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Photo by Nathan Latil/NCSU

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 260, 9; 10.2460/javma.260.9.973

AAHA UPDATES GUIDELINES ON PAIN MANAGEMENT IN DOGS AND CATS

The latest guidelines on pain management in dogs and cats from the American Animal Hospital Association separate out recommendations for cats and dogs while continuing to promote a team approach to pain management that involves the pet owner as well as the practice team.

The 2022 AAHA Pain Management Guidelines for Dogs and Cats appeared in the March/April edition of the Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association. The American Association of Feline Practitioners endorsed the document and planned to publish the guidelines in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery. The previous edition was published in JAAHA and JFMS in 2015.

In separating out recommendations for cats and dogs, the guidelines are laid out to offer in-depth information alongside flow diagrams and decision trees specific to caring for each species.

The guidelines expand discussion of species-specific needs, such as cats’ need for vertical space, and cover the caregiver burden when making recommendations for pain management.

According to the document, “The primary purpose of these guidelines is to help veterinarians and veterinary team members confidently and accurately create a reproduceable pain assessment in cats and dogs, as well as an initial therapy plan with guidance on reassessing and adjusting the plan as needed.”

The document and additional resources are available online at aaha.org/guidelines.

CANINE WELFARE PROGRAM CERTIFIES 100-PLUS DOG BREEDERS

More than 100 dog breeders have gained certification through a Purdue University–based program that measures dogs for stress, disease, and ability to thrive in homes. The program was created five years ago and supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a way to improve the lives of animals by elevating standards of care in the dog breeding industry.

Candace Croney, PhD, professor of animal behavior and well-being at Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine, leads the Canine Care Certified program. She said program participants are seeing noticeable improvements in the health, happiness, and behavior of dogs under their care.

“Every indication of their body language suggests that they are happier to see people,” she said.

The people who buy those dogs, too, are quite happy, she said. Veterinarians have told Dr. Croney they can tell which dogs come from certified breeders because of their good behavior.

Commercial dog breeding companies that participate in the program agree to meet health and welfare standards and undergo audits for compliance. Information from Purdue indicates the program provides assurances that breeders attend to their dogs’ physical, genetic, and behavioral health as well as commit to raising standards of care.

GENE EDITING COULD CREATE HYPOALLERGENIC CATS

Researchers at InBio, formerly Indoor Biotechnologies, a biotechnology company in Virginia, report progress en route to developing a hypoallergenic cat in a new article published online April 19 in The CRISPR Journal.

About 15% of people are allergic to domestic cats, which researchers have previously shown is largely attributable to an allergen called Fel d 1 that is shed by all cats. In the new study, Nicole F. Brackett, PhD, and colleagues at InBio performed a bioinformatics analysis of the Fel d 1 genes from 50 domestic cats to pinpoint conserved coding regions suitable for CRISPR editing. While the biologic function of Fel d 1 is unknown, further comparisons to genes in eight exotic felid species revealed a high degree of variation, suggesting that Fel d 1 is nonessential for cats. The researchers used CRISPR-Cas9 to disrupt Fel d 1 genes with high efficiency in cells from domestic cats.

The article is available at jav.ma/hypo.

Swine veterinarians, industry planning against disease threats

U.S. Swine Health Improvement Plan halfway through pilot program

By Greg Cima

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The U.S. Swine Health Improvement Plan’s House of Delegates met for the first time in August 2021 and will meet again this September. The program’s experts are developing standards to help protect swine from disease, and the program could eventually have trade benefits for participants. (Courtesy of Dr. Tyler Holck)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 260, 9; 10.2460/javma.260.9.973

Dr. Tyler Holck said the swine industry has been improving how it prevents disease, identifies infections that slip through, and shares information.

He sees potential to do even better with widespread adoption of best practices and is helping lead efforts to define and standardize those practices.

The U.S. Swine Health Improvement Plan is two years into its four-year, U.S. Department of Agriculture–funded pilot phase, during which representatives from industry, government, and academia are working to develop standards intended to increase barriers against pathogens, track animal movements, and quickly detect infections. If the pilot program proves successful by fall 2024, it could transition into a USDA-run program and potentially provide trade benefits for participants.

Dr. Holck, senior project coordinator for US SHIP and lead public health veterinarian at Iowa State University Veterinary Diagnostic and Production Animal Medicine, said the work is producing a national disease response playbook that would be administered by participating state governments. The vision is for the plan to enhance collaboration among producers, packers, veterinarians, and state and federal officials, he said.

Pork industry representatives, state veterinarians, and USDA officials will meet this September in suburban Minneapolis for the second US SHIP House of Delegates meeting. Among the scheduled events, the agenda includes sessions for state agencies to talk about logistics of the program, education on the results of recent studies and other developments that could influence industry practices, and a business meeting to consider adopting proposed standards and resolutions.

CREATING THE PLAYBOOK

The US SHIP is modeled on the National Poultry Improvement Plan, a state and federal government testing and certification program that was started in the 1930s with goals to reduce poultry deaths from disease, improve poultry breeding, and improve poultry performance. USDA information indicates most U.S. trading partners require NPIP participation from exporters of poultry and poultry products.

During the pilot program, the primary goal for US SHIP is creation of a certification program that swine farms and slaughter facilities are free of African swine fever and classical swine fever and they have added biosecurity measures that reduce their risk of disease introduction, similar to an avian influenza certification program through the NPIP. ASF and CSF are highly contagious viral diseases that are deadly to swine.

CSF, also known as hog cholera, was eradicated in 1978 in the U.S. but it remains endemic in parts of Central and South America, Europe, Asia, and Africa, according to USDA and World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) information. African swine fever has not spread to the U.S., but its recent spread into Asia has devastated swine herds, and the virus spread to Haiti and the Dominican Republic in 2021.

Dr. Dustin Oedekoven, chief veterinarian for the National Pork Board, hopes to see increased standardization of disease prevention and control, which helps provide confidence that producers can move swine across state lines safely. The National Pork Board and National Pork Producers Council not only support the US SHIP but also have made its development a priority toward preparing for African swine fever’s potential introduction in the U.S.

“I think it’s a unique tool that the pork industry has an opportunity to participate in—to establish those standards for biosecurity, traceability, and surveillance,” he said.

Dr. Holck said the US SHIP has already secured participation from 28 states, including the 15 states that together raise more than 99% of nation’s pigs. He hopes more will enroll.

“By participating even in this pilot, they’re saying, ‘We see the need to have a more uniform approach to animal health and, in this case, swine with ASF or CSF,’” he said.

State agencies participating in the US SHIP pilot program have begun enrolling pork producers, who are taking biosecurity surveys to assess how closely their practices align with program standards and will work to meet those standards, Dr. Oedekoven said.

He also noted that US SHIP officials are working to evaluate methods of tracing the movements of animals in the U.S. One of those tools is a software platform, AgView, that was funded by the Pork Checkoff and can be used to share animal contact tracing data with governmental animal health officials on day one of an outbreak of foreign animal disease.

APPLYING EXPERTISE

The program’s working groups are trying to address vulnerabilities that have been linked with past disease outbreaks.

For example, Dr. Jordan Gebhardt, assistant professor of swine production at Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine, is helping develop the US SHIP playbook for biosecurity of swine feed. He is one of four K-State faculty members who are leading a US SHIP working group that is striving to create standards that would be useful for large-scale producers and small local ones alike.

USDA officials concluded in 2015 that contaminated feed and feed containers most likely carried viable porcine epidemic diarrhea virus in spring 2013 into the U.S. and started the outbreaks that killed millions of pigs. The woven shipping bags were also implicated in outbreaks of a swine deltacoronavirus that caused similar clinical signs but far fewer deaths.

Study results published in recent years suggest other viruses, including the ASF virus, also can remain viable through overseas shipping in certain feed ingredients.

Dr. Gebhardt said the next steps involve coming together as an industry and deciding what standards swine producers need to meet and how to achieve them. And the US SHIP House of Delegates agreed in fall 2021 that the industry needs more information on feed biosecurity.

For swine feed, he said, “Eventually, we hope to have some materials and some standards in place regarding biosecurity within the US SHIP program.”

Until fall 2024, Dr. Holck and co-leaders of the program will work to show they can develop robust, uniform standards and secure agreements that will be adopted across states—particularly the major pork-producing states. The program eventually could help pork producers not only protect against foreign diseases but also combat diseases such as porcine epidemic diarrhea and porcine respiratory and reproductive syndrome.

“Long term, you get more and more critical mass involved in this program—this program expands beyond ASF and CSF and starts dealing with some of the endemic diseases like PED, PRRS, or mycoplasma—it has great potential value to improve the health for our swine industry,” he said. “And that’s, again, the model from the NPIP.”

GIVING REPTILES AND AMPHIBIANS THE BEST MEDICINE

By R. Scott Nolen

Ball pythons, bearded dragons, and Pacman frogs—though neither cute nor cuddly—are part of a menagerie of pet reptiles and amphibians, or herptiles, owned by millions of Americans. And they appear to be an increasingly attractive option for pet owners.

Results from the American Pet Products Association’s latest National Pet Owners Survey show an estimated 5.7 million U.S. households own at least one reptile. Reptile ownership is most common among younger pet owners, with the percentage of Generation Z reptile owners, increasing from 18% in 2018 to 27% in 2020, the survey says. Millennials are the largest cohort of reptile owners at 37%.

A 2020 survey by consumer market researcher Packaged Facts found most reptile owners consider their pet milk snake or blue-tongued skink a member of the family. “Reptile ownership also synchs with demographic shifts including the advancement of Millennial and urban households in that the smaller pets are ideal for tighter spaces,” according to the survey summary. “Equally important—and all the more so given the impact of the coronavirus pandemic—reptiles are affordable compared with dogs or cats, with most reptile owners view(ing) their reptile setups as a reasonable expense.”

Dr. Mark Mitchell, director of the Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine Wildlife Hospital, well understands the attachment a person can have to an animal species that other people might find, well, icky or gross. That attachment, he says, sometimes results in a greater willingness to spend.

“I’ve seen pet reptile owners spend thousands of dollars to save their pet,” he said. “They’re no different from dog or cat owners willing to spend tens of thousands of dollars on diagnostics and treatments and surgeries for the sake of their pet.”

Longevity is one explanation for the human-animal bond, Dr. Mitchell said, as many reptiles typically live far longer than cats and dogs. He’s owned two pet ball pythons for 22 years—longer than he’s known his wife, Dr. Lorrie Hale-Mitchell. “They’ve seen me through veterinary school, through a master’s and a PhD, through marriage, through kids, and that creates a strong bond,” he said.

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Ultrasonography on a leopard gecko (Photos courtesy of Dr. Mark Mitchell)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 260, 9; 10.2460/javma.260.9.973

A DEVELOPING FIELD

Advances in herptile husbandry, nutrition, and medicine have greatly improved the health and welfare of captive herptiles and their breeding success. “I graduated from veterinary school 30 years ago, and it’s just amazing to see how dramatically things have evolved in terms of the medical and surgical care of captive reptile and amphibians,” Dr. Mitchell said.

He spoke about some of these advances in January at the North American Veterinary Community’s Veterinary Meeting & Expo in Orlando, Florida. Dr. Mitchell’s presentation touched on the importance of a thorough physical examination and considering the most likely causes of a problem or organ systems affected to determine which diagnostics to run. He also reviewed chemotherapy-responsive acute myeloid leukemia in a veiled chameleon, clinical theriogenology for reptiles, and an evidence-based update on clinical nutrition for insect-eating reptiles.

New developments in reptile and amphibian medicine are supported by the Association of Rep-tile and Amphibian Veterinarians, a professional organization established in 1990 devoted to herptile conservation, medicine, and education. The ARAV membership includes 800 veterinarians, among them 50 new veterinary graduates, as well as 30 veterinary technicians. The association publishes the online Journal of Herpetological Medicine and Surgery and was instrumental in the recognition of a reptile and amphibian specialty under the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners in 2009.

Veterinarians graduate with a set of skills, knowledge, and competencies to treat any animal, regardless of species, Dr. Mitchell said. Yet he believes it’s increasingly difficult for a general practitioner to stay current with all the latest developments in veterinary medicine. “The days of James Herriot are long gone, and as long as we hold onto all creatures, it potentially slows us down,” Dr. Mitchell said.

“If you’re working as a generalist, you need to know your limits and when to refer a patient for specialized care,” he advised, adding that there are numerous continuing education opportunities for veterinarians to increase their comfort when working with reptiles and amphibians.

No HUGGING THE LIZARD

Keeping any animal as a pet is not without risks, and herptiles are no different. Reptiles and amphibians often carry Salmonella in their digestive tracts. People can contract the bacteria by touching reptiles and amphibians—or their environment.

Children, people with weakened immune systems, and adults 65 and older are at higher risk of becoming ill from bacteria carried by herptiles, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Earlier this year, the CDC announced pet bearded dragons were the source of a multistate Salmonella outbreak that resulted in the hospitalizations of at least 44 people. For these reasons, several organizations such as the Humane Society for the United States discourage keeping snakes and turtles as pets.

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A CT scan conducted on a blue-tongued skink

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 260, 9; 10.2460/javma.260.9.973

NEW LISTINGS IN AVMA ANIMAL HEALTH STUDIES DATABASE

Below are some of the new listings of veterinary clinical studies in the AVMA Animal Health Studies Database. Information about participation in the studies is available at avma.org/findvetstudies.

AAHSD005443: “Investigation of Ioban use during canine celiotomy to determine potential benefits of thermoregulation, patient dryness, and reduction of surgical site complications,” University of Florida.

AAHSD005445: “Laparoscopic ultrasonography of the liver in 16 healthy dogs: a pilot study,” University of Florida.

AAHSD005449: “THOP chemotherapy protocol as front-line treatment of canine B-cell lymphoma,” Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine.

AAHSD005458: “Incidence of subclinical tumor lysis syndrome in dogs with multicentric lymphoma,” Colorado State University.

AAHSD005459: Comparative Oncology Trials Consortium—“Preclinical comparison of two hypomethylating nucleosides in tumor-bearing dogs,” Colorado State University, Purdue University, and University of Wisconsin-Madison.

AAHSD005461: “Detection of circulating tumor DNA and microRNA in dogs and cats with lymphoma,” Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine.

VETERINARIANS PRESS LAWMAKERS ON RURAL VETERINARY SHORTAGES, DOG IMPORTATION

By R. Scott Nolen

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Reps. Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.) (left) and Dr. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.) (right), co-chairs of the Congressional Veterinary Medicine Caucus, were among the U.S. representatives, senators, and their staffs who met with the more than participants in the 200 AVMA virtual legislative fly-in.

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 260, 9; 10.2460/javma.260.9.973

Veterinary professionals met virtually with federal lawmakers this April to ask their support for legislation providing educational debt relief for practitioners in rural areas with designated shortages and ensuring the health of millions of dogs imported into the United States every year.

The AVMA virtual legislative fly-in, hosted annually by the Association to bring together congressional offices and their veterinary constituents to discuss legislation important to the veterinary profession, occurred on April 27. Over 200 veterinary practitioners, veterinary students, and veterinary college faculty members representing 49 states and 20 veterinary colleges participated in approximately 250 meetings with U.S. representatives, senators, and their staffs.

The meetings focused on securing congressional support for two bills supported by the AVMA: the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program Enhancement Act (HR 2447/S 2215) and the Healthy Dog Importation Act (HR 4239/S 2597).

The VMLRP Enhancement Act would end federal taxation on VMLRP awards. Because the program currently pays the tax on behalf of the recipient out of the program’s appropriated funding, ending the taxation would enable more veterinarians to participate in a program that offers up to $25,000 a year for educational loan repayment in exchange for service in U.S. Department of Agriculture–designated veterinarian shortage situations, particularly in rural areas. This would make the tax treatment of the awards the same as for the National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program for physicians, dentists, and others.

Introduced in April 2021, the bill has 52 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives, including Reps. Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.) and Dr. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.), co-chairs of the Congressional Veterinary Medicine Caucus, who were original co-sponsors. The Senate version of the VMLRP Enhancement Act currently has 15 co-sponsors.

Under the Healthy Dog Importation Act, no live dog can enter the United States unless the USDA has first determined the dog is in good health, has received all the necessary vaccinations, and is identified by a permanent method approved by the USDA.

Citing a sharp spike in the number of dogs sent to the U.S. from countries with a high risk of rabies, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention imposed a yearlong ban on dog imports from 113 nations effective July 14, 2021.

The CDC estimates up to 1.2 million dogs are imported into the U.S. each year. For the estimated 113,000 imported from countries that are at a high risk for rabies transmission, the CDC requires a rabies vaccination certificate but no other health documentation or identification. For the 950,000 dogs imported from rabies-free, low-risk, or moderate-risk countries, the agency requires no documentation or vaccination.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who also participated in the virtual visits, introduced the Senate version of the Healthy Dog Importation Act this past August. The legislation currently has six co-sponsors in the Senate. Dr. Schrader sponsored the House version, which so far has so garnered 14 co-sponsors.

AVMA President José Arce said in a press release, “The veterinary community stands united in advocating for Congress to help alleviate veterinarian shortage situations in rural areas by assisting with the significant obstacle of student debt, and to ensure that dogs entering the country are healthy, thus reducing the potential for the spread of diseases that can endanger animal and public health.”

Nephrology and urology recognized as veterinary specialty organization

By Katie Burns

A veterinary specialty in nephrology and urology, first envisioned more than 30 years ago, finally has become a reality.

The AVMA American Board of Veterinary Specialties recently granted provisional recognition to the American College of Veterinary Nephrology and Urology.

“The clinical scope of urinary disease, embodied in the disciplines of nephrology and urology, has advanced in vision, complexity, and delivery of care,” according to the ACVNU’s 2021 petition for recognition by the ABVS.

“These advancements, based on scientific research and a deeper understanding of the pathophysiology of urinary diseases, have been translated into innovative new directions in the diagnosis and management of numerous urinary tract diseases. These include, but are not limited to chronic kidney disease, acute kidney injury, glomerular diseases, urolithiasis, urinary tract infection, incontinence, and urologic neoplasia,” the petition stated. “The evolution of sophisticated techniques including extracorporeal therapies and endourology have become the advanced standards-of-care for many urinary diseases.”

Dr. Larry D. Cowgill, ACVNU president and a professor of medicine and epidemiology at the University of California-Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, said the training program for the new specialty has some unique aspects.

For one, residents must be a boarded specialist in another discipline. The organizing committee believes that an internship alone would not be sufficient preparation for training in the complexities of the field. Alternatively, individuals who are not board certified in another specialty may be accepted into an ACVNU training program with four full-time–equivalent years of experience in nephrology and urology.

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Dr. Larry D. Cowgill instructs trainee Dr. Lucy Kopecny on the delivery of advanced extracorporeal therapies. (Courtesy of ACVNU)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 260, 9; 10.2460/javma.260.9.973

The next unique aspect of the training program is that the ACVNU is providing a virtual core curriculum of more than 250 contact hours over two years as a training aid to help provide a consistent foundation across residency programs.

The third distinction is that the ACVNU will provide an indirectly supervised, virtual training alternative with an off-site mentor for candidates who cannot relocate to a traditional training center.

Dr. Cowgill said another feature of the training program is that candidates will take topical examinations on an ongoing basis, culminating in the final examination.

The ACVNU will confer two certifications: diplomate and affiliate member. Candidates who have a background in patient care will become diplomates of the college. Candidates who have a background in another discipline, such as pathology, will become affiliate members.

Dr. Cowgill said, “The advances we will make in nephrology and urology as a specialty will translate to other specialty groups and into general practice and will establish new baselines for the diagnosis and management of disease, so it will have broad reach and effects across the entire profession and for the public—like every other specialty.”

After a minimum of four years but no more than 10 years under provisional recognition, the ACVNU may submit a request for full recognition to the ABVS.

AVMF DIRECTS MORE THAN $500,000 IN DONATIONS TO UKRAINE

As the humanitarian crisis in and around Ukraine continues following the Russian invasion, individuals and organizations within the veterinary community and beyond have responded with an outpouring of generosity to help both people and animals. As of early May, the American Veterinary Medical Foundation was channeling more than $500,000 in donations to help those affected by the war.

The Doris Day Animal Foundation donated $100,000 to be directed toward Ukraine disaster relief by the AVMF. Ethos Veterinary Health and People, Pets, and Vets contributed $50,000 each. More than 800 individuals donated more than $135,000. All of the donations were in addition to $100,000 pledged previously by Merck Animal Health, which was matched by the AVMF with $100,000 in preexisting funds.

“The generosity of the veterinary and animal-welfare communities has never been more evident, or more appreciated,” said Dr. Douglas Kratt, AVMF chairman, in an announcement about the donations. “These significant grants from the Doris Day Animal Foundation, Ethos Veterinary Health and People, Pets and Vets, plus all the individual donors stepping forward to help, will support veterinary professionals in caring for animals in crisis due to the war in Ukraine.”

“When we heard that AVMF was providing food, medical care, disaster relief, and emergency support to animals affected by the Ukrainian crisis, we knew we wanted to help,” said Dr. Bob Bashara, CEO of Doris Day Animal Foundation and the 2018 recipient of the AVMA Animal Welfare Award, in the announcement.

“We are proud to carry on Doris Day’s legacy by donating $100,000 to this crucial humanitarian cause,” Dr. Bashara said, adding that the Doris Day Foundation would continue additional fundraising for Ukrainian relief. “Nothing was closer to Doris’ heart than making this a better world for animals and the people who love them. What better way to honor her on what would have been her 100th birthday (#DorisDay100) than helping those in the most dire need?”

“We are thankful for the AVMF and their efforts aiding the pets of Ukrainian refugees. Ethos is proud to support their important work with this donation,” said Holly Firestine, chief people officer of Ethos Veterinary Health.

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The American Veterinary Medical Foundation is channeling donations to help animals and people affected by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. (Courtesy of the Ukrainian Small Animal Veterinary Association)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 260, 9; 10.2460/javma.260.9.973

Dr. Mike Murphy, founder of People, Pets & Vets, said: “This cause is extremely important to us at PPV. We are all animal lovers and the thought of having to leave your home and your pet behind is unfathomable and heart-wrenching. We know the turmoil that it would cause us and by no means do these pets deserve to be forever separated from their families. We are honored to have had the opportunity to support the efforts of the American Veterinary Medical Foundation with a gift of $50,000.”

The collective donations are providing aid to veterinary and other organizations in the affected areas. Funds are being channeled to groups working on the ground, including the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria, Greater Good Charities, International Fund for Animal Welfare, Polish Small Animal Veterinary Association, Street Dog Coalition, and Ukrainian Small Animal Veterinary Association.

Several Ukrainian veterinarians spoke with AVMA News, describing how their lives have been upended by the war. Displaced, separated from their families, and in fear for their lives, they continue to support their fellow citizens and patients as best they can. See the story online at jav.ma/Ukraine.

The AVMF continues to raise funds for those who need support. The Foundation asks the veterinary community and others to consider making donations at avmf.org to make a difference in the lives of the people and animals of Ukraine.

FEDERAL LOAN REPAYMENT PROGRAMS TO SEE IMPROVEMENTS

The U.S. Department of Education announced in mid-April that it will take steps to bring borrowers closer to income-driven repayment and public service loan forgiveness by addressing past failures in the administration of the federal student loan programs.

As of the end of March, all federal student loan debt stood at $1.6 trillion among 43.4 million borrowers, according to the office of Federal Student Aid. About 8.7 million people were enrolled in income-drive repayment plans to pay off their debt. Collectively, these borrowers owed $543.5 billion in outstanding principal and interest, according to government data, and a third owed $60,000 or more.

Currently, four IDR plans allow borrowers to set their monthly payments at an amount that is intended to be affordable on the basis of their income and family size, never more than the payments would be under the standard 10-year repayment plan, according to Federal Student Aid. The plans are the Revised Pay As You Earn Repayment Plan, Pay As You Earn Repayment Plan, Income-Based Repayment Plan, and Income-Contingent Repayment Plan.

Any outstanding balance is forgiven if the borrower has not repaid the loans in full after 20 years, if all loans were taken out for undergraduate study, or 25 years, if any loans were taken out for graduate or professional study.

In addition, for those enrolled in an IDR plan, the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program forgives the remaining balance of federal educational loans for borrowers, including veterinarians, who make 120 qualifying monthly payments during their work in public service or work for certain tax-exempt nonprofit organizations.

Prior to a recent overhaul last fall, however, about 98% of PSLF applications were rejected, and just 16,000 borrowers had ever received a loan discharge since the program began in 2007, according to the Department of Education. The department has since then approved $6.8 billion for more than 113,000 public servants through improvements to PSLF. The DOE also expanded eligibility for the PSLF Program through Oct. 31.

More recently, a Government Accountability Office study came out in March that showed at least 7,700 federal educational loans totaling about $49 million potentially had enough qualifying payments to be eligible for IDR forgiveness as of Sept. 1, 2020, but only 157 loans had received forgiveness by June 2, 2021.

“Until Education takes steps to address such errors, some borrowers may not receive the IDR forgiveness they are entitled,” the report warned. “This risk will increase as Education data show loans potentially eligible for IDR forgiveness will climb to about 1.5 million loans by 2030.”

The DOE announced actions April 19 aimed at resolving those issues by ending steering borrowers toward forbearance and improving tracking of progress toward IDR forgiveness.

The Department of Education will be conducting a one-time account adjustment that will count time spent in forbearance of more than 12 consecutive months or for more than 36 months cumulative toward forgiveness under IDR and PSLF. The DOE also will increase oversight of loan servicers’ forbearance use.

The department’s review of IDR payment-tracking procedures has revealed significant flaws that suggest borrowers are missing out on progress toward IDR forgiveness. The department plans to address this by conducting a one-time revision of IDR payments for all Direct Student Loans and federally managed Federal Family Education Loan Program loans. Any months in which borrowers made payments will count toward IDR, regardless of repayment plan. Payments made prior to consolidation on consolidated loans will also count.

The DOE also will fix IDR payment counting by issuing new guidance to loan servicers and modernizing its data systems. In 2023, the FSA will begin displaying IDR payment counts on StudentAid.gov so borrowers can view their progress after logging into their accounts.

Federal Student Aid estimates that these changes will result in immediate debt cancellation for at least 40,000 borrowers under the PSLF Program. In addition, the department projects that 3.6 million borrowers will be three years closer to receiving loan forgiveness through the IDR program, and thousands will be eligible for forgiveness immediately after the changes are implemented.

The Department of Education said it will begin implementing these changes immediately, but borrowers may not see the effect in their accounts until the last quarter of 2022.

ASSEMBLIES

AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF VETERINARY MEDICAL COLLEGES

The American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges held its annual conference and Iverson Bell Symposium from March 3-5 in Washington, D.C. The conference, drawing more than 350 attendees, featured three keynote speakers and focused on prominent issues in academic veterinary medicine. Presentation and breakout session topics included “Assessment and Review of Admissions Processes”; “A Critical Assessment of the New Veterinarian: Debt, Compensation and Wellness”; and “Academics Experience in Veterinary Educational Research: Results of a Broad International Survey and Interviews of Early Leaders.” A number of sessions focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion in academic veterinary medicine as well as well-being and curriculum. A Stanton Foundation–sponsored symposium covered the spectrum of care, an approach that aims to ensure that graduates have the knowledge, skills, and confidence to provide clients and their animals with a range of care options.

Keynote speaker Dr. Anthony P. Carnavale, author of the book “The Merit Myth” and a research professor and director of the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, outlined how education has changed over time but is still the most well-traveled pathway to economic success. Keynote speaker Dr. Randall Bass, vice president for strategic education initiatives and a professor of English at Georgetown University, called for innovation in higher education and noted how the COVID-19 pandemic contributed to punctuated equilibrium, where people were forced to adopt new learning paradigms, expanding what learning looks like in the United States. Keynote speaker Nikole Hannah-Jones, creator of “The 1619 Project,” outlined how the project, which she wrote for The New York Times Magazine, helps people think about how history impacts their daily lives and how the evolution of the United States continues to shape decisions that make people who they are and who they become.

The AAVMC’s Advocacy Day was held virtually. AAVMC volunteers focused on three strategic AAVMC priorities as well as issues unique to their own schools and colleges during the event. Dr. Andrew T. Maccabe, AAVMC chief executive officer, announced that the AAVMC had sent a letter of support to the faculty at the Bila Tserkva National Agrarian University in Ukraine, affirming that the association stands in solidarity with the global veterinary medical community and Ukrainian colleagues. Dr. Christine Jenkins from Zoetis announced a $1.87 million grant to fund the 2023 Zoetis Foundation/AAVMC Veterinary Student Scholarship.

The new AAVMC officials are Drs. Susan J. Tornquist, Oregon State University Carlson College of Veterinary Medicine, president and board chair; Ruby L. Perry, Tuskegee University College of Veterinary Medicine, president-elect; Francisco Suárez Güemes, National Autonomous University of Mexico, secretary; Mark D. Stetter, University of California-Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, treasurer; and Mark D. Markel, University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine, immediate past president.

TENNESSEE VMA

The Tennessee VMA held its Music City Veterinary Conference from Feb. 18-20 in Murfreesboro. The new TVMA officials are Drs. Bob Parker, Memphis, president; Forrest Reynolds, Franklin, president-elect; Marissa Shulman, Chattanooga, vice president; Mary Chorney-Carter, Fayetteville, secretary-treasurer; and Tai Federico, Chattanooga, immediate past president.

Visit avma.org/news/community to read the full reports from these organizations, including awards.

In Memory

RICHARD W. BACHMEYER SR.

Dr. Bachmeyer (Ohio State ’53), 93, Florence, Kentucky, died March 1, 2022. He owned Bachmeyer Animal Clinic in Walton, Kentucky, for more than 37 years prior to retirement. Dr. Bachmeyer was a veteran of the Air Force. His son, daughter, two grandchildren, and a sister survive him. Memorials may be made to Walton United Methodist Church, 68 South Main St., Walton, KY 41094.

BILL F. BARNUM

Dr. Barnum (Oklahoma State ’66), 80, Stratford, Oklahoma, died Oct. 20, 2021. Following graduation, he established a practice in Beaver, Oklahoma. In 1970, Dr. Barnum joined a practice in Spearman, Texas, where he focused on equine and feedlot production medicine for three years. He then moved to southeastern Oklahoma, founding a cow/calf ranching business. In 1977, Dr. Barnum began working as a veterinary circuit supervisor for the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food, and Forestry. From 1995 until retirement, he served as director of the ODAFF’s Food Safety Division. His wife, Delma; two sons; and four grandchildren survive him.

HENRY DEBOER JR.

Dr. DeBoer (Cornell ’73), 74, Guilford, Vermont, died Nov. 10, 2021. He owned Pioneer Valley Veterinary Hospital in Greenfield, Massachusetts, where he practiced small animal medicine for nearly 30 years prior to retirement. During that time, Dr. DeBoer also owned Amherst Veterinary Clinic in Amherst, Massachusetts, and founded Working K9 Services in Guilford. Dr. DeBoer’s wife, Faye; a son, a stepdaughter, and a stepson; and seven grandchildren survive him. Memorials may be made to the Franklin County Regional Dog Shelter, 10 Sandy Lane, Turners Falls, MA 01376, or the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, P.O. Box 22324, New York, NY 10087.

DOMINIC S. GENTILE

Dr. Gentile (Iowa State ’21), 28, Whitehouse Station, New Jersey, died Oct. 29, 2021. He practiced at Whitehouse Veterinary Hospital in Whitehouse Station. Dr. Gentile is survived by his wife, Alexandra; his parents; and a sister and a brother. Memorials may be made to Cycle for Survival, 888 Second Ave., 7th Floor, New York, NY 10017, cycleforsurvival.org.

JAY WILLARD GILPIN

Dr. Gilpin (Georgia ’60), 89, Euless, Texas, died Oct. 19, 2021. During his career, he worked for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, serving as area supervisor for Mississippi and Tennessee. Dr. Gilpin also conducted free rabies clinics in Memphis, Tennessee. He was a veteran of the Navy. Dr. Gilpin is survived by his wife, Irene; a daughter, a son, and two stepsons; eight grandchildren; and his great-grandchildren.

ROGER F. HAGENBERG

Dr. Hagenberg (Illinois ’70), 76, Orland Park, Illinois, died March 6, 2022. He was a partner at Bremen Animal Hospital in Tinley Park, Illinois, prior to retirement in 2017. Dr. Hagenberg is survived by his wife, Jeanne; three daughters and a son; and nine grandchildren.

JIMMY L. HOWARD

Dr. Howard (Texas A&M ’60), 87, Amarillo, Texas, died Sept. 27, 2021. Following graduation, he owned a practice in Amarillo for several years. Dr. Howard subsequently taught at Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine, at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine, and in Nigeria and Botswana. Dr. Howard later worked for the Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory and was a field veterinarian for the state, working on brucellosis projects. He was a diplomate of the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners. Dr. Howard’s wife, Sammi; two sons and a daughter; 16 grandchildren; and 31 great-grandchildren survive him.

WILLIAM G. KOMAZEC

Dr. Komazec (Pennsylvania ’68), 79, Tinton Falls, New Jersey, died Feb. 3, 2022. He co-founded Colonial Veterinary Clinic in Colts Neck, New Jersey, where he practiced small animal medicine prior to retirement in 2015. Dr. Komazec previously practiced at Monmouth Animal Hospital in Little Silver, New Jersey. He is survived by his wife, Helen; two daughters and a son; two grandchildren; and a brother. Memorials may be made to the Monmouth County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, 260 Wall St., Eatontown, NJ 07724.

HENRY E. LAWSTON

Dr. Lawston (Minnesota ’68), 79, Lanesboro, Minnesota, died Feb. 18, 2022. Following graduation, he worked at Caledonia Veterinary Service in Caledonia, Minnesota, for a year. Dr. Lawston then established a mixed animal practice in Lanesboro. In 1987, he joined the U.S. Department of Agriculture, working in meat inspection. Dr. Lawston retired at the age of 71, subsequently working part time as an inspector for five years. He is survived by his wife, Harriet; two sons; and three grandchildren. Memorials may be made to the Gundersen Health Systems Foundation, 1900 South Ave., La Crosse, WI 54601.

ERIC R. LEWIS

Dr. Lewis (Auburn ’90), 56, Montgomery, Alabama, died Oct. 4, 2021. Following graduation, he joined Bell Road Animal Medical Center in Montgomery. Dr. Lewis eventually became owner of the practice. He was a member of the Alabama VMA and helped establish the Alabama Practice Owners Association. Dr. Lewis was a charter member of the Montgomery Sunrise Rotary. Dr. Lewis’ wife, Wendi; his parents; and two sisters survive him. Memorials may be made to the Rotary Foundation, One Rotary Center, 1560 Sherman Ave., Evanston, IL 60201, jav.ma/Rotary, or to the Montgomery Humane Society, 1150 John Overton Drive, Montgomery, AL 36110, jav.ma/MontgomerySociety.

HARRY J. LUEDERS

Dr. Lueders (Texas A&M ’64), 89, Victoria, Texas, died Feb. 17, 2022. Following graduation, he worked for the U.S. Department of Agriculture as an area veterinarian in south Texas, helping to eradicate brucellosis in cattle. In 1965, Dr. Lueders moved to Victoria, where he established a small animal practice. He held leadership positions with the Golden Crescent VMA and the Kiwanis Club of Victoria. Dr. Lueders was a veteran of the Air Force, attaining the rank of captain in the Air Force Reserve. His wife, Patsy; two sons; five grandchildren; five great-grandchildren; and two sisters survive him.

MICHAEL H. MILTS

Dr. Milts (Cornell ’62), 84, Brevard, North Carolina, died Jan. 24, 2022. He established a practice in New York City. Dr. Milts also served as veterinarian for the zoos in New York City and for the Dawn Animal Agency, which provided animals for television and motion pictures. He was a member of the advisory board that regulated horse carriage rides in Central Park and wrote columns for the New York Post and other publications. Dr. Milts authored “Only a Gringo Would Die for an Anteater: The Adventures of a Veterinarian.” He is survived by his wife, Vernetta, and two sisters.

ROY H. PETERSON

Dr. Peterson (Washington State ’46), 98, Tillamook, Oregon, died Jan. 21, 2022. He practiced primarily large animal medicine in Tillamook County before retirement. He represented District XI on what was then the AVMA Executive Board from 1978-84, served on the AVMA Animal Agriculture Liaison Committee, and was a past president of the Oregon VMA and the former American Association of Retired Veterinarians. Oregon State University College of Agricultural Sciences honored Dr. Peterson with a Diamond Pioneer Award, and he received the Oregon VMA Meritorious Service Award. His two daughters, a son, 11 grandchildren, two great-grandchildren, and a brother survive him.

CURTIS T. SCHAFER

Dr. Schafer (Minnesota ’55), 92, Brandon, South Dakota, died Dec. 16, 2021. Following graduation, he owned a large animal practice in Wabasso, Minnesota. Dr. Schafer subsequently practiced in Hutchinson, Minnesota, for several years. In 1971, he moved to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and worked for GTA Feeds Harvest States, an animal feed company, until retirement. Dr. Schafer is survived by his wife, Shirley; two daughters; a grandchild; and a great-grandchild.

WILLIAM W. SOMERVILLE

Dr. Somerville (Purdue ’79), 71, Nashville, Tennessee, died Feb. 18, 2022. He owned a small animal practice in Clinton, Indiana. He served on the Indiana Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners, was a past president of the Indiana VMA, and was a past chair of the Indiana Animal Health Foundation. In 2010, he was named IVMA Veterinarian of the Year. His wife, Elaine; a son and a daughter; six grandchildren; and two brothers and a sister survive him. Memorials may be made to the Indiana Animal Health Foundation, 1202 E. 38th St., Suite 200, Indianapolis, IN 46205; Vermillion Trails Alliance, 703 West Park St., Cayuga, IN 47928; or Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine, 625 Harrison St., West Lafayette, IN 47907, vet.purdue.edu.

LINDA J. SULLIVAN

Dr. Sullivan (Wisconsin ’87), 67, Madison, Wisconsin, died Feb. 1, 2022. She was a clinical professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine, retiring as a professor emeritus in 2019. In 2003, she received what is now known as the Zoetis Distinguished Veterinary Teacher Award. Dr. Sullivan is survived by her sister and her brother. Memorials, toward the Niles Newton Sullivan Fund for the American Family Children’s Hospital Dog Care Program, may be made to the University of Wisconsin Foundation, 1848 University Ave., Madison, WI 53726, or to Czar’s Promise, P.O. Box 5061, Madison, WI 53705.

TRACY A. THOMPSON

Dr. Thompson (Washington State ’97), 57, Longmont, Colorado, died Dec. 9, 2021. She served as staff veterinarian at the Hogle Zoo in Salt Lake City. Later, she joined the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. During her 17-year tenure, she worked in animal welfare for the western region and was the veterinary medical officer for the National Park Service. She is survived by her husband, Kevin; her father; and a sister. Memorials may be made to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, 199 Water St., 11th Floor, New York, NY 10038; Girls on the Run Rockies, 7000 E. Belleview Ave., Suite 130, Greenwood Village, CO 80111; or Longmont Humane Society, 9595 Nelson Road, Longmont, CO 80501.

A. ROBERT TWARDOCK

Dr. Twardock (Illinois ’56), 90, Savoy, Illinois, died Sept. 3, 2021. He earned his PhD in veterinary medicine from Cornell University. During his 40-year tenure at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine, he taught radiation biology and physiology and served as associate dean. His wife, Mary; a daughter and three sons; eight grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren survive him. Memorials may be made to First Presbyterian Church, Attn: Bob Twardock Music Ministry, 302 W. Church St., Champaign, IL 61820; the University of Illinois, Attn: A. Robert Twardock and Mary Twardock Track and Field Scholarship, 1700 S. Fourth St., Champaign, IL 61820; or Heart of Mary Medical Center Hospice, Attn: Twardock Memorial, OSF Health Care Foundation, 1400 W. Park St., Urbana, IL 61801.

DONALD A. WALTMAN

Dr. Waltman (Ohio State ’62), 84, Baltic, Ohio, died Feb. 20, 2022. Following graduation, he served in the Army Veterinary Corps, attaining the rank of captain. Dr. Waltman subsequently practiced mixed animal medicine in Baltic. He was a member of the Ohio VMA. Dr. Waltman is survived by his wife, Gretchen; a son and a daughter; six grandchildren; and a brother.

JOHN V. WHITE JR.

Dr. White (Colorado State ’73), 78, Loveland, Colorado, died Jan. 25, 2022. He worked for Centennial Livestock Auctions for 47 years. Dr. White also bred, raised, and raced Appaloosa horses and was inducted into the Appaloosa Racehorse Hall of Fame. He was a veteran of the Army. Dr. White’s wife, Beth; a daughter; two grandchildren; and a brother survive him.

LESLIE W. WILLIAMS

Dr. Williams (Missouri ’54), 91, Dexter, Missouri, died Sept. 29, 2021. He served in the Army. He joined the U.S. Department of Agriculture as an inspector in Kansas City, Missouri, then founded Hickman Mills Animal Hospital. He later became a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists and was veterinarian for Las Vegas. He rejoined the USDA, retiring as a veterinary supervisor. He is survived by his life partner, Bonnie Meritt; a son and two daughters; and six grandchildren. Memorials may be made to the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine, 1520 E. Rollins St., Columbia, MO 65211.

CARL L. ZYMET

Dr. Zymet (Cornell ’63), 84, Stoneham, Massachusetts, died Nov. 18, 2021. Following graduation, he worked for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He subsequently owned Zymet Animal Clinic, a small animal practice in Ossining, New York. He was a diplomate of the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners and member of the Westchester Rockland VMA. He served as a captain in the Coast Guard Auxiliary. He is survived by his wife, Barbara; two sons and a daughter; and three grandchildren. Memorials may be made to Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, Box 39, 930 Campus Road, Ithaca, NY 14853, jav.ma/CornellDonate.

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