Posts Tagged ‘Veterinarians’

First Successful Reverse Vasectomy On Endangered Species Performed At The National Zoo

June 19, 2008

Veterinarians at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo performed the first successful reverse vasectomy on a Przewalski’s horse (E. ferus przewalskii; E. caballus przewalskii—classification debated), pronounced zshah-VAL-skeez. Przewalksi’s horses are a horse species native to China and Mongolia that was declared extinct in the wild in 1970.

Currently, there are approximately 1500 of these animals maintained at zoological institutions throughout the world and in several small reintroduced populations in Asia. This is the first procedure of its kind to be performed on an endangered equid species.

The genes of Minnesota—the horse who underwent the surgery—are extremely valuable to the captive population of the species, which scientists manage through carefully planned pairings to ensure the most genetically diverse population possible. The horse was vasectomized in 1999 at a previous institution so that he could be kept with female horses without reproducing. He came to the National Zoo in 2006.

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Bionic spine gives Chris Evans’s dog a pain-free future

June 19, 2008

When vets told Chris Evans his beloved dog should be ‘written off’ after losing the feeling in its hind legs, the radio DJ refused to give up hope.

Enzo the German Shepherd had two herniated discs in his spine, leaving him paralysed and in pain.

His 42-year-old owner made sure he received the latest treatment  –  and now Enzo has a bionic spine.

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MRSA from farm animals found in humans in UK for first time

June 11, 2008

Three people have been infected with a form of MRSA usually found in pigs, the first time any humans in Britain have been infected by an animal strain of the superbug.

The variation has been found in farm animals and humans on the Continent, causing serious heart, bone, blood and skin diseases, as well as pneumonia.

Dr Giles Edwards, the director of the Scottish MRSA Reference Laboratory, said three people in Scotland had contracted the strain, known as ST398, in recent months.

“A lot of the patients who got this infection in Holland and Canada have been people who work with animals, such as farmers and vets. But none of the three individuals in Scotland have been in contact with animals, not that we could find.”

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Pets are baby boomers too–with medical bills to match

June 8, 2008

Better preventative care, medicine, vitamins and food are making pets live longer, but leading to one costly side effect: higher medical bills, the Washington Post reports.

Think of them as baby boomers on four legs. They’re older and fatter–just like the country at large. About 44% of the country’s dogs are older than 6, compared with 32% in 1987, according to the Post. And 45% of U.S. pets are overweight or obese, according to the Assn. for Pet Obesity Prevention.

But also like humans, they are racking up larger medical bills. According to the American Veterinary Medical Assn., spending on veterinary medicine doubled to $24.5 million in the last decade, the Post reports.

So pet owners are now opting for expensive surgeries and preventative procedures–such as with the dog above, who was getting hip replacement surgery–when in the past a vet would resort to euthanasia.

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Relocation Of Endangered Chinese Turtle May Save Species

May 21, 2008

There are only four specimens of the Yangtze giant softshell turtle left on Earth–one in the wild and three in captivity. In order to save this species from extinction, conservation partners from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and the Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA), working in conjunction with partners from two Chinese zoos and the China Zoo Society, recently paired two of them. A still reproductive, more than 80-year-old, female, living in China’s Changsha Zoo has been introduced to the only known male in China, a more than 100-year-old living more than 600 miles away at the Suzhou Zoo.

On Monday, May 5, turtle biologists, veterinarians, and zoo staff from partner organizations convened at the Changsha Zoo to collect and transport the female to the Suzhou Zoo where she joined her new mate to potentially save their entire species. The move was coordinated to coincide with the female’s reproductive cycle.

“This is a story of hope for a species truly on the brink,” said Colin Poole, Director of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Asia Programs. “We are extremely grateful to our conservation partners both in China and here in the U.S. who made this historic move possible. Now that the turtles are together, we are optimistic that they will successfully breed.”

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Screw Worm Outbreak In Yemen

May 8, 2008

An outbreak of the insidious ´screw worm´ fly in Yemen, is threatening livelihoods, in a country where rearing livestock is a traditional way of life. In recent weeks, a Ministerial delegation was at the IAEA in Vienna, Austria, to turn to the international community for emergency assistance to fight the deadly pest.

The menacing fly lays its eggs in a cut or open wound of a warm-blooded animal. The maggots then feast off the living flesh, and can kill the animal if it´s not treated in time.

The outbreak hit the country´s coast late last year. Veterinarian, Mansoor AlQadasi, General Director of the Central Veterinarian Laboratory, says it´s the first official outbreak of ´old world´ screw worm in Yemen.

“There are about 20,000 cases of livestock affected. Most of these are sheep and goats. We have also found some human cases — mainly in children and older people,” Mr. AlQadasi said.

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Why are Broken Bones Lethal to Horses?

May 8, 2008

After a four-race winning streak, Eight Belles galloped past the Kentucky Derby’s finish line to snag second place. The glory was shattered as the racehorse collapsed on the track. She had broken bones in both front ankles — a lethal injury for a horse.

Unlike us, couch-potato life is not an option for horses like Eight Belles. Immobility can cut off vital circulation within a horse’s body, leading to a cascade of health compromises.

“When [Eight Belles] switched leads to her right front, apparently she landed awkwardly under fatigue, and that was the initiating problem,” said equine veterinarian Celeste Kunz, a spokesperson for the American Association of Equine Practitioners.

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National Pet Week is May 4-10!

May 3, 2008

National Pet Week, May 4-10, celebrates America’s more than 172 million companion animals, and the remarkable role they play in improving the quality of our lives. All across the nation, veterinarians, veterinary technicians and others will use this opportunity to educate the public on how pets improve human health, and how pet owners can return the favor.

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Pets, Vets and Debts: Owners Face Higher Bills, More Medical Options and Tough Decisions About How Much Is Too Much

April 27, 2008

In the bad-luck lottery for pet care, Jennifer Freeman hit the jackpot. Over seven bank-account-draining months two years ago, the D.C. resident’s four cats came down with several ailments: urethra blockages, gum disease, constipation (hey, it happens). Before she knew it, Freeman, 31, had forked over more than $11,000 for surgeries and veterinary fees, was buying bottled water and prescription pet food for her feline charges and was wondering just how much more she could take.

“On my end, the cash register was just spinning,” Freeman says. “Half of my take-home pay was going to pay vet bills.” Upon receiving yet another $1,000 bill for a series of tests and procedures, a sobbing Freeman told her veterinarian that the next time one of her cats got sick, he should put it to sleep, because she couldn’t afford it.

“The vet seemed a little stunned,” says Freeman, whose cats are alive and mostly well. “I think he didn’t think that money was a big consideration for me.”

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Don’t let Rover on the bed, warns leading vet

April 22, 2008

Pet owners in Wales are being urged to keep their dogs off their duvets over fears that they may not be man’s best friend after all.

Fred Landeg, who is stepping down as the most senior Government veterinary officer, warns that new and emerging diseases are just as likely to affect household pets as farm animals.

Research commissioned by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs identified potential health risks from the daily interaction with dogs, of which 6.5 million are kept as pets in Britain.

Besides the risk of unknown exotic diseases, dogs also carry common food poisoning bugs – campylobacter and salmonella – and 10% of dogs are thought to carry the superbug MRSA.

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As Pets Live Longer Too, Hospice Care Helps Owners Say Goodbye

April 11, 2008

…A growing movement toward hospice or “pawspice” care for pets is catching on as owners demand more emotional support and options for end-of-life care such as pain management, alternative medicine or palliative radiation treatments for terminal cancer, said Dr. Alice Villalobos, a veterinary oncologist and director of Pawspice in Hermosa Beach, Calif.

“Professionals know there is a cry out there for more home care and more instruction on pets that are treated more like family members than anything,” she said. “It’s a natural next step.”

Many times hospice is as much about serving humans’ needs as those of the animal, Villalobos said. “People really want to have an extended farewell just like they did with family members and parents.”

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Taking the pets on vacation

April 9, 2008

When it comes time for vacation, the question may not be whether to pack the golf clubs, but whether to pack the family pet.

“If it’s a short vacation, many pets will be OK staying at a kennel or with a friend,” said Amanda Walter, an associate veterinarian at the Center for Veterinary Care in New York. “And there are places that do doggie day care so that the dog gets a vacation of his own. But if you’re gone for months, I think the dog is going to be happier if it’s with you.”

Of course you’ll have to determine whether your favorite fuzzball can handle the journey. Older pets, especially, Walter said, might have a more difficult time, so the first step is to talk to your vet. Kim Salerno, president and founder of Trips With Pets, has some tips.

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New AHI Website Focuses on the Importance of Healthy Animals

April 8, 2008

The Animal Health Institute (AHI) today launched its newly designed “Keeping Animals Healthy” website to help consumers and policymakers better understand the important role of public policy in providing animal medicines to keep both animals and humans healthy.

“Americans are becoming more aware of the relationship between animal health and public health,” said AHI President and CEO Alexander S. Mathews. “Thoughtful public policies are needed to manage the risk of diseases that can be spread between animals and humans.”

Animal medicines are valuable tools needed by veterinarians and livestock and poultry producers to keep pets and farm animals healthy. Exciting breakthroughs are being made on products that are successfully extending the length and quality of life for dogs and cats and on products that will help livestock and poultry producers deliver a safer product to American consumers.

The website,, explains the advocacy positions taken by AHI to promote animal health and gives the public information about the rigorous, science-based review processes in place at the federal agencies that regulate animal health products.

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American Veterinary Medical Association testifies against keeping primates as pets

April 3, 2008

Citing concerns about the spread of disease and injury, inhumane treatment of animals, and ecologic damage, Dr. Gail C. Golab, director of the AVMA Animal Welfare Division, recently spoke before a House subcommittee on the dangers of private ownership of nonhuman primates by unlicensed individuals.

The House Committee on Natural Resources’ Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, and Oceans held a hearing March 11 on the Captive Primate Safety Act (H.R. 2964). The legislation would amend the Lacey Act Amendments of 1981, making chimpanzees, monkeys, and other nonhuman primates prohibited wildlife species, thus strictly limiting commerce in pet primates.

Persons or agencies licensed or registered by the government, such as zoos and research facilities, are exempt under the proposal.

Born Free USA and Captive Wild Animal Protection Coalition estimate that more than 15,000 primates are privately owned in the United States.

Between 1995 and 2005, there were 132 injuries or escapes by primates in the United States, according to the coalition. Also, some 80 percent of health and behavioral issues pertaining to primates involve those kept as pets.

Dr. Golab told subcommittee members that the evidence is clear that primates kept as pets are unsafe. Not only are these animals a physical threat, they may also be a source of the herpes B virus and other zoonotic pathogens. “Make no mistake about it,” Dr. Golab, said, “nonhuman primates kept as pets—while cute and often very entertaining—can also pose serious injury risks for their human caretakers and other domestic animals.”

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CSI goes four-legged

April 2, 2008

I first encountered an animal cruelty case as a veterinary student eight years ago. The patient, a pet rabbit, had a 10 centimetre cut across her left thigh. The wound itself was clean, the edges neat. My boss explained that this was consistent with the use of a sharp instrument, probably a razor blade. It was the third occasion a rabbit from this household had come in with the same kind of wound.

I was dumbfounded when my boss agreed to stitch up the wound without grilling the owner, an unhappy-looking teenage boy accompanied by his distraught mother. Surely we had a duty of care not to return this rabbit to a high-risk household. We could seize the rabbit and notify the authorities, putting an end to this cycle of cruelty.

“It would never get to court,” my boss explained. “How would you prove it?”

She had a point. We’d be unlikely to find a witness willing to testify, given both boy and mother reported that the rabbit had simply “fallen over”. We didn’t have the resources to collect samples for forensic testing, and we had only written records to back up our claims that rabbits from the same household had come in with similar wounds.

Veterinarians have always worked on the front line of animal welfare, but when it comes to animal cruelty, many have felt they can do little more than patch up or put down abused animals.

But times are changing. This month the University of Florida Centre for Forensic Medicine and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) will host the first international conference on veterinary forensics.

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Next Up: Pets in Space?

March 26, 2008

He’s not very cute or cuddly and he’s certainly not welcome inside the house, but the astronauts aboard the International Space Station are captivated with their new pet: a massive robot named Dextre. The mechanical beast, delivered and assembled by the visiting space shuttle Endeavour crew, stands like a guard dog on top of the U.S. laboratory Destiny.

“He’s built to be brawn, not brains,” said Endeavour astronaut Richard Linnehan. Linnehan, a former veterinarian, is among some who feel real pets will eventually have a place in space.

“I think someday it’s inevitable,” Linnehan told Discovery News in a preflight interview. “We get to the point where we have colonies on the moon and colonies on Mars and we have large areas of pressurized living space. I think pets will be there for sure. Pets follow people around.”

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Washington State University creates School for Global Animal Health

March 22, 2008


The Washington State Board of Regents on Friday approved creation of a new school that will focus on research and treatment of diseases passed from animals to humans.

Just how the new School for Global Animal Health will be paid for is not known, but the university is expected to announce Monday a record $25 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for the school, The Spokesman-Review reported Friday.

WSU President Elson Floyd told the regents Friday at their meeting in Richland that the school will be administered by the College of Veterinary Medicine. WSU hopes to house the school in an $83.5 million building. Its request for money was not included in the state’s latest budget.

About 70 percent of the diseases that affect humans have their origins in animals, Floyd said. Those “zoonotic” diseases, such as rabies and tuberculosis, are caused by infectious agents that can be transmitted between, or shared by, animals and humans.

Floyd said the school will bring together scientists who are experts in human and animal disease. The school will coordinate the university’s efforts in infectious disease research and diagnostics, with a particular focus on the intersection of human and animal disease, he said.

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When bunnies aren’t so cute anymore

March 20, 2008

Rarely now do cowboys ride the range lassoing stray doggies. The 21st century is a tamer time. These days, what animal roundups remain are more likely to pursue lesser targets. Like rabbits.

In Kelowna on the weekend, several dozen rabbit wranglers took to the bushes and sidewalks on a small-game hunt they hoped would save as many of the hoppity critters as possible from a lethal cull some are proposing to rid the Okanagan city of its “rabbit problem.”

Using big fish nets, the rabbit-lovers managed to corral 25 of the furry little creatures, dispatching them immediately to local veterinarians for spaying and neutering.

“The rabbits have been running around free so it’s not that easy,” said Sinikka Crosland of the Responsible Animal Care Society, which organized the roundup.

“You have to be quick and watch which way they run.”

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3,000 birds die in Bathinda, India

March 8, 2008

Panic has gripped this village, near Bathinda, with more than 3,000 birds having died due to an unidentified disease at a poultry farm. Veterinarians of the Animal Husbandry Department have launched an inspection of all poultry farms within a radius of 3 km of the farm.

Department officials have ruled out the presence of avian influenza virus in the dead birds, but they feel that birds’ death might be due to some other deadly virus “because the birds did not react even to the antibiotic medicines given to them,” Dr Darshan Singh, deputy director of the department told The Tribune today.

The poultry birds started dying last week. When this correspondent visited the farm, only 40 birds were left alive. These too were visibly suffering from the disease.

“Samples have been collected from the poultry farm and sent to the High Security Animal Disease Laboratory, Bhopal. We don’t think it’s the case of avian influenza because the virus affects humans as well whereas the family of the poultry farm owner was unaffected by the disease,” Dr Darshan Singh said. Teams from the veterinary and animal husbandry departments have been visiting the farm ever since they got to know about the death of the birds.

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For more animal-esque music, news, and issues, tune in to Kitty Mowmow’s Animal Expo online at, Sunday nights 8-10 central.

Walk on the wild side: Meet ‘Dr Lott’, wildlife vet

March 3, 2008

It took Pattarapol Maneeorn five days trekking through the jungle in Chanthaburi province to find a 65-year-old wild elephant stuck in mud. By the time the wildlife vet arrived, the animal was breathing slowly, his eyes showing his fatigue; his heart, left lung and kidney were being pressed down on by his six-tonne body.

Given medicine and doses of vitamins, the elephant became a little stronger. Three days later, a group of soldiers and local villagers tried to haul the creature from the mud. He groaned noisily, trying to lift himself up. Finally he was able to stand on his hind legs, one last time, before he fell dead to the ground.

“He had been waiting for me for so long. And it was too late to nurse him back to health.

“But I couldn’t get there any faster, I just couldn’t,” Pattarapol admitted, his eyes hidden behind black sunglasses. Before his arrival, he was treating a wounded Indian muntjac deer in Kao Yai, about 250km away.

Wild animals do not show signs of weakness or injury if not severely injured. And at that time the elephant didn’t need the most skilful vet, just the quickest to arrive to save his life. But, what if there is only one vet. How can he save every life? How can he always arrive on time? “It’s impossible,” he said.

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For more animal-esque music, news, and issues, tune in to Kitty Mowmow’s Animal Expo online at, Sunday nights 8-10 central.