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Education and Professional Development Committee fall grant winner 

The University of Illinois Wildlife Medical Clinic was awarded an EPDC fall grant. Below is a summary of the event that the grant helped to fund


The Wildlife Medical Clinic (WMC) at theUniversity of Illinois with the help of a SAVMA EPDC grant hosted two lectureson conservation medicine with Dr. LoraKim Joyner. Dr. Joyner is a veterinarianwith a 30+ year career working to help wild bird populations thrive, especiallyin Central America. She uniquely brings another perspective to conservationwork, that of non-violent communication, spirituality, and compassion. She consultsin conservation and the human dimensions of conservation throughout LatinAmerica. She directs Lafeber Conservation and One Earth Conservation,overseeing projects in Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. She is also acertified trainer in nonviolent communication and has served as a UnitarianUniversalist minister for 10 years.

Dr. Joyner's lecture topics were "The Human Dimension ofConservation" and "Compassionate Conservation - Ethics and Welfare inthe Field." Both lectures had a full audience (200+ people) consisting ofmembers from our club, the general vet school population, pre-veterinarystudents, clinicians, and even community members. Dr. Joyner’s discussionsoffered audience members a chance to explore the world of conservation medicineand consider the ethical dilemmas that are encountered in such a field.

The Wildlife Medical Clinic is a non-profit organization that accepts ill,injured, or orphaned wildlife (except for skunks and bats) 24 hours a day, 7days a week. Upon presentation, the animals are triaged and then assigned to ateam of 10-12 volunteers who are responsible for treating the patient. Individualanimal care is provided for by WMC volunteers, comprised primarily ofveterinary students in their first three years of the veterinary schoolcurriculum.  Approximately 120 volunteers each semester work in treatmentteams and are responsible for on-call duty to receive wild animals presented tothe WMC 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

We are very thankful for the SAVMA grant we received! Without SAVMA's contributionwe would not have been able to host Dr. Joyner and hear her insightful lectures!

Thanks again!


PHCOC Underserved Areas Stipend 

Happy SAVMA Symposium everyone!! Greetings from sunny West Lafayette, Indiana and SAVMA Symposium 2012!

The SAVMA House of Delegates is hard at work during their meetings. They are working on YOUR behalf, crafting policy, programs, and opportunities for veterinary students.

See below for another instance of SAVMA's funds and opportunities being put to use:

Stefanie Durbin from Kansas State University recieved an Underserved Areas Grant from the SAVMA Public Health and Community Outreach Committee for her trip to work with the Animal Protection Society of Samoa. Her experience is detailed below:

Externship at the Animal Protection Society of Samoa


                I visited Samoa after completing my first semester at Kansas State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine (KSUCVM).  My husband is a consultant at the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Program (SPREP) in Apia, Samoa, and knowing that he would have to work during part of my stay, I decided to add some more adventure to my trip by volunteering at the Animal Protection Society of Samoa (APS).  With my externship credit approval from KSUCVM and the stipend offer from SAVMA  PHCOC, I started my two day journey from Manhattan, Kansas to Apia, Samoa via layovers in L.A. and Auckland, New Zealand.  What greeted me at the airport, along with my husband, was comfortable balmy weather, a welcoming Samoan band of singers, and my first sight of one of Samoa’s biggest problems: lots and lots of dogs—all roaming free and looking quite hungry.  It seems as though I saw nearly a hundred dogs on that first day in Apia, and I knew right away that I’d have some interesting stories to share when I got home. The following are a few highlights.

Externship: Samoa and APS

My externship in Apia took place over about 45 hours in December and January (2011-2012) at APS where they work with mostly dogs and cats. Through friends connected with APS, SPREP and National Geographic, I was also able to explore some wildlife and village farms where cattle and pigs were kept.  The clinic has two basic goals: 1) to serve the small pet population of Samoa with vaccines, preventative medicine, routine care and surgeries, and 2) to use the funds generated to perform free desexing clinics throughout Samoa.  Because APS is the only veterinary clinic in a country of 180,000, and only has two veterinarians, they rely heavily on their one experienced veterinary nurse, Ava, other full time office staff, and volunteers such as 4th year surgery students from Massay University in New Zealand. 

                The externship experience was extremely rewarding, and the environment was one of education and compassion.  A fellow volunteer, Renee, who is a third year veterinary student at Massay University, was instrumental in acquainting me with the clinic, procedures and local culture. Also, both of the veterinarians, Ikumi Ishikawa (sponsored by Japan International Cooperation Agency) and Belinda Hamlin (sponsored by Australian Government-AusAid) took time to teach me more about each case and even found resources for me to study during downtime.  The clients were also extremely gracious for allowing me to assist and take notes and photographs of the cases.

“Yes, Dogs get STI’s too!”—Transmissible Venereal Tumors

                My time at APS allowed me to learn about diseases and conditions that are relatively rare in some other parts of the world.  A striking example was introduced to me as the first case of my externship: Transmissible Venereal Tumor, or TVT.  We were presented with two large guard dogs, sedated on acepromazine (by the caretakers of the dogs), netted and tied up on a truck bed.  While both male and female dogs can develop these tumors, these patients were male.  Because the tumors on the glans penis were so large, the prepuce would not retract for excision of the tumors. The dogs were given chemotherapy treatment of Vincristine sulfate injection and returned for four more injections at later dates.  I contacted APS recently and was told that the tumors had shrunk after this course of treatment so that the prepuce could be retracted and tumors surgically removed.

Worms, Worms, Worms…Paralysis

On several occasions, we treated puppies with hind leg paralysis.  From my observation, it seemed that the two most common diagnoses for these cases were either paralysis from accident (namely car, being stepped on, etc.) or Angiostrongylus (from not being routinely dewormed).   The latter I found quite interesting because the puppies were able to regain most of their leg and bladder control with a treatment of standard deworming medications.  The clients were quite impressed with what really seemed like a simple, yet “magical,” transformation.  


Parvovirus was also quite common (several cases most days), but like other countries (both developed and less developed), the mortality rate was quite high because the puppies were brought in when they were already quite dehydrated.  With most of the puppies, Dr. Hamlin or Dr. Ishikawa would inject a bolus of saline subcutaneously along with other treatment.  Because many clients did not return for follow up visits, it was difficult to know how successful the treatments were, but more often than not, we heard that the animal died that day or soon after.  Fortunately, the islands are rabies free which may also explain why the dogs are allowed to roam and repopulate to such a degree. 

Accidents Happen

Dogs in Samoa are prone to accidents both because of their roaming lifestyle and the fact that they are often targets of attack.  Common incidences include poisoning with Paraquat (a common but very toxic weed killer that’s absorbed through dog’s paws or from licking), food poisoning (either from rotting food or intentional poisoning), car accidents, bites from dog fights, and projectile injuries from thrown rocks.  We also saw machete wounds and nutritional deficiencies (not being fed enough or only being fed bread, for example). 

Although Samoa boasts a relatively peaceful coexistence of pigs, chickens, dogs and cats that roam the streets and yards of most of the villages in Samoa, sometimes one species ends up where only the other should be.  On one occasion, we treated a dog, Charlotte, who had been hanging in a pig trap for several days.  She was rushed to APS as soon as her owners, an expat family from the United States, found her on their neighbor’s plantation.  Because a hind paw had been hanging in the noose style trap for several days and had been preventing venous return, there was visible swelling and we also suspected broken tarsal bones.  Surprisingly, the only damage to Charlotte was on her skin, mostly on the neck and back, which was inflamed and covered in over half an inch of maggots on various parts of her body (see picture).  Because the irritation was so advanced and odorous, the Dr. Ishikawa opted to shave off a large portion of the coat and thoroughly clean and generously disinfect the skin.  The happy family was soon able to take home their bright “Chlorhexidine-Pink” dog.

More Interest in the Veterinary Profession is Needed

Finally, one of the goals of the externship was to raise awareness about veterinary medicine among the local population—especially to the children and young adults. During my stay in Samoa, I was able to have several conversations with children and youth about careers in veterinary medicine.   Most had no idea that such a career existed, and were both perplexed and interested at the prospect.  Because they do have generous scholarship opportunities through their government for veterinary school in Australia and New Zealand, I tried to educate them about those options as well as the rewards of helping their country become more self-sufficient in veterinary care for their pets and livestock.

More information about the Animal Protection Society of Samoa can be found on Facebook and at


Picture below- young puppy prepped for spaying



Picture below from the Animal Protection Society of Samoa



Creative Corner- Oil on Canvas 

By Elodie Huguet

University of Georgia


Date Night and Toast Crumbs 

By Justin Padgett

Auburn University

                I was at work on a Friday afternoon when I received the call. I picked up my cell phone to answer a number I didn’t recognize only to hear a lady on the line say, “Justin, this is Kaye from Auburn University.”  I felt my stomach drop and for the next few seconds all I remember is a smattering of words like “accepted” and “see you in August.” I ended the call, took a deep breath and immediately went to my boss’ office and told him something had come up and I needed to take the afternoon off. I headed home, spent a while in deep thought and thankfulness, and then told my wife the great, life changing news.

                Since I had missed being accepted the year before I had convinced myself I needed to singlehandedly develop a cure for cancer before I would be accepted in vet school! I had taken this thought and settled into a pretty good life with my wife as we had recently bought a house and taken steady jobs. That being said, I knew that vet school truly would truly be a huge change for us. My wife would have to transition from loving partner to sugar momma as she supported me while I headed back to school. We had to come up with a plan to make the next 4 years of education work as smoothly as possible.

                We decided to not sell our house, for my wife to keep her excellent job as a teacher, and for me to look for a place to live in Auburn during the school week. We only lived one hour away so we thought this just might work. My wife had a cousin, Laura, that lived in Auburn so we knew she would be a great resource to help us nail down a place for me to rent for the school year.

                We called Laura that day and told her our situation. I needed a cheap place to live and possibly a roommate who could help split the bill for rent. To our great surprise, Laura didn’t hesitate to offer her own house as a place for me to stay. I fought this for a few minutes, knowing that Laura had two small boys to take care of and a third child on the way. I certainly didn’t want to add to her burden and be a fourth child for her.  She persisted though, assuring me that I would be no trouble because she wasn’t going to be doing my laundry! I then figured I couldn’t possibly turn down a great place and a great family to live with.

                It all was falling into place. That is when I realized how family had impacted not only my journey to gain acceptance but that family was what I would rely on to get me through the rigorous curriculum ahead. I now had an encouraging wife beside me and a new family that welcomed me into their home. 

                Before I left, my wife, Karen, and I set to work on some strategies to help us get through the next few months. We had heard the warning that two things happen to people in vet school – they find out they have ADD and they get divorced! Well, the latter option was indeed no option for us so we consulted a few married friends that were in vet school and came up with a plan to make sure we were there for each other. We decided to make Friday night “Date Night,” that we would talk to one another at least once a day, and that we would always try to pump one another up and stay positive.

                After feeling good about mine and Karen’s plan I headed off to live with my new weekly family. I remember the first few days pretty clearly. The boys were a bit skeptical of this guy coming in their house every night. They were more than friendly but it seemed they didn’t really catch on about why I was there all the time. I knew they didn’t mind me being there though because they would ask, “Mr. Justin, can you spend the night again tonight?”  I also don’t think they knew (or cared) about how I was related to them. One of the boys kept asking me about my sister that had been to their house before. I asked him who he was talking about and he said, “You know…that blonde lady that’s been to our house with you.” I had to tell him that was my wife!

                The year following that week went great. I grew close to the family that welcomed me into their home even though I rarely saw them. I kept late hours and got up early, as all vet students are accustomed to, but the times our paths did cross were always great.

                The boys were always entertaining - wanting me to play games with them or check out the new level on the video game they had reached. I particularly liked when Silas, the older of the two boys, would talk about all the things he had learned in school that day. He went on about history and science and then he quizzed me on all the things I had learned about animals while I was in class. This was a great review of the day’s notes for me.

                One of my best memories from living with Laura and her family actually came when I was at my groggiest. As I mentioned before, Laura was expecting her third child, and by time I had been at their house for about a month she was ready to pop. About midnight one September night I was woken up with a loud knock on my bedroom door. I knew something serious was going on and I jumped out of bed. For some reason the first thing that popped in my head was that they needed help with their diabetic cat. My sleepy mind was running over all the things we had learned about diabetes before I realized Laura just wanted me to move my truck and get out of her way. She was having a baby! 

                I ran downstairs without thinking another thought, moved my truck and ran back inside. It wasn’t until I was back inside that I realized I only had my underwear on. This wouldn’t have been that big of a deal since it was the middle of the night but the preacher’s wife from our church had arrived to help with the boys and was standing in the kitchen! I said my hellos while in my skivvies then ran up to bed.

                Another great memory I have from the family is all the great advice I would receive from the younger of the two boys, Elliott. He was always up and at ‘em in the morning, ready for me to play Legos with him but he never got too disappointed when I said I had to head to school. He would just ask me if I had a test that day and if I did he would utter these immortal words of wisdom, “If you see the right answer and you know it’s right, pick that one.” I couldn’t go wrong with that advice. 

                I also remember thinking how much privacy I had while I lived with this busy family. I never really cared if the boys went in my room but they always seemed to stay out while I was gone. I figured Laura had instructed them to stay out of the room; either that or they were pretty good at covering their tracks. I kept thinking this until one Monday night in April I crawled into bed after being away for the weekend. I felt scratchy things all in the sheets and just couldn’t get comfortable. I looked around the bed for the offensive objects and found a bunch of toast! Apparently one of the boys had used my bed as a breakfast table that weekend or they were trying to hint that I had worn out my welcome!

                Karen and I missed each other a ton during the week but we kept to our Friday night Date Night routine. We found cheap things to do like rent Red-Box movies or take the dog on a walk. All of a sudden these little things meant a whole lot more since we were apart so much.  These were the kinds of things that kept me sane. 

                A lot of great encouragement came from Karen in times that were out of routine. I received several cards from her that I never expected.  When they arrived in the mail they always had words to pick me up and help me study a little bit longer. I also came home during the week whenever possible and tried to surprise her with these visits. 

                My first year ended with great success. Karen and I were able to avoid one curse of vet school and we are going strong. I am certainly very fortunate to have such great family to help me get through a tough curriculum. I enjoyed my time with Laura’s family and soaked up the times I had with Karen. It is a humbling thought when you know you have accomplished something great but you also know you could not have done it by yourself.




A Walk on the Wild Side 

Jennifer Ballard

University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine

Class of 2011


The best veterinary externship I participated in was at the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study (SCWDS).  SCWDS is housed at the University of Georgia and serves as a research entity for conservation agencies from 15 states as well as several federal agencies.  By representing so many groups, SCWDS is able to cover a lot of ground with their research, both literally and figuratively.  This gives students a really diverse experience.  My time at SCWDS included a combination of field work, comparative pathology, and literary research.  The field work included mist netting songbirds and corralling waterfowl for collecting samples.  I also performed quite a few necropsies on a range of species and learned to identify some common causes of wildlife mortality.  Because developing scientific writing skills is a really important part of the veterinary profession, each extern who participates in this program practices writing pathology reports as well as being assigned one research topic based on need and interest.  My paper explored management options for control of Lyme disease.  There is no clinical work involved in the SCWDS externship; it’s intended specifically for students with an interest in the diseases of free ranging wildlife and population health.

The University of Georgia is located in Athens, Georgia.  It’s just east of Atlanta and an absolutely awesome college town!  The downtown area has great shops and restaurants, and the atmosphere is very young and fun.  While I was there, my coworkers hosted several barbeques and the town was having “AthFest,” a family oriented arts and music festival.  Having grown up in Arkansas and moved to the Midwest for vet school, it was a lot of fun to get back to the southern hospitality that I’ve missed since moving away from home.  The vet school was great about helping me find housing for my stay, and the American College of Veterinary Pathologists has a scholarship that can help offset the expense of traveling to this externship.  I would highly recommend participating in this program to anyone interested in wildlife epidemic.