Utah State University School of Veterinary Medicine Magazine

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Veterinary Medicine M AG AZ I NE

{ Spring 2019 }



TABLE OF CONTENTS COVER STORY A Mix of Practices: Veterinary Medicine as Diverse as the Doctors Who Practice it and Animals They Treat 2

FACULTY/STAFF Faculty Highlight: Dr. Heloisa Rutigliano 12 Mystery Case: Unexpected Lamb Deaths 13

SPECIAL EVENT The Reindeer Express 14

IN THE FIELD Helping Pet Owners Heal 16

RESOURCES Career Opportunities with the U.S. Government 18

ALUMNI Remembering Dr. Don Olsen: Pioneering Vet Left a Legacy of Discovery 19 Alumni/Donor Recognition 21

On the cover: Practicing veterinary sports medicine and rehabilitation takes Dr. Kimberly Henneman to all sorts of locations, including Alaska as a volunteer at the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.

WE TEACH WHAT YOU LOVE. PUBLICATION INFORMATION NOELLE E. COCKETT, President, Utah State University KENNETH L. WHITE, Dean of the College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences

MIKE WHITESIDES Director of Marketing


MICHELLE MERRILL Director of Development

MICHAEL WERNERT Graphic Designer

MICHAEL BISHOP Director of Student and Academic Affairs

BRONSON TEICHERT Marketing Assistant

Utah State University is an affirmative action/equal opportunity institution.

ASSOCIATE DEAN’S MESSAGE As I write this, we are preparing to host 35 Utah-resident applicants for interviews to fill 20 positions in the Class of 2023 in the Utah State University (USU) School of Veterinary Medicine (SVM) within the Washington-Idaho-Montana-Utah (WIMU) Regional Program in Veterinary Medicine. The applicants being interviewed were selected from a pool of 63 applications received from Utah residents. An additional 10 non-resident positions in our Class of 2023 will be filled following interviews conducted at Washington State University in Pullman, WA. We recognize the magnitude of this event for our applicants, so we do all we can to make them feel welcome and as relaxed and comfortable as possible. A big part of that is having some of our current students interact with applicants in the interview staging area, since our students were in exactly the same position just 1 or 2 years ago. We also host a dinner for the applicants and their guests between the 2 days of interviews, at which the applicants interact with our faculty and hear from current students (and spouses) about their experiences during an open question and answer session. I can personally attest to the importance and indelible impact of the veterinary school interview process, as I still have the tie that I wore during my interview in the winter of 1982! I wear that tie each year to the evening event for our applicants, and in my comments to the group I use it as an example of how we, the faculty, staff and students, recognize the importance of their interview process and will do all we can to make it successful for them. As you read this, the interviews will be over, the final selection process will be complete, and we will be preparing to welcome members of USU’s SVM Class of 2023 to campus this August as they embark upon fulfilling their dreams of becoming veterinarians. I hope you enjoy this issue of the SVM Magazine, and on behalf of the faculty, staff and students in the USU SVM, thank you for your interest and support of our program. Sincerely,


Associate Dean, School of Veterinary Medicine

CLASS OF 2021 PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE From Day One, the Class of 2021 has been encouraged to set broad goals and be wary of narrow perspectives throughout our schooling. Since childhood, most of us had a set vision of vaccinating squirmy puppies, treating stallions on a horse ranch, or even palpating cows on large dairy operations. However, we are reminded constantly to “never close any doors.” We have taken this advice to heart. One student began school planning on practicing wildlife and fishery medicine; however, she is now considering mixed animal medicine. Another student whose mantra was “All I want to do is palpate cows!” has since taken interest in feline medicine. Some students are even considering pursuing careers in government agencies like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and United States Department of Agriculture. The Class of 2021 is encouraged by the number of niches that veterinarians can fill and is looking forward to exploring and entering these open doors. Sincerely,


President, Students of USU School of Veterinary Medicine



A Mix of



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elping sick animals is what veterinarians are trained to do, but what happens when a problem is too complex to be solved in a clinic? Dr. Glen Esplin specializes in pathology and saw an opportunity 35 years ago to provide back-up for veterinarians helping animals with unfamiliar diseases. Growing up on a ranch on the border of Utah and Arizona, Esplin loved working with animals and developed a curiosity for animal diseases at a young age. He started school in St. George, Utah, at Dixie College then finished his pre-vet degree at Utah State University. After finishing veterinary school at Colorado State University, Esplin practiced veterinary medicine for a few years before joining the U.S. Air Force toward the end of the Vietnam War. During the war he worked in public health, food, and sanitation inspections, but his favorite job was taking care of the patrol dogs. After the war, Esplin continued is his education at the University of Utah and earned a Ph.D. in experimental pathology. He went right to work and helped open a veterinary division in the Associated Regional and University Pathologists (ARUP) laboratories. “We have this interaction with veterinarians who are out on the front lines treating animal patients, but we are their back-up,” Esplin said. “If they need to know if a lump or a bump is a tumor or cancer, they cut it out and

send it to us so that we can get the results back to them in the same day.” Esplin usually works with samples from familiar animals like cats, dogs, and horses. However, seeing close to 50,000 cases a year and samples from around the world, Esplin has worked with tissue from pen-

As a student, Dr. David Gardiner was mentored by Dr. Glen Esplin (l to r), who helped establish a veterinary division of a pathology laboratory that has since become Animal Reference Pathology. 2019 Spring




guins, polar bears, and diagnosed fungal diseases from tropical climates. “You have to try and stay at the edge there and always keep learning,” Esplin said. “We’ve been in this so long we think we’ve seen everything, but almost every week we see something that we’ve never seen before. There is always something new like a little variation of an old disease.” Contributing to veterinary medicine under the microscope and sharing that knowledge of animal diseases with veterinarians is what Esplin enjoys the most. Toward the end of his 25 years as director of the laboratory, Dr. David Gardiner came through the program as a student. When Esplin decided to serve a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Gardiner and his family purchased the laboratory and moved it to another location in Salt Lake City and it became a private business: Animal Reference Pathology (ARP). Unlike Esplin, Gardiner grew up in the

would go over it with me.” Gardiner said. “That just reaffirmed what I was doing, so I left vet school and went straight into pathology. I fell in love with diagnostics.” After Gardiner finished school, he worked for a large pathology lab to gain experience. Gardiner always had an en-

Gardiner knew providing all these services in a small lab was a huge responsibility, especially because he wanted to provide high-quality work. Gardiner said there were two main labs in the country that veterinarians use for veterinary diagnostic needs, and

“You have to try and stay at the edge there and always keep learning. We’ve been in this so long we think we’ve seen everything, but almost every week we see something that we’ve never seen before. There is always something new like a little variation of an old disease.” - Dr. Glen Esplin

avenues of Salt Lake City, but wanted to be a farmer. He started veterinary school, but decided he didn’t want to practice in a clinic. Before Gardiner changed his career path, he decided to look into non-traditional pathways in veterinary medicine and narrowed the choices down to pathology. “At that time, I applied for an externship when this division was part of ARUP and came out and spent a summer with Dr. Esplin. He would give me cases, I would try to figure them out and then he


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trepreneurial twist in his personality, so when he heard the ARUP lab was for sale in 2013, he took the opportunity. “In concept I knew what is was but when you own a business, it’s really different,” Gardiner said. “It took us a year to understand what we bought and to get to know the clients. Then it took another year to put our own spin on it and how we wanted to see it. In the third year we decided this is where we wanted to go.” The ARP lab performs biopsies, cytology and pathology, including blood work.

he wanted to be the third one. Gardiner knew that in order to compete with the larger, more established labs he would need to innovate. When samples come to the lab, case numbers used to be written by hand on the glass slides. Gardiner knew that one slip-up with a number could cause cases to be mixed up, misdiagnoses could be made and time would be lost. Now ARP uses a bar-code system to organize and identify cases. As the lab became more efficient, more samples started pouring in.

{ UTAH STATE UNIVERSITY VETERINARY MEDICINE } More pathologists to lighten the load were hard to find because the field is so specific, according to Gardiner. Not only are pathologists hard to find, they can’t always move to Utah. To solve the dilemma, a photo is taken of each sample under the microscope and sent by email to ARP pathologists in Fort Collins, Kansas City, Toronto, and Boise. When it came to mailing samples for bloodwork back and forth, time was still an obstacle. “We continued to do blood work and that eventually led us to open a second lab in Louisville, Kentucky, as a separate business with other partners,” Gardiner said. “ARP is now a provider for that second lab based in Louisville because that is United Parcel Service world headquarters. Now we can compete on turnaround time for anywhere in the country for most basic aspects like complete blood counts and chemistries, etc.” Gardiner said he is happy with the direction the lab is going and is even surpassing the efficiency of human labs. “If you do a biopsy, you would be lucky to hear back from your doctor within a week,” Gardiner said. “We’re often times getting results back to the veterinarian within 24-40 hours of the surgery. Most pet owners are hearing about their pet biopsies faster than humans are for their own diseases.” Gardiner is an adjunct professor at Utah State University and is currently collaborating with USU researchers on measuring stress levels in dogs. He also works with USU vet students doing summer internships at ARP labs. Esplin is officially retired and focuses on spending time with his family and grandchildren, but can still be found at the lab occasionally helping with diagnoses.

Story and photos by: Bronson Teichert

Dr. Kimberly Henneman getting acquainted with a canine athlete.


ports medicine and rehabilitation is an emerging specialty branch of veterinary medicine. Rehabilitation medicine aims to decrease pain, improve healing, enhance performance, prevent compensatory injuries, restore functional ability, and maintain an excellent quality of life. When visiting with Dr. Kimberly Henneman, it is very clear she is passionate about improving the quality of life for any animal. A native of Utah, Henneman graduated magna cum laude from Utah State University with a bachelor of science in bioveterinary science, and was valedictorian of the College of Agriculture’s class of 1981 and USU's Scholar of the year.

After graduating from Purdue School of Veterinary Medicine in 1986, Henneman received her IVAS certification in veterinary acupuncture in 1991, became the twenty-first veterinarian in the United States and first veterinarian in Utah to receive the AVCA certification in veterinary chiropractic, and finished her certification in veterinary Chinese herbal medicine through the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society in 2000. In 2014, she became the first veterinarian to achieve dual board-certification diplomate status (equine and canine) in the American College of Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation. “When I started practicing, a specialty for sports medicine and rehabilitation did not ex-

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{ UTAH STATE UNIVERSITY VETERINARY MEDICINE } ist,” Henneman said. “I contributed to its development.” Western medicine is the current mainstream healthcare option for pets, but integrative and holistic options are gaining popularity and complement Henneman’s love of biomechanics. She works closely with an animal’s owner to develop integrative treatment plans. “The Chinese medicine method allows us to look at the whole animal from a different perspective,” she says. “We recognize the different stages of progression and can then treat each animal on an individualized basis.” As one of the first veterinarians to use thermal imaging in canine performance medicine and rehabilitation, Henneman helped one of her clients when they approached her regarding an endurance issue with their agility dog. “We didn’t have ultrasounds at that time, so I used thermal imaging to identify the area of concern and developed an integrative treatment plan for the dog,” Henneman said. “Today, thermal imaging allows us to isolate or determine the location, and x-rays or ultrasounds help us diagnose the problem.” Thermal imaging, acupuncture, rehabilitation, and chiropractic care also played a role in the 2002 Winter Olympics when Henneman organized the sports medicine center for the working and security dogs and horses; something that had never been done before at an Olympic Games. Henneman recalled, “The 2002 Winter Olympics was the first major international event after the 9/11 attacks and we had heightened security, including triple

Above: Dr. Henneman using chiropractic techniques to treat a rodeo bull. Top right: Thermal imaging helped isolate where this giraffe needed treatment.

“The Chinese medicine method allows us to look at the whole animal from a different perspective. We recognize the different stages of progression and can then treat each animal on an individualized basis.” - Dr. Kimberly Henneman


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the usual number of security dogs coming to Utah.” One of many highlights of Henneman’s career is her involvement with the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, a 1,000-mile trail race from Wasilla to Nome, Alaska. This year will mark the eighth year of Henneman’s participation. Over 50 veterinarians from throughout the world volunteer their time to check the health of these amazing athletic dogs before, during, and after the race. Every dog receives health checks in an extremely tight timeframe. Henneman also loves the research and friendship aspects of the race. “All these races have been open to research and finding answers to problems regarding nutrition, fatigue, lameness, etc., that we have been able to apply to other performance dogs,” she said. “Even more, I love the long-lasting friends I have made through this experience.”

By: Michelle Merrill Photos: Courtesy of Dr. Kimberly Henneman


Caring for military working dogs is among the duties Dr. Stacie Anderson performs as part of the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps.

eterinarians in the military wear many hats. In addition to the Military Working Dog mission, military veterinarians see appointments for privately owned animals, perform the food safety mission for the military services, and perform leadership duties by managing the affairs of veterinary hospitals. Military veterinarians take the lead by managing the staff, the core of which are the animal care specialists (68T) and veterinary food inspection specialists (68R). There are many opportunities for veterinarians in the military, as many specialties are needed to complete missions. The various positions available for doctors of veterinary medicine in the Veterinary Corps include veterinary clinical medicine officers, health professional scholarship program (HPSP) officers, first-year graduate veterinary experience interns (FYGVE), veterinary laboratory animal medicine officers, veterinary preventative medicine officers, field veterinary service officers,

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veterinary surgeons, and veterinary pathologists. I am Captain Stacie Anderson, an officer in the United States Army Veterinary Corps and a graduate of the Washington-Idaho-Montana-Utah Regional Program in Veterinary Medicine

veterinary corps officers. FYGVE interns work closely with clinical specialists during their FYGVE year, then typically move on to their first assignment as an officer in charge of a veterinary branch.

“The opportunities for unique experiences are boundless. Having been in my role for only 3 years, I have already gained experience working with bottlenose dolphins and California sea lions when I did active duty training with the U.S. Navy Marine Mammal Program in San Diego.” - Dr. Stacie Anderson Class of 2018. I received the HPSP scholarship, a 3-year scholarship, in my second year of vet school at Utah State University. Students in that program attend a basic officer leadership training course following their second year of vet school and gain more officer training specific to veterinary medicine following graduation. HPSP students then typically move into the FYGVE internship program, which is a year-long program put in place by the military to allow newly graduated veterinary corps officers to become more confident and competent in their various roles as


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I have always had horses, dogs, and other animals and been interested in biology and medicine. I decided on becoming a veterinarian after I graduated from high school. I come from a military family—my mother is a colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves Logistics Corp, my father retired as a lieutenant colonel from the Medical Service Corp, and other members of my family are currently serving or have served in various branches of the military—so joining the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps seemed like an excellent way to reach that goal.


The opportunities for unique experiences are boundless. Having been in my role for only 3 years, I have already gained experience working with bottlenose dolphins and California sea lions when I did active duty training with the U.S. Navy Marine Mammal Program in San Diego. I have also worked closely with experienced clinicians in the FYGVE program to provide the best possible care to our incredible military working dogs and our service members’ privately owned animals. I honestly believe this to be one of the most rewarding paths for a new veterinarian to take during and after veterinary school in order to become a confident and competent leader and clinician.

By: Dr. Stacie Anderson Photos: Courtesy of Dr. Stacie Anderson Left: Dr. Anderson cares for military dogs and pets of members of the armed forces. Above: Working with marine mammals was part of Dr. Anderson’s active duty training.

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critical component of providing the highest quality of care for pets begins with the correct diagnosis. Just like humans, sometimes an animal’s health or diagnosis requires the expertise of a specialist. Often times, this is where the skills of a veterinary radiologist come into play. In 1971, there were only an estimated 25 board-certified veterinary radiologists in the country. Utah State University alumnus, Dr. Richard Park, was one of those 25. He grew up in Payson, Utah, where his family raised sheep and turkeys. In 1965, Dr. Park graduated from USU with a bachelor of science degree from the Department of Animal, Dairy and Veterinary Sciences. He went on to earn his doctorate of veterinary medicine from Colorado State University (CSU) in 1968, and became a board-certified veterinary radiologist in 1971, after completing his 3-year residency and PhD at Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, University of California, Davis.

“It’s really remarkable,” he said. “When I started, I was being trained on x-ray machines, and today, we are training students on a handful of other imaging modalities as veterinary radiologists now use CT scans, ultrasound, nuclear imaging, MRIs and more to help diagnose medical conditions.” Above: Here is a caption. Here is a caption Here is a

- Dr. Richard Park caption Here is a caption Here is a caption Here is a caption Here is a caption

Pursuing a specialized career path in veterinary medicine was not common when Park was attending school. In fact, focusing on a vet med specialty was just beginning to evolve in the industry. Throughout his career, Park has witnessed many changes not only in general practice, but also in the equipment used. When he began his teaching career at CSU, they had just two X-ray machines. “It’s really remarkable,” he said. “When I started, I was being trained on x-ray machines, and today, we are training students on a handful of other imaging modalities as veterinary radiologists now use CT scans, ultrasound, nuclear imaging, MRIs and more to help diagnose medical conditions.” Using radiographic pictures of bones, organs, blood vessels, etc., veter-


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inary radiologists can reveal important information regarding an animal’s illness or health. Such findings could result in discovering arthritis, pancreatitis, diabetes or even cancer in animals. Parker has had opportunities to image all kinds of animals, including a baby rhino with brain cancer. “It feels good knowing that information we (veterinary radiologists) find in an image will help the veterinarian treating the animal,” he said. “It’s also rewarding to know that much of the information we find is translational research. It affects human health too.”


Left and below: Dr. Richard Park uses his skills to give veterinarians information critical to correct diagnoses and taught other veterinary radiologists to effectively use a growing suite of radiology tools.

In particular, Park has greatly enjoyed the research component involved in radiology. Being able to provide practical research and publish that research for everyone to have access to has brought him immense job satisfaction. Just like his mentors, and the impact they had on his educational experience, Park found his passion for teaching radiology evolving too. From 1980-2013, he was a professor in the Department of Environmental & Radiological Health Sciences in the College of Veterinary Medicine at CSU, and was director of the radiology residency program from 1985-2008. During that period, he supervised nearly 70 graduate students. Park has found the most rewarding and stimulating aspect of his career has been seeing how students progress. “I have really enjoyed teaching students and residents in radiology,” he said. “Seeing them progress and do such amazing, great works with their careers has been the most rewarding for me.”

By: Michelle Merrill Photos: Courtesy of Dr. Richard Park

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DR. HELOISA RUTIGLIANO Heloisa Rutigliano , DVM, MPH, Associate Professor


eloisa Rutigliano grew up in the state of Sao Paulo, Brazil, in the city of Avaré. She earned her undergraduate degree in veterinary medicine from Sao Paulo State University and received her masters and doctoral degrees at the University of California, Davis. In 2010, Rutigliano began postdoctoral research at Utah State University. She is an assistant professor in USU’s Department of Animal, Dairy and Veterinary Sciences and teaches in the School of Veterinary Medicine. She loves spending time outdoors with her husband, David Epstein, and their two children, Beatriz and Leonardo.

I was a typical veterinarian who, since I was 5 years old, would say that I wanted to be an animal doctor.

How do you like Utah?

What is your favorite animal to work with?

I rode horses the whole day, worked and played with the animals. I remember tying the horse in front of the house, having lunch with my grandparents, and then riding again in the afternoon. We always had a lot of dogs, we adopted a lot of dogs, but we never had cats. My mom is a teacher at a community college so I became a little bit of both of my parents.

Dr. Rutigliano: Well, I had to learn to ski. I enjoy the snow, Dr. Rutigliano:

but I don’t like how long the winter is. I love all the mountains and the outdoor activities. I love mountain biking, trail running, and back country skiing. You can’t do those things in Brazil because there are no mountains near where I am from.

What were your favorite experiences growing up in Brazil?

Dr. Rutigliano:

My dad was an agronomist and a farmer. We didn’t live at the farm, we lived in the city. We would be at the farm every weekend playing with animals and riding horses. I always knew that I wanted to be connected to rural communities.


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My favorite animals are dairy cows and goats. My dad never had goats, but I love goats. I think they are so interactive. I like animals that interact with you.

What are your research interests?

Dr. Rutigliano: My first research interest is reproductive immunology. I study the developing fetus during gestation and the maternal immune system. For example, how the maternal immune system doesn’t reject the fetus or, in some cases, does reject the fetus. I use cattle as a model for that research. My second area of research is characterizing animal models for

Utah Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory

MYSTERY CASE UNEXPECTED LAMB DEATHS By Jane Kelly, DVM, MPH, Clinical Associate Professor A sheep rancher with over 30 years of experience raising lambs lost several lambs in the spring and early summer of 2018. She had never seen clinical signs and death loss like this in all her years of farming. Clinical signs were only seen in the orphan or “bummer” lambs that were fed lamb milk replacer rather than ewe’s milk. The lambs nursing ewes and adult animals on the farm were not affected. Clinical signs seen included lameness, weakness, and unwillingness to move. When the rancher examined the lambs, they were in a great deal of pain and she could feel fractures of the legs. The lambs continued to have a good appetite and were alert. With nursing care, some of the lambs recovered but, unfortunately, some

were severely affected and were submitted to the UVDL, Spanish Fork laboratory for necropsy. Gross lesions seen in two 3-monthold lambs necropsied included fractures of the legs and ribs and accompanying soft tissue hemorrhage. Joints were normal and there was no evidence of disease of the major abdominal and thoracic organs. The affected lambs were housed indoors, separately from the rest of the flock so it was unlikely that trauma (such as headbutting by ewes) was the cause of the fractures. All lambs (orphan and nursing ewes) had access to the same lamb starter grain product and the orphan lambs occasionally received Powerade mixed in the milk replacer. Formulate your diagnosis.

human disease. I have a project funded by the American Heart Association that is looking at the effects of sex hormones like progesterone and estradiol on the incidents of atrial fibrillation in transgenic goats that have a gene making them more likely to develop atrial fibrillation. We are applying different hormonal treatments to see if they are more or less likely to develop atrial fibrillation.

tem nowadays and it’s a fast-evolving field. It changes all the time and it’s a complex system that is important for survival.

The third one is a new project. It’s looking at metabolism and its effect on the immunity of dairy cows. Dairy cows have a very high metabolism because they are producing a lot of milk. We’re trying to understand the molecular basis of that and trying to understand what metabolite effects immune function and what immune function isn’t there. We’re looking at how to manipulate that with mineral acids or more carbohydrates.

Find the the answer at


What are you most proud of during your time at USU?

Dr. Rutigliano: I am most proud of the number of students

I have introduced to research. It’s getting to be over 20 graduates, undergrads, interns and even high school students I’ve had in my lab. Hopefully I’ve made them excited and curious about research.

By: Bronson Teichert Photos: Dennis Hinkamp

How did you become interested in this type of research?

Dr. Rutigliano: I think pregnancy is the most fascinating bi-

ological event. Creating another being inside an organism is fascinating to me. I’ve always been fascinated by reproductive biology in general, mainly pregnancy and immunology.

What is your favorite class to teach?

Dr. Rutigliano: Immunology. There are so many discoveries

going on, there are so many therapies involving the immune sys-

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eindeer, like many animals, need the care of veterinarians to help keep them healthy, but experience with reindeer is rare in the United States. Thanks to Dr. Isaac Bott, a veterinarian practicing in Springville, Utah, hundreds of people have learned more about reindeer health and seen the animals up close while attending the Reindeer Express, an event hosted by Utah State University’s School of Veterinary Medicine. Bott, a USU alumnus, is a leading authority on reindeer health, and he has brought his expertise and reindeer to Logan in early December to help Santa prepare his reindeer for their Christmas Eve flight. The event premiered in 2017 at USU’s Equine Center where USU vet med students assisted by teaching guests a bit about a number of calves, ponies, sheep, goats, and even a camel. The reindeer were clearly the stars though, with Bott and USU vet med faculty giving brief presentations about the animals while giving them a health check. Bott has gained international attention as he is currently the only veterinarian in the world who provides reproductive services for reindeer. He still remembers the exact day his work with reindeer began: March 28, 2010.


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“I was just driving down the road one day, and I got a random phone call from a guy,” Bott said. “He said, ‘Hey Dr. Bott, I have a reindeer I think is pregnant and I wondered if you could come check her out.’ I thought, ‘Why not?’” When Bott visited the farm, the reindeer was indeed pregnant – in fact she was in active labor. Thanks to his training and experiences growing up on a farm, Bott was able to successfully deliver the baby. When the owner later approached him with the idea of starting an artificial insemination program for reindeer, Bott didn’t hesitate. “I just knew that was something I would absolutely love to do,” Bott said. “We had our work cut out for us. Up to the point when I started, there had been just one reindeer baby ever produced by artificial insemination. We definitely had some failures, and it was a trial and error process.” In the spring of 2011 – almost exactly 1 year after his first encounter with reindeer – Bott successfully produced the world’s first female reindeer calf through artificial insemination. The calf’s name, Mira, stood for miracle. Bott said his career has “been quite a fun adventure” and has led to opportunities he never imagined while in vet school. Bott has traveled across the world and, in addition to reindeer,

has worked with other exotic animals, including water buffalo, mountain sheep and African lions. As a full-time veterinarian at Mountain West Animal Hospital and past president of The Society for Theriogenology (20172018), Bott rarely has time to take his reindeer to events like The Reindeer Express, but tries to provide educational opportunities whenever he can. “I want people and vet students to learn about animals like reindeer and not be afraid to work with them,” Bott said. “They are just another mammal and species that I don’t think a veterinarian should be scared of working on. When they get a call for help, I want students to be able to say ‘Yes! Absolutely!’” Bott also assists with admissions reviews for USU’s School of Veterinary Medicine and said one of his favorite things to do is talk to students. Vet school is demanding and one of Bott’s goals is to keep students excited about their future, even when they are bogged down with the stress that comes along with school. Another way Bott shares information about all sorts of animals with clients and anyone interested in animal health is via the Mountain West Animal Hospital Facebook page.

By: Aubree Thomas and Lynnette Harris Photos: McKay Jensen

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HELPING PET OWNERS HEAL Vet med students are immersed in animal science, but when a client's pet dies, the work is about human emotions 16

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eterinary students are a special group of individuals. As a teacher and a counselor, I find myself continually amazed at their drive, dedication, and desire to serve their communities. As part of my position at the university, I have the opportunity to train a group of veterinary students to field calls from grieving pet owners to the Utah State University Pet Loss Hotline. Our students are quick studies at this difficult work, and put hours into learning how to respond to callers and also how to be more sensitive to client issues around grief, guilt, and the often unexpected pain of pet loss. The problem of pet-loss-related grief is one that surprises many. We are only now starting to understand the depth of pain that many feel when they lose a beloved pet. Many who lose their pets experience the lows, the crisis of meaning, the confusion, and the guilt that often follows a major loss. Unfortunately, a great number of these individuals struggle to find support in their families and communities. Society has been slow to understand that losing a pet can elicit responses similar those felt after losing a friend or close family member and deserves a similar outpouring of support from loved ones. Many people who lose a pet and struggle often find that those around them “don’t get it.” People often minimize or fail to understand the depth of the grief. In the research literature around loss, this is often termed “disenfranchised grief.” This is a problem because grief that is unsupported and misunderstood can linger and create more pain and difficulty with day-to-day functioning. The Pet Loss Hotline seeks to help fill this gap. It is a challenging task. Many callers we help on the hotline call us only after other support systems have let them down. Not only do they feel the grief, they often feel embarrassed about grieving in the first place. Our students not only have to learn to help callers work through a loss, but also how to help validate their experiences, and understand

that their feelings are normal. When students begin covering the Pet Loss Hotline phone, they tend to feel nervous. Veterinary medical education provides a great deal of training—how to diagnose, heal, perform surgeries, among other things—but working with human emotions is in a different realm altogether. Training in our Pet Loss Hotline practicum goes over this important territory, and gives students tools to help them understand the grief response and how to work with clients who are grieving. This training is invaluable not just for the hotline, but also for their work as veterinarians. One of the toughest parts of the job for many veterinarians is to perform euthanasia for pets and animals who are suffering and often approaching death’s door. Clients wrestle with the decision and often experience a great deal of grief, pain, and guilt in the anticipation and aftermath of choosing to euthanize an animal. Knowing how to support clients is crucial and doing this job well can lead to a strong veterinarian-client relationship. If the work goes poorly, however, it can lead to a rupture in the relationship that is almost impossible to mend. The training thus helps students in their careers in a vital way, as they learn how to be with their clients at this difficult time in the best way possible. For all of their anxiety about fielding calls from grieving pet owners, I’ve found that veterinary students universally tend to do a fantastic job with callers. It speaks to their natural compassion and caring, and also to the fact that few understand the human-animal bond as well as they do. We are proud to host the hotline at USU, and I am proud of the work our students do every day to help people who are struggling with grief.

By: Chris Chapman, Director of Wellness

UTAH STATE UNIVERSITY PET LOSS HOTLINE 435-757-4540 | vetmed.usu.edu/pet-loss-hotline

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By Sandra Weingart, USU School of Veterinary Medicine Reference Librarian


ore than half of federally employed veterinarians work for various agencies of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service monitors compliance with the Animal Welfare Act, works with importers and exporters to ensure the health and safety of live animals and food products that are transported internationally, monitors and surveils animal health conditions and zoonotic disease, and manages emergencies that develop in those fields. The Food Safety and Inspection Service protects the public from food-borne illness and is the largest employer of veterinarians in the country. Many public health veterinarians enforce meat and poultry inspection regulations in processing plants. Others work as pathologists, biosecurity experts, or epidemiologists, especially in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Within the Department of Health and Human Services, the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Veterinary Medicine works to protect animal and human health through regulation of animal drugs, animal feed (including pet foods), and veterinary devices. Many people are familiar with their role in regulating the sale and use of animal drugs, including safety and efficacy and ensuring that food products produced from treated animals are safe for human consumption. They also regulate


Spring 2019

animal feed and feed additives, including pet food, to ensure that it is what the label says it is and was produced in sanitary conditions. A lesser known role is making more drugs legally available for use in minor species and for rare conditions in major species. In the Department of Defense, the Veterinary Medical Corps (VMC) provides veterinary public health capabilities through veterinary medical and surgical care, food safety and defense, and biomedical research and development. In addition, Veterinary Corps Officers provide military veterinary expertise in response to natural disasters and other emergencies. The U.S. Army Veterinary Corps provides food safety and security inspections for all of the armed forces. They are responsible for providing care to military working dogs, ceremonial horses, working animals

of many Department of Homeland Security organizations, and pets owned by service members. They contribute their skills in the development of lifesaving medical products that protect all service members. Corps members are commissioned officers and you must be no older than 42 years at the beginning of your commission. The VMC also offers scholarships for veterinary education. Recipients are commissioned as inactive reservists during their schooling and typically are required to serve 1 year of active duty for each year of school paid for. The National Association of Federal Veterinarians is a constituent body of the American Veterinary Medical Association and advocates for its members around the world. Be sure to check with agency websites for eligibility requirements and specific job opportunities.



U.S. Army Veterinary Corps



HHS/FDA fda.gov/animalveterinary/default.htm

USAJOBS usajobs.gov/

National Association of Federal Veterinarians nafv.org/

USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service aphis.usda.gov/aphis/ourfocus/animalhealth

USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service



r. Don Olsen, who died in Salt Lake City on August 5, 2018, was a trailblazer who created new paths for doctors treating cardiac patients and was the first scientist in the world to successfully implant an artificial organ into a calf. After placing nearly 3,000 hearts into calves and sheep, Olsen was a part of the 1982 history-making team that implanted the first artificial heart in a human. In Olsen’s book, True Valor: Barney Clark and the Utah Artificial Heart, the Utah State University alum said of the experience, “It was, of course, the highlight of my career. For me—a veterinarian—to be invited by the main surgeons to assist in implanting an artificial heart in a human patient was an unprecedented and rewarding experience.” The path to Olsen’s remarkable career, and being named a “Living Legend” by the World Society of Cardio-Thoracic Surgeons, began with bachelor’s degrees in animal nutrition and chemistry from Utah State University. He earned his DVM at Colorado State University, and had a mixed animal practice in Smithfield, Utah. He was a veterinary researcher at the University of Nevada Reno and later, a professor of surgery at the University of Utah. He and his wife, Joyce, traveled the world as he trained 23 teams of sur-

Photo: Courtesy of Deseret News

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geons on the implantation of the artificial heart. Olsen was director of both the U of U’s Center for Artificial Hearts and Medical Devices and the Institute for Biomedical Engineering. He reluctantly retired from his position as director of the Utah Artificial Heart Institute at age 82. The Olsens have funded numerous scholarships at schools across the state, including support for students in CAAS and USU’s School of Veterinary Medicine. In his book, Olsen reflected on his education, saying, “I never forgot that my ability to go to college after I graduated from a small, rural high school in Utah relied on a scholarship. It allowed me to go to USU and was the foundation for everything that happened afterward.”

fsis.usda.gov 2019 Spring



ALUMNI/DONOR Recognition



stablishing a scholarship endowment is a meaningful way to remember, honor, and preserve the memory of a loved one or pet who has passed away. Recently, I have had opportunities to witness this form of giving in many different ways. I always walk away from each experience very humbled and thankful for the opportunity we have to ensure this pet or individual’s legacy will continue for generations. Though everyone’s story and purpose for a memorial scholarship may be different, I always hear variations of the common phrase, “I feel as if this is bringing some kind of healing to my empty heart.” We feel it is an honor to be a recipient of such a generous, and gracious donation. Every contribution is meaningful, powerful, and impactful! Please visit vetmed.usu.edu or contact Michelle Merrill at 435-797-8556 for more information regarding our memorial giving program. We teach what you love!



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