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    Dr. José Arce

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    Dr. Sandra Faeh

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    Dr. Robin Downing

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    Dr. Harry Werner

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    Janice Siegford, PhD

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    A veterinarian with Banfield Pet Hospital delivers care to a patient. (Courtesy of Mars Veterinary Health)

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    A VCA Animal Hospitals veterinary team member conducts a telehealth appointment. (Courtesy of Mars Veterinary Health)

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    Veterinary professionals meet with patients in May at a pop-up clinic at the San Diego Convention Center, which was acting as a temporary shelter for over 1,000 homeless people and their pets. (Photos courtesy of Dr. Jon Geller)

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    A BluePearl Specialty and Emergency Pet Hospital veterinary team delivers curbside service during the COVID-19 pandemic. Mars, which owns BluePearl, donated $1 million in April to Humane Society International to fund programs in the countries most impacted by COVID-19. (Courtesy of Mars Veterinary Health)

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    BluePearl Specialty and Emergency Pet Hospital veterinary staff members transport a patient to the hospital during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Courtesy of Mars Veterinary Health)

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    Dr. Mary Montanye, a recent graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine, has been studying for the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination for over a year. She and others report having difficulties finding nearby testing locations with available dates in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Dr. Montanye)

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    Dr. Peter Sakas, a staff veterinarian at the Animal Hospital and Bird Medical Center in Niles, Illinois, focused on wildlife veterinary medicine. (Courtesy of Courtney Sakas, MD)

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    Dr. Julie R. Butler was the founder of 145th Street Animal Hospital in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City. (Courtesy of Zora Howard)

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    Dr. Robert L. Leighton





The AVMA on May 1 became the first veterinary organization in the United States to join the National Academy of Medicine in pledging to reduce burnout and promote well-being among clinicians.

By becoming a network organization within the academy's Action Collaborative on Clinician Well-being and Resilience, the AVMA renewed an organizational commitment to improving the well-being of health care professionals.

The AVMA submitted a statement describing the Association's current well-being work and future goals, including support for collaborative, multidisciplinary approaches that enhance well-being research, education, and practice.

The AVMA joins more than 60 other associations, hospitals, medical systems, universities, and professional societies in the Action Collaborative on Clinician Well-being and Resilience, which launched in 2017. The collaborative aims to raise the visibility of clinician burnout, improve understanding of challenges to clinician well-being, and elevate evidence-based, multidisciplinary solutions to improve patient care by caring for caregivers.

The AVMA's well-being resources for veterinarians are at avma.org/wellbeing.


The first generic version of detomidine hydrochloride injectable solution for horses has received approval from the Food and Drug Administration's Center for Veterinary Medicine.

Detomidine hydrochloride is used as a sedative and pain reliever during minor surgical and diagnostic procedures in both mature horses and yearlings. The FDA called it “an important tool in enabling these animals to receive treatment while managing pain.”

To gain approval, the generic form of the drug was shown to be the bioequivalent of Zoetis' approved proprietary treatment, Dormosedan, which is confirmed to be safe and effective.

“Licensed veterinarians administering detomidine hydrochloride should ensure that they don't inadvertently get the drug in their mouth, as safety studies have indicated that the drug is well absorbed through mucous membranes, such as the lining of the mouth or nose,” according to an April 28 FDA announcement. “As with all injectable drugs that cause profound physiological effects, veterinarians should take routine precautions when handling and using loaded syringes to prevent accidental self-injection.”

Generic detomidine hydrochloride is available by prescription only and is available in 5-mL and 20-mL multidose vials.


Importers can submit images of veterinary health certificates—rather than paper copies—when they bring animal products into the U.S.

The policy lasts at least through July 18 and contains exceptions for certain high-risk products.

Officials with the Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service announced April 8 they would reduce the trade-related challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic by telling Customs and Border Protection agents to accept importation documents through a federal document image system, and they issued an extension of that change May 11. CBP agents could see scans of veterinary health certificates, among other documents required for importation, the notices state.

Importers still need to submit physical copies of veterinary health certificates for shipments, from any country, containing bovine serum. They also need to submit physical copies to import any fresh or frozen meat from countries where the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service had not received the original hard copy of the veterinary health certificate.

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

Q&A: Arce poised to make history this summer

Dr. José Arce will be the first Puerto Rican veterinarian elected AVMA president

Interview by R. Scott Nolen

Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Dr. José Arce is one of the first natives of the U.S. commonwealth to serve on the AVMA Board of Directors. He will achieve another first this summer when the AVMA House of Delegates elects him as the 2020–21 president-elect and next in line for the AVMA presidency. He is the sole candidate for the office of president-elect and will succeed Dr. Douglas Kratt as AVMA president in 2021.

A 1997 graduate of the Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Arce is president and co-owner of Miramar Animal Hospital in San Juan, Puerto Rico. His wife, Dr. Anik Puig, is also a veterinarian.

Dr. Arce was a member of the HOD from 2000 until joining the AVMA Board in 2014. He recently talked to JAVMA News about what he hopes to accomplish as AVMA president. The following answers have been lightly edited for clarity.


A. I have been an active participant in organized veterinary medicine for the past 26 years, holding numerous leadership positions in the Student AVMA throughout my years in veterinary school and later at the state level in the Puerto Rico VMA and nationally both in the AVMA House and on the AVMA Board.

In my capacity as District IV director on the Board, I have served or continue to serve as liaison to a long list of councils, committees, advisory panels, and AVMA trusts; as chair of the Committee on International Veterinary Affairs; and on the American Veterinary Medical Foundation board of directors.

These experiences, together with my diverse background, have given me a unique perspective and in-depth knowledge of the AVMA and the issues facing the veterinary profession. Additionally, they have taught me to be an inclusive, forward-thinking, and strategic leader.

Veterinary medicine has provided me many opportunities to meet veterinarians from all corners of the world, with whom I have had profound conversations regarding our profession. These experiences and interactions have prepared me to become an effective AVMA president and to carry the torch of my predecessors in protecting, promoting, and advancing veterinary medicine.


Dr. José Arce

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 257, 1; 10.2460/javma.257.1.7

A strong veterinary profession needs a strong AVMA, and as president, I will be committed to working in conjunction with our leadership, our volunteers, and the AVMA staff to optimize the way we serve our members in order to make a difference in the lives of present and future veterinarians.


A. Growing up, my father was involved in organized medicine and served in the Puerto Rico Medical Association and in the House of Delegates of the American Medical Association, so it was natural for me to become involved in organized veterinary medicine. During my first year as District IV director on the AVMA Board, we worked on the new AVMA branding and the tag line: “Our Passion. Our Profession.”

It might sound corny, but that's exactly how I feel about veterinary medicine. I am truly passionate about our profession, and I cherish every opportunity to educate, promote, and advocate for our profession, whether it is in a kindergarten classroom or with members of the U.S. Congress.


A. I am extremely proud of my Puerto Rican and Spanish roots; they are an intricate part of who I am and my perspective towards all things in life. Becoming a Hispanic and minority president of AVMA will be an honor, but it also comes with some responsibility. I will do my best to lead by example, and hopefully my presidency will send a message of inclusiveness and inspire other minorities to become involved in organized veterinary medicine. The AVMA must continue to strive for greater diversity and inclusiveness as it gives strength to our voice as advocates for veterinary medicine. It is also imperative that we promote veterinary medicine as a suitable career choice for underrepresented groups, both in ethnicity and type of practice.


A. The president of AVMA must be an effective communicator, not just a promoter of our Association. When I first served on the Puerto Rico VMA board almost two decades ago, I would frequently give my thoughts and opinions at our meetings about the issues at hand. With time, I have become an active listener—deferring judgement, providing feedback as needed, and responding appropriately and respectfully.

The AVMA president must be a respected voice for the profession and be able to represent AVMA and the veterinary profession, not just to our members but also to government, industry, international veterinary associations, and the public. I truly believe that I have earned that respect of others through my hard work and commitment to the AVMA for the past 26 years.

Personally, I see myself as creative, empathetic, adaptable, positive, and optimistic. I also have a great sense of humor, which helps me connect with others.


A. As a member of the Board, I participated in the difficult decision to cancel AVMA Convention 2020. It was a sad decision for us because we knew we would not be able to experience and celebrate the events of convention together with our colleagues. We also knew that canceling convention was the right decision and the only way to protect the health, safety, and well-being of all our convention participants.

Now, AVMA Convention 2020, the HOD summer session, and the election of officers will be held virtually instead of in person in San Diego.

We know of several state and international veterinary meetings that have been canceled or postponed until 2021. We do not yet know how long the COVID-19 pandemic will last, whether there will be a second wave in the fall and a third next spring, when a vaccine will be available, and how long travel restrictions, quarantines, and social distancing rules will continue to be in effect. All these factors will play a role in deciding if we will be able to begin holding small, in-person meetings in the early fall and hopefully larger gatherings such as the AVMA Economic Summit later in the year.

So, yes, COVID-19 will have an effect on my year as president-elect, as several of the meetings that officers would have attended have been or will probably be canceled or held virtually.

As leaders of this Association, we have an opportunity to become our most innovative, adaptive, and resilient selves in facing all the challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic throws at us and making decisions that will be in the best interests of our members.

I take my hat off to the AVMA staff for working tirelessly in order to provide factual, up-to-the-minute information and resources to assist veterinarians in providing services during the present pandemic and supporting their well-being during this time of uncertainty and distress.


A. Veterinary medicine continues to face daunting economic challenges and societal demands. High educational debt, income concerns such as low starting salaries, scope-of-practice issues, an unfavorable work-life balance, and uncertainty about retirement all contribute to wellness issues within our profession.

At the global level—and because the interconnections among animals, people, and the environment have become more significant and impactful than ever—we are facing new challenges. The present pandemic is a perfect example of that.

At the same time, we need to address and take advantage of new and developing technologies that are affecting the practice of veterinary medicine such as telehealth, artificial intelligence, 3D printing, biosensors, and the proper use of mobile medical devices. These innovative technologies are developing and evolving rapidly. We must quickly adapt to these changes to remain relevant, while maintaining the integrity of the veterinarian-client-patient relationship and understanding how all of these things impact the standard of care.

As they say, with challenge comes opportunity. The present pandemic is a perfect example of that. The AVMA, state VMAs, and veterinarians nationally and worldwide have been at the forefront, helping educate the public about SARS-CoV-2. Several veterinary schools are conducting studies on SARS-CoV-2, some are developing vaccines against the novel coronavirus, and some are assisting state governments in testing humans for the COVID-19 virus. All this work shows how veterinary medicine can bring unique value to biomedical research and public health. This pandemic has also demonstrated the need for the implementation of one-health practices and measures to improve the response to and reduce the emergence of pandemic viruses.


A. The AVMA should prominently communicate the values of our profession and educate the public about all aspects of veterinary medicine, and our leaders and volunteers at all levels should constantly promote and advocate for our profession through the traditional news media outlets and social media.

We must work together to foster an environment that promotes the mental health, emotional well-being, and personal happiness of our members, both at work and at home.

The AVMA must also be a global leader in one health and contribute to the development of policies and guidelines in all aspects of veterinary medicine. We must cultivate relationships and work in unison with other global veterinary associations and intergovernmental entities to support public health, animal health, and welfare around the world.


A. I am a strong advocate of the concept of the AVMA family, and if elected president, as the primary spokesperson of the AVMA, I will take this message of the AVMA family everywhere I go. Whether it is the House of Delegates and all the state VMAs and allied groups that are part of it, the Board, AVMF, AVMA Political Action Committee, SAVMA, and now Veterinary Medical Association Executives and National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America, we need to strategically work in unison to be a more effective organization.


Eradicating African swine fever in European boars may require a mix of culling and carcass removal, depending on climate conditions, according to a recent article.

Authors from institutions in Scotland and Spain examined the potential to reduce risk of disease spread from wild boars that survive initial infection and carcasses of those that die. They compared conditions in Estonia and Spain, the latter of which has higher temperatures and more abundant scavengers, such as vultures, that degrade carcasses more quickly.

“Our model study indicates that in Estonia, culling alone is unlikely to eradicate the disease without eradicating the host population, whereas in Spain culling could potentially eradicate the disease without eradicating the host,” the article states. “The difference is that in Estonia infected carcasses remain in the environment, acting as a long-term source of infection and increasing the difficulty of eradicating the disease.”

The authors published their report April 3 in Scientific Reports, an open-access journal from Nature Research.

“Our study indicates that multiple control methods should be applied in parallel to eradicate ASF without eradicating the population,” the article states. “This will be of particular relevance in regions where wild boar hunting is an important industry that supports rural communities.”

The article indicates ASF can persist in low-density populations, at 1%-3% prevalence, for several years following an epidemic. The virus transmits through contact in social groups and where wild boars congregate, such as water holes, as well as through contaminated carcasses.

ASF is highly lethal, and analysts estimate outbreaks in China may have killed hundreds of millions of pigs since August 2018. The virus previously spread through wild boars and domesticated pigs in the Caucasus, Eastern Europe, and Russia.

U.S. swine veterinarians have been bolstering disease defenses in anticipation of a domestic outbreak.

Q&A: Making a difference


Interview by R. Scott Nolen

When the AVMA House of Delegates assembles virtually this summer, its members will make Dr. Sandra Faeh the next AVMA vice president.

Dr. Faeh is currently the Illinois delegate in the HOD and the sole candidate for vice president—a two-year office as the AVMA Board of Directors' liaison to the Student AVMA and by extension to the veterinary college deans and faculty.

The University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine alumna and small animal practitioner recently spoke to JAVMA News about what she hopes to accomplish as the vice president. The following answers have been lightly edited for clarity.


A. The importance of being involved in my profession has been ingrained in me since my first days at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine, thanks to Dr. Erwin Small. To Illinoisans, Dr. Small was veterinary medicine. As a retired Marine, his voice carried. I can still hear him echoing in the halls and smell his unlit cigar. No one could say no to Dr. Small. He was the start of my career in organized veterinary medicine. Through his encouragement, I became the Student AVMA delegate for Illinois, which led to the national SAVMA presidency. To this day, being SAVMA president was the highlight of my career. It was at that point I decided I wanted to make an impact on future students. I wanted to convey to them the importance of being involved in this great profession and all the opportunities it gives you.


Dr. Sandra Faeh

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 257, 1; 10.2460/javma.257.1.7

Surrounded by mentors—Drs. Rena Carlson, Allen Miyahara, and Joe Kinnarney—who also shared this passion, I continued to pursue this goal. These people mentored me and made me want to follow in their footsteps, to become a leader to students just like they were to me, to be able to make an impact in students' lives and their careers.

I have been honored to work with students all over the country. They are incredibly intelligent and mature and have so much to offer. I hope that I can have a positive influence on their lives and careers like the great leaders before me did.


A. There are two important facets to the job of AVMA vice president. First and foremost is being the liaison to the veterinary colleges and students. During my career, I have interacted with and presented to many groups of students on a variety of topics all over the world. I have sat on committees and boards with students and faculty members. This has given me a deeper knowledge of their concerns and offered insight into how to help.

The second important obligation is having a seat on the AVMA Board of Directors. Since my time as SAVMA president, I have been involved with leadership on local, state, and national levels. I currently serve as the AVMA delegate for Illinois and recently completed my term as chair of the AVMA House Advisory Committee. As chair, I attended AVMA Board of Directors meetings. My involvement with the AVMA has given me an in-depth knowledge of its functions. This exposure will enable me to jump right in and serve effectively.

Things are always changing, and sometimes, things change too quickly. I would be foolish to say that I know what the next few years will bring, but I can say that my abilities to listen and adapt will be the most important tools to have. We all must adapt to the foreseeable future and address challenges as they develop. We must meet them head-on to make the best of these uncertain times.


A. Ultimately, the goal of the AVMA vice president is to serve the students. The approach, however, has changed slightly. Previously, the main task of the vice president was to visit all of the veterinary colleges over her two-year term. With the addition of more and more colleges, this was becoming a difficult task.

The AVMA has three amazing staff members—the Student Initiative Team—who visit every veterinary college, every year. The vice president will continue to be the key liaison with the SAVMA House of Delegates and the SAVMA Executive Board. However, the vice president's new main directive is to meet with the deans and the key influencers for students—those who teach veterinary students in the classroom and laboratory and on clinical rotations.

Many faculty members are not DVMs and may not have much exposure to the AVMA. It is the vice president's job to discuss with them the importance of organized veterinary medicine and being an AVMA member, so they can pass this onto the students in everything they do. It is also essential for the vice president to listen to their needs and concerns. Feedback from all individuals at the veterinary colleges is invaluable to our organization. We have many of the same concerns as the veterinary colleges—educational debt, wellness, and mentorship. With increased collaboration, we will have the opportunity to explore what both sides are doing and help the students even more.


A. If you had asked me this a few months ago, my answer would have been drastically different! I believe the biggest challenges right now are because of COVID-19 and how to provide the best possible education to all students while still staying healthy. Providing virtual lecture content is relatively straightforward, but providing hands-on training while social distancing has become a challenge. This type of training is essential to develop the skills necessary to be a veterinarian. Students are worrying they won't be able to perform up to their employer's expectations.

Many are worrying if there will be jobs available upon graduation. How will they be able to pay off their debt? The decline in the economy will certainly affect our profession.

Attached to these concerns are mental health issues. This time of quarantine is cultivating isolationism, anxiety, and feelings of inadequacy. These feelings, high during a normal academic year, are unfortunately worse during these uncertain times.


A. The AVMA has an abundance of resources that are available to help students and faculty members with their economic and mental health concerns. The My Veterinary Life website at myvetlife.avma.org is an example of one of AVMA's amazing resources. It will be my job to ensure that this information is brought to the SAVMA chapters and to the veterinary colleges. It is the vice president's job to listen to the concerns and needs of the students and faculty members and bring them to the AVMA Board of Directors.


A. Being involved in the AVMA has given me mentors, colleagues, and friends. It has given me an expanded view of the profession and the opportunity to help chart its course. It has given me a voice. If I can instill that feeling into at least one student, then I will have accomplished my goal.


A. These are truly unprecedented times, and it is hard to say what the future holds. The role of the vice president will continue to evolve, even more so now with restrictions on gatherings and traveling. If elected, I look forward to collaborating with the AVMA staff, students, and the veterinary colleges to make a difference. We will not sit idle. We will continue to work toward our goals and continue to adjust them as new challenges arise.

I truly appreciate everyone's support and encouragement during my campaign. I was able to visit several states and address their VMAs before the pandemic developed; however, I had hoped to visit more. Please do not hesitate to reach out to me with any questions or concerns.



Dr. Robin Downing

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 257, 1; 10.2460/javma.257.1.7


Dr. Harry Werner

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 257, 1; 10.2460/javma.257.1.7


Janice Siegford, PhD

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 257, 1; 10.2460/javma.257.1.7

The AVMA has announced the 2020 recipients of the Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year Award, AVMA Animal Welfare Award, and AVMA Humane Award. The Association named the winners during National Pet Week, the first full week in May.

Dr. Robin Downing (Illinois '86) received the Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year Award, which recognizes the outstanding work of veterinarians in protecting and promoting the human-animal bond.

Dr. Downing is the founder, owner, and medical director of the Downing Center for Animal Pain Management and the owner and medical director of the Windsor Veterinary Clinic, both in Windsor, Colorado. Since 2001, she has served as an affiliate faculty member at Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences.

In 2005, Dr. Downing became a diplomate of the American Academy of Pain Management. She went on to create the International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management and to help develop the credential of certified veterinary pain practitioner. She also is a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation.

Dr. Harry Werner (Pennsylvania '74) received the AVMA Animal Welfare Award, which recognizes an AVMA member who has helped advance animal welfare.

Dr. Werner has served the veterinary profession for more than four decades as a solo equine practitioner in rural Connecticut and as a volunteer for several organizations, including the AVMA, the American Association of Equine Practitioners, the World Equine Veterinary Association, the Right Horse Initiative, and the Unwanted Horse Coalition.

“Dr. Werner's dedication, excellent communication skills, and the innate ability to maneuver around and through emotional and oftentimes misunderstood welfare conditions are his greatest strength,” said Dr. Tom Lenz, recipient of the 2010 AVMA Animal Welfare Award, in an AVMA announcement. “But it is his passion and sincere belief in the wellbeing of all animals that truly drove him to be the success that he is.”

Janice Siegford, PhD, received the AVMA Humane Award, which is presented to a nonveterinarian who has helped advance animal welfare.

Dr. Siegford, a professor of animal science and welfare at Michigan State University, has been instrumental in the development and success of the AVMA Animal Welfare Assessment Contest, which teaches students to assess the welfare of animals in a variety of settings using science-based methods and reasoning. She has served on the contest's coordinating committee since 2007.

Dr. Siegford's research and scholarship have explored noninvasive and automated measurements of behavior and welfare in pigs, poultry, and cattle, as well as social behaviors in group-housed pigs and heritability of those behaviors. She has mentored graduate and undergraduate researchers and developed curricula and courses in animal behavior and welfare.

USDA adds welfare provisions for dealers, exhibitors, researchers

New rules require annual examinations of dogs, regular veterinarian visits

Greg Cima

Dog breeders and dealers will need to meet more stringent veterinary care requirements and give their dogs continuous access to water to meet federal requirements starting Nov. 9.

All animal dealers, exhibitors, and researchers regulated by the Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service also will need to apply for new licenses every three years, rather than renew their licenses yearly. Gaining a new license requires submitting to an inspection and demonstrating compliance with the Animal Welfare Act and its regulations, while the current renewal system requires only providing a statement affirming that the person or company still meets all requirements.

In May, APHIS officials published the final rule, which is intended to strengthen protections for animals regulated by their agency under the AWA. The new provisions include requirements for annual examinations of dogs held by APHIS-licensed dealers and exhibitors, as well as regular veterinarian visits to check on animal care and husbandry.

Agency officials also added requirements that those license holders keep written veterinary care plans, medical records, and implement husbandry requirements to ensure healthy eyes, ears, skin, nails, teeth, and hair coats, as well as ensure their dogs are treated for parasites and vaccinated against diseases that are contagious, deadly, or both. The facilities holding dogs will need to give dogs continuous access to potable water—unless restricted by a veterinarian—rather than the current requirement that they receive water at least twice daily.

All licensees will need to inform APHIS officials at least 90 days before making substantial changes to their facilities, their animal population numbers, or the types of animals they hold. The new rule gives license holders population limits—in 50-animal increments—and requires separate authorizations for certain types of animals, such as big cats, nonhuman primates, and large herbivores.

“The current regulations do not require a licensee to demonstrate compliance when making changes to his or her animals or locations, including noteworthy changes to the numbers or types of animals used in regulated activity,” APHIS officials said in a Federal Register notice. “This allows a licensee to acquire substantially more or different types of animals than what he or she had when the license was originally issued.”

If the agency suspends or revokes any person's or company's license, any officers, agents, or employees responsible for the violations will be ineligible for new licenses and they will not be allowed to work for other companies licensed or registered by APHIS.

License applicants also will need to disclose any disqualifying convictions related to animal cruelty, animal welfare, or false statements to government agencies.

Veterinary organizations supported many of the proposed changes, but some in research had concerns.

In a June 2019 letter, AVMA CEO Janet Donlin said the AVMA supported proposals to require an annual physical examination, keep records of preventive care, and track medical conditions and treatments.

“Based on feedback from state veterinary medical associations, annual exams and continuous access to potable water are common requirements in related state regulations and would be reasonable additions to the AWA regulations,” her letter states.

Dr. Donlin's letter also expresses support for the proposals to require new licenses every three years, require notice when licensees make substantial changes, and require that license applicants disclose disqualifying convictions—with a caveat that the agency should consider whether qualified people could be denied licenses for others' actions.

The American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine expressed support for the changes that would help restrict who is licensed, as well as concerns about the provisions regarding water and veterinary care programs. In a May 2019 letter, Dr. Joseph D. Thulin, then president of the college, wrote that dogs could be without water after spills or during exercise or socialization, resulting in violations.

His letter also states that regulations already ensured dogs in research facilities receive appropriate care and treatment. He noted that those regulations required that licensees assess their dogs' health and well-being every day and convey any problems to the attending veterinarian.

“While the overall intent of the proposed language may be to improve animal welfare, ACLAM does not support the language as written and urges the USDA to consider stronger enforcement of its existing standards regarding veterinary care,” the letter states.

The American Society of Laboratory Animal Practitioners expressed support for the provision on continuous access to water but also concern that a USDA inspector might find a water bowl that had tipped over. In a June 2019 letter, President Dr. Iris D. Bolton called for consideration of whether any dogs showed signs of extended lack of access to water.

Dr. Bolton's letter also argues that regulations already required adequate veterinary care and regular visits by a veterinarian, as well as gave USDA authority to punish those with inadequate care. The organization called for guidance with objective criteria on adequate care and preventive treatment.

Though animal research institutions are highly regulated and tend to exceed requirements, ASLAP officials recognize APHIS' proposal was necessary to protect animals in nonresearch facilities, her letter states.

“However, this should be done with all due consideration of providing benefit to animal welfare without the expense of unnecessary burden to licensees or registered research facilities,” it states.


Drugmaker Zoetis entered the pet health insurance market this spring in about half the U.S.

By mid-May, Zoetis' Pumpkin Insurance Services sold dog and cat care policies in 26 states and the District of Columbia. The company is an insurance agency, rather than an insurer. United States Fire Insurance Co. underwrites the policies.

An April 30 announcement also describes Pumpkin's preventive care plans, which cover routine visits and prescriptions for certain Zoetis pharmaceuticals.

“All Pumpkin Plans provide reimbursement for covered care administered by any licensed veterinary clinic in the U.S. and Canada,” the announcement states. “Pumpkin Pet Insurance policies do not cover pre-existing conditions. Waiting periods, annual deductibles, co-insurance, benefits limits and other exclusions may apply.”

The announcement cites a North American Pet Health Insurance Association report in stating about 2% of pet owners have health insurance for their cats or dogs.

In August 2019, the AVMA House of Delegates amended Association policy to encourage veterinarians to educate clients on pet health insurance. In that policy, “Pet Health Insurance,” the AVMA endorses the concept of pet health insurance and lists standards that each policy should meet. The policy is available at avma.org/policies/pet-health-insurance.

The plans described at launch in May raised concerns among veterinarians, and the company pledged changes.

In May, a Zoetis spokeswoman provided a statement that Pumpkin planned to suspend flea, tick, and heartworm components of the preventive care plan; create an advisory board of veterinary practitioners; and redesign that plan with the advisory board's help. The statement cited concerns raised in recent weeks about the plan and a need to have more veterinary input.

In a statement, the AVMA said Association members had expressed concerns that the structure of Pumpkin's preventive care coverage could have prevented veterinarians from choosing the right products for each patient, and the AVMA told Zoetis about those concerns. AVMA President John Howe said in the statement he was happy that Zoetis established an advisory board of veterinarians to ensure Pumpkin's products best serve patients, clients, and veterinary teams.


Unemployment rises, increasing need for low-cost care

Kaitlyn Mattson


A veterinarian with Banfield Pet Hospital delivers care to a patient. (Courtesy of Mars Veterinary Health)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 257, 1; 10.2460/javma.257.1.7


A VCA Animal Hospitals veterinary team member conducts a telehealth appointment. (Courtesy of Mars Veterinary Health)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 257, 1; 10.2460/javma.257.1.7


Veterinary professionals meet with patients in May at a pop-up clinic at the San Diego Convention Center, which was acting as a temporary shelter for over 1,000 homeless people and their pets. (Photos courtesy of Dr. Jon Geller)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 257, 1; 10.2460/javma.257.1.7

Dr. Jeff Rosenthal, chief executive officer at the Idaho Humane Society, has noticed an increase in the number of clients coming into the hospital who can't afford veterinary care. The increase is likely tied to the rise in unemployment caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have the impression that the people coming in are situationally under duress—the hopefully temporarily poor,” Dr. Rosenthal said. “Qualitatively, our impression is we have a whole lot more people in our communities who can't afford care.”

He sees similarities between what is happening now, as people continue to lose their jobs or are unable to find work, and what happened during the Great Recession.

“It is a general sense that people don't look low income on paper but have no money. Folks are coming to us for urgent care, and they're asking for reduced costs.”

How to provide access to affordable veterinary care for pet owners with financial needs or limitations has always been a dilemma for veterinarians, but the issue has only become more acute.

Nearly 40% of people who were working in February and had an annual household income below $40,000 reported a job loss in March, according to a Federal Reserve report released in May. The report is typically released yearly to summarize the financial standing of U.S. households, but the Federal Reserve released an addendum surveying people in April related to the impact of COVID-19.

The overall unemployment rate in the U.S. was just above 14% in April, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. By comparison, during the Great Recession in 2008, the annual mean U.S. jobless rate was 5.8%.

Dr. Kendall Houlihan, an assistant director in the AVMA Animal Welfare Division, said the AVMA is dedicated to supporting the veterinary profession by identifying novel ways to increase access to care.

“As COVID-19 continues, its health impacts as well as its financial impacts continue to be felt by veterinarians and by their clients,” she said. “That is why it is important for veterinarians to engage in creative strategies when working with clients to provide veterinary care for our patients, including offering various approaches to care as well as discussing options to pay for veterinary services that are provided.“

The American Veterinary Medical Foundation, the charitable arm of the AVMA, has seen a moderate increase in grant requests through its Veterinary Care Charitable Fund, a program that helps veterinarians offer services to clients facing hardships. The AVMF processed 90 grants in April.

Matthew Salois, PhD, chief economist in the AVMA Veterinary Economics Division, said tools for affordable veterinary care should be communicated before a pet is in the examination room.

“Discounting is an option, but is not ideal,” Dr. Salois said. “Instead, work with clients to inform them and help them understand other options including deferred payment, extended payment plans, and finance options like credit with possible preferred interest rates, and of course there is pet insurance.”


Other organizations have also noticed an increased need for financial assistance.

Nicole Forsyth, president and CEO of RedRover, an animal welfare organization, said the nonprofit is designed to help people and animals in crisis.

RedRover has seen a sizeable increase in the number of applicants for its RedRover Relief Urgent Care program, a $200 emergency grant. The organization received 76 applications for the first quarter. Currently, RedRover is receiving over 100 applications per week.

Forsyth said it is clear that the increase is related to the pandemic. “Most people mention COVID-19 in the application,” she said.

More information about RedRover's resources can be found at jav.ma/RedRover.

AlignCare, a subsidized veterinary care program out of the Program for Pet Health Equity at the University of Tennessee, rolled out in three cities before the pandemic, but the need for more low-cost care is causing the program to accelerate its operations.

Dr. Michael Blackwell, director of the PPHE, told JAVMA News in May that AlignCare is working to expand into Long Island, New York; Las Vegas; Reno, Nevada; and certain areas of California.

“Once we saw the growing impact of COVID-19, we decided to scale up,” he said.

AlignCare is accepting inquiries from interested practices in the locations mentioned. The program requires an affiliate veterinary practice to be willing to provide incremental levels of care, accept a discounted fee, work with a veterinary social worker, and use relevant technology when applicable. More information about AlignCare can be found at jav.ma/AlignCare.

Other organizations such as the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals are working to keep pets and families together.

Matt Bershadker, ASPCA president and CEO, said, “Even before the COVID-19 crisis, many low-income pet owners faced challenges accessing veterinary care for their pets, and the pandemic will only deepen that gap as more families struggle financially.”

To combat potential access-to-care issues during the pandemic, the ASPCA has deployed mobile clinics in New York City, Miami, Los Angeles, and Asheville, North Carolina, to provide urgent care to pets. The ASPCA had treated more than 2,000 animals through these services from March 17 through press time in mid-May.

The ASPCA has also launched the $5 million COVID-19 Relief & Recovery Initiative, which provides grants to animal welfare organizations in need of funds and provides pet food to those in need.

“While some of our own services have shifted or are temporarily closed to the public as a result of COVID-19, we have also expanded our work to meet the current needs of pet owners and the animal welfare community,” Bershadker said.


Dr. Rosenthal said nonprofits are used to ramping up their efforts when things get difficult in the greater society. That part isn't new.

However, while organizations are committed to assisting pet owners facing financial hardships, there is growing anxiety around whether the outpouring of support, including grants and financial assistance, can last forever.

Dr. Rosenthal said he has seen a lot of changes in his 20 years with the Idaho Humane Society, but the COVID-19 pandemic has created many unknowns and new developments.

“Long term, if the workload keeps being the same or more, at some point, you run out of resources,” he said. “It has never happened like this. This is new. This is unknown.”

Other relief efforts from organizations include the following:

  • • Stella & Chewy's donated nearly $530,000 worth of dog and cat food to the ASPCA for pet owners affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • • VCA Animal Hospitals is investing nearly $500,000 to support access to care for pet owners in financial distress, including offering free boarding to pets of essential human health care workers.

  • • The Banfield Foundation, the charitable arm of Banfield Pet Hospital, launched a COVID-19 Respond and Rebuild Grant to provide support for organizations helping pets receive care. Since April 1, the foundation has awarded more than $225,000 to organizations across the U.S., including a $10,000 grant to the Pima Animal Care Center in Arizona to help cover veterinary care for vulnerable pets. The foundation also is footing the bill for 3,000 to 5,000 telehealth calls for pet owners in need of assistance, working in partnership with shelter partners across the country.

  • • Mars donated $1 million in April to Humane Society International to fund programs in the countries most impacted by COVID-19.

  • • The Petco Foundation distributed $13 million to animal welfare organizations, including a donation to regional food banks operated by the ASPCA.

  • • The NYC COVID-19 Pet Hotline started operating in April to provide New York City pet owners with information and support for their pets during the pandemic.


A BluePearl Specialty and Emergency Pet Hospital veterinary team delivers curbside service during the COVID-19 pandemic. Mars, which owns BluePearl, donated $1 million in April to Humane Society International to fund programs in the countries most impacted by COVID-19. (Courtesy of Mars Veterinary Health)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 257, 1; 10.2460/javma.257.1.7


Many pet owners may be facing new financial hardships, but homeless pet owners have always faced challenges related to access to care.

Thanks to veterinarians such as Dr. Jon Geller, there is some help available.

He is founder of the Street Dog Coalition, a nonprofit organization that provides free care to the pets of the homeless in more than 40 cities across the U.S. He and other volunteers met with patients in May at a pop-up veterinary clinic at the San Diego Convention Center, which was acting as a temporary shelter for over 1,000 homeless people and their pets.

“It (the clinic) highlighted the need for more-extensive care,” Dr. Geller said. “We're scrambling to find funding.”

He said that there are emergency-related funding and grants available, but he's still looking for more veterinary clinics to partner with him and other street veterinarians.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the nonprofit has had to substantially scale back and adapt its street clinic services.

In Fort Collins, Colorado, volunteers had been working out of a truck bed in the parking lot of a local homeless shelter. That was until a cluster of clients tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 and even more for norovirus. Instead, the volunteers moved to using telemedicine to triage urgent cases.

“Unfortunately, these distancing protocols go against our values of direct human interaction, but they are obviously necessary for pets that need care,” according to the Street Dog Coalition website. “We are working with our Team Leads in other cities to develop safe protocols while prioritizing their safety, and that of their colleagues and families.”

While all communities continue to struggle with health and safety concerns because of COVID-19, Dr. Rosenthal said he is optimistic about how the veterinary community will come out of the pandemic.

“In these times, people prioritize their pets,” Dr. Rosenthal said. “That is always gratifying, and I know veterinarians are always hit by economic downturns, but the profession is resilient.”


BluePearl Specialty and Emergency Pet Hospital veterinary staff members transport a patient to the hospital during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Courtesy of Mars Veterinary Health)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 257, 1; 10.2460/javma.257.1.7


  • • Consider less-costly alternatives that are medically appropriate for patients.

  • • Offer a variety of payment plan options, and inform clients of options such as CareCredit.

  • • Participate in the American Veterinary Medical Foundation's Veterinary Charitable Care Fund to help cover pro bono cases.

  • • Refer owners who are struggling to afford care to local low-cost clinics.

  • • Research nonprofits and animal welfare organizations that may offer grants and funding options.

  • • Expand telemedicine services and use when medically appropriate.


The National Institutes of Health abruptly pulled funding from a U.S. nonprofit studying how coronaviruses in bats infect humans following reports that NIH grants were supporting a virology laboratory in Wuhan, China, the city where COVID-19 was first reported.

On April 24, the NIH informed the New York-based EcoHealth Alliance it was revoking the $3.7 million research grant on account of the alliance's ties to the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Moreover, the nonprofit was told to stop spending remaining funds of nearly $370,000 from its 2020 grant.

Conspiracy theories have circulated widely that the SARS-CoV-2 virus was engineered in the Wuhan laboratory.

President Trump and Secretary of State Michael Pompeo also implicated the Wuhan laboratory as the source of the COVID-19 pandemic. Scientists and U.S. intelligence agencies say no such evidence exists.

EcoHealth Alliance President Pete Daszak, PhD, has denied giving money to the Wuhan laboratory in 2020, adding that researchers from the facility have collaborated with alliance scientists on research supported by an earlier NIH grant.

In a statement responding to the NIH action, Dr. Daszak explained, “EcoHealth Alliance scientists come together from a diverse set of backgrounds and disciplines to better understand the viruses that threaten us and the human behaviors that allow their spillover.

“As a nonprofit organization, our work is supported by various sources, including U.S. federal funding agencies. In each of nearly 30 countries around the world where we work, we collaborate with local institutions, all of which are pre-approved by our federal funders.”

For several years, the EcoHealth Alliance has described coronaviruses as an immediate and potentially global public health threat.

During a 2003 interview with “60 Minutes,” Dr. Daszak said, “What worries me the most is that we are going to miss the next emerging disease, that we're suddenly going to find a SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) virus that moves from one part of the planet to another, wiping out people as it moves along.”

In a May 21 letter, dozens of Nobel laureates denounced the cancellation of funding as “a dangerous precedent” of federal interference that threatens public trust in the process by which the government funds scientific research. By abruptly revoking the grant, the NIH “deprives the nation and the world of highly regarded science that could help control one of the greatest health crises in modern history and those that may arise in the future,” the letter states.

The letter was organized by Nobel laureate Richard Roberts, PhD, chief scientific officer of New England Biolabs. “We are hoping the NIH will reconsider their decision, but if not, we are hoping that perhaps a private foundation will discover the story and step in to help support Dr. Daszak,” Dr. Roberts told JAVMA News.


Food and Drug Administration officials are asking that drug companies help them watch for pandemic-related delays in animal drug production.

In May, agency officials published guidance on why those companies should share information about the animal drug supply chain and what details companies should share. FDA officials published similar guidance in March for product supply chains in human medicine.

“Given that animal drug sponsors are most familiar with the supply chain affecting the manufacture, distribution, and sale of their animal drug products, FDA believes that animal drug sponsors are in the best position to analyze shortage situations related to their specific products,” the document states. “Information that is submitted to FDA will not be disclosed except in accordance with applicable disclosure law, which includes restrictions on the release of confidential commercial information and trade secrets.”

Sources of delays could include shortages of drug ingredients or problems within drug manufacturing facilities, the document states.

“Although some supply disruptions and shortages cannot be predicted or prevented, FDA recognizes that early communication and detailed notifications from sponsors to the agency play a significant role in decreasing their incidence, impact, and duration,” agency officials said in a related announcement.

The guidance applies to all animal drugs, regardless of whether the agency classifies them as medically necessary veterinary products.

When the guidance was published, the FDA was tracking 13 shortages of animal drugs with that classification. One of those shortages began in April 2020, with delays in manufacturing clindamycin oral liquid, whereas another eight started in 2019, and four started prior to 2019.

The guidance is available at jav.ma/COVIDshortage.

Testing delays put graduates in limbo

New veterinarians face examination scheduling issues amid pandemic-related closures

Kaitlyn Mattson

Taking the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination already comes with enough anxiety for soon-to-be veterinarians. An added layer of stress has come for some recent graduates who report having difficulties finding nearby testing locations with available dates in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In March, when shelter-in-place orders became widespread across the U.S., Dr. Layna Tarpalechee rescheduled her date for taking the NAVLE. She rescheduled again as the pandemic continued into April and May. As of press time in late May, she didn't have a testing date at all.

“Currently, it is all up in the air,” Dr. Tarpalechee, a recent graduate of Oklahoma State University College of Veterinary Medicine, said during an interview with JAVMA News in May. “We have been told to just keep checking the website, but that's it.”

Some veterinary graduates who failed the NAVLE initially or waited until April to take the examination are facing scheduling issues. Some are concerned about their futures as potential job start dates near. Passing the NAVLE is required for a veterinarian to become a licensed practitioner.

Dr. Ashley Iadonisi graduated from the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine in May and was in the process of moving to Georgia soon after. She hasn't been able to find any open testing slots near her new home, so she will likely look at surrounding states.

“The most disheartening thing about this is it is hard to stay focused,” Dr. Iadonisi said. “We're all scrambling and trying to find a solution, and it is all falling on deaf ears.”

Dr. Iadonisi said she has repeatedly tried calling Prometric Testing Centers, the company that administers the NAVLE throughout the U.S. and Canada, but has not been able to reach anyone. She says the International Council for Veterinary Assessment, the organization that manages the NAVLE, has responded and been helpful, but the ICVA can't control the testing centers.

Tom Warren, vice president of product line marketing for Prometric, said a limited number of testing centers have opened, but to adhere to social distancing guidelines, the number of available seats in each testing room has been reduced.

“We continue to evaluate options to increase appointment availability where we are open, including adding incremental days and hours of testing to support as many test takers as we can, under the circumstances,” Warren said. “Our priority will always be to ensure that individuals who appear for testing can have confidence in their personal safety and well-being while completing their assessments.”


Dr. Mary Montanye, a recent graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine, has been studying for the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination for over a year. She and others report having difficulties finding nearby testing locations with available dates in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Dr. Montanye)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 257, 1; 10.2460/javma.257.1.7

Dr. Heather Case, CEO of the ICVA, said all organizations involved with the NAVLE are working together to assist with rescheduling.

“The ICVA is responding to candidates who have not yet been able to take the NAVLE due to Prometric testing center closures as a result of COVID-19,” she said.

The NAVLE is traditionally an in-person, proctored examination. “Prometric Testing Centers allow the NAVLE to be globally administered in a secure, proctored environment,” Dr. Case said. “While delivery at veterinary schools may seem like a good solution, the NAVLE isn't designed or published for web-based testing delivery. Updating NAVLE forms for WBT delivery would take a significant amount of time and resources, something that would take a longer time frame and doesn't address the April 2020 testing window.”

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

The AVMA and Student AVMA are working with the American Association of Veterinary State Boards and state VMAs to encourage state licensing boards to develop a plan to accommodate recent graduates facing licensure challenges, according to an AVMA press release.


Dr. Mary Montanye, a 2020 graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine, has had eight different examination dates. She told JAVMA News in May that she was driving to Iowa to take the NAVLE because she couldn't find an open slot in Wisconsin.

When Dr. Montanye does take the test, she will be facing a different environment that includes requirements that all test takers wear masks during the eight-hour examination, practice social distancing within the facility, and stay inside the building until the examination is complete.

She doesn't blame anyone specifically for the test cancellations, but she is stressed.

“My place of work has been really nice and understanding, but it is super stressful because I don't know if I will be able to be a practicing veterinarian when I start my job. This determines if I will have my career,” Dr. Montanye said.

She isn't alone in that feeling. Dr. Iadonisi said she has been in contact with her clinic, which is letting her start as a veterinary technician until she can take the NAVLE.

“At least I can go to work and make some money,” she said.


Dr. Iadonisi said her dream solution would be for the ICVA to let students who failed within a certain margin pass the test retroactively. She failed by two points.

Dr. Case said, despite requests, it was not possible.

“We cannot change failing scores to passing scores as a way to mitigate testing constraints,” Dr. Case said. “The NAVLE passing score was determined through a rigorous process to help ensure that the NAVLE meets its obligations to licensing boards and the public.”

For now, all the graduates can do is keep studying. Most have spent the last year preparing for the examination.

Dr. Tarpalechee, who is going to work at a mixed animal practice in Oklahoma, will be able to work as a supervised veterinarian. She doesn't enjoy still having to worry about passing the NAVLE, but she said, “I try not to be discouraged, and I try not to let it get to me.


The COVID-19 pandemic could cost the U.S. $10 billion in National Institutes of Health-funded research.

NIH Director Francis S. Collins, MD, PhD, testified May 7 before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee in a hearing on efforts to improve and expand testing for the COVID-19 virus.

“If you add up what this is going to cost just in terms of the lost productivity, the need to keep people employed, the estimates are something like $10 billion of NIH-funded research is going to disappear because of the way in which this virus has affected everybody, requiring this kind of distancing and sending people home,” Dr. Collins said.

Dr. Collins delivered the estimate in response to questions from Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, who asked how the NIH planned to help scientists with shuttered research projects and graduate students with delays in program completion.

Sen. Cassidy said one Louisiana university spent $20 million extending research programs for graduate students. He noted that the NIH relaxed budgetary and spending guidelines and allowed no-cost extensions to grants and contracts but expressed concern those measures were insufficient.

Dr. Collins said the shutdowns in the nation's scientific enterprise were a heartache that extended to his own research laboratory, affecting scientists who planned to conduct experiments on diabetes and aging.

The NIH spends about $42 billion annually on medical research, according to agency information. It funds more than 60,000 research and training grants each year, supporting about 300,000 researchers at 2,500-plus institutions.


R. Scott Nolen

The 2003 outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome that claimed 774 lives was merely a prologue to the current COVID-19 pandemic, which had killed more than 356,000 people as of the end of May.

China's wet markets are once again implicated in a novel coronavirus leaping from one species to another, in this case, most likely from bat to human with the aid of an intermediary species. With the SARS virus, SARS-CoV, it was the Himalayan palm civet. With the COVID-19 virus, SARS-CoV-2, an intermediate host has yet to be determined, but the pangolin is among those suspected.

Both civets and pangolins are sold in wet markets, which sell perishable foods, throughout China and much of Asia—although fish and produce are reportedly more common.

U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo cited the “strong link between illegal wildlife sold in wet markets and zoonotic diseases” when on April 22 he called on China and members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to permanently close China's wildlife wet markets and all markets that illegally sell wildlife.

Australia is urging an international scientific investigation into the health risks associated with the wet markets.

“It only makes sense that we go and investigate these wildlife wet markets, to understand the risks that they pose to human health and also to biosecurity,” said David Littleproud, Australia's agriculture minister, according to news reports.

In February, China banned the trade and consumption of live wild animals for food.

Wildlife biologist Teresa Telecky, PhD, is skeptical about the resolve of Chinese leadership to keep the restrictions in place. Speaking during a May 13 teleconference, Dr. Telecky noted how China took similar steps during the 2003 SARS outbreak, only to reverse them once the crisis ended.

“Scientists warned us that these markets are a ticking time bomb,” said Dr. Telecky, the vice president of wildlife for Humane Society International. “You almost couldn't design a more perfect setting for animals to transmit diseases to people.”

Dr. Telecky described the markets as mixing dozens of wild and domestic animal species that are stressed and malnourished in unsanitary conditions. For the past 40 years, China has encouraged wildlife farming and trade, resulting in roughly 20,000 wild animal breeding operations and a $20 billion industry, she said.

HSI believes that a permanent ban on the trade, transport, and consumption of wildlife in China will reduce the risk of another pandemic. On April 7, World Health Day, HSI petitioned 188 governments to implement such bans.

The group has also asked the World Health Organization to advise member countries about the risks to human health and the global economy that the wildlife trade poses and urge those countries to ban the practice.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD, director-general of the WHO, has expressed qualified support for reopening wet markets, however.

“WHO's position is that when these markets are allowed to reopen, it should only be on the condition that they conform to stringent food safety and hygiene standards,” Dr. Tedros said in late April. “Governments must rigorously enforce bans on the sale and trade of wildlife for food.” On May 19, Sens. Chris Coons of Delaware and Lindsay Graham of South Carolina introduced the Global Wildlife Health and Pandemic Prevention Act in the U.S. Senate. The bill directs the State and Agriculture departments and several agencies to identify which species and practices in live wildlife markets are most likely to ignite a zoonotic disease outbreak and to leverage international diplomacy to close such markets. The president would be able to sanction nations that continue harboring high-risk wildlife markets.

Additionally, the legislation would require U.S. agencies to coordinate their approach to zoonotic disease preparedness, minimize the human-wildlife interface by protecting ecosystems, and reduce demand among food-insecure communities that currently depend on wildlife.

Coons, a Democrat, said in a statement, “The close and unnatural contact between humans and wildlife poses a serious risk for outbreak of new diseases like the one we are dealing with today. Our priority right now is to recover from the current crisis, but we also need to take the right steps to ensure that we stop the next pandemic before it starts.”

In the same statement, Graham, a Republican, said the nation has been focused on how to recover from the virus. “There is another question though, equally urgent, that demands our attention: How can we prevent this from happening again?” he said. “Governments in Asia and elsewhere should immediately shut down markets that sell high-risk wildlife for human consumption and fully enforce laws already on the books to end the global illegal trade in wildlife.”


R. Scott Nolen

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has mobilized its national network of veterinary diagnostic laboratories to assist the nation with its SARS-CoV-2 testing needs.

As of early May, the USDA National Veterinary Services Laboratory had confirmed infections with the COVID-19 virus in four animals, all in New York state: a tiger and lion at the Bronx Zoo and two pet cats. All the animals recovered, said Dr. Mia Kim Torchetti, director of the NVSL Diagnostic Virology Laboratory. In late May, the NVSL stated it was unable to verify infection in a Pug in North Carolina.

Dr. Torchetti was speaking during a May 6 Zoonoses and One Health Update phone call with representatives of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Public Health Service, and USDA.

She highlighted the preparedness of the National Animal Health Laboratory Network, which comprises 60 laboratories in 42 states. Twenty-seven of the facilities are capable of testing for SARS-CoV-2 in animals. Of those, seven are certified to also test human samples for the virus.

“Together, these labs have the capacity to provide more than 12,000 PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests within 24 hours,” Dr. Torchetti said.

Since the May 6 phone call, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services certified an eighth veterinary laboratory for SARS-CoV-2 testing in human samples. The Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory in Amarillo announced on May 27 it had been approved to conduct such testing by the HHS's Clinical Laboratory Improvements Amendment program.

While routine testing of animals for SARS-CoV-2 is not recommended by the USDA, CDC, or AVMA, approximately 150 animals had been tested at laboratories in the laboratory network, Dr. Torchetti explained.

Roughly 80% of tested animals were dogs, cats, and ferrets, Dr. Torchetti said, and most were thought to be infected with the virus. Those that weren't showing signs of infection were associated with a person confirmed or suspected to have COVID-19.

Other animal species have been tested. “Recently published research shows that nonhuman primates, cats, ferrets, and gold hamsters can be experimentally infected with COVID-19 and spread the infection to animals of the same species in laboratory settings,” said Dr. Casey Barton Behravesh, director of the CDC One Health Office and lead for the agency's COVID-19 One Health Working Group, speaking on the Zoonoses and One Health Update call.

“Of note, pigs, chickens, and a duck did not become infected, based on the results of these studies.”

Dr. Behravesh explained that the findings come from a small number of animals and don't indicate whether the animals can spread the infection to people.

There's no evidence that SARS-CoV-2 is present in U.S. wildlife, including bats, she said. Also, it isn't clear whether the new coronavirus would sicken North American bat species.

“It appears that the virus that causes COVID-19 can spread from people to animals in some situations,” Dr. Behravesh said. “At this time, there is no evidence animals play a significant role in spreading SARS-CoV-2.

“Based on limited information available to date, the risk of animals spreading the virus to people is considered low.”

People: Remembering veterinarians who have died during the pandemic

Family, friends reflect on practitioners' lives before the pandemic

Kaitlyn Mattson

The virus that causes COVID-19 had infected nearly 5 million people around the world and killed about 322,000 as of late May. The virus has left no area untouched, including the veterinary profession. The following stories represent just two of the people who have died during this pandemic. Their obituaries can be found in this issue (see page 28)


Dr. Peter Sakas (Illinois '83), a staff veterinarian at the Animal Hospital and Bird Medical Center in Niles, Illinois, died on March 30 of COVID-19. In his work, he focused on wildlife veterinary medicine. Those who knew him say he was charismatic, had a big personality, and cared deeply for his clients and their animals.

“He had such a loyal following that there were clients who would drive in several hours from out of state just to see him for an appointment,” said his daughter, Courtney Sakas, MD. “My uncle recently shared a story that Elizabeth Taylor once sent her bird in a limousine to my father's clinic to be seen by him.”

Dr. Courtney Sakas said her father was an active member of the veterinary community. He traveled frequently to conferences, veterinary colleges, and local elementary schools. He had high school students shadow him on Saturdays so they could learn about veterinary medicine firsthand.

Dr. Peter Sakas specialized in avian veterinary medicine. In fact, birds were the whole reason he became a veterinarian. Dr. Sakas found a small, injured bird when he was young and tried to nurture it back to health.

“He carried that same compassion through his entire career,” Dr. Courtney Sakas said. “He often took on cases that others would consider hopeless because he firmly believed that all animals have souls and deserve to be given a chance.”

Dr. Peter Sakas even wrote a book on how to care for birds, “Essentials of Avian Medicine: A Guide for Practitioners.”

Dr. Sakas had no plans to retire. He wanted to keep working. Then he started showing symptoms March 20.

“There has been a lot of attention on human health care front-line workers, but I think people often forget that veterinarians are front-line health care workers too,” Dr. Courtney Sakas said. “My father told us that he was never going to retire because he loved his job so much. I knew he was going to continue working as long as he possibly could to keep caring for the clients and animals he loved, even if it meant putting himself at risk.”


Dr. Julie R. Butler (Cornell '83), founder of 145th Street Animal Hospital in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City, died on April 4.

She was the only black person in her class, an experience she described as “bittersweet,” according to her sister, Sheila Butler, MD.


Dr. Peter Sakas, a staff veterinarian at the Animal Hospital and Bird Medical Center in Niles, Illinois, focused on wildlife veterinary medicine. (Courtesy of Courtney Sakas, MD)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 257, 1; 10.2460/javma.257.1.7

In her professional life, Dr. Julie Butler was the kind of veterinarian who never turned away an animal.

Dr. Butler co-founded New York Save Animals in Veterinary Emergency, a nonprofit organization that provides financial assistance for pets that need emergency care. She also served as president of the VMA of New York City. She spent over 30 years serving the Harlem community, and she used her experience to educate and mentor other veterinary professionals.

Dr. Butler was a lifelong student. She loved to expand her knowledge both in veterinary medicine and as an artist.

“It was amazing to see how fast she could acquire a new skill,” said Alex Howard, a chef and Dr. Butler's son. “She was even beginning to master Thai cooking. … We experimented a lot and created a lot of great meals together.“

Dr. Butler also created felt sculptures, designed clothing, made jewelry, and made an excellent lemon meringue pie.

“For Thanksgiving and New Year's Day, everybody would wait for the pie to be done so they could enjoy it or maybe even take some home,” Howard said.

Kylie Lang, a veterinary technician, said Dr. Butler was a role model who made work enjoyable.

“Dr. Butler was the kind of veterinarian who cared a great deal about her work and (its) impact on others,” she said.

Lang said Dr. Butler was outspoken and humorous.

“She displayed a rare confidence that took comfort in the unknown,” said Zachary Butler-Jones, her nephew and a veterinary technician. “She would reference necessary texts, make a game plan, and follow through with the procedure, even if she never did it before. That confidence would never spill into arrogance, though, and she made sure to always have her ducks in row when it came to her patients.”


Dr. Julie R. Butler was the founder of 145th Street Animal Hospital in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City. (Courtesy of Zora Howard)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 257, 1; 10.2460/javma.257.1.7


Dr. Robert L. Leighton, a charter diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons who for nearly two decades taught surgery at the University of California-Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, died Jan. 22, 2020, just shy of his 103rd birthday. He was an honor roll member of the AVMA.

Born Feb. 27, 1917, in Boston, Dr. Leighton attended the University of Pennsylvania and graduated with a veterinary degree in 1941. Afterward, he interned at Angell Animal Medical Center in Boston before being hired there as a junior staff surgeon. He subsequently served two years in the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps during World War II.

From 1944–56, Dr. Leighton was chief of surgery at what is now known as the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals' Angell Animal Medical Center-Western New England in Springfield, Massachusetts. He moved in 1956 to New York City to be chief of surgery at what is now the Animal Medical Center. Dr. Leighton helped design the AMC building that opened in 1962 on East 62nd Street.

Known as an innovative surgeon, Dr. Leighton designed surgical instruments and orthopedic implants fabricated by his father, a machinist, including the Leighton shuttle pin for stabilizing distal ulnar fractures.

In 1965, Dr. Leighton joined the veterinary faculty at UC-Davis. He was instrumental in establishing the American College of Veterinary Surgeons as a charter member that same year. Dr. Leighton taught veterinary surgery and provided orthopedic surgical care at UC-Davis until his retirement as a professor emeritus in 1982.

Dr. Leighton authored or co-authored numerous book chapters, scientific articles, and textbooks, including “Small Animal Orthopedics,” “A Compendium of Small Animal Surgery,” and “Radiology of Small Animal Fracture Management.”

During his later years, Dr. Leighton wrote children's stories that he read to schoolchildren in Davis, California. On the basis of his veterinary experiences, he authored “Dog Stories for Spencer” for his grandson Spencer to encourage children to read and learn about dogs.

Dr. Leighton was preceded in death by his wife, Jeanette, and is survived by a son and two grandchildren.


Dr. Robert L. Leighton

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 257, 1; 10.2460/javma.257.1.7



Dr. Butler (Cornell '83), 62, New York City, died April 4, 2020. She owned 145th Street Animal Hospital, a small animal practice in New York City, since 1989. Prior to that, Dr. Butler worked for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in New York City. She was a co-founder and a past co-vice president of New York Save Animals in Veterinary Emergency, a nonprofit providing financial assistance to New York residents with pets in need of emergency care. A past president of the VMA of New York City, Dr. Butler was honored with the association's Outstanding Service to Veterinary Medicine Award in 2007.

She served on the board of directors for Lutheran Social Services of New York and co-founded the South African Harlem Voices Choir. Dr. Butler is survived by her husband, Claude Howard; a son and a daughter; and a sister and three brothers. Memorials may be made to The Brotherhood/Sister Sol, an organization providing essential services to the youth of New York City, and sent to 140 Hamilton Place, New York, NY 10031, brotherhood-sistersol.org/support/donate.


Dr. France (Auburn '58), 89, Mayo, Florida, died Feb. 24, 2020. He practiced mixed animal medicine in Florida's Lafayette County for almost 30 years. Prior to that, Dr. France worked in Sarasota, Florida. In retirement, he volunteered with the U.S. Forest Service. Dr. France was an Air Force veteran of the Korean War. He is survived by his wife, Claire; a son and two daughters; five grandchildren; a great-grandchild; and a sister.


Dr. Hines (Ohio State '53), 92, Highland Haven, Texas, died March 3, 2020. He was the founder of Adams Marquette Veterinary Service in Oxford, Wisconsin, where he practiced mixed animal medicine for more than 50 years. Active in organized veterinary medicine, Dr. Hines was a past chairman of the Wisconsin Veterinary Examining Board, a past member of the AVMA Animal Welfare Committee, and a past director of the American Association of Bovine Practitioners. He was a member of the Wisconsin VMA and was active with the Wisconsin Hereford Association, National Institute for Animal Agriculture, Marquette County Farm Bureau, Wisconsin AgriBusiness Association, and 4-H.

Dr. Hines was elected to the Wisconsin State Assembly in 2001 and represented the 42nd district for seven years. During that time, he chaired the former Public Health Committee. Dr. Hines served on the board of directors of the School District of Westfield and was a member of the Oxford Lions Club. An Army veteran of World War II, he was also a member of Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Dr. Hines was named WVMA Veterinarian of the Year in 1995 and received an Ohio State Alumni Recognition Award in 2003. His wife, Pamela; three daughters and two sons; 12 grandchildren; eight great-grandchildren; and a sister survive him. Dr. Hines' practice in Oxford is now owned by his son, Dr. Steven Hines, a 1987 veterinary graduate of the University of Pretoria in South Africa. Memorials may be made to First Presbyterian Church, 210 S. Miller St., Oxford, WI 53952.


Dr. Lamp (Texas A&M ‘51), 95, Bellville, Texas, died March 25, 2020. He owned Bellville Veterinary Clinic, a mixed animal practice, for 59 years, after which his son, Dr. Ted M. Lamp (Texas A&M ‘79), took over. Dr. James Lamp continued to work at the practice until 2016. He was a past president of the Brazos Valley and Bluebonnet VMAs and was a past director of the Texas VMA. In 2010, the TVMA honored Dr. Lamp's practice with a Texas Veterinary Heritage Practice Award.

He was a member of the Austin County Beef and Forage Committee and was an honorary member of the National FFA Organization. Dr. Lamp served on the Bellville Independent School District Board for 15 years. A 50-year member of the Bellville Lions Club, he was named Lions Club Citizen of the Year in 1969. In 2002, the Bellville Chamber of Commerce honored Dr. Lamp with the Commerce Award. A veteran of the Army Air Force, he was a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Dr. Lamp is survived by his son and two daughters, four grandchildren and five step-grandchildren, four great-grandchildren and six step great-grandchildren, and a sister. Memorials may be made to Austin County A&M Club Scholarship Fund, P.O. Box 561, Bellville, TX 77418.


Dr. Matthews (Illinois '60), 86, Bethalto, Illinois, died Feb. 18, 2020. He owned Rosewood Pet Hospital, a small animal practice in Rosewood Heights, Illinois, for 51 years prior to retirement in 2014. Previously, Dr. Matthews practiced at Hawthorne Animal Hospital in Edwardsville, Illinois. His wife, Gloria; three daughters and a son; 13 grandchildren; and 13 great-grandchildren survive him. Memorials may be made to the Alton Area Animal Aid Association, 4530 N. Alby St., Godfrey, IL 62035.


Dr. Pahle (Iowa State '54), 91, New Berlin, Wisconsin, died March 4, 2020. He owned Pahle Small Animal Clinic in West Allis, Wisconsin, for more than 40 years. Earlier, Dr. Pahle worked in Iowa for two years. He was a past president of the American Animal Hospital Association and Wisconsin VMA. In 1975, Dr. Pahle was named WVMA Veterinarian of the Year. He was a co-recipient of Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine's Stange Award for Meritorious Service in Veterinary Medicine in 1986. In 1989, Dr. Pahle was named AAHA's Charles E. Bild Practitioner of the Year.

He was a past president of the West Allis Rotary Club and volunteered at the YMCA. Dr. Pahle served in the Army and was part of the Allied occupation force in Japan after World War II. He is survived by his wife, Clarice; two sons and four daughters; 13 grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren. Memorials may be made to The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research, Grand Central Station, P.O. Box 4777, New York, NY 10163, or Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine, Ames, IA 50011.


Dr. Sakas (Illinois '83), 67, Northbrook, Illinois, died March 30, 2020. Following graduation, he joined Niles Animal Hospital and Bird Medical Center in Niles, Illinois, as a staff veterinarian. In 1985, Dr. Sakas took ownership of the hospital, where he practiced mixed animal medicine, focusing on avian medicine. During his career, he also served as veterinarian for Flint Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation in Barrington, Illinois; worked with the Garrido Stray Rescue Foundation and Cook County Forest Preserve District in Chicago; was an adjunct professor at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine; and lectured at various veterinary colleges nationwide.

Dr. Sakas authored the book “Essentials of Avian Medicine: A Guide for Practitioners” and authored the avian section of the book “Exotic Formulary, 2nd Edition.” He served on the editorial board for the magazine Veterinary Forum and contributed to PetVet Magazine. Dr. Sakas was a member of the Illinois State VMA and was a former member of its Education Committee.

He is survived by his wife, Karen; a son and a daughter; and a sister and two brothers. Memorials, toward the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine Companion Animal Memorial Fund, may be sent to the University of Illinois Foundation, Harker Hall, 1305 W. Green St., Urbana, IL 61801, jav.ma/companionanimalfund.


Dr. Thompson (Texas A&M '78), 71, Imperial, Nebraska, died March 23, 2020. During his 40-year career practicing mixed animal medicine, he worked in Texas and southwest Nebraska, including founding and serving as a partner at Veterinary Services in Imperial. Dr. Thompson later worked as a technical services veterinarian for what was known as Newport Laboratories, based in Worthington, Minnesota. He was a veteran of the Navy. Dr. Thompson is survived by his wife, Jodi; a son; three grandchildren; his parents; and two sisters and a brother.


Dr. Wall (North Carolina State '89), 66, Sylva, North Carolina, died Feb. 6, 2020. A small animal veterinarian, he co-owned Sylva Animal Hospital for more than 20 years. Dr. Wall was a veteran of the Army. His sister survives him. Memorials may be made to Humane Society of Jackson County, P.O. Box 298, Sylva, NC 28779, arfhumane.org, or may be made to Catman2 Inc., a no-kill rescue shelter for felines, and sent to P.O. Box 2344, Cullowhee, NC 28723, catman2.org.


Dr. Warner-Hough (Kansas State '68), 76, Coffeyville, Kansas, died Nov. 14, 2019. She owned Animal Health Clinic, a small animal practice in Coffeyville, prior to retirement in 2017. Dr. Warner-Hough also raised Quarter Horses. A member of the Kansas VMA, she received its Distinguished Service Award in 2013. Dr. Warner-Hough is survived by a son, a daughter, nine grandchildren, a sister, and a brother. Memorials, toward Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine, may be sent c/o David W. Barnes Funeral Home, 306 N. Cline Road, Coffeyville, KS 67337.


Dr. Yoho (Minnesota '68), 84, Stillwater, Minnesota, died March 11, 2020. He was a co-founder and partner at Stillwater Equine Veterinary Clinic and Stillwater Veterinary Clinic. Dr. Yoho trained and showed hunting dogs and bred, trained, and raced Thoroughbreds. His wife, Carole; a son and a daughter; four grandchildren; and a brother survive him. Memorials, toward the College of Veterinary Medicine Class of 1968 Scholarship Fund, may be sent to the University of Minnesota Foundation, 200 Oak St. SE, Suite 500, Minneapolis, MN 55455.