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By Stephanie Rutherford

Class of 2012

Louisiana State University 

At the onset, the fields were painted with a rainbow of uniforms of the teams pulled from every domain within the school. Students representing all four classes, boarded specialists, residents, interns, technicians, graduate students, and researchers alike found themselves, for a singular moment, on a level playing field.  Our own version of March Madness, anything can happen in the tournament, and there is always an upset or two on the road to the championship game.  The competitive spirit that got many students into vet school seems to resurface as the evening wears on, and the games get more intense.  Now, as the sun begins to set over the mighty Mississippi River, only the colors black and blue remain. This seems appropriate, considering the previous three hours have been spent fighting, clawing, diving, and crawling for every out and every run.  Now tired and bruised, both teams have to muster up enough energy to duke it out one last time.  The prize for 1stplace:  A $100 gift certificate to Mellow Mushroom to fund the victory party, your team’s name on the official kickball trophy, and, most importantly, a year’s worth of bragging rights to the members of the winning team. This honor has now gone to the class of 2012’s “Balls in Your Face” 3 years in a row. 

The Annual Kickball Tournament is one of the most anticipated events at Louisiana State University’s School of Veterinary Medicine.  The tournament is a time when former athletes, who chose to trade in their uniforms and cleats for textbooks and #2 pencils, get to relive the glory days of their youth.  The only scores that matter are the ones made at home plate, and no one can take off points for spelling. The joys of kickball are not exclusive to the players, though.  Deprived of football and tailgating for several months, the denizens of the LSU SVM who aren’t participating in the tournament still flock to the sidelines to cheer on their favorite teams and to spend some much needed quality time with their colleagues. As competitors are eliminated, they join the crowd, pick a new team to back, and enjoy the company and the final games.  For some, the tournament provides a much needed break from the monotony of lectures and studying.  For others, it is a way to release the tension and frustration that comes from being confined for too long.  One of the most important things I’ve learned in vet school is to never underestimate the ability of playground games to enrich the lives of students of all ages.


Emerging Veterinary Issues 

Brought to you by the SAVMA Public Health and Community Outreach Committee (PHCOC). Be sure to check your email for the full recent issue of the PHCOC newsletter, forwarded from your SAVMA Delegates!


As the seasons change and springtime begins across the country, it brings with it wildlife encounters of all kinds. The article below, courtesy of the Wall Street Journal, addresses wildlife rehabber's suggestions on what to do if you (or your friends/roommates/clients) find injured or orphaned wildlife.


What to do when you find animals in your yard

Published in the Wall Street Journal April 20, 2011

ALBANY, N.Y. — Wildlife rehabilitator Joanne Dreeben's phone just keeps ringing this time of year.

It starts in March when her neighbors in New York City's northern suburbs find baby squirrels in their attics. Then come callers who find young pigeons and sparrows on their property, followed by folks who spy song birds on the ground. Finally comes the long summer of rabbits nicked by lawnmowers, sparrows clawed by Tabby, and assorted calls about deer, foxes and raccoons.

"It's always something like, 'My cat brought in this, or my dog injured that, or we took a tree down and didn't realize there was a nest in there.' I would say they're the three most common calls," said Dreeben, of Yonkers, N.Y., who has been nursing wild animals back to health for 30 years. "Most of the people, by the time they get to me, are frustrated: 'This is the 12th call I've made!'"

Countless homeowners will find hobbled or mauled animals on their property this year. It's not always clear what to do. There are differences in how to handle, say, a baby chick versus a frothing raccoon. And it's not always easy to find someone to help.

Just ask Kim Rubin, who found a sickly goose in her Westchester County, N.Y., backyard a couple of months ago.

"I was sort of amazed when I started calling around — it was really hard to find someone to deal with injured wildlife," she said.

Around the country, as suburbs encroach on the woods and fields where animals live, they must travel farther for food. In just the past year, feral hogs have bedeviled parts of rural Arkansas, wild peacocks strutted northwest of Seattle and pesky elk trampled gardens in Kentucky. Last year, police in Oviedo, Fla., killed a wild boar that was charging at locals, and several coyotes even wandered into New York City.

Those headline-grabbing cases are outliers. Far more common are incidents involving cotton-tail rabbits, squirrels and starlings. Most of those animals do not pose a danger. Still, wildlife experts warn, never approach a mammal acting strangely, especially bats, skunks and raccoons, which can contract rabies.

If there's no danger, try to determine if the animal is really injured. Check for bleeding, vomiting or shivering. For instance, it's OK for fledglings to hop around on the ground. It's what they do. Leave the bird alone unless it is in imminent danger from a cat, car or some other menace.

"It doesn't mean it has a bad mom or it's abandoned," said Sandy Woltman, acting president of the National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association, "but it probably means the mom is out getting food for herself and probably watching nearby."

Wildlife rehabilitators are the people you call if you want to help the animal but can't do it yourself. They are usually volunteers, and should be licensed by the state if they handle mammals and by federal wildlife officials if they handle migratory birds. They take wounded animals back to their homes or shops to nurse them back to health. And they will explain to your child that no, they can't keep a pet opossum.

The association's website, , has step-by-step information on when it's appropriate to gently place babies back into their nest and when to seek help from a wildlife rehabilitator.

If you decide to seek help, you could face the related challenge of actually finding a rehabilitator.

Googling for "wildlife rehabilitator" and your state can work. Lists also are available on . If you live by a nature center, they likely can steer you in the right direction over the phone. Veterinarians and state environmental agencies are other resources.

Local police might have a number handy, but it's hit-or-miss, as Rubin learned when officers gave her the number of a trapper for the sick goose on her property. She eventually found a locally based group, Animal Nation, on the Web. On their advice, she fixed up some scrambled eggs for the bird.

"It wouldn't move, it was obviously very sick," she recalled. "I have two small kids and a dog and I needed it out of the yard, otherwise the dog would take care of it. And I didn't think that would be pretty."

Eventually, a volunteer came and picked up the bird.

And keep this in mind: The nationwide system for rehabilitating wildlife is patchwork and relies on volunteers, so getting a response may take time. Dreeben, for one, is getting more calls than ever for coyotes, turkeys and deer.

"I get a lot of calls from people who see this turkey in their backyard, and because they've see it and they haven't seen it before, they think it needs help," Dreeben said.

Woltman, based in northern Illinois, said that even as the need for rehabilitators has gone up, donations are down because of the recession. That has made it harder on a profession that already has a high burnout rate because of the money and time demands, along with the routine exposure to suffering and death.

"I don't want to call it a dying breed," she said, "but the numbers are actually declining for wildlife rehabilitators."

—Copyright 2011 Associated Press


Konza Prairie 


By Stephanie Macinski

Class of 2011

Kansas State University   


Calling All Vet Students 



Do you have an opinion on how veterinary medical education should be changing to meet the needs of today’s profession? About new competencies that new grads should possess? About the cost and quality of your education? About the make-up of veterinary curricula? (I have yet to meet a veterinary student who doesn’t have thoughts on those topics!)

Here’s your chance to send your opinion to the very top!

Students are not the only ones with these concerns.  The North American Veterinary Medical Education Consortium (NAVMEC), in conjunction with the many arms of veterinary medicine- the AVMA Council on Education, the American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges, the National Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners, various CVM’s, American Association of Veterinary State Boards, and others- has taken a comprehensive look at veterinary education in light of such concerns. Out of the Consortium came a report with 5 specific goals: Day #1 Competencies, All-Career Curricula, More investment in CVM’s, Hi-Quality and Cost Effective Education, and Urgency & Action. Each of these goals and subsequent strategies is addressed in NAVMEC’s report, available on their website at

And now- where you come in! NAVMEC has opened a comment period on their report lasting until May 1, 2011. By visiting their website and clicking on “View Draft Report” near the bottom of the page, you can provide your feedback on NAVMEC’s work. Opinions from vital stakeholders-the students- will be reaching the eyes and ears of the regulatory agencies and bodies that most need to hear them. This is YOUR profession. This is YOUR education- take part! Speak up!



A French "Faux Paw" 

By Caroline Menghini

Texas A and M University

Class of 2012


Two summers ago I landed a dream job as a summer extern at a busy small animal practice in Paris, France. I managed to convince the vet there that my French was adequate enough for me to work an entire summer. I don’t consider myself fluent, but I can read pretty well and carry on a decent conversation.  

My first day went well and the veterinarians treated me to lunch at their favorite café down the street. I envisioned myself speaking French for the duration of the lunch break in order to impress the vets and gain rapport with the locals. I mostly just sat there listening as the veterinarians discussed their cases for the day and some drama happening at the clinic. Any questions directed at me were answered briefly and with energetic nodding.  I felt anxious about my rusty French skills and I was upset that I had accidentally ordered a salad with tuna in it because I couldn’t properly translate the menu.

At the end of the meal the waiter came around to clear the table. He glanced down at my plate and saw that I had eaten a small portion of the salad and shoveled the rest around on the plate like a six year old avoiding his broccoli.  I tried to redeem myself by continuing to speak French.  Seeing his concerned facial expression I assured him, “Je suis plein.”  He suddenly broke out into an enormous smile followed by obnoxious laughter.  I looked over at the vets who were vigorously shaking their heads and looking rather embarrassed.  I had just made a big rookie mistake. “Je suis plein” directly translated into English means “ I am full.” In French however, “Je suis plein” means “I am a pregnant animal.”  Being in the company of veterinarians made this even more ironic and hilarious for everyone I’m sure. Mortified, I tried to recover by saying what I should have said, which is “Je n'ai pas faim,” meaning “I am no longer hungry.” Too late.  My feeble response wasn’t audible over the laughter.  We left the café tout de suite and thankfully the vets never mentioned the incident again, at least not in my presence.  Needless to say, I never went back to that café with them. Instead, I chose to eat baguette sandwiches at a local park while brushing up on my French vocabulary.