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Entries in ross university (10)


My Time in South Africa

Kristen Crouch, Ross University

Life as a Vet Student, Winner


I have always grown up having a passion for the Earth and all of its wild creatures. Having wildlife biologists as parents and growing up just a short bike ride away from to a local wildlife rehabilitation center called Southwest Wildlife fostered my interest in wildlife and conservation medicine. When I was younger, I was able to meet and shadow Dr. Dean Rice, former Phoenix Zoo veterinarian, at the local zoo. This background with both free-ranging and captive wildlife helped prepare me for my visit with a company called Wildlifevets in South Africa. Being able to actively participate and apply what we’ve learned to field conservation medicine was the best experiences I could have hoped for and an experience I will never forget.

While with Wildlifevets, I was able to learn more about and refine my rudimentary wildlife darting techniques, proper drug use and how to calculate appropriate dosages for various species, post-immobilization techniques, and transportation of immobilized wildlife. Reading texts and journal articles and observing captures are nothing compared to the practical experience of working with free-ranging wildlife.

While in South Africa, I had the opportunity to participate in the large-scale capture, immobilization, and translocation of buffalo, immobilization and translocation of individual nyala as they were spotted in the bush, and immobilization and dehorning of rhinoceros to significantly decrease their exposure to being poached. I also attended lectures, practicals, and a post-mortem examination of a buffalo calf to further enhance the learning experience of this opportunity. Lectures included the obvious veterinary topics, but also included information on the Convention on Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), wildlife management techniques, and the roles of tourism and hunting in managing Africa’s vast wildlife species.

Unlike North America where wildlife belongs to the public and is managed in the public trust, in South Africa, wildlife is owned by the landowners and managed as the landowners see fit. This leads to a much more intensive management as wildlife is generally restricted in movements due to high fences (albeit these are enclosures spanning tens or hundreds of square miles). It also leads to a greater need for application of conservation medicine to ensure health of herds, genetic diversity, treatment of individual animals (injuries, orphans, and illness) and protection of habitat.

While translocating certain species may not seem to have strong ties to conservation medicine, it is actually core to the process. Another experience I was lucky enough to participate in was a mass capture of impala. They are herded using helicopters or other machinery into V-shaped bomas, or enclosures, and when pushed into the final “corral” enclosure, they are stressed, some injured, over-heated, and exhausted, requiring veterinary care. I also got to help translocate buffalo from one farm to another. All must be immobilized, and once immobilized, closely monitored. They are placed on sternal recumbency, have their eyes covered, and have their body temperature and respirations monitored until release. Their blood is drawn for disease testing and general health assessments are conducted. If injured, injuries are assessed and treated if possible, although severely injured individuals may need to be humanely euthanized. Sometimes calves are hopelessly separated from their mothers, or the calves are trampled during darting. These orphan calves are transferred and sometimes raised by people. This was the case for us. Although exhausting, it was also fun to be able to bottle feed these orphans throughout nighttime shifts. We named our buffalo calf “Rossie,” and I’m happy to report that he will be reintroduced into a new herd sometime in the near future.

As many people know, rhinoceros are highly endangered in large part due to poaching for these magnificent animals’ horns. People in Asia and other countries believe their horns are practically magical for their aphrodisiac and medicinal qualities. National Parks in Africa are discouraged from removing horns from living rhinos, because tourists expect to see rhinos with horns. Rhinos living on private land holdings may be darted and immobilized to have their horns removed. Rhinos with no horns are of little interest to poachers, leaving these dehorned rhinos looking a bit odd but alive to continue to reproduce. However, there is still a risk that the poacher will be angered from tracking an already dehorned rhino and still shoot the animal to avoid tracking a wrong path again. Besides removing horns, special care is taken to collect genetic markers. The horns must also be specially marked and carefully catalogued to comply with government regulations and CITES. While sedated, the rhino’s horn is carefully sawed off, the animal is closely monitored for complications from capture (capture myopathy, overheating, respiratory issues, etc.), blood samples taken, saline administered intravenously to ensure hydration, and antibiotics are administered to prevent infection. The horns are micro-chipped, and while we were there, a government official had to be present during both rhino dehornings that we participated in.

Working in South Africa meant working with many different landowners, each with their own perspective of wildlife management and conservation medicine. I traveled outside South Africa to Swaziland, a country ruled by as a true monarchy with no democracy. Here, I also got to witness the challenge of translocating wildlife from one country (Swaziland) into another country (South Africa). The amount of effort Wildlifevets went through to obtain all permits was daunting, and extremely frustrating, but eventually successful.

My experience in Africa has furthered my interest in conservation medicine opportunities. I also firmly believe that working with the large variety of species, people of different cultures, and less than ideal conditions makes for a better veterinarian, even if one chooses to become a veterinarian for companion animals. I will never forget the valuable lessons I learned from this experience, and I will treasure it always. I cannot wait to return to this wonderful country again in the future, and I am truly inspired to follow my passion for a lifelong career in wildlife veterinary medicine.


A Chance to Touch the Sky

Laura Byers, Ross University

Creative Corner, Winner


A little girl’s dreams are magical things,
And if she’s lucky, they can give her wings.
 A dream, a chance to touch the sky,

Horse as her guide, she learned how to fly.
Whether elegant strides, or difficult rides,
Jumps and falls that made her cry,
Fears were taught be pushed aside,
Because dreams can’t live until you try.
It’s amazing what a horse can provide,
Strength, love, and humbled pride
Responsibility, self-esteem,
All because a little girl followed her dream.
A dream, a chance to touch the sky,
Horse as her guide, she learned how to fly.






2014 SAVMA Symposium Experience

Tara Farrell, Ross University

Experiences, Honorable Mention


I didn’t quite know what to expect when I arrived in Colorado for the SAVMA Symposium.  Coming from a tropical island, I was immediately met with freezing weather.  This was a nice change from the hot, humid weather I had been in the last couple of months. I also did not know what to expect from people and the atmosphere at the conference since I had never been to one before.

From the very beginning of the symposium, it was busy.  My friends and I started off with the volleyball tournament at the CSU recreational center. This was a lot of fun and we met some very nice people from Wisconsin and other schools. Since the lectures didn’t start until Friday, I was able to explore Fort Collins with some friends and take a tour of The New Belgium Brewery.  Thursday night I explored the nightlife of Old Town Fort Collins by going on a pub-crawl.  My friends and I were able to eat some actual American bar food and have some delicious beer after being in the Caribbean for 3 months. Later that night, my group of friends met up and hung out with some of the people that we had met at the volleyball tournament earlier in the day.

Friday morning was another busy day from the beginning. I had my Small Animal Medical Procedures wet lab, which was an awesome experience. I learned techniques like urine catheterization, bone marrow aspirations and other procedures that I had not yet learned at Ross.  Later in the day I was able to attend some of the lectures and meet up with one of my friends who is a veterinary student at CSU.  We also saw and met up with some of the people we had done our Master’s program with at CSU.  That night, the symposium took us into Fort Collins for a Casino Royale Night.  This was a great opportunity to meet and mingle with people from other schools.  Coming from the Caribbean we had our own unique way of meeting people, which was by hula hooping. It was fun because people from other schools would come up and try to hoop and the few people from Ross who were good at it put on a little show. Casino Night was very fun, even though I did not gamble, but I did enjoy meeting people and hanging out with my friends.Volleyball at the Rec Center

On Saturday morning, my friends and I were met with a surprise outside when we woke up. It was snowing! This was fun to see, since we don’t have any seasons in the Caribbean and I hardly get to see snow at home because I live in Arizona.  I was also able to finally relax a little and attend some of the lectures in the morning.  Later that morning I met up with my sister, who had driven up from Denver. It was great to hang out with her and explore Fort Collins a little more in the snow! That night was the closing ceremonies, so we put on our best dress and got ready to have a great time.  The dinner was delicious and the speakers were all very good. The keynote speaker was Dr. Stephen Withrow, who gave a very good and inspiring speech.  He told us about his journey and how he was able to open the Cancer Center at the Colorado State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital.  He showed us how we can open doors in veterinary medicine that might lead to advances in human medicine.   This is important because the human-animal bond is even stronger these days.  

This whole experience has made me want to be a veterinarian even more and has made me more excited to be apart of the veterinary medical field. I think that any veterinary student who has a chance to attend the SAVMA Symposium should attend.  It is a great opportunity to learn more about the different fields of medicine and learn different types of medical procedures and skills.  This was also a great place to network with other students and lecturers. I would not trade this experience for anything in the world even if I did end up missing a test. I was able to grow more as a veterinary student and am more excited than ever about being apart of the veterinary profession. 


When it hit me: I’m a first year vet student

Entry, Foot in Mouth Disease
Terra Berardi, Ross


It hit me when formaldehyde,

began to smell like home.

It hit me while my brother was eating chicken,

and I proceeded to tell them about the muscles and bones.

It hit me when I acquired a million pets,

that I meant to only foster.

It hit me when I used words like “distal” and “proximal,”

to give driving directions to my father.

It hit me when I forgot,

what having a social life means.

It hit me when every study break involved,

the consumption of caffeine.

But it hit the most when I sat down,

to write this submission,

because it was a way of feeling productive,

while procrastinating on my study of nutrition. 


On an Island Being the Change You Wish to See in the World

Winner, Experiences
Meghan Ruck, Ross

Ross University’s School of Veterinary Medicine’s Josh Project chapter has a very unique opportunity here in St. Kitts.  We are given the chance to personally visit the children that are receiving care in the Joseph N. France General Hospital’s pediatric ward and impact their lives directly.  Each of our “Josh Kit” donation visits to the hospital comes with its own set of memories and emotions.

When we give each child their “Josh Kit” for the first time, it is truly heart-warming to see their eyes light up and a huge smile flash across their face as they are introduce to their new friend “Josh”, the plush toy Golden Retriever.  It’s a special connection that you make in those moments; one that you feel when they trustingly place their hand in your hand to walk with them down the ward hall to the play/reading room for story time.

I’ve been so blessed to be able to soak up these beautiful moments for over two years now as I’ve done everything in my power in making sure that these opportunities remain possible for our Josh Project chapter, allowing us to continue to impact the lives of the children here in St. KittsMy role has been much like that of a symphony conductor, being responsible for communicating, leading, and guiding an orchestra of performers; together we create music.  By successfully unifying many amazing “performers” across the RUSVM and St. Kitts communities, as a partnership, we have been successful every semester in executing our fundraising events (Josh Project Coin Fundraiser, Josh Project Cook Off, RUSVM fleece sale, etc.) that fuel our abilities.

It was these very partnerships that brought us to one of Josh Project’s greatest achievements.

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