidance from the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship.

For more information on an emergency loan or grant, visit jav.ma/EIDLloanapplication.

EMPLOYEE-RETENTION CREDIT

The employee-retention provision of the CARES Act would provide a refundable tax credit of 50% of wages paid by eligible employers to certain employees during the COVID-19 crisis, provided they did not receive SBA Paycheck Protection Program loans. The credit applies to qualified wages paid after March 12 and before Jan. 1, 2021, and is available to employers, including nonprofits, whose operations have been fully or partially suspended as a result of a government order limiting business, travel, or group meetings. The credit is also provided to employers who have experienced a greater than 50% reduction in quarterly receipts, measured on a year-over-year basis. For employers with more than 100 employees, the credit is available for wages, including certain health care costs, paid to employees—up to $10,000 per employee—who are not providing services because of a full or partial work suspension or revenue decline.

For employers with 100 or fewer full-time employees, the credit is available for wages, including certain health care costs, paid to employees—up to $10,000 per employee— during a full or partial work suspension or a decline in revenue, regardless of whether the employee is providing services. The maximum tax credit per employee is $5,000. More information is available at jav.ma/retentioncredit.

PANDEMIC UNEMPLOYMENT ASSISTANCE

The CARES Act creates a temporary unemployment insurance program to cover individuals who may be unemployed, partially unemployed, or unable to work because of COVID-19 and are otherwise ineligible for unemployment benefits. This includes self-employed individuals, those with limited work history, and independent contractors. The program is designed to replace lost wages for up to four months and provides a $600 federal benefit in addition to state benefits. Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation provides an additional 13 weeks of federal unemployment benefits through Dec. 31 for people who remain unemployed after state unemployment benefits have been exhausted.

RECOVERY REBATES

People can now receive an advance tax refund of $1,200 for individual filers or $2,400 for joint filers, plus $500 per qualifying child. The refund is for U.S. residents who are not a dependent of another taxpayer and have a valid Social Security number. The rebate amount is reduced for those with adjusted gross income of $75,000 or more for single filers and $150,000 or more for joint filers, with a $5 reduction for each $100 past those income levels until the rebate is completely phased out at $99,000 for single filers and $198,000 for joint filers.

OTHER PROVISIONS

The CARES Act also provides for the following:

  • • Waiving the 10% penalty for early withdrawal from qualified retirement accounts for distributions of up to $100,000 for coronavirus-related purposes.

  • • Allowing employers to provide a student loan repayment benefit to employees on a tax-free basis for 2020. An employer may contribute up to $5,250 toward an employee's student loans, and the contribution would be excluded from the employee's income for tax purposes.

  • • Allowing for foreign institutions to offer online learning to U.S. students receiving federal financial aid during the COVID-19 disaster.

  • • Deferring student loan payments and interest accrual through Sept. 30 for all federal loans. Consumer reporting agencies have to treat suspended payments as if they were regularly scheduled payments. Debt collections related to federal loans are suspended. Borrowers will still receive credit for making payments to remain on track for loan forgiveness programs such as the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.

Q&A: Veterinary staff, student face COVID-19

Challenges come in the form of changing protocols, travel

By Kaitlyn Mattson

As the U.S. enters its third month feeling the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, veterinary professionals, too, continue to adjust how they operate in a time of physical distancing, an uncertain economy, growing unemployment, and shortages of personal protective equipment. Many veterinary professionals and veterinary students have perspectives to share. JAVMA News spoke with several people in late March and early April about their personal experiences during this time. The responses have been lightly edited for clarity.

VETERINARY STUDENT FLIES HOME

Q. PLEASE TELL ME ABOUT YOURSELF.

A. My name is Lindsay Brunet, and I'm in the 2022 graduating class at St. George's University School of Veterinary Medicine in Grenada, West Indies. I grew up on a farm in southern Louisiana, and I knew I wanted to be an animal doctor since I was 4.

Q. CAN YOU TELL ME ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE LEAVING ST. GEORGE'S AMID THE SPREAD OF COVID-19?

A. The SGU head office sent us an email (March 11) saying that, due to COVID-19, they would be transitioning to an online format until at least April 15. In the same email, they highly encouraged the student body to return to their home countries. They set up charter flights, which they paid for, to Miami, New York, or Toronto. I chose to leave Grenada and return to Louisiana to be with my family during this time.

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Cheyenne Clark, a customer service representative, directs calls at Petsburgh Pet Care in Lafayette, Indiana. (Photos courtesy of Petsburgh Pet Care)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 256, 10; 10.2460/javma.256.10.1069

Two of my examinations for the semester were postponed. I got put on a March 14 flight to Miami. SGU told us to arrive at the airport at least three hours early. I woke up March 14 and got to the airport to unbelievable lines outside. There was a mix-up with the flight manifests, and it got crazy and sort of became a first-come, first-served situation.

I ended up standing outside the airport in the sun for about six hours and then inside for another hour. I was within the last 20 people who got ticketed for the flight. As frustrating as the waiting was, SGU and the airport had a 48-hour window to organize the charter flights, and they were doing the best they could.

Once I finally got to the ticket counter, my luggage was checked and paid for by SGU. All my pets rode in the cabin for free with me, with no limits, which was amazing.

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Kayla Winemiller, a veterinary assistant at Petsburgh Pet Care, leads a patient inside while the owner waits outside.

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 256, 10; 10.2460/javma.256.10.1069

I missed my connection by about an hour, and unfortunately, my luggage did not make it on the plane with me and was stuck in Grenada. But SGU sent it via FedEx to me.

I had planned to study all weekend, but instead I had to pack up my whole life in a day and travel home. It was crazy.

PRACTICE MANAGER JUGGLES

Q. PLEASE TELL ME ABOUT YOURSELF.

A. My name is Leslie Boudreau. I am the hospital manager at the Animal Hospital of Huntington Beach in California. I am also a registered veterinary technician.

Q. CAN YOU TELL ABOUT HOW YOU AND LEADERSHIP HAVE MADE POLICY CHANGES AT THE PRACTICE YOU MANAGE?

A. This has been an exercise in learning how to change on the fly and develop protocols and policies that change hour to hour. Initially, when things started to develop, we presented a protocol to leadership and discussed how to implement it. Before it was reviewed, we had to change it at least four or five times. The tiniest amount of change is difficult for people, and everyone has to change. Staying positive and leading that change have been difficult. It has been a circus of moving animals, some clowns, and jugglers.

Q. WHAT KIND OF STAFF SAFETY PROTOCOLS HAVE YOU IMPLEMENTED?

A. Establishing priorities was a big thing and keeping our staff safe. We've implemented a no-sniffle rule. Blink funny, and you stay home. We've been as cautious as possible about keeping our staff safe. We have full curbside service now, so very few people enter the building, and we have reworked schedules so that leaders can offer additional support and time to staff.

Q. ARE THERE ANY RESOURCES YOU'RE USING TO HELP YOURSELF DURING THIS TIME?

A. I am part of a very close community of practice managers, and having colleagues who are in the same boat and sharing best practices is very helpful. We have Zoom meetings and text chains, which have been a great resource. The Southern California VMA has been awesome, too, with daily updates.

COVID-19 CHANGES EVERYTHING FOR VETERINARY TECHNICIAN

Q. PLEASE TELL ME ABOUT YOURSELF.

A. My name is Sarah Summers, and I am a registered veterinary technician in Lafayette, Indiana. I graduated and obtained an RVT license in 2014. I work at Petsburgh Pet Care, a three-doctor, small animal general private practice with our own boarding and grooming facilities, about an hour outside of Indianapolis.

Q. HOW HAS COVID-19 CHANGED THE WAY YOU WORK?

A. It has changed the way we work in every regard, and I can't emphasize “every” enough. Everything takes longer now, and we are trying to find different ways to be efficient and protect ourselves and clients. Our RVTs and assistants take all phone calls regarding concerns and help determine if we can start with a remote consult. If we are to interact at all with the owner and their pet, we ask if they have any recent travel history, illness, or exposure we should be aware of. So far we've been lucky.

It feels like it was so long ago that we made the difficult decision to lock our lobby doors and not let clients inside the building, but it was only March 18. Our normally ever-revolving exam rooms lay unused, and there are now echoes in the lobby. As we try to use our time wisely between the sparse patient and client care, the clinic is filled with our muffled computer speakers sharing educational webinars and news stories regarding COVID-19 updates.

Q. ANY OTHER CHANGES?

A. When owners pick up medicine, we set it on a chair outside for them to pick up. We ask cat owners to set the carriers beside the door and walk away. Dogs we leash with our own leashes, but still we have to get fairly close to the owner. Scared dogs are a game changer; the ones that can't walk without their owners, we take those case by case.

Our bathing and grooming team has been ordered to stay at home. The kennel attendants are working with minimal staffing. All of our nonessential surgeries have been postponed. We have fabric masks that we wear whenever we are near owners. We have masks for owners to wear during euthanasias, which is the only time we are allowing an owner into the building right now.

We're all washing our hands and using sanitizer religiously. We're all still wondering if it's enough.

Q. WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN DOING FOR YOUR MENTAL HEALTH?

A. Compassion fatigue and emotional exhaustion take on a new meaning when it's overflowed from your professional life to a world crisis. We all know we need to fill up our own cup in order to have something to pour, but we're all feeling a very real struggle in finding ways or motivation to take care of ourselves.

I step back every day after work and take a few deep breaths. I pet my animals one at a time. This is my recharge.

I think it's important to own how we're feeling during this COVID-19 pandemic.

People

AMERICAN COLLEGE OF VETERINARY SURGEONS

The American College of Veterinary Surgeons welcomed new diplomates following its board certification examinations that were held Feb. 3–4 in San Diego. The new diplomates are as follows:

SMALL ANIMAL

Shane Jay Andrews, U.S. armed forces

Ana Luisa Bascuñán, Round Rock, Texas

Katrina Castaneda, San Rafael, California

Andrea Colette Clark, Hollywood, Florida

Christina Julia Cocca, Holt, Michigan

Isaac Cortes, Charlotte, North Carolina

Rebecca Ann Csomos, Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Rebecca De Arburn Parent, Montreal

Whitney Danielle DeGroot, Toronto

Christine M. DePompeo, Pittsburgh

Mary Dell Deweese, Philadelphia

Vanna Marie Dickerson, College Station, Texas

Steven Fernandez, Mandeville, Louisiana

Christopher Ferrell, Fort Myers, Florida

Matthew Field, Little Rock, Arkansas

Jeremy Fleming, Austin, Texas

Alyson Nancy Frederick, Pittsburgh

Hayley Maloof-Jones Gallaher, Starkville, Mississippi

Javier Gallegos, Milwaukee

Stephen Quinn Garofolo, Washington, D.C.

Jessica Jeanne Giannetto, Richmond, Virginia

Omar Jose Gonzalez, Peoria, Arizona

Jose Luis Guevara, Asheville, North Carolina

Lauren Hamil, Fort Collins, Colorado

Jacob Ian Helmick, Athens, Georgia

Theresa Anne Hess, Gainesville, Florida

Christine Hsueh, Campbell, California

Brittani Ann Jones, San Diego

Allison Kenzig, Shaker Heights, Ohio

Scott William Kidd, Reno, Nevada

Hani M. Korani, Murrieta, California

Kerith Lacassagne, Bothell, Washington

Griselda Lam, London, Ontario

Elizabeth Leach, Athens, Georgia

Stephanie Lee Loomis, Roy, Washington

Sara L. Losinski, Menomonie, Wisconsin

Emilee Jordan Luckring, Raleigh, North Carolina

Melissa Anne MacIver, King City, Ontario

Stephanie Ann Majeski, San Diego

Danielle Marie Marturello, Savoy, Illinois

Francesc Xavier Montasell Benitez, Saint Hyacinthe, Quebec

Elisabeth Varner Moore, Annapolis, Maryland

Katherine Pender Morris, Philadelphia

Valerie Nesser, Mount Pleasant, South Carolina

Lindsay Karoline Nussbaum, Clearwater, Florida

Adam Mark Nylund, Eagle, Idaho

Kaleigh Marie Peters, Louisville, Colorado

Whitney Elizabeth Phipps, Upton, Massachusetts

Alexander Michael Piazza, Appleton, Wisconsin

Jennifer Ree, Rohnert Park, California

Lauren Amanda Reeves, Columbia, Missouri

Amanda Rollins, New York City

Alessandra Clare Santamaria, Moorabbin, Australia

Jacqueline Elaine Scott, Kitchener, Ontario

Tania Shaw, Essendon Fields, Australia

Georgia Bosscher Shriwise, Chicago

Allen Arthur Simon, Chino Hills, California

Takanori Sugiyama, Werribee, Australia

Kari Day Jore Swanson, Montgomery, Ohio

Desmond Kai Shen Tan, Omaha, Nebraska

Chris Thomson, Minneapolis

Sarah Townsend, Fuquay Varina, North Carolina

Dominick Michael Valenzano, Ithaca, New York

Rebecca Joan Webb, Fort Collins, Colorado

Dana A. White, Hardin, Missouri

Tanya Wright, Guelph, Ontario

Amy Nicole Zide, Newport Beach, California

LARGE ANIMAL

Caroline Constant, Davos, Switzerland

Naomi Elisabeth Crabtree, Athens, Georgia

Alexandra Libby Curtiss, West Grove, Pennsylvania

Allison Kilborne Dockery, Columbus, Ohio

Elyse Rowe Durket, Cave Creek, Arizona

Alexander William Fowler, Auckland, New Zealand

Kyle Tanner Heaton, Cedar Valley, Utah

Shannon Marie Hinton, Dover, New Hampshire

Louis Kamus, Saint-Marc-sur-Richelieu, Quebec

Abigail Victoria Kent, Ocala, Florida

Sarah Marie Khatibzadeh, Christiansburg, Virginia

C. Jordan Kirkpatrick, Urbana, Illinois

Shauna Patricia Lawless, San Antonio

Joseph William Lozier, Columbus, Ohio

Andrew Kent McClain, Jenks, Oklahoma

Charlene Vanessa Noll, Davis, California

Amanda Jane Prisk, Washington, New Jersey

Hilary Callahan Rice, Columbus, Ohio

Lauren Michelle Richardson, Columbus, North Carolina

Camila Rios Salomao de Souza, Manhattan, Kansas

Michelle L. Tucker, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

Ana Velloso Alvarez, Auburn, Alabama

Weston Rathman Warnock, College Station, Texas

Jennifer Marie Whyard, Brookshire, Texas

Seiji Yoshimura, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

Cori DeRosa Youngblood, Somis, California

Jarrod Theodore Younkin, Somerset, Pennsylvania

Obituaries AVMA MEMBER | AVMA HONOR ROLL MEMBER | NONMEMBER

KIM J. BODILY

Dr. Bodily (Kansas State '78), 69, Santa Clara, Utah, died Nov. 1, 2019. A small animal veterinarian, he owned Pet House Call & Hospital Inc., a house call practice that also incorporated oral surgical care. Dr. Bodily's wife, Kathy; six children; 11 grandchildren; and a great-grandchild survive him.

EDWARD M. BRAUN

Dr. Braun (Iowa State '53), 94, Hartford, Wisconsin, died Jan. 6, 2020. He owned Burleigh Road Animal Hospital in Brookfield, Wisconsin, where he practiced small animal medicine until retirement in 1995. Dr. Braun was a member of the American Animal Hospital Association. He served in the Army during World War II. Dr. Braun's wife, Jean; two sons and two daughters; 10 grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren survive him. Memorials may be made to Northwoods Land Trust, 519 E. Wall St., Eagle River, WI 54521, northwoodslandtrust.org.

SUSAN C. GARDNER

Dr. Gardner (Oklahoma State ′70), 73, Huddleston, Virginia, died Jan. 20, 2020. Following graduation, she co-established Bedford Animal Hospital in Bedford, Virginia, with her husband, Dr. Don Gardner (Oklahoma State ′70). Dr. Gardner later served as director of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services' regional diagnostic laboratory in Lynchburg until retirement.

She was a past president of the Piedmont VMA and served as a director of the Virginia VMA for several years. Dr. Gardner was a member of the American Association of Bovine Practitioners and Virginia Academy of Food Animal Practitioners. She served on the board of directors of the Bedford County Farm Bureau and chaired its Women's Committee for many years. In 2018, the bureau honored Dr. Gardner with the Distinguished Service Award. She was also posthumously awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Virginia Academy of Food Animal Practitioners in 2020.

Dr. Gardner is survived by her husband, two sons, and four grandchildren. Memorials may be made to the Huddleston Volunteer Fire Department, 5377 Smith Mountain Lake Parkway, Huddleston, VA 24104.

BORJE K. GUSTAFSSON

Dr. Gustafsson, 89, Urbana, Illinois, died Jan. 5, 2020. A 1960 graduate of the former Royal Veterinary College in Stockholm, he was dean of Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine from 1989–98. As dean, Dr. Gustafsson led the veterinary college through curriculum changes that helped students pursue specialized courses of study, oversaw the development and construction of the Animal Disease Biotechnology Facility and Veterinary Teaching Hospital, played an important role in the reduction of the use of live animals in teaching and research at the college, and helped initiate and develop the Center for the Study of Animal Well-Being. In later years, he served as an adjunct professor at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine.

Following his move to the United States in 1976, Dr. Gustafsson joined the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine, where he served as a professor and directed the large animal theriogenology service. From 1978–87, he was head of the Department of Veterinary Clinical Medicine at the University of Illinois. Dr. Gustafsson subsequently served as interim dean of Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine before taking over as dean.

A diplomate of the American College of Theriogenologists, he helped host the 10th International Congress on Animal Reproduction and Artificial Insemination in 1984 at the University of Illinois. Dr. Gustafsson served as a co-director of Envirovet Baltic, a network of scientists from countries bordering the Baltic Sea and United States that was established to strengthen education, research, and application in ecosystem health.

In 1995, he was inducted as a distinguished practitioner into the National Academies of Practice. Dr. Gustafsson was elected a foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Agriculture in 1997 and he received the David E. Bartlett Lifetime Achievement Award from the American College of Theriogenologists and the Society for Theriogenology in 1998. He was also named Washington State VMA Veterinarian of the Year in 1998.

In 2002, the Swedish Veterinary Association honored Dr. Gustafsson with the Peter Hernquist Gold Medal.

He is survived by his wife, Gunilla; two daughters and a son; and five grandchildren.

F. KEITH HART

Dr. Hart (California-Davis '59), 89, Highland, California, died Dec. 13, 2019. He owned a practice for almost 40 years in Highland, where he practiced mixed animal medicine, focusing on small animals. Dr. Hart also held annual rabies vaccination clinics. He was a member of the Lions Club and was active with the Boy Scouts of America. The city of Highland dedicated its dog park to him. Dr. Hart was a veteran of the Army. He is survived by his wife, Margaret; three sons and a daughter; seven grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. Memorials may be made to Guide Dogs of the Desert, P.O. Box 1692, Palm Springs, CA 92263.

BARBARA R. KELLEY

Dr. Kelley (Purdue '68), 82, Terre Haute, Indiana, died Dec. 17, 2019. She practiced small animal medicine at Bratt Animal Hospital in Terre Haute for more than 43 years. Dr. Kelley is survived by a brother. Memorials may be made to Heart to Heart Hospice, 4529 S. 7th St., Terre Haute, IN 47802.

DOUGLAS P. PHILIPS

Dr. Philips (Washington State ‘58), 85, Medford, Oregon, died Dec. 15, 2019. He practiced small animal medicine for 42 years at Medford's Rogue Animal Hospital, a practice he took over from his father, Dr. Stanley E. Philips (Washington State ‘34). Dr. Philips was a past president of the Oregon and Rogue Valley VMAs, served on the Oregon Veterinary Medical Examining Board, and was active with the Southern Oregon Humane Society. He was a past recipient of the American Animal Hospital Association's Northwest Service Award.

Dr. Philips was involved with the Jackson County Planning Commission and Jackson County Health and Human Services. He was a member of the Kiwanis Club of Medford and Rotary Club of Medford. Dr. Philip's four children, five grandchildren, a great-grandchild, and two brothers survive him. His grandfather, Dr. Charles S. Philips (Washington State '02), was also a veterinarian.

PHILIP D. PLOCHER

Dr. Plocher (California-Davis '54), 92, Santa Ana, California, died Dec. 1, 2019. He owned Uptown Animal Hospital in Long Beach, California, for 30 years. Dr. Plocher is survived by a daughter, a son, and a grandchild.

DAN F. RICE

Dr. Rice (Colorado State '62), 86, Griffin, Georgia, died Dec. 21, 2019. Following graduation, he practiced in Denver, and he later practiced at Alpine Animal Hospital in Carbondale, Colorado. In 1987, Dr. Rice moved to Sun City, Arizona, where he served as associate director of the Arizona Department of Agriculture.

A veteran of the Coast Guard, he was a member of the American Legion. Dr. Rice was also a member of the Masonic Lodge. His two sons, five grandchildren, two stepgrandchildren, and three great-grandchildren survive him.

WILLIAM R. ROBERTSON

Dr. Robertson (Texas A&M ′63), 82, Odessa, Texas, died Jan. 1, 2020. He owned Angel Veterinary Clinic, a mixed animal practice in Odessa, for 50 years. Dr. Robertson later owned an equine practice in Odessa. Early in his career, he worked as a meat inspector in Fort Worth, Texas, and in St. Louis. He is survived by his wife, Mary; two daughters and two sons; seven grandchildren; and 11 great-grandchildren. One daughter, Dr. Rebecca Robertson-Bartershell (Ross ′98), and her husband, Dr. Jeffrey Bartershell (Ross ′98), now own Angel Veterinary Clinic. Memorials may be made to Ector County Livestock Association, P.O. Box 1972, Odessa, TX 79760.

M. PAULA THORNE

Dr. Thorne (Auburn '83), 63, Bowling Green, Kentucky, died Dec. 28, 2019. In 2008, she founded All Cats and Dogs Veterinary Hospital in Bowling Green, where she practiced small animal medicine with a special interest in feline medicine. Earlier, Dr. Thorne owned Jacksonville Veterinary Services in Jacksonville, Alabama.

A member of the Alabama and Kentucky VMAs, she served on the ALVMA Wellness Committee. In 2002, Dr. Thorne was honored with the ALVMA Distinguished Service Award. She served on the Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine Alumni Advisory Council and was a member of the veterinary college's Centennial Club.

Dr. Thorne is survived by her husband, Dannie Shepherd; a daughter and a son; her parents; and two brothers and a sister. Her daughter, Dr. Beth Hudson (Auburn '14), practices at All Cats and Dogs Veterinary Hospital. Memorials may be made to Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine, Office of Development, 317 S. College St., Auburn, AL 36849.

DON B. WITCHER

Dr. Witcher (Kansas State '60), 85, Santa Fe, New Mexico, died Dec. 10, 2019. He owned Acoma Animal Hospital in Santa Fe for more than 30 years. Dr. Witcher is survived by his wife, Alice; a son and a daughter; five grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren. Memorials may be made to Santa Maria El Mirador, a nonprofit organization providing assistance to adults with intellectual disabilities, and sent to 10 A Van Nu Po, Santa Fe, NM 87509.

JOHN B. WOOD

Dr. Wood (Ohio State '58), 88, Fairfield Glade, Tennessee, died Dec. 9, 2019. He practiced small animal medicine at Ridge Veterinary Clinic in Cincinnati for 54 years. Dr. Wood was a veteran of the Army Veterinary Corps, attaining the rank of captain. His wife, Jean; a son and two daughters; and 11 grandchildren survive him.

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