Javma News



Cockfighting remains alive in Puerto Rico despite a federal ban on the blood sport now extending to all U.S. territories, including Puerto Rico and Guam.

On Dec. 18, 2019, two days before the prohibition took effect, Puerto Rico Gov. Wanda Vázquez signed legislation keeping cockfighting legal under the island's laws.

As reported in news outlets, Vázquez said during a signing ceremony what worries her most is abandoning the people who rely on cockfighting. She said: “They don't have work. They don't have a livelihood. They can't pay their bills or sustain their children.”

The effort to save cockfighting in Puerto Rico follows a decision by a federal judge upholding the ban, saying that Congress has the power to legislate over the island.

Vázquez acknowledged that the island's law contradicts the federal ban, but she wasn't trying to pick a fight with Washington.

“This measure is not meant to be a confrontation,” the governor explained. “If they (the federal government) understand this as a conflict, then we ask them to come talk to us. Let's talk it through. This is an industry that represents the income for thousands of families, and we have to take that into consideration.”


The Veterinary Hospital Managers Association has named Michelle Gonzales-Bryant as its new president.


Michelle Gonzales-Bryant (Courtesy of VHMA)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 256, 4; 10.2460/javma.256.4.395

Gonzales-Bryant, a certified veterinary practice manager, stepped into the role during the 2019 VHMA Annual Meeting and Conference, Sept. 26–28, 2019, in Glendale, Arizona.

Gonzales-Bryant is a corporate regional operations director for VCA Animal Hospitals. She began her veterinary career working as a kennel attendant and veterinary assistant before becoming a veterinary technician. She has been a VHMA member since 2006 and has served in several positions on the VHMA board of directors.

Gonzales-Bryant succeeds Jim Nash, who served as the VHMA president for two years.


In December 2019, the Winn Feline Foundation announced $154,613 in funding for six feline health studies.

In partnership with the George Sydney and Phyllis Redman Miller Trust, Winn announced a total of $133,813 in grants for the following studies:

  • • “Precision medicine genomics for cats” (continuation).

  • • “Cats are not dogs: Addressing drug failure in cats.”

  • • “Defining stem cell-induced alterations in CD8+ T cells in cats with chronic gingivostomatitis.”

  • • “Using probiotics to modulate the respiratory microbiome in feline allergic asthma.”

  • • “Evaluation of flash glucose monitoring systems in diabetic cats.”

Winn also announced a $20,800 grant through the Ricky Fund and Winn General Fund for the study “Biologic variability of cardiac biomarkers in healthy cats and cats with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.”

Early-career equine vets face challenges

Recent grads discuss obstacles in starting an equine career

Kaitlyn Mattson


A table topic at the American Association of Equine Practitioners' annual convention, Dec. 7–11, 2019, in Denver, focused on challenges new graduates and early-career equine veterinarians may face.

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 256, 4; 10.2460/javma.256.4.395

Dr. Allison Williard West, an associate veterinarian at Auburn Equine in Auburn, California, has been out in the field for nearly four years, but she still feels like a new graduate.

“My biggest challenge since starting as an associate is establishing relationships with clients and trying to prove myself,” she told JAVMA News.

Many young veterinarians face obstacles when beginning their careers, however, equine veterinarians can face specific issues others may not. A table topic session at the American Association of Equine Practitioners' annual convention, Dec. 7–11, 2019, in Denver, focused on those issues. The speakers during the session were Dr. Sam Johnson, owner of Glenwood Veterinary Clinic in Glenwood Springs, Colorado; Dr. Caitlin Daly, owner of Mid Coast Equine in Waldoboro, Maine; and Dr. Angie Yates, owner of Yates Equine Veterinary Services in Indianapolis.

They discussed what the major concerns are for younger equine veterinarians, how to sustain an equine veterinary career, tips for balancing work and personal hobbies, and potential mentoring opportunities.

Dr. Williard West has found that building client relationships can be difficult because her practice was previously owned and operated by one veterinarian for three decades.

“All of his clientele loved him—he really was a great man—but as a young, female new graduate, it has been hard to fill those extra-large shoes,” Dr. Williard West said. “The other challenge for me, in particular, is that my external features do not match my age, and therefore I am constantly getting questions like, ‘Are you sure you're old enough to be a veterinarian?‘ It can be very frustrating to smile and nod and take it all in stride. I feel like any mistakes that I make will be that much more criticized. However, I have great support from my associates and my office staff, which makes me lucky.“

Dr. Daly graduated in 2011 and started her practice in 2013.

“We basically just asked the attendees the things that they wanted to address, and it went from there,” she said during an interview with JAVMA News. “I think we hardly scratched the surface, and I think that it is an opportunity for us to really expand and to get deeper into the conversation in a very exciting way. I think we left really excited about the possibilities, and the students (and early-career veterinarians) sure as heck left feeling more optimistic.”

Dr. Daly said the attendees brought up challenges they've faced or are concerned about during the session, such as how to balance wanting a family and a career as an equine veterinarian and how to handle the workload while still making time for hobbies and a personal life.

She suggested the following tips:

  • • Learn about how you handle stress and find ways to alleviate it.

  • • Find a network of veterinarians with whom you can connect.

  • • Look for examples of equine veterinarians with practice models and a work-life balance you want.

  • • Set boundaries with clients.

Dr. Eleanor Squires has faced multiple challenges during her internship. She graduated in 2019 and is the sole intern at a private practice in Virginia.

“I was kicked in the head while suturing a laceration on a young horse on an emergency call I attended alone,” she said. Dr. Squires suffered from symptoms of a traumatic brain injury for several weeks after the incident.

“The worst of these was a sudden escalation of severe anxiety and depression, which were interpreted at times as apathy toward my work,” she said. “I struggled to regain my confidence and to communicate with my colleagues about the challenges I faced in the aftermath of this incident.”

Dr. Squires has had trouble working her own health care needs into her schedule, especially as an intern, and she has found it difficult to discuss her mental and personal well-being openly.

She attended the session to see if others had had similar experiences to her own and how they handled them. She said that there was advice she took away from the session, including remembering that you are an asset to your practice.

“Being new and inexperienced, it can be difficult to see your own value,” Dr. Squires said. “It's important to remember that you made it through veterinary school and have much to offer even at the early stages of your career.”

Dr. Williard West also attended the session to learn from and connect with other veterinarians, and she found value in the advice of more seasoned veterinarians in the audience.

“There were several (more experienced) female veterinarians who gave fantastic insight into what they would expect from a new associate,” she said. “I often feel pressure to answer my phone at all hours of the night, which is something that I have placed on myself. My boss doesn't expect this. It was nice to hear other people present the boundaries that they have for themselves and their clients to protect their personal lives and their families.”


One of the speakers during the session “Challenges of the Early Years: Solutions for Making Equine Practice a Sustainable Career” was Dr. Caitlin Daly, owner of Mid Coast Equine in Waldoboro, Maine. (Courtesy of Dr. Caitlin Daly)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 256, 4; 10.2460/javma.256.4.395

Tips on hiring, technology for equine vets

Kaitlyn Mattson


Attendees at the American Association of Equine Practitioners' annual convention, Dec. 7–11, 2019, in Denver had over 137 hours of continuing education sessions available to them. (Courtesy of AAEP)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 256, 4; 10.2460/javma.256.4.395

Technology, telehealth, and building a team were the focus of sessions at the American Association of Equine Practitioners' annual convention, Dec. 7–11, 2019, in Denver.

Among the key takeaways from these sessions were the fact that a solo equine practitioner doesn't have to practice alone and that hiring a team and embracing technology can make a practice run smoother.


Rebecca Rose, founder of Catalyst Veterinary Practice Consultants, discussed the complexities of hiring for an equine practice in three separate sessions.

In “How to Strategically Hire Paraprofessionals: Tips and Tricks of the Trade,” she discussed hiring veterinary technicians, practice managers, and similar employees. Rose worked as a certified veterinary technician at a mixed animal practice in Colorado for 13 years, where she learned about the specific challenges that mixed animal and equine practices face.

JAVMA News spoke with Rose about her experience and some hiring tips she suggests for practice owners.

Rose said veterinarians, even solo equine practitioners, need to have project managers and certified veterinary technicians on their side so they can do more veterinary-related work.

“Every time a veterinarian isn't … doing veterinary work, they are losing money,” she said.

Rose suggested that veterinarians interested in hiring more staff first evaluate the duties and tasks that they can let go of by sitting down with a list of their routine tasks and determining what they can delegate to a practice manager or veterinary technician. Then, they should evaluate whether they can pay someone enough to take over those tasks.


Use of telemedicine-related technology has increased in the veterinary profession over the past few years, but for equine practitioners in the field, implementing this technology isn't necessarily the easiest thing to do.

Dr. Cris Navas, assistant professor of cardiology, medicine, and diagnostic imaging at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, discussed the benefits and potential uses of telemedicine technology in the session, “How to Use Telehealth to Grow Your Equine Practice.”

Benefits of the technology include the potential to reach more people and more animals, but one of the limitations is the need for a strong internet connection, Dr. Navas said.

“I think equine veterinarians are a little behind in the process. Maybe it is the logistics, maybe it is the (emphasis placed on) the personal relationship and trust between an equine veterinarian and a horse owner,” Dr. Navas said.

Teleradiology is likely the most common form of telemedicine in the equine field, he said. Dr. Navas regularly provides teleradiology services by setting up a video feed through his computer with a veterinarian in the field who is performing ultrasonography on a patient. He can then offer a consultation in real time while sitting in his office or at home.

“Traditionally, veterinarians send a couple of still images or clips, but if you are doing it in real time, you can see the whole thing. Also, you can discuss the clinical presentation and say, ‘Will you show me this? Or can you get that same image a little higher or lower?‘ I think we gather more useful information this way.”


As technology continues to advance, so, too, do the capabilities that veterinarians can find on their phones.

In a session called “Utilizing Phone Apps,” Drs. Benjamin R. Buchanan, a veterinarian at Brazos Valley Equine Hospital in Navasota, Texas; Ernest H. Martinez II, a veterinarian at Hagyard Equine Medical Institute who also oversees the intern and extern programs there; and Lisa Kivett, owner of Foundation Equine Clinic in Southern Pines, North Carolina, discussed apps relevant for equine veterinarians.

Dr. Buchanan said attendees discussed apps that allow veterinarians to create to-do lists, enhance their well-being, and connect with their clients. The discussion also included tips and tricks from attendees on how to use certain apps such as how to use FaceTime for teleheath-related calls or how to download an app that can scan and save handwritten field notes.

The University of Minnesota's Veterinary Medical Library has a list of free veterinary apps that can be useful in practice, including the following programs:

  • • Alive ECG Vet, an app that provides an instant ECG readout. The app requires a heart monitor to use.

  • • Foal CPR, an app that details at-birth CPR for foals.

  • • Hagyard Pharmacy Mobile Formulary, an app that contains equine drug indications, dose, route, and frequency.

  • • Vetivex Flow Rate Calculator, an app that calculates IV fluid requirements and infusion rates.

Only the last app is available on Android devices.

The library also lists a few paid apps that are available, including the following programs:

  • • Equine Drugs, an app that includes a dosage calculator and infusion calculator for over 405 drugs.

  • • Equine Dermatology, an app that breaks down diseases, clinical signs, and treatment with photograph examples.

  • • Equine Reproductive Ultrasound, an app that covers the equine female reproductive tract.

  • • Horse Anatomy: Equine 3D, an anatomy app that covers most muscles, bones, and organs.

The first and last apps are available on Android devices.

Despite the potential of using some of these, Dr. Buchanan suggested starting small.

“Pick one at a time, and try it out. If you try to download them all, it gets overwhelming,” he said.

Update: FDA says Hill's failed to follow own procedures

Dog food recall in 2019 caused by high levels of vitamin D in premix

The Food and Drug Administration issued a warning letter to Hill's Pet Nutrition this past November following an investigation prompted by a recall of dog food products that contained toxic amounts of vitamin D.

The FDA issues a warning letter when it finds that a manufacturer has significantly violated agency regulations. The letter makes clear that the company must correct the problem and provides directions and a time frame for the company to inform FDA of its plans to correct any concerns.

The agency says Hill's failed to follow company procedures for consistently verifying the quality of ingredients in its pet foods. Hill's says it has already addressed the FDA's concerns to avoid potential problems with its food ingredients in the future.


The FDA letter details the results of the agency's investigation, which included inspections of the company's Topeka, Kansas, manufacturing facility. The investigation was launched after Hill's voluntarily recalled a total of 86 product lots, including 33 varieties of its canned dog food products. The recall started in January last year and eventually expanded to include additional products and product lots in the spring. The products were manufactured by Hill's and marketed under the Hill's Science Diet and Hill's Prescription Diet brands. Overall, the recalls affected slightly more than 1 million cases of dog food, or nearly 22 million cans. No dry foods, cat foods, or treats were affected by the recall.

The FDA confirmed Hill's findings that pet food products with unsafe levels of vitamin D were manufactured and marketed by the company. Further, the FDA confirmed that Hill's had determined that the unsafe levels of vitamin D were a result of an ingredient that it received and accepted in the form of a vitamin premix from a supplier “in a manner not in accordance with your receiving procedures, and that was subsequently incorporated in the animal food products,” according to the letter.

Hill's standard procedures required that raw materials such as the vitamin premix be analyzed and confirmed to be safe before being unloaded at the company's manufacturing facility. However, the FDA investigation found that the vitamin premix had not been analyzed and that the final product had not been tested to determine that it met Hill's specific formulation. Plus, Hill's failed to obtain certificates of analysis from the supplier of the vitamin premix.

“As a result of your failure to follow your food safety plan, the hazard of vitamin D toxicity was not adequately managed at your receiving step,” the FDA wrote. “As a result of your failure to consistently implement your prerequisite program, a systematic failure of your food safety plan occurred that resulted in the recall of canned dog food.”

The vitamin D levels in tested lots of recalled products were more than 33 times the recommended safe upper limit.


In its letter, the FDA states that it cannot assess Hill's corrective actions adequately since they don't “address the root cause of this incident, which was accepting an ingredient without confirming that it contained vitamin levels that were within specification as required by your procedures.” The FDA says it will verify Hill's proposed voluntary corrective actions-submitted in March, May, and August last year—during a future inspection.

When asked to comment about the FDA letter, Hill's provided the following response:

“We care deeply about all pets and are committed to providing pet parents with safe and high-quality products. Hill's has already addressed the matters raised by the FDA in its warning letter and has put in place stricter processes to safeguard against the cause of the recall from recurring, including testing every vitamin premix lot before it is delivered to us by a certified, third-party laboratory, with the results delivered directly to Hill's for review by our quality and food safety experts. No vitamin premix is accepted at our plants without a Certificate of Analysis that confirms it has been properly formulated. We are committed to earning the trust of pet parents and to safeguarding the quality of our products.

“We continue to cooperate with the FDA, including all inspections and requests for information.”

The FDA letter is available at jav.ma/FDAletterHills.

AVMA donates $25,000 to Australia wildfire relief

AVMF to match up to $50,000


The Australian Veterinary Association shared photos from the Australian bushfires taken by AVA members, including this photo by Dr. Kate Toyer.

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 256, 4; 10.2460/javma.256.4.395

The AVMA Board of Directors on Jan. 9 approved a $25,000 donation to aid Australian veterinarians who are helping animals impacted by the bushfires ravaging their country. In addition, the AVMA is encouraging its 95,000 members and the general public to contribute to relief efforts by donating through the American Veterinary Medical Foundation, which will match donations up to $50,000.

“People have been calling us, asking how they can help their colleagues in Australia,” said Dr. Janet Donlin, AVMA CEO and AVMF executive director, in an announcement about the donations. “This is how you can help.”

The AVMA and AVMF will be donating to the Australian Veterinary Association's Benevolent Fund, which provides financial assistance to veterinarians who have lost their own property because of the fires or who have provided charitable care for impacted animals.

Those who would like to donate can visit the AVMF website at avmf.org and use the AVMF code “Disaster Relief—AVA Benevolent Fund.” The AVMF will direct 100% of all contributions toward the AVA's Benevolent Fund.

“As part of the global veterinary community, the AVMA and AVMF are grateful to be able to provide this critical support to our colleagues in Australia who are helping save the lives of countless animals,” said Dr. John de Jong, chair of the AVMF board of directors, in the announcement about the donations. “Our thoughts are with all those affected by this devastating disaster.”


R. Scott Nolen

Five days before Christmas, President Donald Trump signed off on a $1.4 trillion budget deal containing several gains for veterinary medicine.

“There are a number of very significant wins for the veterinary profession in this spending bill, which is noteworthy, considering the current difficult environment for appropriations,” said Dr. Kent McClure, chief government relations officer for the AVMA.

The budgets for three of the AVMA's top federal funding priorities were maintained at current levels, reflecting increases that had been secured in recent spending bills, Dr. McClure said.

The Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program was maintained at $8 million for fiscal year 2020. The VMLRP pays up to $25,000 each year toward repayment of qualified educational loans of eligible veterinarians who agree to serve in a National Institute of Food and Agriculture–designated veterinarian shortage situation for three years.

The Veterinary Services Grant Program received a half a million–dollar bump in fiscal year 2019 to $3 million, which is maintained for FY 2020, which began Oct. 1, 2019. The program aims to relieve veterinarian shortage situations and support veterinary services in rural and agricultural communities.

Appropriations for the Food Animal Residue Avoidance Databank were maintained at $2.5 million for FY 2020, which is the maximum funding amount designated in the authorizing legislation. The university-based FARAD is a national program that serves as the primary source for scientifically based recommendations regarding safe withdrawal intervals for drugs and chemicals used in food-producing animals.

A legislative package attached to the budget deal included the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act, the broadest piece of retirement legislation passed by Congress in more than a decade. The new law does many things, including removing barriers for small businesses to band together to offer competitive retirement plans to employees, also known as association retirement plans. This provision was lobbied for by the AVMA.

The comprehensive budget deal contained additional provisions concerning animal welfare and veterinary medicine. Following are a few highlights:

  • • Increasing funding for the Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Service for a total of $1.042 billion in FY 2020. APHIS veterinary diagnostics and the APHIS Center for Veterinary Biologics were boosted by $1 million and $7.2 million, respectively.

  • • Providing funding for enforcement of the Horse Protection Act at $1 million—an increase of more than 20%—further enabling the USDA to enforce federal laws against horse soring.

  • • Providing $500,000 in funding to address pentobarbital in pet food.

  • • Directing the USDA to restore animal welfare inspection reports and Horse Protection Act violations on its website.

  • • Conditionally providing $21 million in new monies to the Bureau of Land Management for management of its Wild Horse and Burro Program.

  • • Spending $2 million on a grant program to help domestic violence shelters accommodate pets. The program was authorized in the Pet and Women Safety Act, which was signed into law as part of the 2018 Farm Bill.


Greg Cima

Cattle should receive pain control drugs during and after horn or horn bud removal, according to the American Association of Bovine Practitioners.

Dr. K. Fred Gingrich II, AABP executive director, said the association adopted a firmer stance in favor of administering cattle local anesthesia and systemic pain relief for dehorning or disbudding. Updated AABP guidance describes such relief as necessary to meet standards of care.

Many cattle owners already followed veterinarians' recommendations to add pain relief, Dr. Gingrich said, but he sees room for improvement.

In late 2019, the AABP board of directors split the association's policies on dehorning and castration and edited the two new policies to reflect practices that would improve animal welfare. The new policies add details on acceptable methods, definitions for types of pain relief, and the best time frames for the procedures.

In horned cattle breeds, calves are born with horn buds that will bond to the skull if not removed within the first few months of life. Farm workers can disbud a calf by destroying the horn buds and the horn-producing corium cells between the buds and skin—ideally within two months of birth—whether through heat, caustic paste, or cutting, according to information from the AABP and AVMA.

Dehorning after the buds attach causes more pain, usually requiring physical methods to cut away the horn.

Pain relief products used during disbudding or dehorning, such as lidocaine and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, require prescriptions, Dr. Gingrich said.

Farm workers, rather than veterinarians, tend to perform disbudding and dehorning procedures, and they may administer pain relief drugs prescribed under treatment plans developed by veterinarians, he said.

No products are labeled for analgesia related to dehorning, but Dr. Gingrich referenced a copy of a July 2014 letter from Food and Drug Administration officials who wrote that veterinarians may administer meloxicam for analgesia during dehorning and castration.

“We consider the use of analgesics and anesthetics for the purpose of alleviating pain, suffering and discomfort in animals as an acceptable justification for using approved drugs in an extralabel manner,” it states.


In horned cattle breeds, calves are born with horn buds that will bond to the skull if not removed within the first few months.

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 256, 4; 10.2460/javma.256.4.395

Dr. Gingrich noted that veterinarians administering meloxicam for analgesia need to follow requirements under the Animal Medicinal Drug Use Clarification Act of 1994.

AABP leaders also encourage farmers to transition toward hornless—also known as polled—cattle.

About 25% of dairy farms surveyed used hornless bulls in breeding as of 2013, according to a Department of Agriculture report published in 2018. Dr. Gingrich said more than 90% of beef cattle are hornless, citing other USDA data.

Antimicrobial sales rise in 2018 but remain down over decade

Data show one-year rises among products for pigs, cattle

Greg Cima

Sales of antimicrobials for farm animals rose in 2018 following a sharp decline the prior year.

In 2017, the volumes, by weight, of antimicrobials sold for use in livestock reached their lowest point since Food and Drug Administration officials began collecting data in 2009. That resulted from a 33% drop from 2016–17 in sales of the antimicrobials that are in the same drug classes as those given to people—considered medically important by the agency. Sales of those drugs also declined the year before, for a two-year drop of 43%.

Sales of such medically important antimicrobials rose 9% in 2018 but remained the second-lowest sales total.

In December 2019, FDA officials published their 2018 annual report on the volumes of antimicrobials sold or distributed for use in food-producing animals. Agency officials said in a related announcement that, despite the one-year rise, overall trend data indicate antimicrobial stewardship efforts were reducing drug sales.

“While sales data do not necessarily reflect actual antimicrobial use, sales volume observed over time is a valuable indicator of market changes related to antimicrobial drug products intended for food-producing animals,” the announcement states.

Animal health needs and changes in animal populations are among influences on sales volumes, the announcement states.

Among the medically important drugs, sales for use in swine rose 17% from 2017–18, and sales for use in cattle rose 8%, whereas sales for use in chickens declined 17%, and sales for use in turkeys were about even. FDA data suggest most of the medically important drugs are intended for administration in cattle and swine, with 42% and 39% of sales, whereas only 11% are sold for use in turkeys, 4% for use in chickens, and 4% for use in other species.

Dr. K. Fred Gingrich II, executive director of the American Association of Bovine Practitioners, noted that the data were for sales rather than use, and trying to identify why sales increased would be conjecture. He noted sales can vary with purchase patterns by feed mills and drug distributors, weather changes that affect rates of mastitis or bovine respiratory disease, swings in animal population sizes, and the combined weights of calf crops, among other factors.

Dr. Gingrich said he and other leaders at the AABP think the weight of antimicrobials sold is a poor measurement of use. Cattle veterinarians instead should follow stewardship guidelines.

Dr. Abbey Canon, communications director for the American Association of Swine Veterinarians, also noted the potential differences between sales data and use data. She also said the U.S. swine herd grows about 3% each year, and various diseases can challenge swine in a year, some of them requiring antimicrobial treatments.

Antimicrobial sales dropped in 2017 because of regulatory changes affecting hundreds of drug applications, adding veterinarian oversight to drug sales and removing many nonmedical uses.

FDA officials announced in December 2013 plans to phase out growth-promotion uses and other livestock production–based uses of antimicrobials that have been important for human medicine and administered to livestock in feed or water. The FDA gave drug companies three years, under threat of regulatory action, to agree to remove those production-based claims as well as remove over-the-counter access to those drugs.

The changes affected more than 90% of the volume of antimicrobials sold for use in livestock, according to FDA data. All affected drug companies agreed to the changes, which removed the production claims and added requirements for prescriptions or prescriptionlike veterinary feed directives.

In a Q&A document related to the sales report for 2018, FDA officials state that the data reflect the quantities of drugs that enter the market, not use of those drugs.

That Q&A document also indicates products shared between livestock and pets likely have little to no influence on the sales data in the report. Of the 121 products included in the report data, 12 are administered to companion animals, and 10 of them together accounted for only 2% of the sales volume.

The other two products are tetracycline antimicrobials that are administered infrequently to parrots, macaws, and cockatoos.


Mislabeled mirtazapine bottles could contain tablets with double the expected strength, according to a warning from the Food and Drug Administration.

Aurobindo Pharma USA Inc. issued a recall because bottles labeled as mirtazapine 7.5 mg may contain 15-mg tablets. The company issued a recall for 500-count bottles of 7.5-mg and 15-mg mirtazapine tablets from one lot, number 03119002A3, with an expiration date of March 2022.

The drug is labeled for human use as an antidepressant and administered extralabelly in cats to stimulate appetite. In 2018, FDA officials also approved a related product, Mirataz, a mirtazapine ointment administered on cats' ears to increase their appetite and stem unwanted weight loss.

Results of a retrospective study on mirtazapine toxicosis in cats, published in November 2016 in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery, indicate that the 10 most common adverse reactions among cats exposed to mirtazapine were vocalization, agitation, vomiting, abnormal gait or ataxia, restlessness, tremors or trembling, hypersalivation, tachypnea, tachycardia, and lethargy. About 70% of those reports involved accidental exposure, and all data came from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals' Poison Control Center.


The product label (Courtesy of Aurobindo Pharma)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 256, 4; 10.2460/javma.256.4.395

Most of the toxicosis cases involved 15-mg doses, the article states.

Aurobindo Pharma and FDA officials referred questions about the recall to Qualanex LLC, 888–504–2014 and recall@quananex.com. FDA officials also ask that people report on adverse events or quality problems through the agency's MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program, by visiting www.fda.gov/medwatch or by calling 800-332-1088 to receive a paper form.

Newcastle reemerges, spreads in California

State officials blame broken quarantines, call for added biosecurity

Greg Cima

Virulent Newcastle disease resurged in Southern California as people broke quarantines by moving birds and farming equipment, state authorities said.

After two months without any known infections, state and federal authorities confirmed new ones starting in mid-November and continuing through the end of the year. Their investigation led to a community in San Bernardino County.

“We now have 20 new cases under investigation, all linked to the recent Bloomington area outbreak,” State Veterinarian Annette Jones wrote in a Dec. 23, 2019, alert.

By Dec. 31, all but three of the new infections were in San Bernardino County, with two in Riverside County and one in Los Angeles County, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data.

Virulent Newcastle disease is a contagious, untreatable, and deadly viral respiratory infection of birds. State and federal agriculture authorities have quarantined and depopulated poultry since the outbreak began in spring 2018.

“As a reminder, last year the disease was spread from San Bernardino to LA and Riverside counties and beyond, leading to widespread highly infected areas, infected poultry farms, the death of over 1.2 million birds, and significant financial and emotional strain on poultry owners and disease control agencies,” Dr. Jones said in December's alert.

The disease spread to about 470 places, most of them homes with backyard flocks, according to USDA data. But most of the deaths from the disease occurred in the four commercial poultry facilities with infections.

State animal health authorities warn that birds spread the disease before becoming ill, so halting poultry movement is the only way to stop the outbreak.

The California Department of Food and Agriculture's Animal Health and Food Safety Services began imposing quarantines on poultry and other owned birds in affected areas in May 2018. Starting in February 2019, the quarantine affected birds throughout Los Angeles County and in portions of San Bernardino and Riverside counties. The CDFA's quarantine notice states that the quarantine also applies to eggs, manure, feed, carcasses, feather, and poultry-use equipment.

The Dec. 23 alert states that people also carry the virus on their hands and feet. The virus survives long-distance trips, as shown by single infection sites in Utah, Arizona, and Northern California.

In a Dec. 31 announcement, CDFA officials warned poultry producers they need to maintain heightened biosecurity standards at least through March 1, when the state will provide an updated risk evaluation.

USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service officials indicated in December they plan to create a program that would certify poultry breeding flocks are free from Newcastle disease and allow continued trade during an outbreak. But they delayed the plan later that month because they found that adding such a program requires updating federal regulations.

The Newcastle disease-clean program, through the National Poultry Improvement Plan, would let flock owners continue engaging in trade during a Newcastle outbreak if those owners use vaccination or serologic testing to prove their flocks are unaffected. The program would accept flocks only from states requiring that veterinarians report all confirmed Newcastle infections and that animal health laboratories look for Newcastle infections when investigating unexplained deaths, respiratory disease, or egg production declines.


How much is that doggy in the window?

Turns out, around $10,000.

That's the valuation of the average canine companion, arrived at by authors of “Monetizing Bowser: A Contingent Valuation of the Statistical Value of Dog Life,” published online in the Journal of Benefit-Cost Analysis on Nov. 11, 2019.

The paper is an attempt to quantify the “value of statistical dog life” through the use of a widely accepted method for calculating the worth of a typical human life.

As the authors explain, the value of statistical life is an estimate of the mean dollar value people place on their own lives when making decisions that involve mortality risk. Current estimates of the VSL for the U.S. general population is approximately $10 million per person, they write.

The authors surveyed nearly 5,000 dog-owning households about their willingness to pay for a hypothetical vaccine that would reduce their dog's risk of death from a particular canine virus from 12% to 2% in a given year. Next, participants were asked how much they would be willing to pay for such a vaccine. They were provided specific price points ranging from $5 to $3,000 and asked whether they would be willing to pay that amount.

Based on nearly 5,000 responses, researchers identified a mean acceptable price somewhere between $500 and $900. That's the cost, in other words, of a mortality reduction of 10 percentage points for a dog.

Authors converted that figure into a mean valuation for a dog's entire life, adjusting for such factors as the presence of multiple dogs in a household and known biases present in how people assess risk.

The estimate for the value of statistical dog life that they initially arrived at is $6,760. However, the final price they put on a dog's life is $10,000, “a very round number that both reflects our overall interpretation of the results of our analysis and conveys that we are providing only a first estimate,” the authors write.

They go on to suggest several ways the VSDL can be used, including as a basis for valuing loss of companionship with pet dogs in tort cases and as a starting point in custody negotiations during divorce settlements.


Kaitlyn Mattson

Colorado State University has established a collaborative to support the sustainable and healthy production of livestock to address the projected global demand for increased food sources.

The Sustainable Livestock Systems Collaborative, the university announced this past December, will allow CSU livestock and animal health experts to work with industry stakeholders and the government to address current and future challenges facing the industry while also training professionals.

The effort is being led by the CSU College of Agricultural Sciences and the CSU College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences.

The central goal of the project includes looking at how to enhance sustainable and healthy livestock systems through new technologies and disease treatment. The collaborative will also look at soil, plant, animal, and atmospheric microbiomes.

Dr. Susan VandeWoude, associate dean for research at the veterinary college, said the project will produce research and training materials on how agriculture will work over the next century, while taking into consideration environmental and production stressors.

“CSU is committed to contributing evidence-based knowledge in support of sustainable livestock production because it's critical for the future of the livestock industry,” said Dr. VandeWoude, in a press release. “We are very committed and open minded to using all of the resources of the land-grant university.”


Colorado State University has established the Sustainable Livestock Systems Collaborative. (Photo by Savannah Waggoner/Colorado State University)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 256, 4; 10.2460/javma.256.4.395

Some potential focus areas for the collaborative include the following:

  • • Veterinary epidemiology.

  • • Spatial modeling of disease transmission and spread across landscape levels.

  • • Livestock and dairy systems analysis for productive efficiency, animal health, and environmental sustainability.

  • • Risk management and profitability analysis for livestock and dairy at enterprise, farm, and macroeconomic levels.

  • • Innovation in livestock and dairy production and health monitoring using novel technologies.

  • • Innovative training programs for undergraduate, veterinary professional, and postgraduate students.

  • • Livestock and dairy welfare and behavior in production systems.

The university has tapped experts within CSU and reached out to industry experts such as the Colorado Beef Council, Colorado Cattlemen's Association, Colorado Farm Bureau, and the Colorado Livestock Association, in the formation of the collaborative.

The CSU Extension, a division of the CSU Office of Engagement, will provide outreach and share research and information from the collaborative with the livestock community, Dr. VandeWoude said.

James Pritchett, interim dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences, said the collaborative is an intentional effort led by scientists, educators, and industry professionals to meet challenges.

“It's knowledge creation at its best,” he said in the press release. “Success is not only answering the questions of today but is also building a nimble and adaptive collection of talent to meet tomorrow's challenges.”



Parasites resistant to antiparasitic drugs threaten ruminants and horses, and Food and Drug Administration officials are trying to teach animal owners how to avoid selecting for resistance. Survey results indicate veterinarians tend to recognize that resistance is a risk.

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 256, 4; 10.2460/javma.256.4.395

Veterinarians and parasitologists tend to perceive antiparasitic drug resistance as at least a moderate risk to ruminants and horses, according to survey results.

Respondents saw high risk among goats and sheep, moderate to high risk among horses, and low to moderate risk among cattle.

Food and Drug Administration officials published in December 2019 the results of a fall 2015 survey on antiparasitic drug use, perceived prevalence of resistance, and preferred responses to treatment failures. About three-quarters of respondents said they had seen antiparasitic resistance within the prior three years.

FDA officials also noted in a December 2019 announcement that, in the prior year, one-third of drug companies selling dewormers for livestock and horses changed their product labels to add information about antiparasitic drug resistance. In December 2018, agency officials had asked drug companies to note that any dewormer use can select for drug resistance, proper dosing is vital for safe and effective use, veterinarians should monitor for resistance on farms, and dewormers are only part of an internal parasite control program.

FDA officials also recently published two educational videos for animal producers and owners on antiparasitic drug resistance: one about how to detect resistance and respond and the other on use of refugia, or the practice of leaving some animals untreated to maintain a population of anthelmintic-susceptible parasites. The announcement, with links to the videos, is available at jav.ma/antiparasitic.

The survey results published late last year indicate many animal owners make decisions on antiparasitic drug use without consulting veterinarians. About 58% of private practitioners who work with cattle said most of their clients involve a veterinarian in such decisions, and that was true for just less than half of the private practitioners who work with horses or small ruminants.

The responses suggest veterinarians most often check the results of treatment through fecal egg reduction counts and reduction of clinical signs, with practitioners who work with horses and small ruminants more likely to choose reduction counts and cattle veterinarians more likely to watch for clinical signs. The most common responses to treatment failures differed by species.

“Fifty-six percent of respondents with cattle experience selected the use of another antiparasitic drug as their first choice,” the report states. “Forty-four percent of respondents with horse experience selected a change to a selective treatment program as their first choice.

“For respondents with small ruminant experience, 32% selected animal management changes and 34% selected treatment with another antiparasitic drug as their first choice.”

Veterinarians who work with cattle and small ruminants were more likely than those who work with horses to recommend pasture management changes such as adding multispecies grazing, controlling forage height, and adding or modifying rotational grazing.

More itchy pets? No problem

More treatments available alongside increasing incidence or awareness of itchy dogs and cats

Katie Burns

It's hard to tell if there are more itchy dogs and cats than ever or if it just seems that way because more pet owners have realized that itchiness in pets is not the norm—and is treatable.

Conditions that can cause itchiness were among the top seven health issues for dogs and cats as of 2017, according to the 2017–18 edition of the AVMA Pet Ownership and Demographics Sourcebook. For dogs, ear infections were the top health issue, and skin disorders and allergies were third and fourth. For cats, the top seven health issues included skin disorders, allergies, and ear infections.

According to the 2018 Banfield State of Pet Health Report, flea allergy increased 12.5% in dogs and 67.3% in cats from 2008–17. In the same time frame, environmental allergies increased 30.7% in dogs and 11.5% in cats.

Fortunately, veterinary dermatologists say there are more treatments available than ever for itchy pets.

The most popular session at AVMA Convention 2019 was Dr. Lori Thompson's talk “Itchy Felines: Is it Really a Fluoxetine Deficiency?” The title was meant to emphasize that itchiness in cats obviously has multiple causes. Also at the convention, Dr. Jackie Campbell presented two sessions on itchy pets: “Diagnostic Approach to the Pruritic Dog” and “Dermatology Toolbox: The Pruritic Pet.”


The Itchy Dog Project from 2017–19 at the University of Nottingham in England investigated potential causes of atopic dermatitis and skin allergies in dogs.

In Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers, environmental risk factors for atopic dermatitis included being raised in an urban environment, being male, being neutered, receiving flea control, and being allowed on upholstered furniture. Protective factors included living with other dogs and walking in the woods, fields, or beaches.

Itch severity in dogs with atopic dermatitis was associated with increased frequency of behaviors often considered problematic, such as mounting, chewing, hyperactivity, eating feces, begging for and stealing food, attention seeking, excitability, excessive grooming, and reduced trainability.

Dr. Campbell, a veterinary dermatologist with Animal Allergy & Dermatology of Colorado, said itchiness in dogs can be very frustrating for their owners, and she believes the problem of pruritus is increasing.

Allergy is the most common cause of pruritus in dogs and can be particularly daunting because it is a lifelong condition. The tricky part is handling any secondary infections. If a dog develops an infection with every bad allergy flare and receives antimicrobials, the patient is set up for resistant bacteria. It is not uncommon in Dr. Campbell's practice to have cases in which the only remaining option is a daily injectable antibiotic requiring weekly monitoring to ensure the kidneys are tolerating treatment.

Dr. Campbell said two new treatments from Zoetis Inc. for atopic dermatitis, Apoquel and Cytopoint, changed the allergy management toolkit for most dogs—although cyclosporine and steroids are still options, despite possible adverse effects.

“What's complicated with dogs with allergies is it's very similar to humans with atopic eczema, and they call it the atopic march,” Dr. Campbell said. “And essentially what that means is, every year is going to typically get more challenging for that patient,” as the allergies get worse.

Allergy shots are Dr. Campbell's favorite way to manage young dogs with environmental allergies because about 70–75% of dogs will improve, with a reduction in the severity of clinical signs of 50% or more. Immunotherapy starts to work within four to six months but may take up to a year. The clinic teaches owners how to do the injections themselves. Dr. Campbell noted that immunotherapy costs for a 150-pound Great Dane are similar to those for a 5-pound Chihuahua, which is not true for other treatments.

Food allergies also can be a cause of pruritus in dogs. The other primary causes for dogs are parasites—notably fleas—and skin infections. Skin infections themselves can have a variety of underlying causes such as insufficient antimicrobial treatment, immunosuppression secondary to corticosteroid administration, and allergies.


Coco had a history of chronic atopic dermatitis and did not respond to corticosteroids, cyclosporine, Apoquel, or a home-cooked hypoallergenic diet. He responded to treatment with Cytopoint. Apoquel and Cytopoint are products from Zoetis that target allergy-related cytokines. (Courtesy of Zoetis)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 256, 4; 10.2460/javma.256.4.395


Dusty, the clinic cat at Animal Allergy & Dermatology Center of Indiana, has dietary and environmental allergies. The first and second photos show Dusty on her first day as the clinic cat, when she had two types of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus infections. The third and fourth photos show Dusty two weeks and one month into therapy, respectively. The final photo shows Dusty in her current state. (Courtesy of Dr. Lori Thompson)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 256, 4; 10.2460/javma.256.4.395


At AVMA Convention 2019, Zoetis launched Itchy Pet Awareness Month to occur every August. The company has been campaigning in recent years to increase awareness among dog owners that itch in all its manifestations is not normal behavior. Instead, it is a reflection of a disease, said Dr. Andy Hillier, a veterinary dermatologist who is director of dermatology medical strategy for Zoetis Petcare.

According to data from Vetstreet Inc., a provider of marketing and communication services for veterinary practices, the number of dogs seen by veterinarians for itch increased almost 50% from 2013–18. Dr. Hillier thinks the data reflect an increase in the incidence of allergic disease, similar to the situation for humans, and an increase in dog owners bringing in dogs for treatment. He added that allergies are the underlying cause of most ear issues as well as the most common cause of skin infections in dogs.

Zoetis conducted a focused program of research and development 10 years ago on atopic dermatitis in dogs, Dr. Hillier said. The company was looking for treatments that would be effective and safe in the short and long term and that would meet owner needs. By studying the mechanisms of the disease, Zoetis learned how to target treatments toward specific irregularities in the immune system associated with allergic dermatitis.

Apoquel and Cytopoint target and neutralize the activity of allergy-related cytokines to provide relief for dogs with allergic and atopic dermatitis. Apoquel is a daily tablet, and Cytopoint is an injection given in the veterinary clinic that lasts four to six weeks.

Dr. Hillier said Apoquel has become the top-selling product in the U.S. animal health industry, according to data from the Executive Animal Health Study Center (CEESA) based in Belgium. He said Apoquel has surpassed the flea and tick preventives at different points during the last couple of years, the first time that a therapeutic agent has surpassed the flea and tick preventives that had dominated forever.


Pruritus is a problem for cats, too. A 2006 study in JAVMA, “Underlying medical conditions in cats with presumptive psychogenic alopecia,” found medical causes of pruritus in 16 of 21 cats with self-induced hair loss. Three cats had a combination of a medical cause of pruritus and psychogenic alopecia, and only two cats had psychogenic alopecia alone (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2006;228:1705–1709).

Dr. Thompson, a veterinary dermatologist with Animal Allergy & Dermatology Center of Indiana, doesn't think the incidence of pruritus in cats is increasing. She thinks the ability of veterinarians to recognize the problem and the increased willingness of cat owners to seek treatment are at least partially responsible for the growing number of patients.

“The treatments we have to offer now are so much better than what we had 10 years ago,” she said. “It's a better time to be a cat with skin disease than it was years ago.”

To treat allergies in cats, Dr. Thompson said, veterinarians have immunotherapy, cyclosporine, and better diets for food trials. Apoquel can be used to treat cats, even though it is only labeled for use in dogs. Topical medications from the isoxalaner class can be used to treat ectoparasites in cats, and there are antifungal medications formulated specifically to treat dermatophytosis in cats now.

As for psychogenic alopecia, Dr. Thompson said it is a diagnosis of exclusion, which may respond to behavior-modifying drugs such as fluoxetine.

Dusty, the clinic cat at Animal Allergy & Dermatology Center of Indiana, is the toughest allergic cat case that Dr. Thompson has ever managed. Dusty was a client's cat for three years before becoming the clinic cat. Her owner tried everything that the clinic asked, but in the end, it was too much for the owner to manage, so the owner allowed the clinic to adopt her.

At the time of adoption, Dusty turned out to be infected with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus schleiferi and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus pseudintermedius. She has both dietary allergies and environmental allergies. She eats a prescription diet, gets allergy shots twice weekly, has daily topical therapy, and receives a small amount of a corticosteroid.

“She continues to be a challenge but is just the best girl ever,” Dr. Thompson said.



Three faculty members at U.S. veterinary colleges, two of them veterinarians, are among 443 fellows chosen this past year by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, which is the world's largest scientific society. Election as a fellow is an honor bestowed upon association members by their peers. The association's fellowship program recognizes individuals whose efforts toward advancing science applications are deemed scientifically or socially distinguished.

The 2019 fellows will be recognized at a certificate and pinning ceremony on Feb. 15 during the association's annual meeting in Seattle. (Note: The AAAS does not identify new fellows as veterinary faculty members or veterinarians, so this list might not be comprehensive.)


Ellen Puré, PhD, is a professor and chair of the Department of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. She is also director of the Penn Vet Cancer Center, which integrates research and cancer care, speeding the translation of science to the clinic.


Ellen Puré, PhD

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 256, 4; 10.2460/javma.256.4.395

She is an expert in the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying diseases associated with chronic inflammation and fibrosis, including cancer. Among other key discoveries, Dr. Puré's work has uncovered new ways that inflammation and fibrosis contribute to the development, growth, and spread of cancer. She's helping pioneer therapeutic strategies that target the tumor microenvironment as a way of slowing or stopping cancer's spread, and she's working to understand how tumors might seed distant tissues to promote metastasis, according to a university press release.

Dr. Puré received her doctorate in immunology in 1981 from what was then the University of Texas-Southwestern School of Medicine. She then completed postdoctoral fellowships at Rockefeller University and the UT-Southwestern Medical Center.

Dr. Wilson K. Rumbeiha is a professor of toxicology at the University of California-Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. He formerly was a professor of veterinary toxicology in the Department of Veterinary Diagnostic and Production Animal Medicine at Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine. He is also a diplomate of the American Board of Toxicology and American Board of Veterinary Toxicology.


Dr. Wilson K. Rumbeiha

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 256, 4; 10.2460/javma.256.4.395

Dr. Rumbeiha's research interests are investigating antidotes for the treatment of acute neurotoxicity of highly toxic compounds, novel diagnostic toxicology test methods, and the toxicity of toxins in harmful algal blooms.

Dr. Rumbeiha received his veterinary degree in 1982 from Makerere University School of Veterinary Medicine in Kampala, Uganda. Later, he attended the University of Guelph Ontario Veterinary College, where he obtained his doctorate in biomedical sciences with a focus on toxicology.

Dr. Rumbeiha completed his residency at Kansas State University. He had a short stint in industry at Embro Corp., St. Louis Park, Minnesota, and then at White Sands Research in Alamogordo, New Mexico, before joining academia.


Dr. Nicole Baumgarth is a professor of immunology with the Center for Comparative Medicine and the Department of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology at the University of California-Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.


Dr. Nicole Baumgarth

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 256, 4; 10.2460/javma.256.4.395

Her laboratory is exploring the immunological mechanisms that regulate and control immunity to pathogens. Dr. Baumgarth and fellow researchers use two mouse models for their studies on influenza infections and infections with Borrelia burgdorferi, the causative agent of Lyme disease. She is also interested in the development and regulation of B-1 cells and the regulation and function of natural IgM.

Dr. Baumgarth received her veterinary degree in 1987 and doctorate in 1989 from the University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover in Hannover, Germany. She then conducted postdoctoral studies in Australia and at Stanford University. In 2000, she set up her own laboratory at UC-Davis, then under the directorship of Dr. Stephen Barthold, with whom she began to collaborate.

Dr. Baumgarth is the current director of a National Institutes of Health training grant at UC-Davis for veterinarians conducting research towards a doctorate and chair of the university's Graduate Council, overseeing all graduate education at the university.


The Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service in January announced the promotion of Dr. Estella Jones to the rank of rear admiral.

Dr. Jones is believed to be the first black female veterinarian in the USPHS to achieve this rank, which is equivalent to the rank of brigadier general in other uniformed services. Rear admirals also earn the title and responsibilities of assistant surgeon general.

“We, along with Commissioned Corps leadership, rely on flag officers to exhibit the highest caliber of public health leadership and to provide regular input and recommendations on the future of our service,” wrote USPHS Admiral Brett Giroir and U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams in an email announcing the promotion.

“Those chosen as flag officers exemplify the values of the Commissioned Corps and diligently work ‘to protect, promote, and advance the health and safety of our nation.‘”

A 1989 graduate of Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Jones is deputy director of the Office of Counterterrorism and Emerging Threats in the Office of the Commissioner at the Food and Drug Administration.

In 2017, she was appointed to the new Tick-Borne Disease Working Group created by Congress to improve federal coordination of efforts related to tick-borne diseases.

Dr. Jones previously worked at the World Health Organization and the Institute for Primate Research in Nairobi, Kenya, and held a faculty appointment in comparative medicine and anesthesiology at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.


The Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International's Veterinarian of the Year Award for 2019 went to Dr. Patrick Breen. He received the award, sponsored by Luitpold Pharmaceuticals, Nov. 9 at the PATH Intl. annual meeting in Denver.

Dr. Breen (Texas A&M '79) practiced in the Texas towns of Crockett, Madisonville, and Freeport before opening the Animal Hospital of Georgetown in 1989 in Georgetown, Texas. He retired from full-time practice in 2015.

He has volunteered for more than 18 years at the Ride On Center for Kids, a nonprofit that provides equine-assisted activities and therapies to children, adults, and veterans with physical, cognitive, and emotional disabilities. Dr. Breen is currently vice president on ROCK's board of directors and is a member of the Texas VMA and Texas Equine Veterinary Association.

He and his wife, Cathy, raise Angus crossbred cattle at their home, Tres Palomas Ranch.



American Association of Equine Practitioners' 65th Annual Convention, Dec. 7–11, 2019, Denver


The 2019 AAEP convention brought 5,443 veterinary professionals, students, and educators to Denver. Attendees had over 137 hours of continuing education options to choose from that included such topics as dentistry, imaging, and reproduction. The event also included networking opportunities and a trade show. The keynote speaker, Tammy Hughes, discussed the connection between culture and the success of an organization. Dr. Dean Richardson, equine orthopedic surgeon, spoke about the surgical opportunities available for fracture repair and the associated importance of improving emergency management when he delivered the Frank J. Milne State-of-the-Art Lecture. The AAEP also announced during its opening session a new charitable arm, the Foundation for the Horse.

The AAEP board of directors approved the association's 2020–23 strategic plan. The three areas of strategic focus will be the retention and recruitment of equine veterinarians, the welfare of the horse, and continuing education. The board also approved a revised position statement on anti-cribbing devices as well as several infectious disease and biosecurity guidelines, including guidelines on the judicious use of antimicrobials.

The AAEP launched a new mentoring program for young equine veterinarians in fall 2019 called Outrider. The goal is to provide mentorship in nonclinical skills such as general career advice and interpersonal professional relationships.


Distinguished Educator–Academic Award

Dr. W. David Wilson (Glasgow '75), El Macero, California, received the award for his impact on the development and training of future equine practitioners. Dr. Wilson spent 36 years at the University of California-Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. He retired in 2018. During his time at the veterinary school, he served as director of the Center for Equine Health, director of the William R. Pritchard Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, and the associate dean of clinical programs.


Dr. W. David Wilson

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 256, 4; 10.2460/javma.256.4.395

Distinguished Educator–Mentor Award

Dr. Terry Swanson (CSU '67), Littleton, Colorado, received the award for his significant impact on the development and training of equine practitioners. Dr. Swanson is the former owner of Littleton Equine Medical Center, where he continues to practice. Dr. Swanson is a past president of the AAEP and Colorado VMA.


Dr. Terry Swanson

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 256, 4; 10.2460/javma.256.4.395

The Lavin Cup

The Right Horse Initiative received the award for its distinguished service to improve the welfare of horses. The Right Horse Initiative is made up of equine industry stakeholders, welfare professionals, and other advocates. The collective formed in 2016 to increase horse adoption in the U.S. The organization successfully transitioned 1,742 horses in 2018.


Christy Schulte Kappert, program officer for The Right Horse Initiative

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 256, 4; 10.2460/javma.256.4.395

President's Award

Dr. Katie Flynn (Glasgow '01), Sacramento, California, received the award for her dedication to the AAEP and contributions to the health and welfare of horses. Dr. Flynn is chair of the AAEP's Infectious Disease Committee and a staff veterinarian for the California Department of Food and Agriculture. She has developed new disease vaccination guidelines and education opportunities for the horse industry regarding biosecurity.


Dr. Katie Flynn

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 256, 4; 10.2460/javma.256.4.395

Past Presidents' Research Fellow

Dr. Lynn M. Pezzanite (Cornell '14), a postdoctoral fellow at Colorado State University, won the $5,000 grant for her work on new approaches to the treatment of multidrug-resistant infections. Dr. Pezzanite hopes to address the threat of antimicrobial resistance in health care by developing alternatives to antibiotics.


Dr. Lynn M. Pezzanite

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 256, 4; 10.2460/javma.256.4.395

Equus Foundation Research Fellow

Dr. Sherry A. Johnson (Iowa State '19), a doctoral student at Colorado State University, received the $5,000 grant for her research into new approaches to tendon injury rehabilitation in horses. Dr. Johnson completed a residency program in equine sports medicine and rehabilitation at CSU. She is a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation. Her current research focuses on novel rehabilitation modalities related to tendon healing.


Dr. Sherry A. Johnson

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 256, 4; 10.2460/javma.256.4.395


Drs. David Frisbie, Fort Collins, Colorado, president; Scott Hay, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, presidentelect; Emma Read, Columbus, Ohio, vice president; Lisa Metcalf, Sherwood, Oregon, treasurer; and Jeff Berk, Lexington, Kentucky, immediate past president


Dr. David Frisbie

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 256, 4; 10.2460/javma.256.4.395


Dr. Scott Hay

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 256, 4; 10.2460/javma.256.4.395



Pacific Northwest Veterinary Conference, Sept. 27–29, 2019, Tacoma


Veterinarian of the Year

Dr. Christine Wilford (Texas A&M '87), Mercer Island. Dr. Wilford serves as an associate veterinarian at Island Cats Veterinary Hospital on Mercer Island and is the founder of the nonprofit Feral Cat Spay/Neuter Project, based in Lynnwood. She was a two-term past president of the former Puget Sound VMA and served as chair of its Continuing Education Committee.


Dr. Christine Wilford

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 256, 4; 10.2460/javma.256.4.395

Distinguished Achievement Award

Dr. Bryan K. Slinker (Washington State '80), Pullman. Dean of the Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine from 2009–19, Dr. Slinker is interim provost for the university. Prior to serving as dean, he was chair of the veterinary college's former Department of Veterinary and Comparative Anatomy, Pharmacology, and Physiology, now known as the Department of Integrative Physiology and Neuroscience. Earlier in his career, Dr. Slinker was an assistant professor in the cardiology unit in the Department of Medicine at the University of Vermont.


Dr. Bryan K. Slinker

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 256, 4; 10.2460/javma.256.4.395

Washington State University Faculty Member of the Year

The Clinical Simulation Center team at the WSU College of Veterinary Medicine, led by Dr. Julie Cary (Colorado State '99), Dr. Robert Keegan (Washington State '84), and Lethea Russell. The Clinical Simulation Center offers experiential learning and simulation training in clinical communication, basic surgical skills, anesthesia and critical care activities, and ultrasound and endoscopy diagnostic skills. Dr. Cary is a clinical associate professor and director of the Clinical Communication Program and Clinical Simulation Center. Dr. Keegan has been a member of the faculty since 1988 and helped develop WholeLogic, a computer-based simulation training program. Russell, a licensed veterinary technician, serves as coordinator of the center.


Dr. Julie Cary

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 256, 4; 10.2460/javma.256.4.395


Dr. Robert Keegan

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 256, 4; 10.2460/javma.256.4.395


Lethea Russell

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 256, 4; 10.2460/javma.256.4.395

Distinguished Veterinary Staff Award

Jess Hanson, Olympia. A licensed veterinary technician, Hanson is the lead veterinary technician, safety officer, and facilities manager at Olympia Veterinary Specialists: The Cancer Center. He was recognized for his animal handling and technical skills, compassionate and educational interactions with clients and staff, and high level of staff leadership.


Jess Hanson

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 256, 4; 10.2460/javma.256.4.395

Allied Industry Partner Award

Jay Jones, Kent, won this award, given for exceptional service to the veterinary profession or the WSVMA. Jones works for Hill's Pet Nutrition Inc. in Kent. He was recognized for his quiet yet dedicated and faithful service to Washington state veterinarians and their patients.


Jay Jones

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 256, 4; 10.2460/javma.256.4.395

Humane-Animal Welfare Award

Staff members of the Feral Cat Spay/Neuter Project for advancing animal welfare through extraordinary service.

The project is a free-standing clinic dedicated to providing free spay/neuter surgery for free-roaming cats in a safe, high-quality, and humane environment.


For 2019–20, the goals for the association's strategic plan will include launching a new partnership with the American Veterinary Medical Foundation's Veterinary Care Charitable Fund to help veterinarians provide care for the pets of those facing hardship, developing new initiatives to support veterinary and veterinary team well-being, providing support for veterinary technicians, and developing diversity and inclusion initiatives.


Dr. Gary Marshall, Mercer Island, president; Dr. Jennifer Koenig, Snohomish, vice president; Dr. Jennifer Bennett, Seattle, secretary; Dr. Michael Kiefer, Olympia, treasurer; Dr. Jean Gulbransen, Duvall, immediate past president and director; Candace Joy, Snowqualmie, chief executive officer; directors—Drs. Richard DeBowes, Pullman, and Lindsey Hornickel, Bellevue; and AVMA delegate and alternate delegate—Drs. Saundra Willis, Tacoma, and Diana Thomé, Richland


Dr. Gary Marshall

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 256, 4; 10.2460/javma.256.4.395


Dr. Jennifer Koenig

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 256, 4; 10.2460/javma.256.4.395



Dr. Everett (Auburn '67), 81, Columbia, South Carolina, died Nov. 6, 2019. A diplomate of the American Board of Veterinary Toxicology and American College of Veterinary Pathologists, he served as a senior distinguished scientist with what is now known as Sanofi prior to retirement.

Following graduation and after earning his doctorate in pathology from the University of Georgia, Dr. Everett served as an assistant professor of clinical pathology at Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine. While there, he received what is now known as the Zoetis Distinguished Veterinary Teacher Award. Dr. Everett later worked for DuPont. During his career, he also served as an adjunct professor of pathology and laboratory animal medicine at the former Hahnemann University School of Medicine.

Dr. Everett was a veteran of the Marine Corps. His wife, Marsha, and a son survive him.


Dr. Needham (Auburn '52), 90, Wilmington, North Carolina, died Oct. 10, 2019. Following graduation, he served two years in the Air Force Veterinary Corps. Dr. Needham then established Needham Animal Clinic, a small animal practice in Wilmington, subsequently also establishing Atlantic Animal Hospital in Wilmington and Animal Medical Clinic of Carolina Beach in Carolina Beach, North Carolina. He retired in 2005.

Active in organized veterinary medicine, Dr. Needham helped found the North Carolina Academy of Small Animal Medicine and was a past president of the academy. He was also a past president of the North Carolina VMA and named Distinguished Veterinarian by the NCVMA in 1971. Dr. Needham is survived by his wife, Peggy; three sons and two daughters; and five grandchildren.

Memorials may be made to Transitions Foundation–North Carolina, an organization that helps students with autism spectrum disorder, and sent to 201 N. Front St., Suite 1002, Wilmington, NC 28401.


Dr. Rogers (Texas A&M '46), 94, Dallas, died June 26, 2019. He practiced at Park Cities Animal Hospital in Dallas prior to retirement. Earlier, Dr. Rogers served in the Army Veterinary Corps. His wife, Joan, survives him. Memorials may be made to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Texas, 2400 Lone Star Drive, Dallas, TX 75212, or Dallas Life Foundation, 1100 Cadiz, Dallas, TX 75215.


Dr. Swearengen (Missouri '82), 62, Frederick, Maryland, died July 16, 2019. He was director of special projects for the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care International in Frederick, Maryland, since 2018.

Following graduation, Dr. Swearengen practiced mixed animal medicine in Missouri and Wisconsin. In 1984, he began his more than 20-year career with the Army Veterinary Corps. During that time, Dr. Swearengen worked in several capacities, including service as chief of veterinary services at the Carswell Air Force Base in Texas and in Stuttgart, Germany; chief of the Department of Animal Medicine at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research and chief of the Department of Laboratory Animal Medicine at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases; and director of the Center for Laboratory Animal Medicine at the Uniformed Services University F. Edward Hebert School of Medicine and director of the veterinary medicine division at the USAMRIID. From 2003–05, he was deputy commander of the USAMRIID, where he helped execute a basic and applied research program to develop medical solutions to protect military personnel from biological hazards. Dr. Swearengen served on a United Nations team monitoring and verifying biological weapons in Baghdad. He received several military honors, including the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Legion of Merit Medal, and United Nations Special Service Medal.

Dr. Swearengen served as senior director at AAALAC International from 2005–09. From 2009–16, he directed comparative medicine at the National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center in Frederick, Maryland, overseeing animal care and use at the center. Dr. Swearengen then returned to AAALAC International, serving as global director until 2018. Known for his expertise in biohazards and biosafety, he edited a book on biodefense research methodologies and animal models and was a contributing author to the publication “Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories.”

Dr. Swearengen was a diplomate and a past president of the American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine and a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Preventive Medicine. He was also a past president of AAALAC International's Council on Accreditation. Dr. Swearengen is survived by his wife, Michele; two sons; two grandchildren; his mother; and two brothers. Memorials, toward cancer research, with the memo line of the check notated “In honor of Jim Swearengen, designated to Dr. Holdhoff's research,” may be made to John Hopkins University and sent to Kimmel Development Office, 750 E. Pratt St., Suite 1700, Baltimore, MD 21202; or memorials may be made to Hospice of Frederick County, P.O. Box 1799, Frederick, MD 21702.


Dr. VerMeulen (Michigan State '55), 88, Lake Forest, Illinois, died Nov. 5, 2019. He owned a small animal practice in Lake Forest, Illinois, for 37 years. Dr. VerMeulen is survived by a son, daughter, five grandchildren, and a sister. Memorials may be made to DeYoung Family Zoo, N5406 County Road 577, Wallace, MI 49893.


Dr. Weidle (Colorado State '60), 83, Marianna, Florida, died Oct. 17, 2019. Following graduation, he worked briefly in Great Bend, Kansas. In 1961, Dr. Weidle moved to Bismarck, North Dakota, where he joined a large animal practice. He subsequently worked five years in Beach, North Dakota.

After earning his doctorate in toxicology in the early 1970s from the University of Florida, Dr. Weidle established Panhandle Veterinary Services in Chipley, Florida. He retired in 1990. Dr. Weidle's wife, Ruth; two daughters; five grandchildren; four great-grandchildren; and a sister and a brother survive him. Memorials may be made to Heifer International, P.O. Box 8058, Little Rock, AR 72203.