JAVMA News

IN SHORT

CATS WITH FELV SURVIVE MUCH LONGER IF THEY HAVE LESS P27 ANTIGEN, PROVIRAL DNA

In cats infected with feline leukemia virus, p27 antigen concentration and number of proviral DNA copies have been associated with the course of infection. A new study found that cats with high p27 antigen concentration and a high number of proviral DNA copies survived a median of 1.37 years from enrollment, whereas 93.1% of low-positive cats were still alive after four years.

The study, published in February in the journal Viruses and available at jav.ma/felv, was conducted by researchers at Idexx Laboratories Inc.; Austin Pets Alive in Austin, Texas; and the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine.

The researchers enrolled 254 cats that were tested for p27 antigen and proviral DNA with Idexx tests. The 127 FeLV-positive cats were retested monthly for six months and monitored for survival over the four-year study.

Samples were analyzed to establish cutoff values. A significant difference in survival was observed when the cutoff values were applied to test results at enrollment to classify cats as high positive or low positive.

Last year, the American Association of Feline Practitioners updated its Feline Retrovirus Testing and Management Guidelines, which are available at catvets.com/retroviruses.

VETERINARIAN SENTENCED FOR SELLING PERFORMANCE-ENHANCING DRUGS FOR RACEHORSES

Dr. Scott Robinson of Tampa, Florida, was sentenced to 18 months in prison exactly a year after he and others were indicted for participating in a widespread horse-doping scheme.

Dr. Robinson pleaded guilty on Sept. 16, 2020, to sourcing chemicals used to create custom performance-enhancing drugs intended for racehorses and shipping those drugs to customers across the country. Among the drugs were blood builders to increase red blood cell counts and customized analgesics to deaden a horse's nerves and block pain.

“Scott Robinson created and profited from a system designed to exploit racehorses in the pursuit of speed and prize money, risking their safety and wellbeing,” U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said in a March 9 Justice Department statement. “Robinson sold unsanitary, misbranded, and adulterated drugs, and misled and deceived regulators and law enforcement in the process.”

From 2011 until early 2020, Dr. Robinson worked with others to manufacture, sell, and ship millions of dollars' worth of adulterated and misbranded equine drugs. He sold these drugs through several direct-to-consumer websites designed to appeal to racehorse trainers and owners.

Dr. Robinson forfeited nearly $4 million and will be under supervised release for three years after getting out of prison.

MIZZOU'S VETERINARY COLLEGE RECEIVES $11M

An $11 million contribution to the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine will establish the Dr. Glenn R. and Nancy A. Linnerson Imaging Center, which will further comparative and translational medicine research at MU.

The estate gift, announced March 8 by the university, came from the late Dr. Linnerson (Missouri '54) and his wife, Nancy Linnerson, who graduated with a degree in human environmental sciences from Mizzou the same year. It is the single largest gift in the veterinary college's history, according to a university press release.

“Together with the MU Research Reactor and the upcoming NextGen Precision Health building, these facilities will help accelerate new pharmaceutical drugs and biomedical devices to improve patient care,” said Mun Choi, PhD, University of Missouri president, in the release.

The Linnersons were passionate about comparative and translational medicine, with a particular interest in prostate cancer and comparative oncology.

“The imaging equipment that this endowment will allow us to acquire will not only improve diagnostic capabilities for treating animal patients, but also has the potential to capitalize on Mizzou's existing strengths and resources, like the MU Research Reactor, to expand medical studies,” said Kevin Lunceford, supervisor of the Veterinary Health Center's radiology service, in the release. “Simply put, this gift will save lives.”

Seresto collars come under greater scrutiny

Elanco defends product, experts remain comfortable with their use

By Greg Cima

Recent reports from pet owners of adverse events attributed to a popular brand of flea and tick collars have gained national attention.

The manufacturer has defended the collars as safe and effective, and veterinary experts say they have seen no cause for alarm. Meanwhile, federal regulators remind the public that these types of adverse event reports do not necessarily show a product was the cause of harm.

Seresto collars, developed by Bayer and now manufactured and sold by Elanco Animal Health, contain two pesticides: imidacloprid, which is a neonicotinoid, and flumethrin, which is a pyrethroid. The collars are regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency, which regulates most flea and tick products applied to a pet's skin or fur, such as collars and spot-on products.

On March 2, USA Today and the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting published findings that the EPA has received more than 75,000 incident reports involving Seresto collars since they were first introduced in 2012. Those reports included 1,700 deaths of pets and about 1,000 incidents of harm to humans.

Elanco characterized the media coverage as misleading, pointing out that more than 25 million of the collars have been sold in the U.S. and that the products have been reviewed by more than 80 regulatory authorities around the world. The company added that data generated for the product's registration and obtained through postmarket surveillance indicate the product is safe and effective and argued that there was no medical or scientific basis for a recall.

Yet, on March 17, the U.S. House Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy called for Elanco Animal Health to “immediately institute a temporary recall of all Seresto flea and tick collars, following reports that the collars may have killed thousands of pets and may have caused injuries to many more pets as well as humans.” Subcommittee Chair Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi of Illinois said in a letter to Elanco CEO Jeff Simmons that members of the subcommittee believe the numbers of injuries and deaths are much greater than reported because most consumers would not know to report the incidents to the EPA.

The subcommittee also called for Elanco to provide plans for recalls and refunds, copies of all complaints and administrative or legal actions regarding allegations of harm to people or animals associated with the collars, copies of communications involving product safety, and U.S. sales figures.

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A flea and tick collar on a dog

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 258, 9; 10.2460/javma.258.9.915

“Elanco is cooperating with the Subcommittee's request and looks forward to explaining how the media reports on this topic have been widely refuted by toxicologists and veterinarians,” the company response states. “Elanco believes that any further reporting on these matters should be based on the relevant science and facts.”

MANY ILLNESS REPORTS ANECDOTAL

Although Elanco states that postmarket surveillance indicates Seresto collars are safe, pet owners have posted online in the past few years that they blame the collars for problems ranging from vomiting, loss of appetite, and rashes to seizures, dizziness, weakness, and death. Some owners took to registering their complaints with the EPA as well.

Experts note that anyone can file an incident report with the EPA, which also receives incident reports from pesticide makers and the National Pesticide Information Center. Agency officials track incident reports through the EPA Incident Data System, review reports to determine when regulatory action is needed, and use that information during reviews of active ingredients in pesticides to ensure they pose no unreasonable risks to human health or the environment. When a product is the subject of a high number of reports, EPA officials ask product registrants for more information or to further investigate the incidents, according to an agency statement from EPA spokesperson Ken Labbe. He also said the EPA cannot confirm or refute claims that the agency has received an unusually high number of incident reports related to Seresto collars, compared with the numbers of reports for other pesticides applied to pets. But agency officials take each incident report seriously.

“Some incidents are well-investigated and reported in such a way as to establish a strong link between the adverse effect and the exposure,” the EPA statement says. “On the other hand, many other reports do not include enough facts to clearly demonstrate causation.

“Many of the reports are anecdotal, with no indication of whether the user followed label use instructions or used a product appropriate for the pet type and size. Generally, however, there is no process for verifying the information in reports.”

Elanco Animal Health spokesperson Keri McGrath provided a statement that the adverse event reports are raw data, not reliable medical information vetted by pharmacovigilance experts. Some of the reports involving Seresto collars describe incidents in which the collars were clearly unrelated to the pet's ailments, according to the statement. McGrath cited as an example a report filed about a Seresto collar placed on a dog a few months before its arthritis became debilitating, leading to the dog's euthanasia.

The company statement also indicates the reported rate of all adverse events related to Seresto collars is 0.3%, and more than 90% of those incidents relate to minor effects such as skin issues at the application site.

MOST ILLNESSES MINOR

Dr. Renee Schmid, who is a veterinary toxicologist and senior consulting veterinarian for the Pet Poison Helpline, said hotline operators had received about 400 calls involving Seresto collars since January 2015. The vast majority involved pets that ingested collars, typically dogs that ate their collars or chewed a housemate's collar.

About 60% developed clinical signs, and about 90% of those with clinical signs vomited, she said. Some also developed diarrhea or mild lethargy.

“Overall, the majority of pets had only mild signs,” she said. “Serious signs were not common.”

Dr. Schmid and colleagues at the hotline consider the low concentration of flumethrin to be safe in dogs and cats and unlikely to cause more than mild gastrointestinal upset if ingested, she said. Imidacloprid also has a wide safety margin, she said. Differences in receptor binding properties make insects more vulnerable than mammals to imidacloprid.

“Both of these products really have a nice safety margin,” she said.

Some pets and people can have higher sensitivities to a pesticide, she said. But, based on the toxicological profile of the Seresto collars and calls to the hotline, she said, “We feel very comfortable with this particular product and its use in animals.”

COUNTERFEITS MAY BE CONTRIBUTING TO REPORTS

Dr. Adriano Vatta is an associate professor of parasitology at the Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine and secretary-treasurer of the American Association of Veterinary Parasitologists. He and his wife, Dr. Ruey Stocking, who owns Red Barn Cat Clinic in Richland, Michigan, have had good experiences using the collars to protect their outdoor cats from ticks.

Dr. Vatta said some cats wearing Seresto collars may develop skin irritation, but he wondered whether counterfeit collars might be linked with many of the reports to the EPA. He also said collars stored improperly, applied incorrectly, or used past their expiration dates could cause problems.

“There are apparently a lot of counterfeit collars out there that people order online and that either have no effect or are potentially very toxic,” he said. “And I've seen one of these collars that are counterfeit, because a client of my wife's brought one in, and she had to explain that it was counterfeit.”

Elanco Animal Health announcements also indicate counterfeit products have been sources of adverse event reports and encourage people to buy from authorized retailers.

Dr. Vatta sees an opportunity to encourage pet owners to buy parasite control products through their veterinarians.

“If there's a problem with the product, they have recourse to the veterinarian, who then has recourse to the company to help address the problem,” he said.

THIRD COVID RELIEF BILL HELPS VETERINARIANS

The $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package signed into law March 11 includes several AVMA-backed provisions critical to supporting veterinary professionals and preventing another pandemic.

These include tax benefits for qualified educational loan borrowers, support for small-business programs such as the Paycheck Protection Program, and funding for SARS-CoV-2 monitoring and surveillance.

The relief package, known as the American Rescue Plan Act, temporarily provides tax-free treatment of forgiven debt for qualified educational loans discharged Dec. 31, 2020, through Jan. 1, 2026. Qualified loans generally include those guaranteed by the federal government.

Forthcoming regulations from the Internal Revenue Service will clarify how the provision applies to veterinary borrowers, especially those in income-based repayment programs. The provision also applies to debt forgiveness through future legislation, administration action, or action by educational institutions within the given time frame.

The American Rescue Plan Act also expands and extends many of the AVMA's veterinary small-business priorities, including providing an additional $15 billion for targeted Economic Injury Disaster Loans and PPP grants to additional nonprofits.

The act extends the Employee Retention Tax Credit through Dec. 31, 2021, and the fully refundable paid family and medical leave tax credit to Sept. 30, 2021, for employers that voluntarily offer paid leave to their employees.

The new law also contains AVMA-supported language that provides $300 million for monitoring and surveillance of susceptible animals for infection with SARS-CoV-2.

Other provisions of note include:

  • • $7.5 billion for COVID vaccine distribution.

  • • $48.3 billion for testing, contact tracing, and other steps to combat the virus.

  • • $39.6 billion for higher education to provide emergency financial aid grants for students, as well as cover revenue losses and increased costs related to COVID-19.

  • • $1,400 stimulus checks per individual and dependents subject to certain income caps.

  • • Extension of federal unemployment insurance of $300 per week until Sept. 6, 2021, including a $10,200 tax exclusion for tax year 2020, subject to income limitations.

Visit the AVMA's COVID-19 resource center at jav.ma/CorRel for additional details on legislation and relief programs related to COVID-19.

AVMA CELEBRATING WHAT PETS HAVE MEANT TO PEOPLE DURING PANDEMIC

The AVMA will be celebrating National Pet Week 2021, held this year from May 2–8, with a special emphasis on the role of the human-animal bond during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Association will have a video about what pets have meant to people during the pandemic and a webinar on AVMA Axon about the latest science on the human-animal bond, featuring Dr. Douglas Kratt, AVMA president, and members of the AVMA Steering Committee on Human-Animal Interactions.

At the beginning of National Pet Week, the Association plans a My Hero day of thanks to pet heroes, inviting pet owners to post salutes to their pets that have helped them throughout the pandemic. The AVMA will put together a collage of tributes toward the end of the week.

Created in 1981, National Pet Week aims to foster responsible pet ownership, recognize the human-animal bond, and increase public awareness of the value of veterinary medicine. The annual event was created by the AVMA along with the Auxiliary to the AVMA, which is primarily made up of the spouses of AVMA members.

The AVMA has chosen a theme for each day of National Pet Week, starting with selecting the right pet for the family. The focus for each day is as follows:

Day 1—Choose well, commit for life.

Day 2—Socialize now. New doesn't have to be scary.

Day 3—Nutrition and exercise matter.

Day 4—Love your pet? See your vet!

Day 5—Travel with care.

Day 6—Emergencies happen. Be prepared.

Day 7—Plan for their care. Give them a lifetime of love.

The AVMA plans to offer updated videos with tips on nutrition, socialization, and how to best give pets a lifetime of care for a lifetime of love.

More information about National Pet Week is available at avma.org/petweek. Members of the AVMA can access the National Pet Week toolkit at the same site. The toolkit provides images and posts for social media, suggestions for how clinics can celebrate the event, ideas for promotional marketing, and resources for each daily theme.

SAVMA SYMPOSIUM GOES TO KANSAS, VIRTUALLY

By Kaitlyn Mattson

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The recently installed Student AVMA Executive Board is the most racially and ethnically diverse in SAVMA history. (Courtesy of Hidayah Martinez-Jaka)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 258, 9; 10.2460/javma.258.9.915

For the first time ever, the Student AVMA held its annual symposium virtually. The event offered veterinary students over 90 lectures and more than 30 laboratories from March 12–15. Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine hosted the symposium, which included other virtual events such as a career fair, poster sessions, and an exhibit hall as well as networking and social opportunities.

The four-day event had 1,680 registered attendees and also included the SAVMA House of Delegates meeting and installation of the new SAVMA Executive Board.

Last year, the symposium was canceled, including lectures and laboratories, because of the COVID-19 pandemic and only SAVMA HOD and presidents meetings occurred.

EDUCATIONAL OFFERINGS

The symposium featured two keynote speakers. Temple Grandin, PhD, discussed understanding animal behavior and reducing stress. Dr. Grandin, a designer of livestock handling facilities for meat plants, wrote the original recommended animal handling guidelines for the North American Meat Institute. The guidelines are used to assess animal welfare in beef, pork, and lamb abattoirs. Dr. Grandin is an animal science professor at Colorado State University, which named its recently constructed Temple Grandin Equine Center after her; a second location is currently being built at the CSU Spur campus in Denver.

Dr. Bonnie Rush, dean of the K-State veterinary college, spoke about work-life balance for leaders. Dr. Rush became a faculty member at K-State in 1993. She is a diplomate of the American College of Large Animal Internal Medicine. Dr. Rush has developed national standards in veterinary education and has initiated a student wellness program that has been widely adopted.

The symposium separated its sessions into seven tracks for attendees, including topics such as production animal, zoo and wildlife, research, and sustainability.

AWARDS

SAVMA recognized several faculty members for their work. Dr. Brian G. Murphy, University of California-Davis, received the SAVMA Teaching Excellence Award. Dr. Joseph Klopfenstein, Oregon State University, received the SAVMA Faculty Community Outreach Award. Drs. Jennifer L. Hodgson, Virginia-Maryland; Erin Malone, University of Minnesota; and Puliyur Seshadri MohanKumar, University of Georgia, all received the SAVMA Supporter of Student Wellbeing Award. Peter Breimhurst, a veterinary student at the University of Minnesota, received the SAVMA John Pitts Award for Distinguished Service.

The AVMA Student Initiatives Team handed out the SAVMies to recognize chapter efforts. Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine won the award for most improved percentage of students who were members from 2018–19 to 2019–20. Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine's Coffee Hour event received the award for the most innovative ALL for Students program event in 2020—with ALL being an acronym for Achieving, Leading, and Learning. The University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine took the award for most registered students attending. Nominees were announced in the SAVMA HOD meeting and winners at the closing ceremony.

OFFICERS

The following SAVMA officers were installed for the 2021–22 executive board: Hidayah Martinez-Jaka, Virginia-Maryland, president; Brooke MacNeill, Colorado State University, secretary; Ilissa Chasnick, Michigan State University, treasurer; Hanna Netisingha, University of Illinois, communications and public relations officer; Laci Taylor, Cornell University, international exchange officer; Sarah Delmotte, University of Georgia, editor-in-chief; Ashley Miller, Western University, global and public health officer; Tyler McMurray, Mississippi State University, veterinary economics officer; Pallavi Oruganti, The Ohio State University, cultural outreach officer; and Jonathan Dumas, chapter presidents representative, Ross University.

Additionally, the SAVMA HOD elected the following students: Zach Tooley, University of Wisconsin, president-elect; Bayla Bessemer, Michigan State University, global and public health officer-elect; Amanda Bentley, Auburn University, communications and public relations officer-elect; Madison Rigdon, Louisiana State University, veterinary economics officer-elect; and Katarina Fielding, University of Glasgow, international exchange officer-elect.

The 2022 SAVMA Symposium will be held at the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine, March 11–13. The University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine was selected as the site for the 2023 SAVMA Symposium.

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The entrance hall for the Student AVMA Symposium hosted virtually by Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine (Courtesy of K-State)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 258, 9; 10.2460/javma.258.9.915

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Participating in the virtual Student AVMA House of Delegates meeting using proper social distancing, with masks being worn when not addressing the HOD, were (from left) Drs. Sandra Faeh, AVMA vice president; Derrick Hall, AVMA associate director for student initiatives; and Marie Bucko, past president of SAVMA. (Photo by Dr. Douglas Kratt)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 258, 9; 10.2460/javma.258.9.915

SAVMA president to elevate other voices

Martinez-Jaka talks about her background, plans for the year

By Kaitlyn Mattson

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Hidayah Martinez-Jaka, shown here performing an ultrasound exam on a goat, is a member of the Class of 2022 at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine and is believed to be the first woman of color to serve as Student AVMA president. (Photos courtesy of Martinez-Jaka)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 258, 9; 10.2460/javma.258.9.915

Hidayah Martinez-Jaka, a student in the Class of 2022 at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, is believed to be the first woman of color to serve as Student AVMA president. She says that in her role as president, she's here to support veterinary students.

“I see leadership through SAVMA not as a way to benefit myself but to lift other voices up,” Martinez-Jaka said.

She was installed as the 2021–22 SAVMA president during the 51st annual SAVMA Symposium. The event, held virtually March 12–15, was hosted by Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine (see story, page 920).

Martinez-Jaka spoke with JAVMA News about her plans for the year, being a part of the most racially and ethnically diverse SAVMA Executive Board in history, and why she's involved in organized veterinary medicine. The following answers have been lightly edited for clarity.

Q. CAN YOU TELL ME ABOUT YOURSELF?

A. I was born and raised in Virginia. I'm half Latinx and half South Asian.

When I was 14 years old, my family adopted a flock of chickens. I fell in love with them as pets, and my passion for veterinary medicine grew from that.

I love the process of diagnosing and healing animals. I love the science, too, as well as the merging of empathy and knowledge.

I want to be a part of the profession and benefit the world around me. I plan to go into surgery or mixed animal medicine. I also want to continue to advocate for the profession and be involved in organized veterinary medicine. I don't want to disappear into clinical work, even though I love it. I want to keep being involved in my community and giving back.

Q. WHY DID YOU CHOOSE VIRGINIA-MARYLAND, AND WHAT HAS IT BEEN LIKE BEING IN SCHOOL DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC?

A. I considered a lot of schools, but I am a Virginia native and going to an in-state school costs less. Virginia-Maryland is also a hidden gem. I knew from the first moment I stepped into the building and met the students and faculty. We have such a good community that is supportive, open, and caring.

I am also the first SAVMA president from our school.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging. Students across the country have been faced with more online classes, and some schools have gone to all online or a hybrid model. The lack of in-person experience with colleagues or live animal time has been a huge challenge.

At Virginia-Maryland, in-person laboratories have been prioritized, but with reduced capacity and safety guidelines in place, such as masking and social distancing. I feel thankful to be able to do those in-person laboratories. I'm also thankful to all our schools for doing their best in this challenging time. This also shows how much veterinary students are doing their best to learn and adapt.

Q. DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR INCOMING FIRST-YEAR STUDENTS?

A. Take a moment now as you get ready to start veterinary school to remind yourself how far you have come and how hard you have worked to be here. You bring something unique to the profession, and that is beautiful. You are valued, and you belong here.

Give yourself grace in tough times. You bring something to the table that no one else does, and that is what matters. Reflect on your skills and your strengths. The days are long, but the years are short. Not every day is going to be the best day, but you'll have days that will remind you of why you are here.

If you are underrepresented like me, we stand on the shoulders of those who have sacrificed for us. But we have also sacrificed. We have the opportunity to make it smoother for those coming after us. Reach back, and bring people with you. Don't lose sight of what we can do for our profession. We are at a turning point and an opportunity for growth. People are ready to hear this, and we are ready to take action. It comes from all of us, and there are many of us out here ready to support each other.

Q. WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT ORGANIZED VETERINARY MEDICINE, AND WHAT DO YOU HOPE TO ACCOMPLISH AS SAVMA PRESIDENT?

A. I think organized veterinary medicine is an awesome avenue for us to join forces from all different fields and walks of life to inform and educate each other. We can trade resources and ideas and grow communities. It is a powerful tool for our profession.

My overarching goal as president is to serve my fellow veterinary students by creating transparency on all levels in veterinary medicine so we can grow the value of SAVMA membership. I want to focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion; mentorship; well-being; and student debt. I also will take students' input on the current challenges they're facing.

We have a chance to shape the profession. I want to champion our ability to shape it. This is a unique time as students have persevered through a very challenging year. Students are getting through online classes, health concerns, family concerns, and mental health struggles. I see our community becoming stronger. We will continue to be strong and emerge as amazing veterinarians.

We also have an incredible SAVMA Executive Board this year. There are 10 of us and we are the most diverse board in SAVMA history. I am so excited to be a part of it. We are all accomplished, qualified, and powerful.

Electing leadership is only a part of the solution, along with action, but this still indicates our future veterinarians are pushing for change. We understand it is a big moment and a big responsibility. We are ready to serve and amplify the voices of underrepresented students who have not seen ourselves on a leadership level like this before.

It gives me chills to say. I'm really proud and honored.

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Hidayah Martinez-Jaka and pet rooster, Sammy

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 258, 9; 10.2460/javma.258.9.915

AAVMC sessions highlight student anxiety, the overvaluing of resiliency

Well-being survey of interns and residents shows room for improvement

By Kaitlyn Mattson

Veterinary college leadership is looking deeper into student anxiety and how promoting resiliency may not be the right strategy.

Attendees at the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges Annual Conference and Iverson Bell Symposium, March 3–5, met virtually to listen to a range of lectures, some of which touched on how to promote well-being in veterinary academia.

Makenzie Peterson, director for well-being at the AAVMC, updated attendees on the AAVMC Wellbeing Initiative and discussed related projects.

In the veterinary profession, “We want veterinarians here as long as they want to be, not as long as they can endure,” Peterson said, during the session “AAVMC Wellbeing Operations Plan 2021–22” at the conference.

RESILIENCY

Jeremiah Grissett, counselor and wellness coordinator at Oklahoma State University College of Veterinary Medicine, discussed how resiliency may negatively impact short- and long-term health.

Grissett said during his talk at the AAVMC conference, “The High Cost of Resilience: A Discussion of the Overarching Impacts of Veterinary Student Stress,” that as a society we are impressed by heroic bravery, marvel at triumph, and value resiliency. And veterinary education isn't immune to those tendencies.

“There is a huge reliance on overvaluing resiliency, hardiness, and grit,” Grissett said. “Veterinarians view themselves as strong people who can get through anything, and I believe that, but when we only highlight the resilience, then we don't ask for help. We don't want to admit weakness.”

Grissett said just getting into veterinary school shows resiliency.

“I don't know anyone with a DVM who hasn't experienced resiliency, and there is a pride in that. However, I think people forget that resiliency comes with a cost, and there is an impact from that.”

Grissett added that overvaluing resiliency also invalidates previous difficult experiences, can cause burnout, and places the responsibility for success entirely on students.

“Yes, they're working toward a DVM, and they're responsible for their work,” Grissett said. “They receive that success, but if we tell them the only way to succeed is to be more resilient, we put the blame on them and absolve ourselves of our part in that failure. There are too many people who think the only way to succeed is to work harder.”

ANXIETY

Pauline Prince, PhD, staff psychologist and coordinator of clinical psychological services at Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine, said anxiety influences learning, and that experience exists across veterinary medicine. She spoke during the session “Anxiety and the Brain: Strategies for Learning, Memory, and Emotional Regulation” at the AAVMC conference.

Dr. Prince said students feel overwhelmed, suffer from panic attacks, experience hypervigilance, are fearful of not being successful, and endure impostor syndrome, meaning they doubt their skills.

“Some stress is good for improving performance, but only some,” Dr. Prince said. “It is not good for thinking and creativity or abstract thinking like reaching conclusions or making a diagnosis or finding a treatment plan. Anxiety can be a killer for that kind of thinking.”

Grissett and Dr. Prince offered the following suggestions for helping students manage anxiety and improve well-being:

  • • Normalize the struggle and asking for help.

  • • Create routines and predictability for students who are suffering from anxiety.

  • • Use “do” statements rather than “don't” to show a clear path of what needs to be done. For example, say, “Take a deep breath, and this is what I need you to do.”

  • • Remember the goal of teaching is for students to learn, so trick questions won't teach anything.

  • • Discuss sensory triggers, and build a comfortable environment.

  • • Suggest students engage in yoga, mindfulness practices, and movement.

TRAINING IN SUICIDE PREVENTION FREE TO ALL VETERINARY PROFESSIONALS

The AVMA now offers free training in suicide prevention to all veterinary professionals, including veterinary students, veterinary technicians, and veterinary faculty members. The training is called QPR, also known as gatekeeper training, with QPR standing for question, persuade, and refer.

QPR teaches people who may not have a professional mental health background to recognize the signs that someone may be thinking about suicide and establish a dialogue to guide the person to professional help. This is not a substitute for professional mental health assistance, but it can be used as a tool to save lives.

The training is online and covers warning signs of suicide, common causes of suicidal behavior, and how to help someone in crisis. The full training takes about an hour. Participants will have access to the QPR Institute account for up to three years.

The QPR Institute began in 1999 and has provided training to more than one million people.

More information about the free training is at avma.org/QPR. When setting up an account with the QPR Institute, use the code AVMA-OPEN.

The Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges has released several well-being resources for member institutions over the past year on topics such as grief and loss during the COVID-19 pandemic and integrating racial and multicultural inclusion into academic well-being initiatives. More information about the AAVMC initiative and resources is available at jav.ma/AAVMCWellbeing.

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About 60% of veterinary interns or residents felt emotionally drained by their work a few times a week or every day, according to survey data from the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges.

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 258, 9; 10.2460/javma.258.9.915

WELL-BEING

Makenzie Peterson said most well-being work focuses on the personal level or microlevel, and while that is important work, so is work at the medium and macro levels that results in structural or cultural change. Peterson added that well-being has also historically been a very white space, and the AAVMC initiative will be inclusive of diverse competencies when focusing on larger, industry-level change.

“Having a mental health professional in a clinic does not solve the problems long term,” Peterson said. “We need to meet the immediate mental health needs of individuals but also eliminate the root causes of distress that impact our communities.”

Peterson presented data collected on intern and resident well-being during the session “Clinician Wellbeing Initiative, Phase 1: Interns & Residents.”

Almost 30% of respondents reported having experienced suicidal thoughts or suicidal ideation. About 60% of respondents felt emotionally drained by their work a few times a week or every day.

Respondents who were not satisfied with their programs experienced common themes, including no limit to working hours, understaffed clinics, no protected time off, and little to no mentorship or didactic learning in their program. Mentorship seems to have a major impact on whether an intern or a resident has a positive experience, according to the data.

“The profession is not short on committed, dedicated individuals,” Peterson said. “But we are swimming in good folks that hinder and, in some cases, make it impossible to adequately tend to their well-being.”

The survey is a part of a collaboration with the American Association of Veterinary Clinicians. Survey results will likely be published in the summer.

Peterson said it's important to move away from solutions that center only on personal well-being and instead move into a space of making systemic changes that positively impact the professional community.

“This is an amazing but unwell profession,” Peterson said. “We need an industry-level culture change.”

AVMA HOSTS NEW ONLINE COMMUNITY FOR VETERINARY FACULTY MEMBERS

By Kaitlyn Mattson

The AVMA started a new group for veterinary faculty members, regardless of AVMA member status, on its AVMA Connections platform in February. The AVMA Online Educator Community is a space for faculty members to interact, access resources, contribute to discussion topics, and communicate directly with the AVMA.

Dr. Sandra Faeh, AVMA vice president, said that as she met with faculty members at various veterinary colleges this past year, the common thread was that they wanted a better way to communicate with each other.

“Communication is always key,” Dr. Faeh said. “Some faculty are not veterinarians or AVMA members, and they have a huge influence on students. We want to be inclusive to all faculty members, to help them, educate them, to show them AVMA resources, and to also see what more we can do for them.”

Dr. Nicki Wise, an associate professor at St. George's University School of Veterinary Medicine in Grenada, West Indies, is a facilitator for the online community, along with several other faculty members from other veterinary colleges. The facilitators will keep the conversations going and post discussion topics.

“I see it as a really awesome platform,” Dr. Wise said. “It's a way for faculty members at institutions to connect over different topics and discuss interesting information.”

Dr. Wise said the online community is already a great networking resource.

“If you are facing a challenge with your curriculum or your students, it is a simple way to immediately connect to faculty and administrators at tons of universities,” she said.

Dr. Faeh added that there is a plan to post a series of presentations during the summer about various topics that pertain specifically to veterinary faculty members.

“We're focused on them and what they need to help (them),” Dr. Faeh said. “They're so important. Students are our future, and they affect students' lives.”

Veterinary faculty members interested in joining the AVMA Online Educator Community can sign up at jav.ma/educatorgroup. Anyone who has ideas for the group can reach out to Dr. Faeh at s.faehbutler@gmail.com.

$6M DONATION CREATES CARDIOLOGY, ORTHOPEDIC POSITIONS AT COLORADO STATE

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Dr. Mark Stetter (left), dean of Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, listens to Dr. Chris Orton (right) at the ribbon-cutting for the Pocket Foundation Hybrid Cardiac Interventional Suite. Dr. Orton will occupy the interventional cardiology and cardiac surgery chair made possible by a recent anonymous donation. (Photo by John Eisele/Colorado State University)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 258, 9; 10.2460/javma.258.9.915

Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences has received a gift of $6 million to establish two chair positions for two of the services at the James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital.

The endowment, given by a donor who wishes to remain anonymous, will be split evenly between two faculty positions: an interventional cardiology and cardiac surgery chair and an orthopedic medicine and mobility chair. The endowment will allow both services to improve and expand, increasing the overall capacity for treatment, surgery, and rehabilitation at the hospital, according to a university press release.

Dr. E. Christopher Orton, clinical sciences professor, researcher, and veterinary cardiac surgeon, will occupy the cardiology chair. He first got to know the donor when she brought her dog, Custer, in for heart surgery. She has since had other pets receive care at the veterinary teaching hospital. In 2012, she began making regular donations to support the hospital's work, which have funded fellowship positions in interventional cardiology and cardiac surgery, the development of an endowment to support the university's Argus Institute, the creation of an interventional cardiac operating room at the hospital, and more.

Dr. Felix Duerr, associate professor of orthopedic medicine and mobility, has been selected as the orthopedic medicine and mobility chair. Duerr specializes in addressing musculoskeletal problems and injury prevention and is particularly interested in finding better treatments for arthritis in pets.

UPDATED AG GUIDE EXPANDS ON PAIN MANAGEMENT

By Greg Cima

A recently updated guide on care for agricultural animals in research expands on the calls in previous editions to minimize animal pain and distress.

The American Dairy Science Association, American Society of Animal Science, and Poultry Science Association jointly published late last year the fourth edition of the Guide for the Care and Use of Agricultural Animals in Research and Teaching, also known as the Ag Guide. Since the first edition's publication in 1988, the document has been a primary reference for agricultural animal care at universities and other research institutions.

In an announcement, the organizations said the fourth edition is the product of a multiyear project with rigorous review.

Dr. Hans Coetzee is a professor and head of the Department of Anatomy and Physiology at Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine, and he was part of the team that revised the Ag Guide chapter on agricultural animal health care. He said the latest edition strengthens calls for use of pain management—appropriate for the age and species of animal—during painful husbandry procedures, as well as encourages people to reduce use of procedures that cause pain.

When pain management protocols would affect data collected during research, Dr. Coetzee said, investigators need appropriate methods to assess when animals are experiencing pain and distress. They also need plans for how to mitigate harmful effects on animal welfare.

Researchers can reduce the use of painful procedures by, for example, conducting studies on hornless cattle rather than disbudding horned ones, Dr. Coetzee said. They can use sedation to reduce stress on animals when performing painful procedures.

Dr. Coetzee said making such changes in research draws attention to the need to address pain more broadly in agricultural species, and it's reasonable to assume changes to the Ag Guide will have broader effects on livestock husbandry. He has seen similar pain management recommendations in industry guidance, and he said consistent messages will help people implement the best practices for animal welfare wherever they work with agricultural animals.

The Ag Guide is available from the three sponsor organizations, at adsa.org, asas.org, and poultryscience.org.

SULLIVAN WINS SEAT ON AVMA BOARD

AVMA members in California, Hawaii, and Nevada elected Dr. Richard “Dick” Sullivan as their next District X representative on the AVMA Board of Directors, the Association announced April 1.

Dr. Sullivan won against Dr. Leianne K. Lee Loy to succeed Dr. George Bishop, whose term on the BOD ends this August.

In his candidate's statement, Dr. Sullivan said he has the expertise and knowledge to advocate on behalf of AVMA members, citing his work on establishing veterinary compounding regulations and guidelines concerning hemp, marijuana, and cannabidiol at the state level.

“My experience is needed on the AVMA Board now more than ever, and I am prepared to advocate for our members at every level of government on day one,” he said. “I will address the AVMA's budget and seek new revenue sources to protect our members and keep our organization strong.”

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Dr. Richard “Dick” Sullivan

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 258, 9; 10.2460/javma.258.9.915

After receiving his veterinary degree in 1972 from Purdue University, Dr. Sullivan served in the Peace Corps in Brazil as an extension veterinarian. He then returned to settle in Torrance, California, while his wife, Connie, finished her PhD in epidemiology at the University of California-Los Angeles.

After four years as an associate at Bay Cities Pet Hospital, Dr. Sullivan became part owner of the community emergency clinic and was soon elected to its board of directors, serving for 30 years.

Dr. Sullivan is a former president of the Southern California and California VMAs. For 16 years, he represented California in the AVMA House of Delegates, first as alternate delegate and then as delegate. Dr. Sullivan also served on the AVMA Judicial Council and State Advocacy Committee and was part of the working groups tasked with developing material for the AVMA's position on telemedicine and telehealth.

BURNED DOG TREATED WITH SPRAY-ON SKIN CELLS

Sadie, a young pit bull-type dog, sustained severe burns to over 70% of her body in February when a space heater set the straw in her doghouse on fire during uncharacteristically cold weather in Louisiana, said Dr. Dena Lodato with Resurge Veterinary Surgical Specialists and Rehabilitation LLC in Covington, Louisiana. Sadie was surrendered to the Humane Society of Louisiana and brought to Dr. Lodato for further treatment.

When Sadie's story was publicized, Nicole Kopari, MD, a burn surgeon at the Children's Hospital of New Orleans, volunteered to perform a ReCell treatment. Dr. Lodato explained that this treatment takes a sample of the patient's skin and enzymatically breaks it down into individual skin cells. The patient's own skin cells are then sprayed over the wound to promote healing, growth, and re-pigmentation faster than traditional skin grafts.

In Sadie's case, skin grafts were not an option because of the extensive nature of her wounds. With the ReCell treatment, Dr. Lodato said, Sadie has thrived and shown re-epithelialization at an exponential rate. Additionally, the new skin appears healthy, with only minimal wound contraction.

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Courtesy of Resurge

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 258, 9; 10.2460/javma.258.9.915

GLOBAL ASSOCIATIONS CREATE PRINCIPLES OF COLLEGIALITY

Guidelines outlining how veterinary professionals should conduct themselves among their peers have been drawn up by the Federation of European Companion Animal Veterinary Associations and the World Small Animal Veterinary Association.

Called the Global Principles of Veterinary Collegiality, the document springs from discussions held during a summit at the WSAVA World Congress in July 2019, according to a January press release. During the meeting, veterinary leaders from around the world expressed concern about the stress caused by poor communication and collegiality within veterinary teams and among colleagues. The leaders highlighted the additional pressures that this stress was placing on members of a profession already challenged by well-being and mental health issues.

“FECAVA and WSAVA hope that their initiative will help all of their member associations to commit to a common standard of behavior in order to support the profession as it works to achieve the ideals of patient care as set out in the WSAVA Veterinary Oath,” the press release states.

The global principles were authored by Drs. Shane Ryan, 2018–20 WSAVA president; Walt Ingwersen, 2016–18 WSAVA president; and Wolfgang Dohne, FECAVA senior vice president.

Dr. Dohne said in the press release: “Mutual respect, courtesy and support of especially junior team members, together with good communication, results not only in a better working environment, but also in better clinical outcomes. It improves animal welfare and encourages the concept of life-long learning.”

FECAVA and WSAVA also developed an infographic on collegiality for use in companion animal clinics, which they unveiled during the associations' joint virtual congress. The Global Principles of Collegiality are available as a PDF on the WSAVA website at jav.ma/vetcollegiality.

BEING BLACK IN A WHITE PROFESSION

Members of an underrepresented minority in veterinary medicine keep doing what they love despite bias they encounter

By R. Scott Nolen

Dr. Willie Reed, dean of Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine, has been a Black member of one of the country's whitest professions, the veterinary profession, long enough to have collected many—far too many—stories of prejudice.

One incident Dr. Reed related to JAVMA News occurred in the mid-'90s when he was director of the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory at Michigan State University. A client disagreed with the laboratory's pathology report on her horse, and she wanted to speak with Dr. Reed about it.

“When she came into my office, we sat down, and I started describing the pathology report,” he said. Then she suddenly says, “‘Dr. Reed, you know what? You're Black.’ That's what she told me.

“Then she says, ‘If you're Black, and Michigan State gave you this job, you must be really good. I believe what you're saying, and I accept your diagnosis.‘ Then she got up and walked out.”

Dr. Reed laughed recalling the incident. “She couldn't believe that Michigan State would ever hire a Black person, but if they did, he must be Superman.”

He struggled with what he said next, though. “Every time, you never … it's just something that a white person doesn't … if you're white, you don't even have to think about it, ever, if you're going to be rejected because of the color of your skin.”

Few interactions between Black veterinarians and white clients are as flagrantly racist as the incident described by Dr. Reed, but racial bias and prejudice are a fact of life for Black veterinarians in the workplace. Many white veterinarians are unaware of the challenges their Black colleagues face because they have not personally been affected by racism or don't recognize how racism still occurs today. “We all have experienced white clients who didn't want us treating their pets,” said Dr. Michael Blackwell, director of the Program for Pet Health Equity at the University of Tennessee College of Social Work.

Dr. Blackwell spent three years as a mixed animal practitioner in southeastern Oklahoma after receiving his veterinary degree in 1975 from Tuskegee University.

“Clients were generally very subtle about not wanting a Black veterinarian treating their pet, but I know of many stories where it wasn't so subtly stated,” Dr. Blackwell continued. “But it's a thing. It's less of a thing today, but it's still a thing.”

Dr. James Anderson II is a general practice relief veterinarian in Weston, Florida, about 40 miles northwest of Miami. Dr. Anderson says he hasn't experienced overt racism when his job takes him into the city, but it's a different matter when he works in what he described as smaller, less diverse communities.

“There would always be a pause after introducing myself,” he said, a “reaction quirk” when meeting a Black male veterinarian for the first time.

How do Black veterinarians cope? “You can't let it bother you because, otherwise, it makes you miserable,” Dr. Reed said. “Fortunately, not everybody's like that. It's just that you don't know when you're going to encounter it.”

Over the past year, professional organizations including the AVMA and Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges have committed to making veterinary medicine a profession in which individuals from underrepresented minorities feel safe and valued—important goals that require hearing their pain and frustration.

‘AM I THE ONLY ONE?’

When Black veterinarians are trying to decide whether a job opportunity at a practice is right for them, in addition to the usual matters of salary, hours, and benefits, they have to make a series of determinations solely on the basis of their race. Will clients at the new practice accept a Black veterinarian? Will the practice owner and manager support me? Are there other minority staff members, or am I the only one?

“Black individuals do not simply want a job. They also want a community they can easily join and to find the support they require” as an underrepresented minority, explained Dr. Kemba Marshall, director of veterinary services for Land O'Lakes Purina Animal Nutrition Center and founder of Marshall Recruiting Consortium.

Dr. Marshall recounted a time when she worked for a private practice in Dallas and her employer's support empowered her to deal with a racist client. The client didn't believe Dr. Marshall had graduated from the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine, claiming she had never heard of a veterinary college in Florida. Dr. Marshall showed her UF veterinary diploma—framed and hanging on the clinic wall—to the client, then asked the receptionist to help the client find another board-certified avian practitioner in the city.

“I was able to advocate for myself in that moment and tell the client, ‘Let me show you the door,‘ because I knew the practice manager and owner would say the same thing,” Dr. Marshall said.

“As a veterinarian, I assign a lot of my fulfillment to improving the health and well-being of animals,” she said. “And not helping a client's pet because the client has come to me in a way that is disrespectful limits what I truly feel I am called to do. That's the tension: How do I do what I love without sacrificing who I am as a Black woman?”

Black veterinarians must be prepared to continuously prove themselves or risk the stigma of being labeled or stereotyped, added Dr. Ruby Perry, dean of Tuskegee University College of Veterinary Medicine. There is also the issue of safety. “In some parts of America, it is not safe for a Black veterinarian to work,” said Dr. Perry, also the co-chair of the Commission for a Diverse, Equitable, and Inclusive Veterinary Profession, created by the AVMA and AAVMC. (Dr. Marshall is a member of the commission, as well.)

Some white clients do not feel comfortable having a person of color on their property, and it is not safe for people of color to be in that environment, Dr. Perry continued. Although it may be the passion of some Black veterinarians to pursue mixed animal mobile practice, they must be cognizant of their surroundings all the time in a way their white colleagues do not have to be.

INCLUSIVE CULTURE

Roughly 2% of the U.S. veterinary workforce is made up of Black veterinarians, according to 2017 figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Most of them are alumni of Tuskegee University College of Veterinary Medicine, according to the college, which graduated its first class of veterinarians in 1949—five in all, including one woman. Most of these first five graduates pursued careers outside private practice because, as Dr. Perry explained, states were not granting veterinary licenses to Black veterinarians, nor were white practice owners interested in hiring a Black veterinarian.

“We have a large number of graduates who pursued pathology, public health, and graduate studies as a career option,” Dr. Perry said. “In the early '70s, additional pressure was placed on the government to enhance diversity in the workplace, and intense efforts began which increased the number of Black veterinarians in government. The government embraced diversity, equity, and inclusion and pursued many Tuskegee graduates, making them leaders and recognized for their contributions.“

In the late 1970s, when Dr. Blackwell left private practice in Oklahoma to work in the public sector, it was clear to him that the federal government was serious about promoting racial and gender equity within its ranks. “Those issues were not even being talked about in private veterinary medicine, at least not in an organized way in which it appeared that the profession was embracing diversity, equity, and inclusion,” Dr. Blackwell said.

Over the decades, as America began opening up to its Black citizens, Black veterinarians saw clinical practice become a viable career option. Tuskegee graduate data from 2016–20 show 65% of its veterinary graduates went into private practice, 22% pursued internships, 4.3% took jobs in the government and military, and 8.7% pursued other areas of the profession. (It should be noted that a majority but not all graduates are racial or ethnic minorities.)

Although there are no available data on the number of Black-owned veterinary practices in the United States, there's a sense within the Black community that Black veterinarians face challenges to practice ownership that their white colleagues don't.

“While there is a strong bent in communities of color toward entrepreneurship, there's also realities such as lending discrimination and housing discrimination that are frankly directly related to the realities of marginalization and discrimination,” said Lisa Greenhill, EdD, senior director for institutional research and diversity at the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges.

AVMA LAUNCHES BRAVE SPACE PROGRAM

The AVMA is offering a new program designed to strengthen veterinary practices by supporting inclusion of diverse people and encouraging open workplace dialogue about complex topics such as race and sexual harassment.

“The Brave Space program was created to provide learners the opportunity to expand their knowledge, engage in self-awareness building processes and ultimately come out as a more intentionally committed ally for promoting safe, inclusive environments for every member of the profession,” AVMA President Douglas Kratt said.

The Brave Space Certificate Program is a self-paced interactive curriculum taught by experts.

“A workplace that offers a safe, welcoming environment is one in which everyone—from team members, to patients and clients, to the community which a practice serves—is seen and valued,” said Jen Brandt, PhD, AVMA director of well-being and diversity initiatives.

The program consists of educational categories covering diversity, equity, and inclusion and several modules addressing such topics as LGBTQ inclusion and support, combating unconscious bias and marginalization, and understanding and addressing racism.

In collaboration with founding educational partner Pride Veterinary Medical Community, the Brave Space Certificate Program is made possible by an educational grant from Royal Canin.

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Black veterinarians must continuously prove themselves lest they be stereotyped, said Dr. Ruby Perry, dean of Tuskegee University College of Veterinary Medicine, shown here teaching an ultrasonography class. (Courtesy of Tuskegee University CVM)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 258, 9; 10.2460/javma.258.9.915

“It doesn't mean that lots of Black veterinarians do not go this route, but it does mean that more probably don't.”

CORPORATE OUTREACH

Corporate-owned veterinary practices are working to draw underrepresented minorities through commitments to diversity, inclusion, and a supportive culture. Tiffany King, director of equity, inclusion, and diversity for Banfield Pet Hospital, said Banfield feels a responsibility to leverage its size and scale to diversify the talent pipeline and create a more equitable and inclusive profession.

“More than 25% of Banfield's credentialed veterinary professionals—DVMs and veterinary technicians—come from diverse backgrounds, compared to the industry average, with minorities making up approximately 10% of the veterinary population,” King said.

Commitments from Banfield include partnering with Royal Canin and Tuskegee's veterinary college to launch the Banfield and Royal Canin Student Support Fund, with an initial $125,000 gift to help veterinary students who have financial need. The company is also investing more than a million dollars over the next year in equity, inclusion, and diversity efforts to increase minority representation, offer training, and support industry efforts to improve the diversity pipeline.

Idexx Laboratories established a Diversity and Inclusion Council in 2017; created a global leadership role devoted to diversity, equity, and inclusion in 2019; and, in March 2020, formed its Talent Acquisition Diversity and Inclusion Committee, intended to “identify and address challenges related to sourcing, recruiting, and hiring diverse talent; determine best practices; and define measures of success,” according to the company's 2020 corporate responsibility report.

Zoetis has plans to increase investments in diversity and inclusion education and training, expand leadership development and networking offerings for colleagues, and require diverse slates of candidates and interviewer panels for open positions.

“We are committed to making measurable gains in diversity,” wrote Kristen Peck, Zoetis CEO, in an August 2020 social media post. “Importantly, we are holding ourselves accountable by publishing our current diversity statistics and aspirations for change over the next five years. This includes aspiring to increase our representation of people of color in our U.S. workforce to 25% by 2025. Today, people of color comprise 21% of our U.S. workforce.”

By the end of 2025, Zoetis aspires to increase representation of Black people in its U.S. workforce from 4% to 5%.

For practice owners serious about creating a workplace that better resembles the nation's demographic diversity, Dr. Perry advised them to provide diversity training and team-building workshops because veterinary staff members from different cultures and races come with different perspectives.

“With a safe and conducive working environment, employees recruit others,” she said. “They are the practice owner's best advocates.”

People

ASSOCIATION OF AMERICAN VETERINARY MEDICAL COLLEGES

EVENT

Annual Conference and Iverson Bell Symposium, held virtually, March 3–5

PROGRAM

A record 365 attendees, from 57 U.S. and foreign veterinary colleges and a dozen corporations and associations, gathered for the first virtual AAVMC Annual Conference and Iverson Bell Symposium. The theme was “Catalyze 2021: Connect and Innovate in the Face of Global Challenges.” More than 20 sessions covered enhancing diversity, strategic communication to increase outreach, and building a pipeline for leaders. Robin DiAngelo, PhD, the author of “White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk about Racism,” discussed systemic racism during a keynote session. A keynote from Jay Dolmage, PhD, included a discussion around ableism, or discrimination against people with disabilities. During another keynote, Hal Gregersen, PhD, spoke about creativity and creating change.

AWARDS

Iverson Bell Award, sponsored by Banfield Pet Hospital

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Dr. Ruby L. Perry

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 258, 9; 10.2460/javma.258.9.915

Dr. Ruby L. Perry (Tuskegee '77), dean of the Tuskegee University College of Veterinary Medicine. The award recognizes leadership and contributions in promoting opportunities for underrepresented students in veterinary education. Dr. Perry is the first African American woman to be dean of the Tuskegee veterinary college. She formed the first Diversity and Inclusion College Committee at the veterinary college and signed a memorandum of understanding with Auburn University and the University of North Carolina-Pembroke to further veterinary medical training and increase racial diversity. Dr. Perry also serves as AAVMC secretary. She is a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Radiology.

Billy E. Hooper Award

Dr. Corrie Brown (Guelph '81), professor in the Department of Pathology at the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine. The award is given to an individual whose vision has made a significant impact on veterinary education and the veterinary profession. Dr. Brown developed an elective in international veterinary medicine and mentors veterinary students who are interested in global animal health. She is involved in an educational research program in transboundary disease that has received funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Institutes of Health.

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Dr. Corrie Brown

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 258, 9; 10.2460/javma.258.9.915

Excellence in Research Award

Dr. Juergen A. Richt, a 1985 veterinary graduate of Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich, Germany, and professor at Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine. He is also the director of the Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases and the Center on Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, a National Institutes of Health Center of Biomedical Research Excellence. The research award recognizes individuals who throughout their career demonstrate excellence in original research and leadership within the scientific community. Dr. Richt investigates zoonotic and transboundary diseases in livestock. His work has made an impact on veterinary medicine, human health, and food security by identifying, controlling, and eradicating pathogens. Recently, Dr. Richt has focused on establishing preclinical animal models for SARS-CoV-2 infection to evaluate the efficacy of vaccines and therapeutics for COVID-19.

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Dr. Juergen A. Richt

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 258, 9; 10.2460/javma.258.9.915

Distinguished Veterinary Teacher Award

Dr. Stephen A. Hines (Ohio '81), professor at Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine. The teaching award recognizes excellence in professional veterinary medical education and is presented to someone who is dedicated to the advancement of the profession. Dr. Hines describes his teaching style as that of a coach. He encourages critical thinking and collaboration. Dr. Hines pioneered the WSU Diagnostic Challenge, which is a clinical simulation that involves simulated clients. Dr. Hines has also been integral to the development of teaching academies to improve veterinary education. He is a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Pathologists. Dr. Hines is the only person to win the award twice, having won previously in 1996.

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Dr. Stephen A. Hines

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 258, 9; 10.2460/javma.258.9.915

Senator John Melcher, DVM Leadership in Public Policy Award, sponsored by The Animal Policy Group

Dr. Michael J. Blackwell (Tuskegee '75), director of the University of Tennessee's Program for Pet Health Equity, a program working to improve access to veterinary care. The award, established in 2007, is presented to a current or former faculty member, staff member, or student at an AAVMC member institution whose leadership in public policy advances veterinary medical education and advocates for veterinary education. Dr. Blackwell was previously dean of the UT College of Veterinary Medicine. He also served as chief of staff for the Office of the Surgeon General of the U.S., and he attained the rank of assistant surgeon general of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps during his 23 years of active duty.

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Dr. Michael J. Blackwell

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 258, 9; 10.2460/javma.258.9.915

The Patricia M. Lowrie Diversity Leadership Scholarship

Melissa Sheth, a student in the Class of 2021 at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine. The $6,000 scholarship is awarded to veterinary students who demonstrate promise as future leaders and have made contributions to enhance diversity and inclusion in veterinary academia. Sheth served as the clinic administrator for Wisconsin Companion Animal Resources, Education, and Social Services, a community veterinary clinic that offers services for low-income and families facing homelessness. She also served as chapter president of the Veterinarians for One Inclusive Community for Empowerment at the veterinary school.

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Melissa Sheth

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 258, 9; 10.2460/javma.258.9.915

OFFICIALS

Dr. Paul Lunn, North Carolina State University, president; Dr. Mark Markel, University of Wisconsin, immediate past president; Dr. Susan Tornquist, Oregon State University, president-elect; and directors-at-large—Drs. Jeffrey Wichtel, University of Guelph, director representing Canada; Jonathan Huxley, Massey University, representing Australia, New Zealand, and Asia; Christina Sigurdson, University of California-Davis, representing departments of comparative medicine; and James Hurrell, Penn Foster College, representing the Association of Veterinary Technician Educators

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Dr. Paul Lunn

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 258, 9; 10.2460/javma.258.9.915

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Dr. Mark Markel

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 258, 9; 10.2460/javma.258.9.915

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Dr. Susan Tornquist

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 258, 9; 10.2460/javma.258.9.915

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Dr. Jeffrey Wichtel

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 258, 9; 10.2460/javma.258.9.915

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Dr. Jonathan Huxley

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 258, 9; 10.2460/javma.258.9.915

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Dr. Christina Sigurdson

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 258, 9; 10.2460/javma.258.9.915

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Dr. James Hurrell

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 258, 9; 10.2460/javma.258.9.915

KENTUCKY VMA

The Kentucky VMA held its Mid-America Veterinary Conference virtually on Sept. 18 and 19, 2020. During the conference, the association elected the following new officials: Drs. Debra Shoulders, Bowling Green, president; Jason Rodgers, Paducah, president-elect; Bridgette Dean-Wilson, Simpsonville, vice president; William Wade King, Frankfort, secretary-treasurer; and Bonnie Barr, Paris, immediate past president.

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Dr. Debra Shoulders

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 258, 9; 10.2460/javma.258.9.915

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Dr. Jason Rodgers

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 258, 9; 10.2460/javma.258.9.915

Obituaries: AVMA MEMBER | AVMA HONOR ROLL MEMBER | NONMEMBER

ALLAN J. AHEARNE

Dr. Ahearne (Cornell '57), 88, Warwick, New York, died Jan. 10, 2021. He began his career in farm animal practice in Cumberland, Maryland. In 1959, Dr. Ahearne moved to Long Island, New York, where he established Oceanside Animal Hospital. During his career, he also served as a veterinarian with the New York State Gaming Commission, was executive dean of Ross University College of Veterinary Medicine from 1990–91, and was a regular guest commentator on “Warren Eckstein & The Pet Show,” a weekly radio program.

Dr. Ahearne was a past president of the New York State Board for Veterinary Medicine and Long Island Veterinary Medical Society and served on the executive board of the New York State Veterinary Medical Society. He is survived by his wife, Kathryn; two sons and two daughters; and six grandchildren.

KURT A. BALES

Dr. Bales (Purdue '87), 58, Ridott, Illinois, died Jan. 13, 2021. A mixed animal veterinarian, he began his career at New Hope Veterinary Clinic in German Valley, Illinois. A year later, Dr. Bales joined King Animal Care Clinic in Topeka, Indiana, where he worked for four years. He then returned to New Hope Veterinary Clinic, where he practiced for the next 27 years.

Dr. Bales is survived by his wife, Vicki; three sons and a daughter; his parents; and two brothers and a sister. Memorials may be made to Park Hills Evangelical Free Church, 2525 W. Stephenson St., Freeport, IL 61032.

ROBERT E. BARNHART

Dr. Barnhart (Auburn '54), 91, Braselton, Georgia, died Dec. 14, 2020. He worked for the Georgia Poultry Laboratory Network in Oakwood prior to retirement. Earlier, Dr. Barnhart served as a second lieutenant in the Army and was in small animal practice for a few years. His wife, Sara; two sons, two daughters, and three stepsons; and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren survive him. Memorials may be made to Helping Hands Foreign Missions, 5043 Bristol Industrial Way, Buford, GA 30518.

HENRY E. BLAZEK III

Dr. Blazek (Texas A&M '66), 82, Hearne, Texas, died Dec. 8, 2020. Following graduation, he owned North Shore Animal Hospital, a mixed animal practice in Houston, for 31 years. Dr. Blazek then practiced at Kurten Veterinary Services in Kurten, Texas, for 10 years prior to retirement, also raising cattle during that time. He was a veteran of the Army, attaining the rank of captain. Dr. Blazek's wife, Nancy; a son; two grandchildren; and a sister survive him. Memorials may be made to Hospice Brazos Valley, 502 W. 26th, Bryan, TX 77803.

MAX D. BRAND

Dr. Brand (Michigan State '56), 90, North Manchester, Indiana, died Dec. 7, 2020. Following graduation, he practiced large animal medicine in Niles, Michigan. In 1958, Dr. Brand moved to Indiana, where he established Memorial Park Animal Hospital, a small animal practice in Fort Wayne. He subsequently founded New Haven Pet Hospital in New Haven, Indiana. In 1978, Veterinary Economics magazine awarded the practice a merit award for hospital design. Dr. Brand is survived by his wife, Yvonne; three daughters and a son; eight grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

RANDY J. DEDECKER

Dr. DeDecker (Wisconsin '88), 68, Hortonville, Wisconsin, died Jan. 25, 2021. He owned Country View Animal Hospital in Neenah, Wisconsin, since 2003. Prior to that, Dr. DeDecker worked in several communities across Wisconsin. He is survived by his wife, Nancy; a son and a daughter; three grandchildren; and three sisters. Memorials may be made to Northeast Wisconsin Land Trust, 14 Tri-Park Way #1, Appleton, WI 54914, or Wisconsin Public Television, 821 University Ave., Madison, WI 53706.

JOHN E. HARKNESS

Dr. Harkness (Michigan State '68), 80, Starkville, Mississippi, died Dec. 7, 2020. Following graduation, he served four years as a professor as part of a joint project between Kansas State University and the U.S. Agency for International Development to establish and staff a veterinary degree program at Ahmadu Bello University in Nigeria. Dr. Harkness subsequently earned his master's in laboratory animal medicine and a master's in education from the University of Missouri, where he also served a year as a faculty member in the professorial track and as a laboratory animal veterinarian.

From 1977–84, he was a member of the veterinary faculty at Pennsylvania State University. During that time, Dr. Harkness received tenure as a professor and served as a clinical laboratory animal veterinarian. In 1984, he joined Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine as the university's first laboratory animal veterinarian, also teaching courses in laboratory animal and exotic animal medicine, animal behavior, and veterinary ethics. Dr. Harkness retired as a professor emeritus in 2004. In 2009, he served nine months as interim head laboratory animal veterinarian at Columbia University.

Dr. Harkness was a diplomate and a past president of the American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine. He was also a past chair of the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care International's Council on Accreditation and was active with the American Society of Laboratory Animal Practitioners, American Association for Laboratory Animal Science, and Phi Zeta. In 1987, Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine honored Dr. Harkness with the President's Pegasus Award. In 1999, he received the Vice President's Pegasus Award. AAALAC International honored Dr. Harkness with the 2017 Bennett J. Cohen Award, for a lifetime of exceptional service and significant contributions in the promotion of animal care in research, testing, and educational programs.

Dr. Harkness is survived by his wife, Virginia; two daughters, a son, and a stepdaughter; eight grandchildren; and two brothers. Memorials may be made to the Starkville-Oktibbeha Public Library, 326 University Drive, Starkville, MS 39759, or to the Starkville Area Arts Council, 101 S. Lafayette St., Suite 18, Starkville, MS 39759.

GARY E. HEFNER

Dr. Hefner (Texas A&M '70), 75, McKinney, Texas, died Jan. 26, 2021. Following graduation, he practiced equine medicine in Houston. In 1972, Dr. Hefner established a practice in Allen, Texas, where he worked until retirement in 2017. For several years, he served as veterinarian for several chapters of the National FFA Organization in Texas's Collin County. Dr. Hefner is survived by his wife, Michele; two daughters and a son; and five grandchildren. Memorials, toward the Dr. Gary E. Hefner Memorial Scholarship Fund, may be made to Foundation for Allen Schools, c/o Allen Independent School District Administration, 612 E. Bethany Drive, Allen, TX 75002, AISDfoundation.org.

MYRON W. KOCH

Dr. Koch (Illinois '75), 70, Ursa, Illinois, died Jan. 12, 2021. He owned Western Illinois Veterinary Clinic, a mixed animal practice in Quincy, Illinois, for more than 40 years prior to retirement. Dr. Koch also served as volunteer veterinarian for the Adams County Fair, helping to establish and promote the fair's 4-H beef auction, and was instrumental in founding the Western Illinois Cattle Alliance. In 2011, the Quincy Area Chamber of Commerce named his practice Agribusiness of the Year.

Active in his community, Dr. Koch served on the board of directors for the village of Ursa, was a member of the Ursa Lions Club, volunteered with the Ursa Park Festival, and was active with the Boy Scouts. He mentored and tutored young people and was honored by the Friends of Unit 4 Schools for his contributions. Dr. Koch is survived by his wife, Mary; six daughters; 18 grandchildren; and a sister. Memorials may be made to the John Wood Community College Foundation, 1301 S. 48th St., Quincy, IL 62305; St. Dominic Catholic School, 4100 Columbus Road, Quincy, IL 62305; or Adams County Fair, 2010 E. 1250th St., Mendon, IL 62351.

EFREN A. OSORIO

Dr. Osorio, 62, Middletown, Connecticut, died Jan. 21, 2021. A 1982 veterinary graduate of the Autonomous University of Tamaulipas in Mexico, he began his veterinary career in the United States at Middletown Veterinary Hospital. Dr. Osorio eventually bought Veterinary Associates of North Branford in North Branford, Connecticut. In February, the North Branford Town Council voted to name the town's dog park the Osorio Dog Park in his honor.

Dr. Osorio's wife, Katrina, three brothers, and two sisters survive him. Memorials may be made to the Dan Cosgrove Animal Shelter, 749 E Main St., Branford, CT 06405.

RANDALL E. PEDERSEN

Dr. Pedersen (Kansas State '65), 83, Royal, Nebraska, died Dec. 16, 2020. He was a dairy herd health consultant in Royal. Dr. Pedersen began his career in mixed animal practice in Wetmore, Kansas. He subsequently worked six years in Plymouth, Nebraska. In 1972, Dr. Pedersen established Blue Valley Veterinary Clinic in Beatrice, Nebraska, where he practiced until 1996. He then moved to Royal. During his career, Dr. Pedersen also served as Nebraska state fair veterinarian for more than 30 years.

A member of the American Association of Bovine Practitioners, he served on its Reproduction Committee. Dr. Pedersen was also a life member of the Nebraska VMA and a member of the Academy of Veterinary Consultants. In 2009, Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine and its Veterinary Medical Alumni Association honored him with an Alumni Recognition Award. Dr. Pedersen received the Nebraska VMA Distinguished Service Award in 2020.

He is survived by his wife, Nancy; a son and two daughters; 14 grandchildren; his mother; and a sister. Dr. Pedersen's son, Dr. Bruce J. Pedersen (Kansas State ‘92), and a grandson, Dr. Kipling C. Pedersen (London ‘20), are also veterinarians.

KEVIN S. ROBERTS

Dr. Roberts (Virginia-Maryland '86), 64, Berryville, Virginia, died Nov. 30, 2020. He began his career practicing mixed animal medicine in Beckley, West Virginia. In 1989, Dr. Roberts moved to Charles Town, West Virginia, where he established Hunters Hill Veterinary Hospital, a small animal practice. The practice was later renamed Hillside Veterinary Hospital.

In the late 1980s to the early 1990s, Dr. Roberts wrote a veterinary column for Spirit of Jefferson, a weekly newspaper. His wife, Jane; two daughters and a son; and four brothers survive him. Memorials may be made to the Adult Care Center of the Northern Shenandoah Valley, 411 N. Cameron St., Suite 100, Winchester, VA 22601.

BURKE A. ROBINETTE

Dr. Robinette (Michigan State '50), 92, Green Bay, Wisconsin, died Dec. 30, 2020. He practiced in the Coleman and Lena areas of Wisconsin for 42 years prior to retirement. Dr. Robinette was a member of the Wisconsin VMA, Masonic Lodge, Coleman Pound Lions Club, and Coleman Businessmen's Association. His wife, Helen; three daughters; seven grandchildren; a great-grandchild; and a sister survive him. Memorials may be made to Shriners Hospitals for Children, Office of Development, 2900 Rocky Point Drive, Tampa, FL 33607.

JAMES D. ROTHENBUSCH

Dr. Rothenbusch (Ohio State '84), 62, Hamilton, Ohio, died Sept. 12, 2020. He practiced at Paddy's Run Veterinary Care in Hamilton. Dr. Rothenbusch is survived by his family.

CURTIS C. STARKEBAUM

Dr. Starkebaum (Colorado State '45), 97, Littleton, Colorado, died Feb. 1, 2021. Following graduation, he served in the Army, including two years in the Veterinary Corps in Germany. In 1950, Dr. Starkebaum established a clinic in Gunnison, Colorado, where he practiced mixed animal medicine until retirement. During that period, he also taught biology part time at Western Colorado University for more than 20 years.

Active in his community, Dr. Starkebaum was a member of the Gunnison Volunteer Fire Department, served on the board of directors of the Gunnison Fire Protection District, and was a past chair of the Gunnison County Planning Commission. He was also a member of the Lions Club for more than 40 years. Dr. Starkebaum's three sons and seven grandchildren survive him. Memorials may be made to Habitat for Humanity, 3245 Eliot St., Denver, CO 80211; St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, TN 38105; Western Colorado University Foundation, 909 Escalante Drive, Gunnison, CO 81230; or Alzheimer's Association, 225 N. Michigan Ave., Floor 17, Chicago, IL 60601.

JOSEPH E. STOLZE

Dr. Stolze (Iowa State '90), 60, Omaha, Nebraska, died Jan. 20, 2021. Following graduation, he worked a year in Mankato, Minnesota. Dr. Stolze subsequently moved to Omaha, where he worked for the Animal Spay-Neuter Clinic for 28 years. His wife, Elizabeth; three children; his father; and seven siblings survive him. Memorials may be made to St. Pius X Catholic Church, 6905 Blondo St., Omaha, NE 68104, or Mercy High School, 1501 S. 48th St., Omaha, NE 68106.

RICHARD E. THOMA

Dr. Thoma (Cornell '65), 79, Akron, New York, died Sept. 8, 2020. A small animal veterinarian, he owned Town and Country Animal Clinic in Cheektowaga, New York, for several years prior to retirement. Dr. Thoma was involved in research at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, helping to develop photodynamic therapy. He was active with several veterinary organizations and was a major contributor to Ducks Unlimited. Dr. Thoma served in the Army from 1967–69, attaining the rank of captain. He is survived by his family.

A. HUNTER WILCOX

Dr. Wilcox (Pennsylvania '71), 75, Lumberton, New Jersey, died Jan. 5, 2021. From 1972 until retirement in 2013, he practiced small animal medicine at Cherry Hill Animal Hospital in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, becoming co-owner of the practice in 1976. Dr. Wilcox also trained English Pointer dogs and participated in competitive field trials.

Active in organized veterinary medicine, he served on the New Jersey State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners, was a past official of the Southern New Jersey VMA, and served as a director of the American Animal Hospital Association. Dr. Wilcox was a past president of the English Setter Club of New Jersey, was elected to the Field Trial Hall of Fame, and was a trustee of the Amateur Field Trial Clubs of America, serving as a past chair of the AFTCA 20th Century Fund to help guarantee the perpetuation of the sport.

He is survived by his wife, Louise; a daughter; two grandchildren; and a sister. Memorials may be made to the AFTCA 20th Century Fund, Amateur Field Trial Clubs of America, c/o Piper Huffman, 2873 Whippoorwill Road, Michigan City, MS 38647.

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