AV Magazine Issue 1, 2021 Veterinarians

Page 1








2021 Issue 1


Essential Care, Everywhere





The training of veterinary students is gradually becoming more progressive and innovative.

7 By the Numbers Statistics show the U.S. veterinary profession varies by specialty and location. By Crystal Miller-Spiegel


8 One Health, One Welfare A universal framework makes the connection between human health and animal well-being.


By Sue A. Leary

1 First Word A special relationship and a sacred trust.

9 Life After the Lab New policies are allowing more animals to be adopted from research facilities.

2 Briefly Speaking The Science Bank Turns 25!; International Update, Cruelty-Free Cosmetics; Building Better Models with Alternatives; 110 Million Rats and Mice Used in U.S. Labs; EPA to Phase Out Tests Using Mammals. Tributes (insert) Special friends honored and remembered. 16 Members’ Corner Wildlife Rehabilitators in Action

By Kira Golub

10 The Complex Role of Lab Vets Veterinarians are expected to play a key part in the care of animals used in experiments. By Jill Howard Church

12 Improving Access to Veterinary Care Special programs are bringing much-needed vet care to underserved communities. By Michael Blackwell, Candice Hinkle, and Susan Krebsbach

14 Interview: Ian Robinson A wildlife specialist has traveled the globe saving endangered and imperiled species.

Founded in 1883, the American Anti-Vivisection Society’s (AAVS) mission is to unequivocally oppose and work to end experimentation on animals and to oppose all other forms of cruelty to animals. AAVS is a nonprofit education organization using legal, effective advocacy to achieve meaningful, lasting change.


By Nicole Green



VOLUME CXXIX Number 1 ISSN 0274-7774

Executive Editor Sue A. Leary Managing Editor and Copy Editor Jill Howard Church Staff Contributors Jill Howard Church Chris Derer Kira Golub Nicole Green Sue A. Leary Crystal Miller-Spiegel Crystal Schaeffer Art Direction Brubaker Design

AV Magazine (USPS 002-660) is published by the American Anti-Vivisection Society for the benefit of its members, and has been in continuous publication since 1892. Annual membership dues: $25.00. Office of Publication: 801 Old York Road, Suite 204 Jenkintown, PA 19046-1611 phone: 215-887-0816 e-mail: editor@theavmagazine.org



AAVS welcomes requests to reproduce articles that appear in AV Magazine. In all cases, we will require that credit be given to the author and to AAVS. The individual views and claims expressed in AV Magazine are not necessarily those of the organization.

First Word JUNE 24, 2021 IS A DAY that I’ll never forget. It was the day that we knew it was time to say goodbye to Romeo, our beautiful little Cocker Spaniel. We went to our veterinarian’s office, and as we held Romeo for the last time, I felt such gratitude to be in the presence of his kind, smart, sensitive doctor, who had helped him through some tough times. She knew exactly what he needed at that moment, as she had since 2008, when we brought him home from the shelter. My husband and I left the “comfort room” of the vet’s office with Romeo’s empty leash in hand, and found solace in remembering his funny, quirky personality and how he must have been relieved in a way, to be released from the struggles of his last weeks of life. But what about our vet? Did she have to sit with other families in the comfort room that day? That week? How much empathy can a person muster to do that job well? It’s one of aspect of being a veterinarian that apparently takes its toll. We have read articles in the last couple of years about the significantly higher rate of suicide among people in that profession, and also about the shortage of vets as the demand for their services increases. Euthanasia is one aspect of veterinary practice that, from the outside, certainly looks like it would be difficult. Another problem is the disconnect between the growing sophistication of veterinary medicine and the inability of so many clients to pay for it. Veterinarians operate at the interface of evolving human values and the reality of animal care. Unfortunately, some vets, employed in agriculture, horseracing, and laboratories, may contribute to animal suffering. But there are so many others whose dedication is admirable, like the vet I know who volunteered his time to examine animals seized in cruelty cases so there was evidence for the prosecution. And the vet who, with his wife, cares for rescued farmed animals at his home. There were the vets who swept in to help when Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans in 2005 and brought their professionalism to the heartbreaking mission of emergency animal rescue. This issue of AV Magazine is dedicated to those wonderful animal docs who give their all for the animals and provide relief for them in ways that no one else can. Thank you.

Sue A. Leary, President, American Anti-Vivisection Society

AV Magazine is printed on paper with 10% recycled content.



Briefly Speaking NEWS YOU NEED TO KNOW



ing remotely. Teachers needed quality science education tools for remote classroom learning and Animalearn met their needs by developing a special resource page on The Science Bank website featuring virtual alternatives available online, many for free or at a low cost. Even those who weren’t necessarily looking for non-animal alternatives discovered how innovative and valuable these teaching tools are. Last year, with help from Science Bank partner Merge EDU, Animalearn launched its Animalearn Philly Schools Partnership in Philadelphia. The program provided Merge’s popular augmented reality science education system to two underresourced public schools, delivering high-quality teaching tools where needed most and introducing even more students to humane science. Learn about all the available resources at www.TheScienceBank.org.

AS OF MAY 1, 2021, China no longer requires animal testing for all imported cosmetics—but there are caveats. The new regulations only apply to general cosmetics (lipstick, eye shadow, etc.) and do not include special use categories, such as hair dyes, sunscreens, and baby products. Additionally, companies wanting to sell their products in China must register with the China Food & Drug Administration and provide a Certificate of Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) if they do not conduct animal testing. Although some countries are able to provide GMP certification, it has not yet been determined who will issue a certificate in the U.S. and Canada. However, in Europe, there have been setbacks. A study published in the journal ALTEX, “Continuing animal tests on cosmetic ingredients for REACH in the EU,” reports that hundreds of cosmetic products sold in the U.K. and EU contain ingredients that have been tested on animals despite a 2013 ban on animal-tested cosmetics and ingredients. This stems from conflicting EU laws: the Cosmetics Regulation and REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals). The study found that even ingredients used only in cosmetics are being tested on animals under REACH. A strong coalition of companies and animal protection organizations in the EU is fighting back with a Citizen’s Initiative. According to the Leaping Bunny Program, a cruelty-free certification chaired by AAVS, “EU testing requirements could impact U.S. and Canadian companies utilizing European suppliers.” But consumers can be confident about their compassionate choices if they follow Leaping Bunny’s list of cruelty-free companies, since Leaping Bunny’s Supplier Monitoring System requires annual certification and monitoring that ingredients and finished products have not involved any animal testing. See the list at www.LeapingBunny.org/shopping-guide.




HUMANE SCIENCE EDUCATION IS an invaluable part of AAVS’s mission to end the use of animals in research, testing, and education. It is one of the best ways to nurture compassion in students and steer them away from archaic methods like animal dissection. That’s why we’re so proud to celebrate the 25th anniversary of The Science Bank! AAVS’s Animalearn department started The Science Bank in 1996 as a modest lending library, and today it is the largest loan program of its kind in the U.S., offering hundreds of alternative materials for all learning levels. It receives many inquiries from parents, teachers, school boards, university professors, science camps, and more. During the COVID-19 pandemic, The Science Bank became a welcome resource for educators facing the challenge of teach-


The Alternatives Research & Development Foundation (ARDF), an AAVS affiliate, has awarded nearly $240,000 in grants to six projects developing alternatives to reduce or replace the use of animals in research and testing. The work done by this year’s grantees is particularly exciting because it has the potential to replace large numbers of animals, including some in procedures that cause severe pain and distress. One study is developing a computer model to design new antibodies, which are often produced by subjecting animals to painful procedures. To better predict the potential toxic effects of chemicals, two studies are developing computer models that are faster and cheaper than animal testing, and more accurate in determining how a chemical affects the human body. Other funded projects are using human cells to create models to mimic human organs and their functions, for example, creating a respiratory tract model that can replace the use of rats, hamsters, and rabbits in inhalation tests. Liver organoids (with multiple cell types, as in a human liver) are being developed to better understand the toxicity of certain food additives, which are commonly tested on animals. Additionally, a model that mimics the process of creating new blood vessels is being developed to replace cell cultures that rely on animal-derived products. Despite the pandemic, ARDF funded several projects in 2020 to support labs that were working on alternative methods, and is expecting reports on their work soon. Among them were two projects to study COVID-19, with one focused on lung disease caused by the virus and the other creating a computer model to identify drug treatments. One study that received a special grant will replace the use of cats to produce the toxoplasma gondii parasite for research needs. Learn more about these fascinating alternatives and other ARDF activities at www.ardf-online.org.

A study published on Nature.com estimates that more than 110 million rats and mice were used in 2017-18 in U.S. labs, a number far larger than previously estimated by many groups, including AAVS and our affiliate, the Alternatives Research & Development Foundation. This could mean that 44 million rats and mice are used in painful/distressful experiments. The article, “Estimating mouse and rat use in American laboratories by extrapolation from Animal Welfare Act-regulated species,” underscores the urgent need for the use of all animals in research and testing to be regulated under the AWA. In contrast, the number of AWA-covered animals (primates, rabbits, dogs, hamsters) in U.S. labs in 2019 was 934,771, an increase of 3.4 percent from 2018, according to the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In the European Union (EU), nearly 10.6 million animals were used “for the first time” for scientific experiments in 2018, according to the most recent numbers available from the European Commission. By far, the most used animals in the EU are mice, followed by fish and rats. EU member states separately reported the number of animals “bred and killed” for use in science, totaling almost 12.6 million in 2017, with 83 percent of this group of animals being mice. This would include many mice used in breeding for genetically engineered traits, and those used to produce biological products used in research, such as monoclonal antibodies.

EPA TO PHASE OUT TESTS USING MAMMALS The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) continues to make meaningful policy changes to reduce the agency’s reliance on animal tests. One of its more ambitious efforts was revealed in September 2019, when it announced that it “will reduce its requests for, and our funding of, mammal studies by 30 percent by 2025 and eliminate all mammal study requests and funding by 2035.” As part of its effort to quickly reduce its reliance on animals, the EPA is taking steps to determine where animal testing can be eliminated when it delivers duplicative results (as when one test can provide data for two areas of concern) and waiving requirements for specific chemical safety tests when they offer little additional scientific information or public health protection. The agency also entered

into a new collaborative agreement with consumer products giant Unilever to implement better ways to assess chemical risks using alternatives, not animals. The EPA also aims to validate alternatives and has asked the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to produce a report assessing the variability and relevance of “gold standard” toxicity testing using mammals such as mice, rats, and guinea pigs for evaluating human health risks from chemical exposure. This is important, since non-animal methods are typically validated in relation to whether they replicate results in the animal tests, which has delayed the implementation of alternative methods that may better predict results in humans.



Cornell University and other veterinary schools are increasingly using high-tech alternatives to real animals in their training labs.



Many children who grow up loving animals aspire to be veterinarians someday. But when students talented enough to be accepted into veterinary school begin their higher education programs, they may find that some teaching methods and exercises actually inflict harm on animals. Thankfully, greater sensitivity to animal welfare, more progressive professors, and the development of more humane instructional methods are creating a learning environment where students at more of the nation’s 33 accredited colleges of veterinary medical education and more than 200 accredited veterinary technician programs can pursue their goals without harming animals. According to Lynette Hart, Ph.D., of the University of California, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine, “The strongest initiatives to create improved methods that are less consumptive in using animals have come from veterinary schools, where the use of animals in education has been the greatest. What we have seen in the veterinary community is a gradual process of transitioning over to alternatives, so that by now, alternatives have been mainstreamed and have largely replaced consumptive uses of animals.” Before new developments in veterinary education surfaced in the 1980s and 90s, healthy live animals were routinely used as teaching tools. It was common for vet students to perform repeated practice surgical procedures on dogs and cats, only to euthanize them afterwards—a practice aptly named terminal surgery or nonsurvival surgery. Gradually, veterinary students spoke out against these cruel practices and took bold steps to demand change in favor of humane alternatives. Fortunately, some veterinary schools have eliminated terminal surgeries from their core and electives cur-





ricula, including Tufts University (which in 2000 became the PROGRESS IN VETERINARY EDUCATION first vet school to eliminate all terminal surgeries on all species) Vet students have been instrumental in changing curricula to as well as the University of California, Ohio State University, reduce harmful animal use. In 1985, a student at the University Oklahoma State University, Washington State University, and of Georgia withdrew from vet school to avoid the third-year surWestern University of Health Sciences, with Colorado State vival surgery labs; that same year, other vet students there stole a University expected in the next year. In 2016 a company that dog slated for a terminal surgery. UGA discontinued its terminal creates educational simulators surveyed U.S. veterinary colleges dog labs in 2008, and today professors at UGA teach anatomy to determine which still engage in terminal teaching surgeries; using the 3D virtual platform BodyViz. In 1987, two veterinary more than 26 percent responded that they do not and 16 perstudents, with the support of AAVS, filed a lawsuit against the cent still do, but more than 50 percent did not respond at all, School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania making the overall picture murky and the exact number of live after refusing to perform a required terminal surgery on healthy animals used unknown. dogs. These students, who were among the first in the U.S. to Recent news reports highlight the ongoing controversy of refuse to vivisect in order to obtain their veterinary degrees, presuch practices. The vet school at Louisiana State University was vailed and were able to complete their surgical training on dogs criticized in 2019 for obtaining live and dead dogs and cats from who were already scheduled for euthanasia due to terminal media Baton Rouge animal shelter for use in student training, and cal conditions. In 2002, the University of Pennsylvania elimiTuskegee University in Alabama also was found to be procuring nated terminal surgeries in its small-animal curriculum. In 2003, dogs from a local shelter, including a family’s missing pet. ForWestern University of Health Sciences College of Veterinary tunately, a Tuskegee official recently stated that the university Medicine in California was established with a no-harm approach has ended terminal surgery labs, and it has also expanded its to practicing veterinary medicine, eliminating the harmful use of shelter medicine program. Pound seizure—the sale or release of animals in its curriculum and instead using the cadavers of comcats and dogs from a pound or shelter to a research, testing, or panion animals who are donated for educational purposes. educational facility—has been banned in 18 states. Some states Veterinary education now offers a growing list of specialty allow it under certain circumstances, but in others, the practice care opportunities such as orthopedics, behavior, oncology, and is decided at the local level and pound seizure can occur without preventative care. With this growing field of quality care for anipublic knowledge. mals, a burgeoning market for humane veterinary training tools It is clear that more veterinary programs still need to explore is assisting with general veterinary training as well as advanced or and invest in the innovative new methods that can provide stuspecialty training. These are resources that have been developed dents with a compassionate education pathway. Doing away with to improve the education of these students and eliminate the terminal surgeries would align with the American Veterinary harmful use of animals in veterinary education. Medicine Association (AVMA) Veterinarian’s Oath, which was The SynDaver company developed its canine model in 2017 as revised in 2011 to emphasize a commitment to animal welfare a realistic training simulator that can “breathe” and “bleed,” al[read the full oath on page 7]. After this significant change, lowing students to learn a broad range of veterinary procedures, J. Bruce Nixon, chair-elect of the group’s Animal Welfare Comfrom suturing and chest tube placement to liver lobe biopsy mittee at the time, stated, “From today forward, every graduate and foreign body removal. SynDaver has also created feline and entering our profession will swear an oath not only to protect an- equine models; its CopyCat comes with synthetic muscles, tenimal health but also welfare; to not only relieve animal suffering dons, and bones, and is intended to replace the use of cat cadavbut to prevent it. That’s a powerful statement defining ourselves ers in middle school and high school science dissection labs but and our responsibilities, not a vague symbol.” can also be used in veterinary or vet tech anatomy training. AcHowever, the AVMA’s policy statement regarding the “Use of cording to Assistant Professor Galina Hayes at Cornell University, Animals in Research, Testing, and Education” still states that the “Surgery is very much a hands-on skill, [and] the SynDaver units organization “supports the judicious use of animals in meaningcreate a learning environment where surgical procedures can be ful research, testing, and education programs.” effectively taught and practiced while minimizing the risk of exposing live patients to the errors a novice surgeon may commit.” Three of the leading U.S. veterinary college programs—Cornell, Texas A&M, and the University of Florida—are using the SynDaver Canine. Many vet schools have replaced terminal surgeries with alternative surgical labs that serve the community, such as spay and neuter clinics, shelter medicine rotations, and mobile clinics, which allow students to work with and treat live patients for beneficial surgeries.


MEMORIAL PROGRAMS & NEW TECHNOLOGIES Learning experiences with animals are essential in the field of veterinary education, but students can obtain that experience



Anatomy in Clay Allows vet students to learn anatomy by assembling canine or equine models. Biosphera Anatomy software featuring bird, bovine, cat, dog, horse, pig, and rat models. Paws 2 Claws Veterinary manikins and models to teach procedures ranging from CPR to advanced surgical techniques. Rescue Critters Veterinary manikins for advanced training, plus basic first aid trainers. Simspay Created by the University of Copenhagen to teach basic canine spay skills. Vetiqo Innovative models for simulating medical procedures in research and education, as well as diagnostic and surgical trainers.

Veterinary education materials are available for free loan from The Science Bank, a program of Animalearn; see the full list at www.thesciencebank.org.

in positive and humane ways and with the same or even greater levels of proficiency as traditional approaches. In addition to using synthetic cadavers, veterinary students can also learn skills with ethically sourced cadavers obtained through Educational Memorial Programs (EMPs). Similar to human body donation programs for medical schools, EMPs allow individuals to donate their deceased pets’ bodies for use in veterinary colleges. This is far preferable to animal cadavers that may have come from such questionable sources as animal dealers, biological supply companies, breeders, and animal shelters, or animals retired or discarded from such industries as greyhound racing. Another new way to teach vet students is through classes us-



Nicole Green, M.A., is Director of Animalearn.



ing augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). Devices using AR add digital images or elements to a live-view screen to enhance or animate the object. In 2018, the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine created an AR program to help with mastering a spinal cord surgery, allowing students to manipulate an animated spinal cord and practice this very precise procedure until mastering it. VR offers a completely immersive experience where learners use a headset to enter a 360-degree environment, such as an exam room, where they garner firsthand experience on “virtual” animal clients to hone skills before working with live patients. Virginia Tech’s College of Veterinary Medicine professors teamed up with their visual arts department to create a VR program that gave students an enhanced understanding of dog anatomy. Although 3D printing technology has been around since the 1980s, it only recently has emerged in veterinary teaching hospitals. These devices can create a solid object of virtually any shape, including models of limbs, using materials such as plastics or metals. Numerous institutions have created instructional models or collaborated on teaching methods that go far beyond traditional tools. In 2003, the Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences implemented the Virtual Canine Anatomy Program that offers high-quality cadaver images to supplement the school’s first-year anatomy courses. Texas A&M’s Center for Educational Technologies collaborated with veterinary surgeons in the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences in 2016 to create a 360-degree video of a spay surgery. They also took high-definition scans of dog bones to create a virtual exam room where students could use a special remote to re-assemble the bones and study canine anatomy from nearly any angle. Much of this innovation is due to the forward thinking of veterinary professionals whose ethics drive them to create change. One such person is Daniel Smeak, a professor at Colorado State University’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital. In 2006 he received the William and Eleanor Cave Award from the Alternatives Research and Development Foundation (an AAVS affiliate) for his achievements in developing alternative surgical training. In his acceptance speech, Dr. Smeak said, “I was not prepared for the live animal experience in [vet school] surgery; in fact, I hated the surgical course. I have found that using alternatives to teach surgical skills not only instructs students BETTER but saves lives also. Now, I absolutely love all aspects of surgery. I appreciate the recognition, but my real satisfaction is seeing budding surgeons develop.” Technology became paramount in veterinary education once the COVID-19 pandemic forced vet schools to explore new methods to train students. While new developments in veterinary education continue to flourish, there continues to be a need for the veterinary education community as a whole to fully embrace humane teaching methods. Such a culture shift will not only benefit animals, but also the students who want to fulfill their professional dreams of helping animals. AV


U.S. veterinarians in private practice2

U.S. colleges of veterinary medicine1

Approximate number of annual graduates from these colleges1










50,309 Companion animal

Farmed animal practice vets2

practice vets2

College or university vets2


States with the most veterinarians in 2019 3






States with the fewest veterinarians3 Alaska, Hawaii, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, West Virginia, Vermont, Delaware, Rhode Island, Puerto Rico

Veterinarian’s Oath


–$287 3 0 0 ,6 0,





Being admitted to the profession of veterinary medicine, I solemnly swear to use my scientific knowledge and skills for the benefit of society through the protection of animal health and welfare, the prevention and relief of animal suffering, the conservation of animal resources, the promotion of public health, and the advancement of medical knowledge. I will practice my profession conscientiously, with dignity, and in keeping with the principles of veterinary medical ethics. I accept as a lifelong obligation the continual improvement of my professional knowledge and competence. —American Veterinary Medical Association, 2011


2 8,590

Resident four-year vet school total cost1

Median annual salary for veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers6

Median annual salary for general practice veterinarians in 20195

1. Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges, 2. American Veterinary Medical Association, 3. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 4. AVMA, 5. BLS, 6. BLS. All statistics are for 2020 unless otherwise noted.



One Health, One Welfare By Sue A. Leary

IN A RECENT INTERVIEW, famed primatologist and advocate Jane Goodall said, “…in the rainforest, I learned how everything is interconnected.” The network of life that connects and sustains us all is the essence of One Health, a concept that has become widely embraced in the last 20 years. As defined by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), One Health means “human health and animal health are interdependent and bound to the health of the ecosystems in which they exist.” As we continue to come to grips with the global effects of COVID-19, the One Health concept could not be more relevant, with the increasingly frequent, dangerous, and even catastrophic spillover of viruses from animal to human populations when they come into contact after millennia of natural separation. Veterinarians play a key role in understanding this dynamic, because animal health— and perhaps more so, animal disease—is their business. When it comes to animals who are raised, killed, and consumed for food, governments all over the world employ veterinarians to monitor the system. Animal consumption is a risky business, considering the potential for transmission of pathogens and diseases (zoonoses). Veterinarians in agriculture, whether in government or industry, have the unenviable job of determining the health of animals raised for slaughter. But can an animal be healthy if s/he is subject to relentless deprivation, crowding, and cruelty, as happens in modern farming? Forward thinkers for animal protection say no. A recent web-based discussion, “One Health, One Welfare: Food Systems Opportunities for Better Human, Animal and Ecological Health and Well-being,” convened by Compassion in World Farming International (CIWF),




Sue A. Leary, M.S., is the President of AAVS.


Disregarding the welfare of cows harms people and the environment

brought together farmers, environmentalists, animal advocates, and veterinarians to share perspectives on the need for new policies and action. At the meeting, a veterinary official from the OIE declared the agency’s commitment to One Health and explained international standards for animal welfare, how they can be implemented, and the challenges in aligning everyone to those standards. Another prominent veterinarian behind the effort to recognize the importance of adding “One Welfare” to the One Health framework is Rebecca Garcia Pinellas, who wrote, “By expanding One Health into One Welfare, veterinary professionals can make more explicit the recognition between the interconnections of animal welfare, human well-being and the environment.” Tanya Stephens, an Australian veterinarian, is editor of a new book, One Welfare in Practice: The Role of the Veterinarian. In a recent interview with noted author and advocate Marc Bekoff, Stephens emphasized that One Welfare is a holistic approach, incorporating “interdisciplinary collaboration and solutions.” A case study in the book highlights the importance of cooperative rabies vaccination programs for community dogs in Indonesia, which results in protecting animal and human welfare. It makes sense that working for a healthy world is a unifying concept, bringing everyone together. Veterinarians appear to be the best connectors, with their unique understanding of animal health and welfare and their position at the nexus of human society and animal lives. We rely on veterinarians to tell us when animals are OK, and what they are experiencing. Fortunately, the profession is seeing emerging leaders speaking up for animal welfare. While disease avoidance and the negative effects of animal mistreatment are emphasized in policy discussions, there is a value to envisioning how positive it is to be in the presence of animals who are healthy and enjoying their lives in a balanced, diverse ecosystem, protected and respected by people who care. Veterinarians can help us get there. AV

Life After the Lab By Kira Golub


here has been increasing interest in adopting out more dogs and cats to forever homes once they are no longer used for research purposes. Currently, most dogs and cats used in labs Studies have shown that animals formerly used in laboratories can adapt well to being family companions. are killed during or after experimentation and testing. Some are killed to examine their organs after testing, or because they suffered severe illness or Last April, U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Gary injuries. However, a good number of these animals have the po- Peters (D-MI) introduced the Animal Freedom from Testing, tential to be incredible pets, just like any other rescue animals. Experiments, and Research (AFTER) Act of 2021 (S. 1378). This concept is nothing new; according to Bob Adams, Director This legislation would amend the Animal Welfare Act to allow of Research Animal Resources at Johns Hopkins University, the for the retirement of some animals used in federally funded reearliest documentation JHU has of a lab animal adoption dates search, but specifically excludes rats and mice. Collins said the back to 1983. bill would expand upon policies already in effect at several agenAlthough adoptions have been happening for over 35 years, cies by “directing all other federal agencies to facilitate and ensome people have still questioned whether or not animals used courage the retirement of animals to help ensure they are placed in research can adapt to life as pets. In 2006, the University of in loving homes or sanctuaries.” Peters called it “simply the right Florida compiled a report of surveys about the outcome of 275 thing to do.” feline adoptions from its veterinary medicine program. The The American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine, the surveys attempted to measure the satisfaction levels of the adop- American Veterinary Medical Association, and the Office of tions. According to the university’s Department of Small Animal Laboratory Animal Welfare all support the concept of retiring Clinical Sciences, the results suggest animals from experimentation. They that adoption into private homes is a have each released statements on the viable alternative to euthanasia for cats issue with recommendations to ensure who have completed research studies. labs are complying with state and federal In 2017, a similar study was conducted law, as well as their own institutions’ to find out if beagles from laboratories policies. could adapt to everyday situations in As you might expect, AAVS and a home environment. The study was research labs hold different opinions completed in Germany with 74 beagles on most issues surrounding the use of being observed for six weeks after animals. However, regarding retireadoption. The conclusion of this ment, there is a surprisingly universal study also strongly supports postconsensus: We all want to see lab aniresearch adoption. mals adopted. The debates surrounding The retirement debate has been in the retirement have been about the ideal news most recently with numerous passed and proposed state policies and procedures to facilitate successful adoptions. AAVS laws endorsing or even requiring the adoption of companion President Sue Leary believes that, “While AAVS’s mission is to animals after research and testing are complete. Twelve states— end the use of all animals in research, if there’s an opportunity California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Minto help get some animals out of labs alive, we should ensure they nesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, have that chance.” The ultimate solution is to cut off the supply and Washington—have now passed legislation that facilitates of research animals by ending animal testing. AV the adoption of dogs and cats when they are no longer being used for research (and meet other criteria), and legislation is Kira Golub, a student at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, pending in several others. served as the AAVS Outreach Intern in 2019.

A good number of these animals have the potential to be incredible pets, just like any other rescue animals.



By Jill Howard Church

THE SPECIALTY FIELD of laboratory animal medicine can present unique challenges for veterinarians who oversee the use of many different species in experiments. Called attending veterinarians, they work as staff members or independent consultants to manage the medical aspects of animal use in research, education, and testing by pharmaceutical companies, biotech firms, diagnostic labs, universities, and regulatory agencies worldwide. In the United States, these vets are accredited by the American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine (ACLAM), a specialty board of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). There are an estimated 1,400 accredited vets working at facilities across the country, occupying the professional and seemingly contradictory space between animal research and animal welfare. The AVMA notes that laboratory veterinarians are “engaged in a variety of tasks including animal model development, clinical medicine, surgery, anesthesia, disease prevention, individual and population-based health and genetic quality control screening, program and fiscal administration, instruction and training, research or research support, policy development and implementation, and animal welfare regulatory compliance.” The vets are also charged with maintaining “appropriate” staffing, equipment, and services within a facility. In May 2019, ACLAM updated its position statement on the use of animals in research, education, and testing, stating that although it supports such uses as “necessary,” it is also “a privilege carrying with it unique ethical responsibilities for humane care and use.” ACLAM says laboratory veterinarians “play a vital role in the conduct and oversight” of animal research, and are “uniquely qualified to diagnose and manage conditions that affect animal health and well-being.” EXPECTATIONS OF ANIMAL CARE Laboratory veterinarians are tasked with the tricky responsibility of managing animal use and trying to improve animal welfare within settings where those animals are being surgically and/or chemically harmed and usually killed in the course of basic and disease research or chemical testing. Institutional Animal Care and Use Committees (IACUCs), which review research protocols before experiments involving animals can begin, are required by the Animal Welfare Act and the National Institutes of Health to have a veterinarian member so



LAB VETS AND THE 3RS Veterinarians can also influence animal research policy and practice through implementation of the 3Rs concept: replacement, reduction, and refinement. Replacing the use of animals with non-animal methods is the ideal, followed by a reduction in the number of animals used per study and refining the protocol to reduce pain and suffering. Adrian Smith, D.V.M., promotes the concept through his work with Norecopa [norecopa.no], a National Consensus Platform for the 3Rs, founded in 2007. He became involved with laboratory animal medicine while working at the Norwegian School of Veterinary Science 40 years ago. “I think any veterinarian sees themselves as the animals’ advocate. As they can’t speak, it’s up to us to pick up the clinical signs and to guess what’s likely to happen before they’re put in a situation where procedures are done on them,” Smith says. “If they’re going to be put in a situation where we feel it’s likely that they will feel pain or discomfort, then we must do what we can to minimize or eliminate that totally.” One of Norecopa’s roles is developing and disseminating care guidelines for animals used in labs based on the latest science, such as understanding what medications to use for zebrafish, who are more often used in experiments now. Pain relief is a


The Complex Role of Lab Vets

that his or her clinical expertise can guide the research protocol. George Bates, D.V.M., who served on the IACUC of Wilson College in Pennsylvania for 10 years, explained the role of an IACUC vet by noting, “[M]ost non-veterinarian researchers have, at best, only a superficial understanding of animal anesthesia, analgesia and euthanasia,” and therefore “a knowledgeable veterinarian’s expertise can have a positive impact on animal welfare—first, by educating researchers as to appropriate methods and drugs for inducing anesthesia, obtunding pain and humanely killing research subjects; and second, by working through the IACUC to assure full compliance with existing laws specifying minimum husbandry standards for experimental animals.” Ideally, veterinarians in laboratories and on IACUCs tread the sensitive middle ground by advocating for protocols that reduce animal pain and suffering during and after experiments. But they are seldom willing or able to prevent the animals’ use in the first place. That puts them in the position of sometimes being criticized by researchers for interfering with the experiments and also by animal protection groups for not going far enough to reduce animal use. Martin Stephens, Ph.D., former vice president for animal research issues at the Humane Society of the United States, told The Scientist in 1997, “I see veterinarians as the first line of defense against unnecessary pain and distress in experimental protocols. And also, veterinarians are becoming more of a second line of defense as well, in the form of being knowledgeable of environmental-enrichment techniques to enhance the lives of animals in labs.” However, researchers are not legally obligated to follow recommendations from IACUC veterinarians, and study protocols that go against veterinary advice can still be approved by the full IACUC.

major topic; Smith has discussed that with physician researchers not well versed in pain management for other species. “Not all the drugs we use on humans are equally effective on animals, and vice versa, so sometimes we would have scientific discussions about doses and choice of drugs,” Smith says. “And in those cases, we just had to show politely but firmly that actually veterinarians know more about the choice of drugs to use in animals than the medical people do.” Smith believes that a new “culture of care” is becoming more prevalent among lab vets in both Europe and the U.S. “It’s all about making sure everybody involved in the procedure feels that they have the confidence and the ability to air their feelings and discuss all aspects of a project,” he says. “The veterinarian is in quite a good position to influence that as well…bridging the possible gaps between scientists, technicians, and caretakers.” The efforts of lab vets to mitigate the severity of research procedures are themselves mitigated by their professional assertion that some amount of animal research and testing is medically necessary. Larry Carbone, D.V.M., addresses bioethics concerns as they relate to animals in labs, based on his former role as the Direc-


tor of the Animal Care and Use Program at the University of California, San Francisco, and many years in the field. In his book What Animals Want: Expertise and Advocacy in Laboratory Animal Welfare Policy, Carbone acknowledged that although human beings can consent to being research subjects, animals such as mice, rats, dogs, and monkeys cannot. “If voluntary consent were our standard for animal research, the whole business would end—not because we cannot understand what the animals are telling us, but because we can.” However, he maintains that specialized vets are in the most credible position to evaluate experimental protocols and decide what’s best for these admittedly nonconsenting subjects. “Work as a laboratory animal veterinarian has convinced me of the enormous potential of that profession to be the strongest inhouse advocates of research animals,” Carbone wrote. Others in the field remain more concerned about the push and pull of animal use vs. animal well-being. Says Smith, “There is still a lot to be done by the veterinarians in collaboration with the scientists to make sure these animals are given optimal welfare.” Perhaps most importantly, as Kathrin Herrmann, D.V.M., Animal Protection Commissioner of Berlin, observed in Animal Experimentation: Working Towards a Paradigm Change, “A commitment to adhere to the 3Rs and to good scientific practice, as well as to address societal concerns about the use of animals in science, would require a strong shift away from animals towards the use of human-relevant approaches.” AV Jill Howard Church, M.A., is Managing Editor of AV Magazine.

Veterinarians in laboratories are charged with helping to minimize the suffering of animals used in research and testing.



The AlignCare® program is being implemented in cities across America to provide veterinary services that help families keep their pets.

Improving Access to Veterinary Care By Michael Blackwell, Candice Hinkle, and Susan Krebsbach





he human-animal bond is truly special. A national population study by the Access to Veterinary Care Coalition (AVCC), in collaboration with the University of Tennessee, found that 88 percent of pet owners consider their pet a member of the family. We call them “bonded families,” and within them, it is said that unconditional love exists. The study results were released in the report “Access to Veterinary Care: Barriers, Current Practices, and Public Policy,” which noted that one out of four pet-owning households has experienced a barrier to veterinary care. The overwhelming barrier is financial, and dogs and cats living in lower-income households and with younger pet owners are more at risk for not receiving the recommended care. Families living in the Northeast and West are more likely to experience a barrier to accessing veterinary care. An estimated 29 million dogs and cats live in families that participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps, and millions more are in financially struggling middle-class households. According the U.S. Census Bureau, one-half of U.S. households have a total annual income of less than $54,000. Yet, the costs of veterinary care continue to increase. Recent studies show that more than three-fourths of Americans working full-time live paycheck to paycheck. Due to the economic circumstances of these families, they

DENYING ANIMAL COMPANIONSHIP BASED SOLELY ON AFFORDABILITY, ESPECIALLY GIVEN THE BENEFITS OF SUCH RELATIONSHIPS, IS DIFFICULT TO DEFEND. may have limited funds for veterinary care, especially when the need involves high-cost treatments. For these families, an ill or injured pet can be a crisis. Being unable to get veterinary care can result in prolonged illness and recovery, or worse, premature death, including by euthanasia. In some instances, the pet is relinquished to a shelter, breaking up the family. Consequently, lack of access to veterinary care can have significant impacts on the mental and emotional well-being of not only the family, but also for those dedicated to family and animal welfare. In recognizing the importance of companion animals to so many, we should see this issue as a critical societal problem, not just a personal one. It may be logical to say that families that cannot afford veterinary care should not have a pet. But denying animal companionship based solely on affordability, especially given the benefits of such relationships, is difficult to defend. Also, pets are already with families that struggle financially, and are not likely to be taken from them except in the most egregious situations. Consider Bob, a veteran who risked his life for our country, whose dog, Max, suffered a treatable injury. Bob could not pay for the needed medical care. The heartbreak that Bob felt as Max was euthanized was overwhelming, especially since Bob’s recovery from a stroke was in large part due to Max’s never-failing companionship. Others like Bob and Max deserve to be helped. Contrast this to Brooke, a college student who had been in and out of homelessness for six years. When her cat, Kiki, became ill, she was able to reach out to a veterinary clinic that provided services for pets of the homeless. Kiki’s life was saved, and the bond that Brooke and Kiki shared was preserved. It was at this point that

Brooke started taking better care of herself so that she could take care of Kiki. Brooke was able to find secure housing for the two of them. Fortunately, there many organizations trying to help such situations, either through direct medical care or by providing funding for support programs. Unfortunately, the majority of these programs only provide wellness and preventive care, such as vaccinations and parasite control. Although critical to the overall health of the animals, more must be done to ensure veterinary services when they are sick or injured. A comprehensive healthcare system that reaches underserved families is needed. SUPPORTING FAMILIES THROUGH ALIGNCARE® We can improve access to veterinary care for families with limited means by better alignment of existing resources and activities. Family support agencies and professionals can be more effective by factoring in the influence of nonhuman family members on family well-being and provide options to assist when veterinary care is needed. Veterinary service providers can reach more underserved patients by offering incremental veterinary care, a tiered diagnostic and dynamic therapeutic approach to care when resources are limited, as an alternative to not being able to help or euthanizing a beloved pet with a treatable condition. AlignCare® is a multi-site research and development proof of concept project of the Program for Pet Health Equity that started in July 2018 after a generous grant from Maddie’s Fund. AlignCare® improves access to veterinary care for families underserved by the current system. Key features include critical family support by social service agencies and professionals; incremental veterinary care

by veterinary service providers to control costs; and mobilizing community-based resources. AlignCare® has been implemented in Knoxville, Tennessee; Asheville, North Carolina; and Phoenix, Arizona. In addition to these initial three communities, we are projecting to also implement AlignCare® in Cincinnati, Ohio; Milpitas, California; Buffalo, New York; Denver, Colorado; Findley, Ohio; Jacksonville, Florida; Pomona, California; Miami, Florida; Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina; and Middlesboro, Kentucky. Implementation will be governed by a number of factors, most importantly committed community participants and available funding. In the third year, program assessment and refinement will be performed, enabling expansion to other communities throughout the United States. As part of the AlignCare® process, an eligible family will be enrolled through their social service agency. They will then be referred to an enrolled veterinary service provider. A co-pay will be required at the time services are provided, and the AlignCare® Fund pays the veterinary service provider the balance of charges based on a prescribed rate. By aligning family support, veterinary care, and charitable support, we can achieve pet health equity and realize our vision that all pets have access to veterinary care. AV Michael Blackwell, DVM, MPH, FNAP, is the Director and Candice Hinkle, MBA, is the Assistant Director for the Program for Pet Health Equity, Center for Behavioral Health Research, College of Social Work, University of Tennessee, Knoxville. More information is at https:// pphe.utk.edu. Susan Krebsbach, DVM, is the owner of Creature Counseling, LLC, in Wisconsin.




Ian Robinson U.K. native Ian Robinson, BVSC, is the former Animal Rescue Program Director and Vice President of Animal Welfare and Conservation for the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW). He has traveled the world using his veterinary expertise to coordinate animal rescue, rehabilitation, and conservation programs, including responses to natural and human-caused disasters. Now retired, he continues to volunteer on behalf of wildlife in need.

Was your intent to work with just domestic animals? I didn’t believe it was actually possible to earn a living working with wildlife in the wild. The idea of traveling the world and looking after exotic animals seemed absolutely wonderful but a bit “pie in the sky.” I first worked in Cumbria, in an old-fashioned farming practice. Wildlife was my hobby, so I used to do pro bono work for rehabilitators— hedgehogs, a few birds of prey, songbirds, the odd fox, small mammals, hares, that sort of thing. The big change came in 1988 when there was a virus outbreak in the North Sea that killed about 30,000 harbor seals. I volunteered with Orkney Seal Rescue, off the North Coast of Scotland, and



got very interested in what could be done for wildlife in the wild. Following this outbreak, the RSPCA [Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals] decided to open a hospital specifically for British wildlife, so I sold my practice and went to Norfolk to open this hospital. What are the unique challenges of wildlife rescue? With wildlife, the last thing they want is to fall into human hands, because humans are the worst predator and the biggest threat. So the first thing they do is to hide their disease—they mask their symptoms. It’s often difficult to see what’s wrong with an animal until it’s very nearly dead. It’s very afraid of you, so will bite, scratch, do anything it can to keep away from humans, so you’re dealing with a very difficult situation in terms of examination and diagnosis. The other is that the diseases aren’t as well known and you’re making a lot of deductions from similar species in the domestic world, so there’s a lot of inspired guesswork involved. Have you bonded with certain species during the course of your work? I still have a very strong feeling for marine life. My first experience of going out in the field and being more disaster-based was the first Gulf War, the huge oil spill that happened in the Persian Gulf. A team from the RSPCA was invited to try and deal with these oiled birds, and I was one of that team. So oiled wildlife has always been a particular interest, and the seals. I’ll always have a soft spot for hedgehogs, because they’re smelly, dirty little things, but they are really cute, and rehabilitation really does make a difference to their species. [When] I got an opportunity to go to the International Fund for Animal Welfare, that takes you


AAVS: What drew you to veterinary medicine in the first place? ROBINSON: Ever since I was tiny, the only thing that ever interested me was animals. People would say, “You want to be a vet?” So I grew up thinking that’s what I wanted to be. And when I was older, people would say, “It’s very, very hard, you’re never going to get in [to vet school].” I thought, “Yes I am.” So I went ahead and got in. Basically, [in the U.K.] you go straight to vet school, do five years, and come out qualified.

to a whole other level of species: tigers, bears, elephants, all sorts of exciting things. What IFAW would do was to identify the animals and parts of the world where help was needed to make a difference, and go out and work with local partners. It’s less hands-on; it’s satisfying in its own way, [but] there’s no way I could have had the experience of all these different species in all these parts of the world if I’d just stayed in one place. Are there certain regions or species that would benefit from greater conservation efforts now? There’s always been a bit of a rift between conservationists and welfarists and rehabilitators. A lot of rehabilitators have been people who have been motivated by a need, whether it’s an individual sick animal they rescue and end up rescuing thousands, or whether it’s seeing that lots of baby elephants are being orphaned and something needs to be done. Conservationists tend to look at things from a species level or an ecosystem level, and they may be aware of the suffering of individuals but they don’t really take that into account because what matters is the overall survival of the species. I think there is a possibility now of bringing the two together. The places where that’s most obvious are where animals are extremely endangered. The ones that I’ve been particularly involved with would be the Siberian tigers. If you’re down to a population of two or three hundred, and you’re rehabilitating two or three, you’re rehabilitating 1 percent of the whole population, which is significant. Just small efforts can mean the difference between a population continuing to decline and a population stabilizing.

Endangered Siberian tigers are among the many species Dr. Robinson has treated in partnership with wildlife conservation teams around the world.

What is the role of veterinarians in animal protection and advocacy? Veterinary expertise should be able to help gauge when animals have good welfare [or not]. One of the things which has really come to the fore in veterinary medicine is the awareness of pain and suffering, both physical and mental, and what is good and what is poor welfare, and how to improve that welfare. And also to say what is acceptable and not acceptable—what we inflict upon animals. For example, when conservationists do research on animals to find out what’s happening in the wild so we can help conserve it, we have to be aware of the welfare of those animals. Veterinarians can ensure that whatever is done not only benefits the welfare of the

population as a whole and benefits conservation, but does not do that at the cost of poor welfare to individuals. The thing to remember about veterinarians is that they’re also scientists. However, most scientists are extremely specialized, whereas veterinarians tend to have a much wider range of knowledge of things…they’re the sort of “mile wide and inch deep” variety. But that knowledge and understanding can be useful in all areas of work, whether it’s writing, politics, or actually making, applying, and enforcing laws for animal welfare. Anywhere you need that knowledge, a veterinary degree can take you. AV



Members’ Corner WILDLIFE REHABILITATORS IN ACTION WHEN A SNOWY OWL was injured on razor wire at a Pennsylvania correctional institution, the facility called the Philadelphia Metro Wildlife Center to request assistance. A volunteer—me—transported the owl from the prison to the rehab center. Upon examination, it was determined that the owl suffered a broken radius in one wing, as well as superficial cuts and scrapes; wounds were immediately cleaned and disinfected, fluids and pain medication were administered, and the wing was wrapped and stabilized. Given the nature and severity of the break, rehabilitators decided to refer the patient to a local veterinarian who often treats wildlife on a pro bono basis. X-rays confirmed the location of the fracture, and surgery was performed to install a removable pin. The owl returned to Philly Metro for recuperation in the clinic’s intensive care This injured snowy owl was brought back to health and released into the wild thanks to unit while the bone healed. After six weeks, the bone had mended and the pin dedicated wildlife vets and rehabilitators. was removed. However, it is critical that animals be able to function normally in their natural habitats before they can be released. Physical therapy was initiated to restore the bird’s endurance and strength for flight. Once deemed fit for returning to the wild, the owl was released near where he was found; most appropriately, it had been a snowy day. After two months spent in the best of care, the owl flew off into a beautiful blue sky. T


Since 2002, I have volunteered at several local wildlife rehabilitation clinics in the Philadelphia area. In 2010, I participated in training and passed an exam to obtain a Wildlife Capture and Transport permit, which enables me to safely contain animals in need of help and then shuttle them to the nearest clinic for triage. Licensed wildlife rehabilitators provide care to animals who are sick, injured, or orphaned, with the goal of releasing healed patients back to their natural habitats. Doing so requires extensive training and hands-on experience with wound management, physical therapy, administering medications, feeding, cleaning, and other activities. To operate a clinic, rehabilitators must acquire state and federal licenses and permits. Effective rehabilitation combines aspects of veterinary medicine, animal behavior, biology, and related fields to address the unique physical and psychological needs of each patient. Some rehabilitators specialize in a certain type of animal, such as mammals, birds, or reptiles. In addition to managing their patients, rehabilitators are also responsible for training and supervising volunteers, fielding phone calls, fundraising, and engaging in educational outreach. Volunteers perform a wide variety of support activities, including facility maintenance, preparing meals, and feeding animals. Caring for wildlife can be exhausting, but it is also very rewarding. Wildlife rehabilitation provides an excellent opportunity to better inform the public about the many dangers that wild animals face in a human-dominated world. Operating a wildlife clinic is truly a labor of love for all involved, and AAVS applauds all of these devoted rehabilitators and volunteers. For the animals,

Chris Derer Director of Development & Member Services





AAVS Founder Caroline Earle White (right) at the infirmary for animals operated by the Women’s Penna. SPCA


The greatest gift you can give is one that continues your legacy after you’re gone. As an AAVS member, you help animals every day by supporting our campaigns, outreach efforts, education programs, and Sanctuary Fund. Providing for AAVS in your will or other estate plans guarantees that our vital work continues into the future—until all laboratory cages are empty. AAVS.ORG/PLANNEDGIVING

For more information, please contact Chris Derer at membership@aavs.org or 1-800-SAY-AAVS. AAVS suggests consulting an attorney or financial advisor about options that are right for you. AV MAGAZINE


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