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FDA approves drugs for pain in cats from osteoarthritis, surgery

A novel treatment approved in January uses monoclonal antibodies to target nerve growth factor for pain control in cats with osteoarthritis. Also approved in January, a long-acting opioid drug could reduce the need for cat owners to administer pain medication to their pets at home following surgery.

The Food and Drug Administration announced Jan. 13 that the agency had approved frunevetmab injection, sold under the trade name Solensia, the first treatment for pain associated with osteoarthritis in cats and the first monoclonal antibody approved by the FDA for use in animals other than humans. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has approved other monoclonal antibodies for use in animals.

Frunevetmab is designed to recognize and attach to nerve growth factor, which is involved in the regulation of pain. By binding to nerve growth factor, frunevetmab prevents the pain signal from reaching the brain. Solensia is administered through subcutaneous injection once a month.

The FDA announced Jan. 20 that it had approved a topical buprenorphine solution, sold under the trade name Zorbium, for use in controlling post-surgical pain. The drug provides pain relief for four days after a single application to the skin at the base of a cat’s neck.

In July 2014, the FDA approved another buprenorphine drug, Simbadol, also for control of postoperative pain in cats. That drug is administered daily by subcutaneous injection for up to three days, starting with a dose one hour prior to surgery. A nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, Onsior, is also available in tablet and injectable forms for managing feline postoperative pain.

Maddie’s pet challenge awarded $7.4M grant

The Maddie’s Million Pet Challenge, launched Jan. 25, has been awarded a five-year, $7.4 million grant from Maddie’s Fund, a foundation established to improve the status and well-being of companion animals.

The challenge is a collaboration among the University of California-Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Program, Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Program at the University of Florida, Open Door Veterinary Collective, and Team Shelter USA.

Veterinary and animal welfare experts from these groups will deploy to communities nationwide to offer free consultations to shelters and veterinary clinics on how to keep pets with their families and out of shelters, as well as teaching veterinary clinics a financially sustainable model that removes cost as a barrier to providing pets with needed veterinary care.

“Our goal is for every animal in every community to be assured what we call the Four Rights,” said Dr. Kate Hurley, director of the Koret Shelter Medicine Program, in a statement. “That means providing every animal with the Right Care in the Right Place, at the Right Time, and with the Right Outcome.”

“This is the new normal communities deserve, and we want to help them get and stay there,” Dr. Hurley said.

Auxiliary celebrates National Pet Week 2022

The Auxiliary to the AVMA will be celebrating National Pet Week 2022, May 1-7, with the theme “Love is a 4-Legged Word.”

The AVMA and the AVMA Auxiliary, an association founded in 1917 and primarily made up of spouses of AVMA members, created National Pet Week in 1981 to foster responsible pet ownership, recognize the human-animal bond, and increase public awareness of veterinary medicine.

The Auxiliary is selling a poster to promote National Pet Week 2022. The order form is at avmaaux.org/national-pet-week.

Details about the Auxiliary’s poster and writing contests for National Pet Week 2023 are available on the same webpage. The theme will be “People, Pets & Vets a Perfect Team.” June 15 is the postmark deadline. The contests are open to students in kindergarten through 12th grade.

‘We cannot forget Afghanistan’

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Afghans fleeing the Taliban crowd a U.S. flight evacuating from Kabul International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, this past August. (Photos courtesy of Dr. Sue Chadima)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 260, 5; 10.2460/javma.260.5.475

Taliban undo decades of progress following U.S. withdrawal, create humanitarian crisis for veterinarians and others

By R. Scott Nolen

Dr. Abdul Qader Fakhri is no stranger to conflict.

During the Soviet-Afghan War, Dr. Fakhri studied veterinary medicine at Kabul University in Kabul, Afghanistan, graduating in 1986. The Soviet retreat three years later sparked a string of civil wars lasting roughly 12 years until the U.S.-led invasion toppled the Taliban regime in 2001.

Once the fundamentalist yoke was lifted, Afghanistan entered a “golden age” of modernization, explained Dr. Fakhri, program director for the Dutch Committee for Afghanistan, a nongovernmental organization dedicated to improving livestock health, welfare, and production in Afghanistan.

For two decades, educational opportunities in Afghanistan abounded. Access to health care increased. Incomes grew, and poverty fell. Women joined the workforce.

Robust animal vaccination and disease surveillance programs helped the nation’s livestock, which 75% of rural populations depend on for their livelihood. The Afghan Veterinary Association was established, and more than 1,300 veterinary paraprofessionals were trained to provide basic veterinary services to rural communities.

Then in August 2021, the world witnessed the withdrawal of U.S. forces that kept the Taliban at bay. The Afghan central government quickly collapsed, and the Taliban declared the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. The group’s return to power plunged the country into a humanitarian crisis and quickly undid 20 years of structural progress that improved the lives of people and animals.

Dr. Fakhri chose to remain in the country and continue his work with the DCA. Speaking to AVMA News from his home in the western city of Herat, Dr. Fakhri said Afghans were able to endure years of conflict because they always hoped for a better future. But not anymore.

“I don’t know how we can create hope for ourselves now,” he said. “Here we are again, set back a century.”

Starting over

Like most Afghans, members of the Taliban own livestock—sheep, cattle, goats, poultry—and at a basic level recognize veterinary medicine keeps animals healthy and productive, explained Dr. Raymond Briscoe, the DCA’s director of external relations in the Afghan capital of Kabul.

Drs. Briscoe and Fakhri have met with the deputy and technical deputy ministers in Afghanistan’s Ministry of Agriculture to inform them of the work being done and the current situation in the field. The ministers were very supportive. Funding at this time is very difficult to get because of the sanctions imposed and the banks not functioning properly as a result.

In Kabul, the Central Veterinary Diagnostic and Research Laboratory is working less, as are the smaller regional laboratories, Dr. Briscoe said. The only animal vaccines coming into Afghanistan are from Iran and Pakistan because of the absence of commercial cargo flights and are of questionable quality, he added.

“You can imagine the tremendous changes that have taken place in 20 years—in education, for women, everything. And now the schools and universities are closed,” Dr. Briscoe said. “I don’t know what’s going to happen.”

Exodus

During United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres’ January press conference, he admonished Taliban leadership to recognize and protect the rights of women and girls.

“Across Afghanistan, women and girls are missing from offices and classrooms. A generation of girls is seeing its hopes and dreams shattered,” he said.

Dr. Tahera Rezaei understood what life under the Taliban meant. She could no longer work at her small animal clinic in Kabul—the first veterinary hospital in Afghanistan owned by a woman.

As the Taliban moved through the Afghan capital, Dr. Rezaei was effectively trapped in her clinic. If she walked home unaccompanied by a man, she risked confrontation with the Taliban, who might beat her or worse.

After two days, it was finally safe enough for Dr. Rezaei’s husband, Mortaza, to come for her. They fled with her parents to the Kabul airport hoping to be evacuated by the U.S. military. Several times the Taliban prevented them from going to the airport, but they eventually got through. Dr. Rezaei and her husband were allowed onto a flight but not her parents.

“We grew up with lots of problems, but we had hope for a bright future in Afghanistan,” said Dr. Rezaei, who graduated in 2011 from Kabul University Faculty of Veterinary Science. “I trained two young veterinarians, female veterinarians, at my clinic. There were always explosions, but I didn’t care because I had many goals and I wanted to try hard to achieve them.”

Dr. Rezaei knew that would be impossible under the Taliban, however. “I promised myself if I graduated, I would work for animals,” she said. “Why would I study for five years and then do nothing? It’s not right.”

Now Dr. Rezaei works with Meredith Festa, who runs Paws Unite People, an animal shelter in Long Island, New York. Festa knew Dr. Rezaei from Festa’s work with two animal shelters in Afghanistan and was instrumental in getting the Afghan veterinarian and her husband out of the country.

Ten Afghan veterinarians and 16 veterinary technicians have been evacuated and are waiting in another country until they can be brought to the United States, according to Festa. They were not safe in Afghanistan because many have husbands or wives that worked with or for the U.S. government. “We are responsible for supporting them until a spot at a U.S. visa processing location is available,” Festa said.

“These are my friends. I know these people. But even if they weren’t my friends, getting them to safety is the right thing to do,” she said. “If the roles were reversed, I would hope that someone would help me, too.”

‘Nightmare unfolding’

More than six months after the withdrawal of U.S. forces, no country has yet formally recognized the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, although in late January, it was announced the Taliban would be meeting with international representatives in Norway.

The Afghan economy was heavily dependent on foreign aid, and most international development support has been suspended since August. But humanitarian aid has largely continued. In 2021, about $1.85 billion was provided to Afghanistan, according the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

The U.S. Agency for International Development announced Jan. 11 that the American government’s initial 2022 contribution will be more than $308 million for the people of Afghanistan. With this new funding, U.S. humanitarian aid in Afghanistan and to Afghan refugees in the region comes to nearly $782 million since October 2020. At the same time, the United States froze more than $9 billion in assets in Afghanistan’s central bank, restricting the Taliban government’s ability to pay civil service employees.

The DCA is providing limited support to fewer than 200 veterinary paraprofessionals continuing to work in 14 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces. However, the nation’s paraprofessional workers who are government employees are not being paid.

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A training session is conducted on properly collecting and submitting samples from the field for analysis at the Central Veterinary Diagnostic and Research Laboratory in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 260, 5; 10.2460/javma.260.5.475

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The human-animal bond transcends borders, nationality, and ethnicity.

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 260, 5; 10.2460/javma.260.5.475

According to a Jan. 19 report from the United Nations International Labor Organization, half a million jobs were lost in a country of 32 million people since the Taliban takeover. The ILO projects job losses will climb to at least 700,000 by midyear and possibly as high as 900,000.

Afghanistan’s isolation has resulted in a humanitarian crisis that Guterres described as an “unfolding nightmare.”

The secretary-general asked for a $5 billion commitment from the international community to aid Afghanistan in 2022, the largest U.N. humanitarian appeal for a single country. Without a more concerted effort from the international community, “virtually every man, woman and child in Afghanistan could face acute poverty,” Guterres said.

Coda

Dr. Susan Chadima had been assisting in Afghanistan off and on since 2005 and most recently in 2019. For two years, Dr. Chadima led the Animal Health Development Programme, a European Union project at the Afghanistan Ministry of Agriculture’s Directorate of Animal Health focused on disease diagnostics and control.

“Afghanistan is close to my heart,” Dr. Chadima said. “Our Afghan colleagues, veterinarians and veterinary paraprofessionals alike, have inspired me by their dedication and commitment to improving animal health and controlling disease. They continue to inspire to this day, even when faced with working with nothing.”

Every day, friends and colleagues who remain in Afghanistan email Dr. Chadima, asking her to help them leave the country. “It’s really hard, but we cannot forget Afghanistan,” she said. “We need to support our colleagues. We need to support veterinary medicine, and we need to remember that veterinary medicine has a broad international concern, impact, responsibility, and we need to find ways to continue supporting that in Afghanistan.”

VMX 2022 features industry overview, global research on human-animal bond

Veterinary Meeting & Expo draws thousands of attendees in person and virtually

By Katie Burns

The state of veterinary well-being, the resilience of the animal health industry, and the universality of the human-animal bond were among the topics featured at the 2022 Veterinary Meeting & Expo.

The North American Veterinary Community welcomed more than 15,000 attendees to VMX 2022 from Jan. 15-19 in person in Orlando, Florida, or virtually. Almost 13,000 participants attended the conference in person.

During the meeting, Merck Animal Health released findings from its third well-being study, conducted by Brakke Consulting in collaboration with the AVMA to examine the well-being and mental health of U.S. veterinarians (see page 483).

Also at VMX, Brakke Consulting presented its 2022 Animal Health Industry Overview to offer an update on the animal health industry, including veterinary medicine, and a look at monoclonal antibodies. The Human Animal Bond Research Institute and Zoetis shared results of an international survey on the human-animal bond, which found that 95% of dog and cat owners worldwide consider pets to be family. The NAVC launched its Veterinary Nurse/Technician Empowerment Initiative, aimed at elevating and advancing credentialed veterinary technicians.

In addition, Banfield Pet Hospital and the NAVC released their annual Veterinary Emerging Topics Report, focusing this year on how to improve safety and quality in veterinary practice (see sidebar, page 482).

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Attendees at the 2022 Veterinary Meeting & Expo participate in Pilates with puppies. (Courtesy of NAVC)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 260, 5; 10.2460/javma.260.5.475

Brakke industry overview

Dr. Bob Jones, president of Brakke Consulting, spoke about the performance of the animal health industry in 2021. He summarized the situation as follows:

  • Another chaotic, stressful year in veterinary clinics and on the farm.

  • The animal health industry once again demonstrated its resilience.

  • Every major animal health company showed growth—some at exceptional levels.

  • The outlook for 2022 performance should be good, with an inflation worry.

In an analysis of companion animal practices, Brakke noted the return to the conventional appointment model. Surveys by Brakke found that 88% of practices allowed clients to bring pets inside the clinic in 2021, up from 21% in 2020. These type of appointments increased from 17% to 70% of all appointments.

The percentage of practices offering curbside or drop-off service, with clients not coming inside the clinic, dropped from 88% to 73%. These type of appointments decreased from 76% to 27% of all appointments.

A smaller percentage of practices offered various types of telemedicine services in 2021 than in 2020. Telemedicine service via phone remained at 1% of all appointments, with telemedicine service via other means at less than 1% total.

The consolidation of veterinary practices continues at an aggressive pace, according to Brakke, which estimates that consolidator ownership stands at 75% of specialty and emergency practices and at 25% of general practices. Brakke estimates that consolidators’ market share is approaching 50% because of the size of the practices.

In other developments, Brakke believes monoclonal antibodies will change animal health. Uptake will be slower than in human health because of the lack of third-party payers, according to Brakke, and veterinarians will continue to use proven solutions. Nevertheless, some attractive features of monoclonal antibodies in veterinary medicine are infrequent dosing, high efficacy, being given by injection in a clinic, and a good safety profile.

In December 2016, the U.S. Department of Agriculture approved Cytopoint, a monoclonal antibody to treat atopic dermatitis in dogs. U.S. sales in 2020 were about $240 million. On Jan. 13, the Food and Drug Administration approved Solensia, a monoclonal antibody that targets nerve growth factor to treat pain associated with osteoarthritis in cats (see page 475). FDA approval of Librela, the corresponding drug for dogs, is expected in the second half of 2022, according to Brakke. All three drugs are from Zoetis.

Brakke believes that monoclonal antibodies have the potential to impact veterinary medicine broadly because they will serve unmet medical needs, will be priced higher than current treatment options, and must be administered in a veterinary clinic.

Brakke will present the industry overview again on March 7 at WVC. Information is at jav.ma/brakkewvc.

Human-animal bond

The Human Animal Bond Research Institute and Zoetis commissioned the survey on the human-animal bond, which was conducted by CM Research in 2021. The respondents were more than 16,000 dog and cat owners and more than 1,200 small animal veterinarians in Brazil, China, France, Germany, Japan, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

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During Brakke Consulting’s 2022 Animal Health Industry Overview at VMX, Dr. Bob Jones, president of Brakke, said veterinary clinics had another chaotic, stressful year in 2021. A December 2021 survey by Brakke found a return to the conventional appointment model.

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 260, 5; 10.2460/javma.260.5.475

The survey found the following about pet owners:

  • 92% say there is no reason they would ever be convinced to give up their pet.

  • 90% say they have a close relationship with their pet.

  • 86% would pay whatever it takes if their pet needed extensive veterinary care.

  • 76% say they would make major life changes for their pet, if necessary.

  • 87% have experienced mental or physical health benefits of the human-animal bond.

  • 98% reported at least one specific benefit to their health from their pets, including increased happiness, reduced loneliness, or decreased stress.

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The Human Animal Bond Score was developed for a project that surveyed more than 16,000 dog and cat owners on four continents. The survey found no strong cultural differences in terms of how the human-animal bond is experienced and expressed.

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 260, 5; 10.2460/javma.260.5.475

A new scale called the Human-Animal Bond Score was developed for the project. The mean global score was 57.9 out of 70. The survey found no strong cultural differences in terms of how the human-animal bond is experienced and expressed.

The higher the Human-Animal Bond Score, the higher the number of annual veterinary visits. The global percentage of pet owners who visit a veterinarian two or more times per year was 71% for a score of 63 or more, 62% for a score of 55-62, and 45% for a score of less than 55.

The survey found the following about veterinarians:

  • 81% are aware of scientific evidence showing mutual health benefits from the human-animal bond.

  • 71% believe discussing the human-animal bond is valuable.

  • 43% talk to their clients about the science behind the human-animal bond.

  • 58% believe talking about the human-animal bond encourages clients to provide the best care for pets.

  • 53% believe talking about the human-animal bond builds good relationships with clients.

  • The majority of veterinarians are interested in certification or continuing education regarding the human-animal bond. Interest is particularly high in China, at 99%; Brazil, at 98%; and Spain, at 86%.

The Human Animal Bond Research Institute and the NAVC offer certification in the human-animal bond, with the AVMA as the founding educational partner. Details are at navc.com/hab. Additional survey results are at habri.org/international-hab-survey.

NAVC news

The Veterinary Nurse/Technician Empowerment Initiative from the NAVC encompasses new programs for credentialed veterinary technicians and a national consumer awareness and education campaign.

The new programs provide resources and support in the areas of career development and growth, scholarships for continued learning, new hands-on courses, and a webinar series to address key issues facing credentialed veterinary technicians.

In early 2022, the NAVC is launching the national consumer awareness and education campaign sponsored by VCA Animal Hospitals, with support from the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America. The campaign will address the issues identified in a national survey conducted by Atomik Research on behalf of the NAVC, which found that many pet owners are neither aware of nor understand the role and educational requirements of certified veterinary technicians. After learning about credentialed veterinary technicians and their required level of education and expertise, 69% of pet owners reported that they feel more confident and comfortable with the level of care that these members of the veterinary practice provide to pets.

“A more informed and educated consumer—and a more informed veterinarian and practice manager—will not only benefit veterinary nurses and technicians, but will also benefit the practices where they work. The ultimate result being the delivery of better care for animals,” said Ed Carlson, then NAVTA president, in an announcement about the initiative. “Once this is accomplished, consumers will be as comfortable with a veterinary technician caring for their pet, as they are with an RN (registered nurse) caring for their loved one in a hospital.”

The 2022-23 NAVC officers are veterinary technician Harold Davis, West Sacramento, California, president; Dr. Bob Lester, greater Portland area, Oregon, president-elect; Dr. Karen Kline, Clackamas, Oregon, vice president; Dr. Christine Navarre, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, treasurer; and veterinary technician Paige Allen, West Lafayette, Indiana, immediate past president.

Banfield report focuses on improving safety, quality

Banfield Pet Hospital has decreased the anesthesia-related mortality rate in dogs and cats combined by implementing new standards, according to the latest Veterinary Emerging Topics Report from Banfield and the North American Veterinary Community.

The annual VET Report focused this year on how to improve safety and quality in veterinary practice overall, with a case study on anesthesia at Banfield hospitals.

To frame quality of veterinary care, Banfield uses Domains of Quality, adapted from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and first created by the Institute of Medicine. Under the framework, veterinary care should be equitable, safe, effective, timely, centered on pets and clients, and efficient.

In fall 2017, to improve anesthesia safety, Banfield implemented standards of practice to constitute the minimum acceptable level of care and best practices to meet or exceed the expected level of care. In fall 2018, Banfield added informational job aids to review and discuss the standards as well as two checklists, the Anesthesia Machine Checklist and the Pre-Induction Timeout Checklist.

Prior to the program, the anesthesia-related mortality rate for dogs and cats was an estimated 7.36 deaths per 10,000 procedures at Banfield hospitals. In the months after implementation, the mortality rate decreased to slightly over 6 deaths per 10,000 procedures.

The report goes on to offer tools for veterinary practices to improve quality. Two worksheets can help practices determine the root causes of adverse events. The report also outlines how to create champions for quality, foster communication to create and sustain a culture of quality and safety, and take steps after adverse events.

Banfield offers anesthesia resources and the series of VET Reports at banfieldexchange.com.

Study captures pandemic’s impact on veterinary profession

Other factors also found to affect well-being of veterinarians, support staff members

By Katie Burns

A study has found that the percentage of veterinarians with serious psychological distress increased to 9.7% in fall 2021, compared with 6.4% in fall 2019, and regression analysis suggests that this change was an effect of the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Jan. 18 at the 2022 Veterinary Meeting & Expo in Orlando, Florida, Merck Animal Health released findings from its third well-being study, conducted by Brakke Consulting Inc. in collaboration with the AVMA to examine the well-being and mental health of U.S. veterinarians. The Merck study has been conducted every other year since 2017. For the first time, the study also included responses from veterinary technicians and other support staff members.

“The past two years have been extremely challenging for veterinarians and their dedicated staff, and we are very grateful to everyone who contributed to this important study, which gives us a deeper look into what our colleagues are experiencing,” said Dr. José Arce, AVMA president, in an announcement. “The AVMA has dedicated itself to creating meaningful resources to help safeguard wellbeing, and this new research will further inform and support our vital, ongoing work in this critical area. We want our members to know that the AVMA hears them and is there to support them, whether it’s resources to help veterinarians manage their practices in this new environment, such as telehealth, or wellbeing resources to help veterinarians and their teams cope with stress.”

Merck Animal Health made a $100,000 donation in support of the AVMA’s well-being resources, as the company did in conjunction with the 2017 and 2019 studies.

“We are pleased to partner with Merck Animal Health on this important work during a time of unprecedented challenge for health care professionals,” said Jen Brandt, PhD, AVMA director of member well-being and diversity initiatives, in the announcement. “Given this critical need, the AVMA continues to develop and prioritize resources dedicated to supporting the wellbeing of veterinarians and staff, including our new ‘Train-the-Trainer’ workshop that empowers veterinary professionals to become educators and share valuable strategies to promote workplace wellbeing; as well as a workplace wellbeing certificate program, assessment tools, podcasts, webinars, self-care strategies and how and where to get help.”

In the 2021 well-being study, veterinarians were asked to rate a list of issues as critically or moderately important. The top five were as follows: stress levels of veterinarians and staff members, 92%; shortage of qualified support staff members, 91%; high levels of educational debt, 88%; the suicide rate among veterinarians, 88%; and shortage of veterinarians, 82%.

Regarding the impact of the pandemic, 81% of staff members and 67% of veterinarians said their practice was short-handed at times. Furthermore, 63% of staff members and 61% of veterinarians said their job increased their exposure to COVID-19, and 51% of staff members and 46% of veterinarians said they worked longer hours than they usually would have.

The percentage of staff members with serious psychological distress was 18.1%, compared with 9.7% of veterinarians. Half of staff respondents and 31% of veterinarians had high burnout.

Only a third of distressed veterinarians had a healthy method for dealing with stress, compared with 81% of nondistressed veterinarians. Serious psychological distress was more common in veterinarians who worked excessive hours. Veterinarians who did not report distress spent more time on healthy activities outside of work, such as socializing with family and friends. Serious psychological distress was lower in veterinarians with a financial planner.

The study findings suggest that employers should acknowledge that low well-being and mental distress exist in the profession and encourage team members to address these problems; provide mental health insurance coverage, an employee assistance program, or both; and provide a work climate that fosters well-being and mental health. Some elements of a healthy work environment are a strong sense of belonging to a team, a high degree of trust in the organization, candid and open communications among team members, and sufficient time to provide high-quality patient care.

Dr. Christine Royal, Merck Animal Health’s associate vice president for U.S. companion animal and equine professional services, said in the announcement: “Now more than ever, it is clear that veterinary practitioners and their staff play an essential role caring for the animals we love and maintaining the human-animal bond. And at Merck Animal Health, we have unconditional respect for veterinary professionals and their dedicated service, particularly during these unconventional times.”

She continued, “We are committed to protecting the health and welfare of veterinary professionals and ensuring we build a robust and engaged profession for the future, with opportunities such as scholarship funding, wellbeing webinars, networking opportunities and much more.”

The third Merck well-being study was conducted in September and October 2021 by Brakke among a nationally representative sample of 2,495 veterinarians in the U.S., both practitioners and nonpractitioners. In the 2021 study, practitioner respondents were asked to pass along a special link to full-time staff members across practice roles, and staff members returned a total of 448 completed questionnaires.

USDA awards $7.5M for loan repayment to address shortage areas

By Katie Burns

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Jan. 12 that it made awards totaling $7.5 million to 78 veterinarians in 2021 toward repayment of veterinary student loans in return for service in shortage areas in food animal practice or public practice.

The USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture made the awards through the federal Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program. The VMLRP pays up to $25,000 per year towards repayment of educational loans of veterinarians who agree to serve in a NIFA-designated veterinary shortage situation for a period of three years.

The USDA pays 37% of the federal funding provided to the VMLRP to cover a withholding tax. The AVMA continues to lobby Congress to eliminate the tax by passing the bipartisan Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program Enhancement Act, reintroduced last year in the House of Representatives (HR 2447) and the Senate (S 2215).

Among recent VMLRP awardees in public practice are Drs. Nora Hickey and Katherine Onofryton at the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission in the state of Washington. Dr. Hickey was selected for a VMLRP award first for the work she was doing as the program veterinarian for the NWIFC, an organization that supports management of natural resources for 20 tribes in western Washington state. When the commission hired Dr. Onofryton as the second program veterinarian in 2020, she applied for and received a VMLRP award.

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Drs. Katherine Onofryton (left) and Nora Hickey, veterinarians with the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission in the state of Washington, collect tissue samples from returning coho salmon for pathogen surveillance at the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe’s hatchery. Both are awardees through the federal Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program for service in shortage areas. (Photo by Tiffany Royal/NWIFC)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 260, 5; 10.2460/javma.260.5.475

The veterinarians’ work involves providing fish and wildlife health services for the 20 tribes, which are co-managers of Pacific salmon with the state of Washington and have more than 40 facilities rearing Pacific salmon for conservation and enhancement goals.

“Being a veterinarian in fisheries has a number of challenges, one of which is that resource agencies may not be able to provide salaries that are as competitive as those in private veterinary practice,” Dr. Hickey said. “The VMLRP award helps to compensate veterinarians providing important services for the educational debt they took on to get their professional training. Pacific salmon are an important public resource and an essential cultural and nutritional resource for the Indian tribes that the U.S. government has treaty obligations to maintain.”

The VMLRP awards for federal fiscal year 2021 are for service in veterinary shortage areas in a total of 36 states. These shortage areas include five each in Nebraska and South Dakota and four each in Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas.

Fifteen awards are for type 1 shortages, at least 80% food animal practice. Fifty-five awards are for type 2 shortages, at least 30% food animal practice in rural areas. Eight awards are for type 3 shortages, at least 49% public practice.

Additional information about the VMLRP is available at nifa.usda.gov/vmlrp. April 15 is the next deadline for applications.

Loan payment pause offers reprieve

Veterinarians and veterinary students express gratitude for respite from payments and interest

By Greg Cima

During the federal pause in student loan payments and interest accrual, Dr. Stephanie Willney felt for the first time she was making progress against her educational debt.

“It made me feel like the payments that I was making towards my student loans were actually making an impact,” Dr. Willney said. “We get interest on interest, and it feels like it just digs us deeper and deeper into debt.”

Federal officials have paused payments on federal educational loans, reduced interest on that debt to zero, and suspended collections on defaulted loans since March 2020 through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act and subsequent extensions. On Dec. 22, 2021, the Biden Administration extended the relief package through May 1.

Dr. Willney finished her veterinary degree in 2017 at the University of Illinois and spent the following year living with her parents so she could pay off the $30,000 she owed for her undergraduate education. She continued working full time and making payments on her loans while she earned her master’s in public health, completing that degree in 2019.

Dr. Willney was able to make regular payments and even some extra payments before 2020, but she and her husband felt more comfortable with their finances after the pause took effect.

“We were able to have a baby during this time, when it felt like we were financially stable enough to afford day care, pay our mortgage, and pay extra on my student loans,” she said.

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Dr. Stephanie Willney said the pause in federal student loan payments and interest accrual gave her and her husband the financial stability to make major changes in their lives. (Courtesy of Dr. Willney)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 260, 5; 10.2460/javma.260.5.475

As of January, Dr. Willney owed about $238,000.

In an announcement, U.S. Department of Education officials indicated the ongoing relief effort would affect about 141 million people. They also stated that the most recent extension would let the administration assess the impact of the SARS-CoV-2 omicron variant on those with educational debt, give those borrowers more time to plan for resumed payments, and reduce delinquency and defaults when payments resume.

“The Department will continue its work to transition borrowers smoothly back into repayment, including by improving student loan servicing,” the announcement states.

Paying down the principal

In messages and interviews, veterinarians indicated they continued paying back their educational debt during the pause and were able to make thousands of dollars in extra payments toward their loan principal rather than the regular monthly payments that mostly would have applied to interest.

Dr. Lauren Stuekerjuergen graduated in 2018 from Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine with about $380,000 in educational debt and, soon after, entered the Pay As You Earn loan repayment plan. At first, she moved back in with her parents in Virginia to save money, and she felt unable to pick up extra shifts because temporarily increasing her income would raise her future monthly loan payments.

As the COVID-19 pandemic began, the pause in loan payments let her invest what she would have paid each month into the stock market. Combined with savings she had built up, she was able to invest about $140,000 since the pause began and cash out in December 2021 with more than $200,000 toward her debt. Dr. Stuekerjuergen, who works at a private practice in Northern Virginia, also refinanced and left the PAYE plan. She is no longer hesitant to pick up extra shifts, and she hopes to pay off the remaining balance within the next three years.

Dr. Kelsey Deaver graduated from Iowa State University in May 2021 with about $245,000 in educational debt. Although she had to start payments in December on her nonfederal loans, delaying the start of her federal payments has already allowed her to build an emergency fund and pay a deposit on a truck to replace the 2001 Honda Accord she’s had since she was 16. She also plans to consolidate her other debt into her federal loans.

Barring another extension of the pause, Dr. Deaver will start making payments through an income-based repayment plan in May. Between saving for retirement and paying for her education, “I’m going to have to be a lot stricter with my budget,” she said.

Dr. Deaver works at a mixed animal practice in Granbury, Texas, where a co-worker who graduated a few years earlier has been considering taking out a business loan to pursue a partnership at the clinic. Dr. Deaver said the break in payments and interest made that possibility less intimidating for her co-worker.

For students, too, the pause in interest accrual has slowed the expansion of their existing debt.

Ilissa Chasnick, who is a fourth-year veterinary student at Michigan State University, has more than $100,000 in federal loan debt, and she noted that she is paying in-state tuition. She expressed happiness about the pause in interest accrual, but she is concerned that she may face a high interest rate when the pause ends.

Chasnick plans to enter an internship followed by a residency. She wants to pursue a career in emergency and critical care, hopefully as a resident and then faculty member at Michigan State.

But Chasnick sees disinterest among fellow students in pursuing specialty training because of the lower pay during those first years following graduation.

“A lot of my classmates are uninterested in pursuing those specialties knowing that, for the next four years, they have to endure a huge pay cut,” compared with the pay in private practice, she said.

Chasnick thinks the high debt load and low wages—among veterinarians and veterinary technicians—also discourage people from entering veterinary medicine.

Debt burden remains

AVMA leaders have also advocated that Department of Education officials be responsive to veterinarians and veterinary students with educational debt. In July 2021, AVMA leaders noted in a letter to DOE officials that earning a four-year veterinary degree in the U.S. costs $160,000-$290,000. They called for protection of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, expressed opposition to caps on amounts forgiven through that program, advocated for a federal refinancing option, and recommended an automatic pause in student loan repayments and interest for veterinarians seeking advanced education and training.

Results from the 2020 AVMA Senior Survey separately indicate the respondents had a mean of $160,000 in educational debt. An article in the April 15, 2021, issue of JAVMA describes findings from that survey, including the mean starting salary of $93,000 among respondents entering private practice.

Dr. Willney said resuming payments in May will add stress, and veterinarians are already dealing with stresses related to adoption of curbside practice and the increased number of patients.

“We are working and working and working, so to add the stress of the zero percent going away—that definitely I think will affect just mental health and overall well-being,” Dr. Willney said.

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Dr. Kelsey Deaver, who works in mixed animal practice in Granbury, Texas, was able to build an emergency fund and replaced her 20-year-old car during the pause in federal student loan payments. (Courtesy of Dr. Deaver)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 260, 5; 10.2460/javma.260.5.475

Dr. Willney also wants more scrutiny of tuition rates, how that cost is portrayed to potential students as accessible, and how well educational loans and debt are discussed with students.

Bisol elected to AVMA Board as District I representative

By R. Scott Nolen

Dr. Amanda Bisol was elected this February to the AVMA Board of Directors as District I director, representing AVMA members in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

The small animal practitioner from Skowhegan, Maine, ran unopposed for the seat currently held by Board Chair Dr. Karen Bradley, whose six-year term ends this summer during AVMA Convention 2022 in Philadelphia.

“I hope my experiences as a younger practitioner in rural medicine, lobbying, legal training, and balancing family life will provide a new perspective and add to a strong board dynamic,” said Dr. Bisol, a 2011 graduate of the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine.

“I am particularly looking forward to working on improving diversity in the profession, promoting mental health and work-life balance, and ensuring stability and sustainability with veterinary business models,” she said.

d15217431e736

Dr. Amanda Bisol

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 260, 5; 10.2460/javma.260.5.475

Dr. Bisol was part owner of a veterinary practice in Skowhegan and is currently working part time while also studying at the University of Maine School of Law. She plans on using her knowledge of the law to become a stronger advocate for veterinarians and the profession.

Throughout her veterinary career, Dr. Bisol has been active in organized veterinary medicine. In addition to serving as president of Penn Vet’s student chapter of the AVMA, she also participated in the AVMA Government Relations Division’s externship program in Washington, D.C. In her home state, Dr. Bisol was a director with the Maine VMA’s board of directors from 2016-20 and chaired its legislative committee.

In 2017, Dr. Bisol was named Maine’s alternate delegate in the AVMA House of Delegates. Two years later, she transitioned to delegate and was elected to the House Advisory Committee.

Swine farms vary in their risk from endemic PED

Recent analysis indicates the counties with more swine farms are more likely to have outbreaks of porcine epidemic diarrhea.

An article published in January by National Hog Farmer notes that the PED virus has become endemic in the U.S. The overall number of cases has been declining since the virus emerged in U.S. swine herds in 2013, and the risk of outbreaks today varies by region of the country, season, and number of swine in the area, it states.

The authors, from the University of Minnesota Department of Veterinary Population Medicine, indicate the PED virus persists in the swine breeding herd with low incidence.

The researchers analyzed data on PED surveillance collected July 2014-June 2021 from 1,100 breeding farms in 27 states. The data came from the Morrison Swine Health Monitoring Project at the University of Minnesota, and the researchers identified 625 outbreaks at 373 farms during that time.

Kimberly VanderWaal, PhD, who is one of the article authors and an associate professor in the University of Minnesota Department of Veterinary Population Medicine, said the project tracks PED in about half the U.S. swine breeding population, and about 7% of those sow farms have a PED outbreak in a typical year. The regions with low incidence could move toward eliminating the virus with a concerted industry effort, she said.

Dr. VanderWaal said the research team also has found that, on average, a typical sow farm would have an outbreak about once every 10 years, down from once in 2.5 years early in the virus’s emergence in the U.S.

The Swine Health Information Center funded the research. Dr. Paul Sundberg, executive director of the SHIC, said the biosecurity measures to keep PED off farms are well known.

“We’re having reasonably good success at keeping PED at a relatively low level,” he said. “That being said, there are still instances where we are investigating outbreaks to help find the lapses in biosecurity that enable outbreaks.”

Study explores pandemic-specific challenges of pet ownership

Stories about the joy and benefits of pet ownership are a hallmark of the coronavirus pandemic. Less discussed are the hardships, stressors, and difficulties unique to caring for pets during this unprecedented period.

A study published in the journal Animals this past October did, in fact, find that pets were a source of stress for a majority of owners during the pandemic. Owner concerns included meeting a pet’s social and behavioral needs, frustration over a pet’s desire for attention and repeated interruptions during work, and changes to how veterinary services are delivered.

The study results are based on the responses of over 3,670 U.S. pet owners surveyed between April and July 2020.

Pet attachment was significantly lower for owners who reported human-related concerns than for those who did not. These concerns included issues having to do with their own well-being and mental health, problems with working from home with pets, and difficulties balancing roles and responsibilities alongside pet care.

“Because strong attachment bonds between an owner and their pet are known to be protective of relinquishment, this is of particular concern,” the study states.

While the study format prevents the authors from inferring causation, they suggest the possibility that the human-animal bond was compromised because of the owner’s issues with the pet during the pandemic.

“Alternatively, the owner may be less tolerant of frustrations and difficulties with the pet as a result of their weaker attachment bond prior to the pandemic, possibly compromised mental health, and reduced support from people,” they write.

Many respondents mentioned or implied concerns about spreading SARS-CoV-2, thus impacting their daily behaviors related to pet care and contributing to problematic pet behaviors. Several respondents worried their pet was vulnerable to the virus or about the animal’s potential to spread SARS-CoV-2 to vulnerable people—despite no evidence of this occurring.

Concerns with changes in the delivery of veterinary services had to do with curbside drop-off and prohibitions against owners accompanying pets.

The Animals study authors suggest supporting owners in accessing resources to mitigate issues that may jeopardize the human-animal bond and increase the risk of relinquishment or abandonment. Especially important are resources and solutions for people who may be suffering from job loss, economic uncertainty, and housing insecurity.

“Results from this study indicate that pet owners experienced unique hardships related to changes in everyday life from the COVID-19 pandemic,” the authors write. “These hardships should be considered alongside the potential benefits found in other studies in order to manage pet owner expectations, prevent pet relinquishment, and more fully understand multifaceted human–companion animal relationships.”

Relatedly, the AVMA conducted a survey of over 2,000 pet owners in February and March 2021 asking pet owners about their experiences in 2020. The data, which collected pet and pet owner demographics, will be published later this year.

Preliminary results indicate that people who work remotely were eight times as likely to get a new pet in 2020. Other people likely to get a new pet in 2020 were homeowners with a household income over $100,000, those who were financially the same or better off since the pandemic began, and those under 45 who were married with children.

In addition, according to the AVMA survey, about 24% of dog owners and 35% of cat owners don’t bring their dogs or cats to see a veterinarian at least once a year. The primary reasons given relate to the perceived value of that care and affordability. Less than 10% of respondents said it was because of inconvenience or a veterinarian not being available to them.

Read the study in Animals, “The Concerns, Difficulties, and Stressors of Caring for Pets during COVID-19: Results from a Large Survey of U.S. Pet Owners,” at jav.ma/pets.

People

American college of zoological medicine

The American College of Zoological Medicine held a virtual meeting on Nov. 8, 2021.

In 2021, the college updated its strategic plan, administered the annual qualifying and certifying examinations virtually, and incorporated revisions to procedures and policies. The membership also voted on and ratified revisions to the mission statement and elected four honorary members. A new Diversity, Equity, Access, and Inclusion Ad Hoc Committee was launched, and support was granted for a Member Services Committee and a Mentoring Ad Hoc Committee. Two new at-large board members were proposed for the Executive Committee.

The new ACZM officials are Drs. Doug Whiteside, Calgary, Alberta, president; Christopher Bonar, Boston, vice president; Jennifer D’Agostino, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, secretary; Lisa Harrenstien, Portland, Oregon, treasurer; and Jennifer Langan, Chicago, immediate past president.

American Board of Veterinary Practitioners

The American Board of Veterinary Practitioners welcomed 44 new diplomates following the board certification examination it held remotely on Sept. 21, 2021, with the breakdown of new diplomates as follows:

  • 1 in beef cattle practice.

  • 24 in canine and feline practice.

  • 3 in dairy practice.

  • 4 in equine practice.

  • 2 in exotic companion mammal practice.

  • 4 in feline practice.

  • 1 in food animal practice.

  • 2 in reptile and amphibian practice.

  • 2 in shelter medicine practice.

  • 1 in swine health management practice.

American College of Veterinary Behaviorists

The American College of Veterinary Behaviorists welcomed two new diplomates following the board certification examination it held Oct. 2-3, 2021, in Raleigh, North Carolina.

American College of Veterinary dermatology

The American College of Veterinary Dermatology welcomed 18 new diplomates following the board certification examination it held virtually on Nov. 6, 2021.

Visit avma.org/news/community to read the full reports from these organizations, including awards and the names of new diplomates.

In Memory

Michael Adams

Dr. Adams, 72, Clearwater, Florida, died July 26, 2021. He was a 1973 graduate of Cairo University Faculty of Veterinary Medicine in Egypt. During his career, Dr. Adams owned several mixed animal hospitals in Florida’s Pinellas County, including practices in Clearwater and St. Pete Beach. At the time of his death, he owned Hope and Care Animal Hospital in Clearwater. Dr. Adams is survived by his wife, Hope; two children; and two grandchildren. Memorials may be made to St. Mary and St. Mina Coptic Orthodox Church, 2930 County Road 193, Clearwater, FL 33759.

Eldon L. Bower

Dr. Bower (Colorado State ’65), 80, Sacramento, California, died Dec. 2, 2021. He was a partner at South Sacramento Veterinary Hospital for more than 30 years. Dr. Bower’s wife, Martha; two sons and two daughters; six grandchildren; and a brother survive him. Memorials may be made to the Placer Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, 200 Tahoe Ave., Roseville, CA 95678, or the California Waterfowl Association, 1346 Blue Oaks Blvd., Roseville, CA 95678.

Roger D. Estep

Dr. Estep (Tuskegee ’62), 91, Rockville, Maryland, died Dec. 16, 2021. He spent most of his career at Howard University in Washington, D.C., where he began as head of the laboratory animal program and retired as vice president of university relations and development. Dr. Estep also worked for a period of time at the National Institutes of Health. He is survived by a son.

Mark D. Ferris

Dr. Ferris (Florida ’87), 60, Burgettstown, Pennsylvania, died Nov. 25, 2021. He began his career at Chester Veterinary Clinic, a mixed animal practice in Chester, West Virginia, serving as a partner from 1991-2001. In 1998, Dr. Ferris bought Hilltop Animal Hospital in Paris, Pennsylvania, where he practiced small animal medicine for 18 years. He later established Peaceful Goodbyes, a home-based euthanasia service for pets. Dr. Ferris’ wife, Patty; a son; and two brothers survive him. Memorials may be made to Frankfort Presbyterian Church, 3326 State Route 18, Hookstown, PA 15050, or Hancock County Animal Shelter, 715 Gas Valley Road, New Cumberland, WV 26047.

Donald M. herr

Dr. Herr (Cornell ’63), 83, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, died Dec. 12, 2021. He co-founded Manheim Pike Veterinary Hospital in Lancaster with his wife, Dr. Patricia L. Thomson Herr (Cornell ’60). Dr. Herr was known for his expertise in veterinary dentistry. He was a past vice president of the Pennsylvania VMA, receiving the PVMA Award of Merit in 1982. His wife, a son, two daughters, two grandchildren, and a sister survive him. Memorials may be made to the Lancaster County Historical Society, 230 N. President Ave., Lancaster, PA 17603, lancasterhistory.org.

Donald J. Kammerzell

Dr. Kammerzell (Colorado State ’89), 60, Littleton, Colorado, died Nov. 30, 2021. He was a mixed animal practitioner. Dr. Kammerzell was also active with the family hay farm in Longmont, Colorado, for several years. He is survived by his wife, Debbie; a son; his father; and a brother.

Merle C. Loveless

Dr. Loveless (Cornell ’60), 87, Delhi, New York, died Dec. 15, 2021. He retired in the mid-1990s after 36 years in academia, most recently serving as a professor at the State University of New York in Delhi. During his tenure at SUNY-Delhi, Dr. Loveless taught veterinary technology, equine and dairy science, and anatomy and physiology courses. Earlier, he taught at the University of Georgia and the University of Rhode Island. Dr. Loveless’ wife, Marilyn; four sons; nine grandchildren; and a great-grandchild survive him.

James M. Mathis

Dr. Mathis (Texas A&M ’53), 94, Fort Worth, Texas, died Jan. 2, 2022. Following graduation, he was in private practice for a year in Tyler, Texas, before joining the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a veterinary meat inspector. While with the USDA, Dr. Mathis served in supervisory and management positions in the Southwest, Midwest, and in Washington, D.C. He also developed procedures for compliance guidance for meat and poultry inspection, heading operations in Lawrence, Kansas. In 1980, Dr. Mathis left the USDA and established a feline practice in Texas’ Tarrant County. He retired from active practice in 1999. Dr. Mathis was a member of the Masonic Lodge and a veteran of the Navy. His son, three grandchildren, and a sister survive him.

H. Dennis McCurdy

Dr. McCurdy (Georgia ’66), 82, Overland Park, Kansas, died Dec. 23, 2021. Following graduation, he practiced small animal medicine in Augusta, Georgia. From 1967-69, Dr. McCurdy served in the Army, during which time he worked at the Raymond W. Bliss Army Health Center at Fort Huachuca in Arizona. He subsequently returned to small animal practice in Augusta. In 1972, Dr. McCurdy began a career in the pharmaceutical industry, working initially for Pitman-Moore and later for Bayer Animal Health. He retired in 1996. Active in his community, Dr. McCurdy developed a mentoring program for Science Pioneers, a volunteer organization in Kansas City, Kansas. His wife, Carol; a daughter and a son; and four grandchildren survive him.

Roger K. McInturf

Dr. McInturf (Ohio State ’63), 84, Ashland, Ohio, died Nov. 18, 2021. Following graduation, he established a practice in Ashland. Dr. McInturf subsequently helped establish Spring Meadow Veterinary Clinic in Ashland, where he served as a partner. He retired in 2006. Dr. McInturf was active with the 4-H Club. He is survived by his wife, Mary; three children; five grandchildren; and nine siblings. Memorials may be made to Grace Church, 1144 W. Main St., Ashland, OH 44805; Brookside Junior Golf Program, 1399 Sandusky St., Ashland, OH 44805; or the Ashland County 4-H Committee, 1763 State Route 60, Ashland, OH 44805.

Leon J. Mills

Dr. Mills (Kansas State ’64), 81, Herington, Kansas, died Nov. 14, 2021. Following graduation, he practiced mixed animal medicine in Ralston, Nebraska, and in Eureka, Kansas. During that time, Dr. Mills also worked with racehorses at Eureka Downs. He subsequently served two years as a captain in the Army and worked as a staff veterinarian at Armour-Baldwin Laboratories. Dr. Mills next practiced for three years in Ottawa, Kansas. He went on to own Herington Animal Hospital. In 1980, Dr. Mills sold his practice and joined JJ Sheldon & Associates, a feedlot consulting company. He later served as an independent consultant. Dr. Mills is survived by his wife, Pat; two sons and a daughter; and seven grandchildren. Memorials may be made to the Parkinson’s Foundation, 200 SE 1st St., Suite 800, Miami, FL 33131, parkinson.org.

Merlin R. Oswalt

Dr. Oswalt (Ohio State ’56), 88, Heber Springs, Arkansas, died Nov. 19, 2021. Following graduation, he practiced mixed animal medicine in West Alexandria, Ohio, for more than 20 years. In 1978, Dr. Oswalt bought Western Hill Veterinary Clinic in Middletown, Ohio, where he practiced small animal medicine until retirement in 1995. He later served as a relief veterinarian in Arkansas for two years. Dr. Oswalt is survived by two daughters, three grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

Joseph C. Potucek Jr.

Dr. Potucek (Oklahoma State ’57), 88, Paris, Texas, died Dec. 24, 2021. He practiced mixed animal medicine for 40 years in northern Indiana, where he owned Southlane Veterinary Hospital in Valparaiso from 1958-97. Dr. Potucek subsequently owned a ranch in Willow City, Texas, raising Quarter Horses and cattle. He was a member of the American Association of Equine Practitioners. Dr. Potucek was active with the 4-H Club, serving on the board of directors of the Porter County 4-H Hub in Indiana and as superintendent of its Horse and Pony Project for several years. He is survived by his life partner, Alice; a daughter and two sons; four grandchildren; and a brother.

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

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