USU School of Veterinary Medicine Magazine - Fall/Winter 2016

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Veterinary Medicine MAG AZ I NE

{ Fall/Winter 2016 }


TABLE OF CONTENTS COVER STORY Compassion Fatigue: When It Hurts too Much to Care 3

FACULTY/STAFF Faculty Highlight: Dr. Ralph Meyer 6 One Health and Emerging Infectious Diseases 7

RESOURCES One Health Resources at your Fingertips 8 This is Truth 9 Why Wait? Aspirate 10

RESEARCH Science vs. Viruses 14

IN THE COLLEGE Equine Therapy Veteran Rides 16

ALUMNI From the USU School of Veterinary Medicine Class of 2016 18 Alumni/Donor Recognition 22

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

MIKE WHITESIDES Director of Marketing

MICHAEL WERNERT Graphic Designer

MICHELLE MERRILL Director of Development

GIBSON SMITH Cover Photography


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

ASSOCIATE DEAN’S MESSAGE In May, the Utah State University (USU) School of Veterinary Medicine (SVM) reached an important milestone with the graduation of its first class of 27 veterinarians from the Washington-Idaho-Montana-Utah Regional Program in Veterinary Medicine. You will see more about them on page 21 of this issue of the SVM magazine. In addition, a major focus of this issue is wellness, which may not sound surprising from an animal health standpoint. However, in the current context, we are referring to wellness of the veterinary caregiver him- or herself. As noted recently in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, there is increasing evidence that veterinarians are at high risk for work-related stress, compassion fatigue and suicide (JAVMA Oct. 15, 2016, vol. 249, pp. 879-881). For us, addressing that issue starts with our veterinary students, and to that end, you will hear from USU SVM Clinical Psychologist, Steven Lucero, addressing the issue of personal wellness and the importance of self-care. For those who may be interested in learning more about this important topic for the entire veterinary profession and resources that are available to address it, please see Also in this issue, you will read about cutting-edge research being done by our faculty in the USU Institute for Antiviral Research, the use of equine therapy to help military veterans, a continuing education program on veterinary oncology hosted by the SVM, and the second annual Utah One Health Symposium that focused on the intersections of human, animal and environmental health. I hope you enjoy this issue, 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


Chris Davies Recognized for Work Beyond the Call of Duty Utah State University’s School of Veterinary Medicine presented Research Associate Professor Chris Davies with this year’s Beyond the Call of Duty Award, recognizing his outstanding contributions to the school and students. He was extensively involved in overseeing day-to-day operations of the school as the director of student and academic affairs from 2012-2016. He is the newly appointed associate director of the Utah Agricultural Experiment Station and teaches emerging and exotic diseases of animals, immunology and special topics in veterinary medicine. Davies received both his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and PhD from Cornell University. Before joining USU’s faculty in 2007, he was a researcher and associate professor at Washington State University. While working on his undergraduate and graduate degrees he trained horses, worked at the Cornell Dairy and became interested in immunology, which, ultimately led to his career in studying immunogenetics. His research at USU focuses on immune response and gene expression at the maternal-fetal interface, specifically in cattle.




The vision people seem to have of a veterinarian’s job is that it mainly involves tending to fluffy kittens and adorable puppies. Certainly, there are often those sorts of patients. And then there are animals who are ill or injured beyond the scope of what medicine can repair, owners who choose euthanasia over viable treatment, abused and abandoned animals, long hours, logistics of running a practice, loans to repay, family and friends who need you and too little time or energy to care for yourself. Many vets, and other caregivers, find that everything piles up emotionally, spiritually and physically until it finally just hurts too much to care. Compassion fatigue affects people in many professions and was the topic of a session at the recent Utah One Health Symposium for medical, veterinary and public health professionals, chaired by Kerry Rood, Utah State University Extension Veterinarian and an associate professor in USU's School of Veterinary Medicine. Veterinarian Hope Teyler, of Copperview Animal Hospital in Riverton,


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UT, shared insights into why veterinary care providers may experience compassion fatigue in greater numbers than other medical professionals. She also described her own descent into a very dark emotional state, brought on by compassion fatigue, and how she has learned to cope with the stresses of the profession she has wanted to be part of since she was a child. Teyler's own healing is an important aspect of her desire to help others recognize compassion fatigue in themselves and their colleagues, and her passion for the subject has only grown since a friend from vet school took his own life last year. She pointed out that veterinary medicine appeals to people who are highly compassionate, an emotion that is more than sympathy for another's pain, it is sympathy paired with a strong desire to alleviate pain. In addition, medicine tends to attract highly motivated, "Type A" personalities. "We work hard to achieve our dream of fixing animals who hurt, of helping the helpless," Teyler said. "Then shortly after graduation some of the grim realities of the job really hit." Among those grim realities is what Teyler referred to as, "It's just a dog." She described being dismayed at clients who didn’t even wait for her to explain viable treatment options for their ailing or injured pets before requesting the

animals be euthanized. It was a painful realization that to some people, pets are "just dogs" and "just cats" and they will not invest in treatments even when good outcomes are likely, Teyler said. Other difficult realities are that there are many animals that no one wants and many patients whose ailments have been hidden or ignored until it’s too late to do anything to save them. Compassion fatigue deeply effects people on all fronts: physically, emotionally and spiritually. Teyler said many vets finally reach a point where it hurts too much to care for animals and clients, and ultimately, it’s too difficult even to care for themselves. Teyler believes one problem is that vet schools and teaching hospitals foster unrealistic expectations of what the career will be like. She was not prepared for “It’s just a dog/cat” clients because the ones she met while training at a teaching hospital “self-selected” and were people who were willing to go to great lengths to care for their animals. In addition, vets contend with the seemingly constant stress of a full



and snapped at. Clients’ emotions and demands are increasingly hard to deal with and, finally, clients and patients are regarded only as sources of irritation. If the downward spiral continues, people with compassion fatigue hit what she refers to as the “Withdrawal Phase” and begin to avoid clients, look for excuses to skip work, neglect self-care and pull away from personal relationships and things they once loved.

schedule of patients, a need for continuing education, little time for selfcare and the emotional weight of student loans and other debt. On top of all those factors, vets and their assistants face “unrelenting death” that can push doctors and technicians to their limits. Teyler laid out four phases she experienced on her way to nearly leaving the profession, and has seen colleagues “...VETERINARIANS ARE struggle through them as THE ONLY MEDICAL well. PROFESSIONALS WHO “First there is what I call the ‘Zealot’ phase,” ACTIVELY PARTICIPATE she said. “We all start IN THEIR PATIENTS’ here. We are idealists DEATHS.” who have worked hard in school and are ready to care for animals, to fix problems.” After experiencing some of the “grim realities” of the proWhile all these painful emotions are fession, Teyler said people get to the “Irtaking their toll, people keep reminding ritability Phase.” Although many patients themselves how hard they have worked are sweet, wonderful animals, caregivto become veterinarians, how it’s the ers develop less and less patience for only thing many of them ever wanted being kicked, scratched, urinated on to be, Teyler said. At this phase, many

people develop stomach problems and headaches – exacerbated by not eating a healthy diet as they rush between patients – and insomnia, which makes everything worse. “Finally, you reach the ‘Zombie Phase’ where you hate your coworkers, your clients are stupid and you may have outright disdain for patients,” Teyler said. “We find no joy in work or in anything, and isolate ourselves. We feel a lot of anger, which is a simpler emotion to express and covers for other, more complex feelings that we don’t want to deal with.” Veterinarians have a suicide rate four times higher than the population on the whole and double that of other healthcare professionals. Although there are complex reasons and differing personal circumstances, Teyler believes one reason for this

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alarming reality is that veterinarians are the only medical professionals who actively participate in their patients’ deaths. “Veterinarians encounter death five times more often than human physicians do,” Teyler said. “That includes physicians in gerontology and oncology. The truth is we kill our patients and we are constantly exposed to the grieving of other people. Technicians get compassion fatigue too, but they tend to leave the profession.” Misuse of drugs and alcohol often comes into play in the later stages of compassion fatigue and make matters worse. Teyler recommended several more-productive coping tools she believes veterinarians need to help them combat compassion fatigue and “find your former, enthusiastic vet student self.”

Components of better self-care sound basic, but are often the first things to be abandoned when personal and professional pressures build. Eating well requires some planning, but is extremely important. Getting adequate sleep can be challenging, as is making time to exercise, but both provide big physical and emotional benefits. Even a short walk is better than no exercise, Teyler advised. She also recommends learning mindfulness techniques that can help stop downward-spiraling thoughts that feed anxiety, anger and grief. When she began to more actively care for herself, Teyler noticed how often and how long she was holding her breath, a problem she has worked to solve with mindfulness and yoga. Teyler’s own journey to wellness has included therapy and medication, which she fought taking when her therapist first recommended it. One day, after several months of visits, Teyler was describing to her therapist how she had prescribed Prozac for a cat because it was overly anxious and acting out. The irony of the situation became clear to her and she agreed to try the recommended medication, which has been very beneficial. Teyler encourages colleagues to distance themselves from the profession when they are not at work, including de-

First, develop realistic expectations and recognize that although you always work to do your best, you cannot fix every problem or every animal. “You cannot care for an animal more than the owner does,” she said. “Don’t take on the guilt you think an owner ‘should’ feel.” She advocates making self-care a high priority. “This is not some hippy dippy nonsense,” Teyler said. “It’s like the instructions on a plane to put on your own oxygen mask first. You aren’t abandoning others, but you can’t help them if you haven’t taken care of yourself.”

veloping hobbies that have nothing to do with the job. It is also important to establish boundaries with clients and family members. Teyler said she has been clear with family and friends about how much free advice she will provide and, unlike during the early years of her practice, rarely gives her cell phone number to clients. She added that it’s important to stay connected with other veterinarians and coworkers who are among the few people who really know what the profession requires, and be open to talking to people about your problems and rec-

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ognizing theirs. Lastly, Teyler advocates for vets and their staff to take some time to “honor your grief.” She has found it is important to recognize that death is part of veterinary practice and to take some time – even just a few minutes in the parking lot – to acknowledge the grief you and your staff feel when a patient dies, and create an office culture that encourages people to speak up when they begin to feel overwhelmed.

Teyler’s goals in sharing her story are to help veterinarians recognize signs of compassion fatigue in themselves and their colleagues so they can address the causes, to help people remember that caring and healing are gifts and remind people there is always hope.

Author: Lynnette Harris

2016 Fall/Winter




DR. RALPH MEYER Associate Department Head - Animal, Dairy and Veterinary Sciences.


rawn to Logan, Utah, by its wide open spaces and the opportunity to be a key part of a growing veterinary program, Ralph Meyer, has found a true home at Utah State University. Meyer joined the USU Faculty in August of 2013 and teaches pharmacology in the School of Veterinary Medicine. His research focuses on the impacts of environment, nutrition and genetic predisposition on male fertility.

What made you decide to get into this line of work?

Dr. Meyer: I love animals, and I always have. They have a special

place in my heart. Taking care of reptiles, and snakes in particular, has been a hobby of mine for a really long time. I got into the life sciences when I was 10 years old. It’s always been a passion. And there were a few very important people along the way that guided me towards this career path. My uncle was a marine biologist, and I had a wonderful undergraduate mentor. They were the most important factor in guiding me to what I’m doing now.

What does the future hold for USU’s School of Veterinary Medicine?

If you had a day off, what would you most likely be doing?

Dr. Meyer: We are still a young program. I think we are going to

Dr. Meyer: I might taking care of Dunney, our mus-

improve, expand and further develop this program within the WIMU (Washington-Idaho-Montana-Utah) program and in collaboration with our partners at Washington State University. There’s still a lot of work to do, but the future outlook is great. There is a high demand for veterinarians in the state of Utah and I’m very optimistic that we can do more. It’s fun to come here every morning, and work to build and improve the vet school program with my amazing colleagues.

tang. He worked as a farm horse before we got him and he’s very well trained. I wasn’t really into riding, though my wife was. Then we got Dunney. He’s a smart, easygoing horse that even I can ride. We also have chickens, cats and rabbits. I also like to take my family hiking, so I might be in Logan Canyon with my wife and kids.

What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned from your research?

What do you enjoy most about working with students?

Dr. Meyer: In general, research is always full of surprises. There’s

Dr. Meyer: Besides teaching, which I really enjoy,

never really an end to it, and one exciting find leads to another. The single most important insight I’ve found through my research specifically was the fact that sperm do not simply carry DNA to an egg. Fathers contribute much more than previously thought. We showed the first experimental evidence that sperm chromatin, which is the protein DNA complex in sperm, also brings an epigenetic message to the egg. This was unexpected and exciting. It totally changed our way of thinking.


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it’s probably being the faculty advisor of the Zoo Club. I get to see students outside of the curriculum, which is nice. I like working with students because of their indomitable enthusiasm. For them, it’s the beginning and the sky’s the limit. The best times I have are when I have a chance to make a positive impact on their lives. Author: Shelby Ruud



rom 2010 to 2015, Utah State University’s Institute for Antiviral Research and Center for Integrated BioSystems trained personnel from vaccine manufacturers in developing countries in support of the World Health Organization’s international vaccine production capacity building program. Through that involvement I became interested in global public health, and teaching microbiology and infectious diseases in the new School of Veterinary Medicine has expanded my interest to global animal health. I have heard it said that we are all part of a “global village”. In our modern world infectious diseases can travel remarkably fast. Over the last 30 years, approximately 75% of new and emerging human diseases have been zoonotic (meaning a disease transmitted from animals to people), and many have come from wildlife 1. The Foresight Report describes the projected risks from infectious diseases of humans, animals and plants over 10- and 25-year horizons, and predicts that the highest probability of emergence will be associated with RNA viruses, especially those found at the human-animal interface 2. Understanding the mechanisms that underlie newly emerging and reemerging infectious diseases is one of the most difficult scientific problems facing society today. Examples of human disease outbreaks that had their initial transmission from animals include: avian influenza in 1997, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2003, the novel swine-origin H1N1 strain of influenza A virus in 2009, and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) in 2012. It is critical for the future control of disease outbreaks to understand and respond appropriately to new and emerging disease threats. This will require a paradigm shift from outbreak response, to predicting the outbreak before it happens. One such approach involves One Health, the emerging discipline that brings together human, animal and environmental health. Faculty in USU’s School of Veterinary Medicine have played important roles in organizing the Utah One Health Symposium, which has developed into an annual event that brings together human, animal and environmental health professionals. The essence of One Health is a collaborative, integrated, and multidisciplinary approach to better understand and better address the challenges and threats of infectious diseases to humans and animals. This approach will require infectious disease experts, physicians, veterinarians and environmental scientists to collaborate and identify the underlying drivers

of disease emergence and develop interventions that prevent the transmission of disease. We need to understand the conditions that allow diseases to emerge and spread due to increased population density in cities, increased use of intensive farming practices, and increased travel globally. In addition, we must learn from recent experiences, and move from a crisis-driven society to one of prevention and preparedness. • Bart Tarbet began his training in infectious diseases (medical microbiology) at the Louisiana State University Medical Center in 1992. He worked for 12 years in the vaccine industry and developed veterinary vaccines to emerging (West Nile Virus) and reemerging (influenza virus) diseases in multiple species of animals. At the USU Institute for Antiviral Research, his research in human and animal infectious diseases has merged into developing animal models of human infectious disease for evaluation of experimental therapeutics and vaccines. References 1 Taylor, L.H., Latham, S.M., Woolhouse, M.E. (2001) Risk factors for human disease emergence. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 356:983-9. 2 Brownlie, J., Peckham, C., Waage, J., Woolhoose, M., Lyall, C., Meagher, L., Tait, J., Baylis, M., Nicoll, A. (2006) Foresight. Infectious Diseases: Preparing for the Future. Future Threats. Office of Science and Innovation, London, United Kingdom.

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ONE HEALTH RESOURCES AT YOUR FINGERTIPS By Sandra Weingart, USU School of Veterinary Medicine Reference Librarian Often in animal health–and animal health information services–we hear how much further advanced our counterparts in human health are in terms of evidence analysis and evidence-based practice. But did you know that there’s one area where animal health practitioners and educators (including our Washington-Idaho-Montana-Utah Program partners in Washington) are taking the lead1? I’m talking about One Health. From zoonotic disease to disaster preparedness to unintended—and often undesirable—environmental outcomes to the importance of companion animals for the mental and physical health of their people, to the economic viability of clients’ livelihoods; veterinarians, clinical staff, and vet med educators have long been accustomed to thinking from a systems perspective. This issue I am highlighting information resources that can help in professional development, getting connected with other people interested in One Health, and patient education. Pets, Emergencies, and Disaster Preparedness | Animales Domesticos, Emergencias, y Preparación Para Desastres: Checklist | Lista de Verificación Even though we live in an arid climate, hurricane season is a great time to remind clients to include their animals in family emergency plans. This site directs you to client resources, in English, Spanish and several additional languages. There are also specific resources for clients who use service animals. Veterinary Safety and Health One Health isn’t just for clients and patients. Resources on this Centers for Disease Control and Prevention site will help you evaluate your practice or clinic’s programs for staff health and safety. Identifying potential hazards and planning to mitigate risk can be time-consuming, but missing work because of an incident is expensive! AVMA One Health Keep up with training opportunities, public health issues and environmental regulations relevant to veterinary practice. One Health Initiative Connect with health care and public policy officials engaged in integrating animal, human and environmental well-being worldwide. This site is particularly strong in the area of emerging diseases. This is just a small sampling of tools and resources available to you. Please contact me if you have questions on specific topics. Always remember to use the Currency, Reliability, Authority, Purpose (CRAP) test to assess the quality of information, whether online or in print.

1. Wolfe, Lou Anne. (2015) Why the Human Side Lags Behind in One Health. Veterinary Practice Today June 10 http://www.


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By Steve Lucero, USU School of Veterinary Medicine

these resources continues to decrease as their While veterinarians learn early benefits become increasingly evident. in their training about the imporThe American Veterinary Medical Assotance of managing the burdens of ciation (AVMA) has taken incredible steps in their academic and occupational recent years to encourage veterinarians to acworkload, maintaining a healthy cess wellness resources that contribute to not work-life balance and managing only personal well-being, but also to profespersonal stress are too often the sional success self-care tactics to be sacrisionalDevelopment/Personal/PeerAndWellficed to important deadlines or urness). The AVMA emphasizes approaches that gent occupational demands. include healthy and consistent exercise, sleep The negative impacts of and eating, balancing work and play, managing chronic stress are numerous and “A”s to more effectively combat alcohol use, developing psychological well-beinclude increased symptoms of and reduce stress: avoid, alter, acing, and spending plenty of time playing with depression, anxiety, relationship cept, or adapt ( your own pets. Research cited on the AVMA problems, burnout, compassion Mayo-stress-management). Conwebsite emphasizes how mindfulness and fatigue, decreased job and persider avoiding peosonal satisfaction, and inple or environments creased mortality. While that sap more energy many veterinary schools than they provide. across the country are “OF COURSE OUR APPROACH OR While saying “no” to integrating mental health OUR OPINION IS THE CORRECT ONE! a constant barrage practitioners, mindfulSOMETIMES…SOMETIMES…IT’S NOT of requests is a skill ness-based stress reducdeveloped over time, THE ONLY CORRECT ONE.” tion practices and other saying “no” sometimes self-care programs into allows you to more their curricula, many vetcompletely commit erinary students and clia “yes” to invitations meditation contribute to lowered blood presnicians may feel reluctant to use that are most in line with your persure, decreased resting heart rate, heightened these resources or were never sonal and professional values and to problem-solving abilities, increased motivation exposed to them in their training. give them enough time and attention and productivity, and less frequent illness and The stigma related to accessing to increase the likelihood of success. pain. Exercises like progressive muscle relaxWhen situations cannot be avoided, ation, purposeful deep breathing meditaperhaps they can be altered by comtion, rhythmic movement, body scan municating your internal response guided visualizations and urge more clearly or advocating for your surfing are all easily “Gooown limitations in committing to the gled” and resources can be project. Striking the right balance downloaded in mp3 or between being too passive and too mp4 formats for practice aggressive results in the healthiest in between clients, on assertive response that preserves the way to or from work, self-respect without intruding on the or during short breaks dignity of the person requesting your throughout the day. time and effort. When things cannot The Mayo Clinic be altered, learn to accept situations suggests that veterthat are beyond your control by ventinarians may benefit ing frustrations and vulnerabilities to from using the four

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{ UTAH STATE UNIVERSITY VETERINARY MEDICINE } a trusted partner or friend. You may have become habituated to negative selftalk or critical self-judgments over a long period of time and it will take a similarly persistent effort to substitute more beneficial and likely more realistic thoughts for negative ones. This may help you to adjust your standards or reframe your perception of a situation to more effectively adapt to your environment. This depiction of how to flexibly approach truth, or any situation for that matter, is one of my favorites for representing the need for openness. Of course our approach or our opinion is the correct one! Sometimes… sometimes… it’s not the only correct one. Too often, we are locked into habits that have always worked for us, and sometimes, the routines that got us HERE won’t get us THERE. Whether you are finishing veterinary school or readying for retirement, a willingness to approach situations you would rather avoid with a receptive attitude may allow you to conquer a seemingly unconquerable obstacle. I find this to be true of most sources of psychological distress. Whether it’s anxiety, depression, perfectionism, or social disconnection, our fear of being vulnerable can prevent us from doing the very things that are needed to overcome the obstacle. Yes, sometimes when we take the risk of doing something different, there may be negative consequences. Yet, my experience has taught me that when I risk connecting with others or doing the thing I’m afraid of, the positive benefits outweigh the negative concerns. While it may seem that you don’t have the time or energy to hit the gym, reach out to a friend or pursue a meaningful hobby, in the long run you will find it beneficial to invest in those self-care activities. Be vulnerable. Take the risk.

" Why Wait? ASPIRATE." Veterinary oncologist Sue Ettinger is on a crusade to change the way pet owners and veterinarians think about and treat cancer. The rallying cries that she hopes will become routine calls to action are simple: “See something. Do something,” and “Why wait? Aspirate.” Ettinger brought her message of early cancer detection and intervention to Utah State University’s School of Veterinary Medicine in September in meetings with stu-


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dents, pet owners from the community and a continuing education seminar for veterinarians. The information and experiences Ettinger – aka Dr. Sue the Cancer Vet – shared were of broad interest because generally one in three dogs will get cancer. And because cancer is a disease of aging, half of dogs over age 10 will develop it in some form. “Even experienced veterinarians cannot just look at or feel a lump and know if it is cancer or not,” Ettinger said.


“Most subcutaneous tumors can be cured by surgery alone if it’s done early. Most cancers are treatable. There are a variety of options and ways to minimize side effects even during treatment.” Ettinger stressed that aspirating a mass should become a standard, primary procedure because it is simple, does not require expensive equipment, and the test results help vets and clients determine the next steps in treatment well before a mass has grown and valuable time has been wasted. Because oncology is her medical specialty, Ettinger is familiar with the challenges of getting pet owners to take timely action. Clients sometimes think there is no reason to treat a pet’s cancer, that a cancer diagnosis always means death. They may think vet visits are too stressful, or that taking a look at “Dr. Google” will tell them whether they should do anything about a lump. Ettinger stressed that once early detection and aspiration indicate surgery is

needed, it’s important to get the mass in one surgery with adequate margins and get animals on the road to healing rather than subjecting patients to one procedure to get bigger biopsy samples and then another at a later date to remove the mass. “People also think that chemotherapy will make their pets sick and miserable,” Ettinger said. “Animals react to chemo differently than humans and do very well with it.” She shared photographs of several of her patients at the end of their treatments enjoying trips to the beach and time with their families and not experiencing the side effects people generally associate with chemotherapy. Just as women are advised to do monthly self-examinations to check for lumps that could indicate breast cancer, Ettinger advises that pet owners do regular checks of their animals. They should be encouraged to go beyond the usual petting and snuggling and schedule a time each month to actively look for and

record the locations and sizes of skin tags and lumps. “When a skin mass or subcutaneous lump is the size of a pea or larger, or has been present for one month, it’s time to do something,” she said. “Aspirate or biopsy, and treat it early.” Dr. Sue Ettinger, aka Dr. Sue the Cancer Vet, is a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (oncology), and one of approximately 300 board-certified veterinary specialists in medical oncology in North America. She is a staff oncologist at the Animal Specialty Center, a private practice specialty hospital in Westchester, NY. She is co-host of the Pet Center Vet internet program at , a contributor to The Dog Cancer Blog ( and co-author of The Dog Cancer Survival Guide, a resource for people seeking information, advice, support and hope.

Author: Lynnette Harris

2016 Fall/Winter




Science vs. Viruses When viral diseases make local, national and international news, most of us react with some anxiety, take precautions to prevent or limit contact with the virus and adopt a heightened awareness of symptoms. When Professor John Morrey and his colleagues at Utah State University’s Institute for Antiviral Research hear stories of dangerous emerging or recurring diseases, it’s rarely “news” to them, but it brings a renewed urgency to their work. “When people ask ‘How’s your work going?’ I tend to always look ahead and think of the challenges and needs instead of looking back and seeing our successes, and we’ve had some great successes,” Morrey, the institute’s director, said. “There is always more to do. We always need more data, more ideas, and there are always more grants to write, more papers to write, more things to understand.” Morrey can be forgiven for focusing on the challenges. When your work is studying viruses, you may experience some exciting breakthroughs, but you are never really finished. The institute’s team includes seven lead investigators who are Department of Animal, Dairy and Veterinary Sciences faculty members, six PhD-level senior research associates, and several fulltime and student technicians. The viruses and diseases they study―such as influenza, hanta, dengue, West Nile, chikungunya, SARS and Zika―could comprise an international “Most Not Wanted” list. The researchers don’t discover new drugs, they test possible treatments in cell culture and animal models, investigate basic mechanisms of how viruses


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function and cause disease and search for ways to disrupt a viruses’ particular ability to do damage. The team reached a notable milestone this year, surpassing $107 million in grants and contracts since the institute was founded in 1977, a combination of funding from the National Institutes of Health, other government agencies and some proprietary work for pharmaceutical companies. But don’t go looking for them in a high-profile building. Most of their work goes on in secure laboratories with up-to-date equipment and protocols, but the modest surroundings belie the caliber of research that goes on there every day. To Morrey, surpassing the $100 million mark in grant funding represents the group’s collective work and “the many pharmaceuticals in which we have played a part, and seeing them used by people around the world to fight viral disease and improve lives.” Viruses in the Lab Studying viruses in cell culture can tell scientists a great deal, but animal models play crucial roles in understanding viruses and testing possible treatments because the complexity of the body, whether human, mouse, hamster or goat, can’t be replicated in a petri dish or flask. “We do everything we can to limit our use of animal models,” said Research Professor Brian Gowen, who teaches virology in USU’s School of Veterinary Medicine. “But ultimately, if we just look at activity at the cellular level we cannot understand the complexity of, say, an antiviral treatment that stimulates a beneficial host immune response or that


reduces vascular leak and shock associated with an excessive inflammatory response to viral infection.” Nor can experiments in cell culture replicate the nearly countless complex variables living organisms present, like neuron function and respiration. Studies in animal models are important steps on the path to treating humans and running complicated and expensive clinical trials of vaccines and drugs in humans. It’s important to note that most drugs don’t make the cut from cell culture to tests in animal models and even fewer go to clinical trials. For example, Research Assistant Professor Bart Tarbet explained that three years ago the institute screened over 10,000 drugs to treat influenza in cell culture. Of those, fewer than 2 percent showed activity against the virus and just those few were considered for testing in animal models. It’s also true that mice and hamsters are not naturally susceptible to viruses that infect humans. Tarbet, also a member of the vet school’s faculty, pointed out that a key reason the researchers can do their work is the institute’s colony of mice with specific genes “knocked out” to make them receptive to virus infection. Colleagues at USU also recently developed a first-of-its-kind, genetically engineered hamster that is proving valuable in the search for Zika virus treatments. Tarbet’s lab works with genetically engineered mice in the search for a new model for treatments of enterovirus D68 (EV-D68). The virus is one among a family that includes polio and more than a 100-non polio viruses, and has caused illness that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has tracked since 1987. But in 2014, there was a spike in the number and severity of EV-D68 cases. Most troubling though was that some people developed a polio-like neurological disease, not just the usual respiratory infection that causes problems primarily for the very young, the very old and people with asthma.

Left: An electron micrograph of a thin section of EV-D68, showing the numerous, spherical viral particles. Image source: Cynthia S. Goldsmith and Yiting Zhang, CDC Above: The core of USU's Institute for Antiviral Research are faculty members (left to right, front) Justin Julander, Dale Barnard, Craig Day, (center) Don Smee, John Morrey, (back) Brian Gowen, Bart Tarbet.

With funding from National Institutes of Health (NIH), Tarbet’s lab is focused on developing a reliable testing model, and will follow that with 2 years of evaluating possible treatments. Gowen’s research focuses on hemorrhagic fever viruses, most of them exotic to the U.S., with the exception of hantavirus. While he is usually focused on arenaviruses, Gowen is also at work on Rift Valley fever virus, an important pathogenic bunyavirus that causes disease in livestock and humans. Rift Valley fever virus has significant agricultural impact in sub-Saharan Africa where it can cause “abortion storms” in cattle, sheep and goats, affecting up to 90 percent of pregnant animals in a herd or flock. It also infects humans via bites from infected mosquitoes and can be fatal. “We are studying a new technology that inactivates the virus in a way that preserves the native conformation of the viral surface protein so it elicits a stronger immune response,” Gowen said. “And the fact that the virus is inac-

tivated means you don’t have the safety risks associated with attenuated live virus vaccines. We know the compound inactivates the virus, but the quality control is rigorous and making sure every particle is inactivated is more challenging than you might think.” If proven effective, the technology his lab is testing could be used to create safer, more effective vaccines against a number of viruses. Gowen is passionate about his research, but said teaching veterinary medical students has made him a better scientist. “I work with zoonotic diseases, but my research focus has always been on the human side. The fundamental concepts and principles of virology apply to both humans and animals, but having a greater understanding of how viruses work and cause disease in different species leads to new ideas and questions relevant to my research.”

Author: Lynnette Harris

2016 Fall/Winter






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Photo: Courtesy of Mckay Jensen



t looks like any other guided horse trail ride – several seasoned riders guiding a half-dozen novices along a sunny, semi-steep trail in the Wellsville Mountains. But what an onlooker wouldn’t see is that most of the riders are military veterans and their family members participating in equine-assisted therapy hosted by Utah State University, gaining strength from each other, enjoying nature and learning about themselves from the horses they ride. This is the ninth USU Equine Experience Veteran’s ride for the summer and the fourth such ride for Marine Corporal Justin Bishop. The USU social work major assists with the veteran’s rides and also works as a peer mentor at USU’s Veteran’s Resource Office. “I came to help with this program thinking of it as a resource for the veterans I work with,” he said. “But never did I imagine how helpful it would be for me.” When Bishop went on his first veterans ride, he hadn’t been on a horse since he was 8 years old. “I was very nervous,” he said. “And horses can pick up on that. You can’t lie to a horse. After that first nerve-wracking ride, I began to think ‘I can do this. I can ride a horse. I can be on this animal and venture out.’ So I started to develop that trust. I have ridden a different horse every time on these

rides, and each horse has its own personality and character. I like it because I get to know the horse, and it gets to know me.” So what is it about horses? Michelle Weed, recently hired director of USU EquineHuman Sciences, has been asked that question many times. She said horses have the ability to detect underlying energy and emotions from those around them. Therapeutic riding instructors then use that connection, attachment and movement to address connecting with another being, problem solving, sequencing, core strength and more, while also teaching riding skills. “Horses allow us to see when we are being incongruent – such as smiling when we are angry inside,” she said. “They can read a person's intentions and mirror them. Therefore, once a person is congruent, the horse gives immediate feedback by relaxing or engaging. They also have a three-dimensional movement that has yet to be replicated by a machine or therapy tool. This mimics the human gait as well.” Weed said the veteran’s rides are just one aspect of USU’s equine activities and therapies offerings, in addition to corporate equine-assisted leadership activities, therapeutic riding and equine-assisted learning for community

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participants. There are currently four trained therapy horses effective equine-assisted counseling can be. in the program with hopes for two more in the future so that “Imagine being in a counselor's office with your spouse hippotherapy rehabilitative treatment – which helps improve discussing family dynamic issues,” she said. “Often, each person physical coordination, balance and strength – can be offered. has a different view on how his or her actions contribute to Weed said USU is one of the few schools in the nation the challenges. Defense mechanisms, such as denial, can that offers hands-on equine-assisted activity and therapy hinder progress toward solutions. With equine-assisted training, and USU has developed the education program to counseling, the environment, movement, group activities train instructors in and the horse’s reactions disability awareness, to underlying emotions teaching techniques quickly demonstrate the true “WHEN I’M RIDING, I’M NOT THINKING and safety. She dynamics. This allows people ABOUT SCHOOL, AND BILLS AND said using certified to process and start building STRESS. I’M THINKING ABOUT MYSELF, instructors ensures toward solutions.” client protection and Weed said equineTHE HORSE AND DEVELOPING THAT effectiveness of the assisted therapy has been RELATIONSHIP.” programs. shown to be effective for “Our goal is people who struggle with to train innovative, anxiety, depression, postclient-centered professionals,” she said. “It’s not about a traumatic stress, sexual trauma, relationship difficulties and diagnosis or label, it’s someone’s life. We teach them to other adjustment issues. help clients reach goals through activities with therapeutic For Bishop, equine-assisted therapy has helped him work benefits that carry over to activities of daily life.” through adjustment issues he faced post deployment. Weed is especially excited about the work being done “Everyone experiences combat differently, and their with veterans because they are near and dear to her heart. She takeaway is different,” he said. “My takeaway was that I ended has been married to a career Air Force officer for 27 years and up with very low self-esteem. I did my job and I came back has a deep appreciation for the military. alive, but there were still people who didn’t. Because of that, Weed has worked in the field of equine-assisted therapy I lost a lot of self-esteem and confidence because I felt like for 20 years in varying capacities, including as an instructor it was my fault. It is also hard to trust again. You rely on your and training faculty member with the Professional Association buddies in combat, but everyone else is out to get you, and of Therapeutic Horsemanship International. Her many years of it’s hard to come back home and realize they’re not anymore.” experience in the field have made her passionate about how Bishop said he has had other post-deployment therapy


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Photo: Courtesy of Julene Reese

17 Photo: Courtesy of Eli Lucero

Photo: Courtesy of Eli Lucero

Photo: Courtesy of Julene Reese


that has been helpful, but the veteran’s trail rides have helped tremendously with building his selfconfidence and talking about his experiences. The rides have also taught him to rely on the horse and to trust it, which has helped him transfer that trust into other areas of his life. “When I’m riding, I’m not thinking about school, and bills and stress,” he said. “I’m thinking about myself, the horse and developing that relationship. At the end of each ride, we have lunch, and then some great discussions. They are reflective of the day’s ride and how a veteran sees challenges and approaches them. These rides have been very helpful to me.” Jared Schultz, director of USU’s Rehabilitation Counseling Program, has served as the counselor on four of the nine veteran’s rides conducted since the program began in the fall of 2015. He goes on the 2-hour ride with participants, eats with them, then leads a discussion about learning from the experience. Schultz said one man had never ridden a horse before, and he didn’t know how to trust it. How do you risk with a horse? How do you show fidelity so trust can be developed over time? “Then we expanded that discussion into life and teenagers and dealing with change and adjustment,” Schultz said. “It’s about learning from experiences and drawing life lessons. Therapeutically speaking, the best work you do as a counselor isn’t always in your office in a 50-minute session. These experiences help accelerate that work by getting individuals out of the office and into life."


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“It’s not so much about riding as it is learning to work with a horse with a mind of its own. Horses don’t always go where you want them to go – and people don’t either.”

Schultz said the veteran’s rides provide participants with a connection to other people in similar circumstances. The rides provide a supportive community for them as well as the mental health benefits of “getting out and doing.” Karl Hoopes, USU Extension equine specialist and a practicing veterinarian for 13 years, is director of Extension’s facet of the program. He began the equine-assisted therapy rides for veterans in the fall of 2015 as a way to help military families cope with the challenges they face. “With these rides, we don’t offer a lot of instruction on riding etiquette,” Hoopes said. “It’s not about the horse, it’s about the individual’s experience with the horse. It’s neat when the connection between the rider and the horse occurs. It allows the person to experience emotions and encourages them to talk. That’s why the

Photo: Courtesy of Eli Lucero

counselor is involved in every ride.” Hoopes said people from the Veterans Administration asked him to provide a trail ride for women experiencing post-traumatic stress. One woman talked to him about the difficulties she faced because of her experience, and Hoopes coached her on how the horse could help her. “That was a really special ride,” he said. “At times like that, I know the rides are making a huge difference, and that’s really gratifying.” To date, rides for veterans have been held in Cache County, Eden, Richfield and Panguitch and more are planned. Participants can bring one guest with them, and the ride is kept to 10 people, excluding the therapist and horse trainers, so that the group is small and manageable. “My goal is to deliver the program to all Utah counties,” Hoopes said. “We would love every county to have a veteran’s trail ride. A major problem we have is finding the right horses and being able to purchase them for the program. Horses and equipment are a huge expense. We did receive a small grant to get started, and we’ve received some sponsor support, which has been very helpful.” Annika Claire is Hoopes’ intern for the program. The USU psychology student has assisted with grant writing and all aspects of the veteran’s rides. “I know many veterans, and I’m happy I can help with an experience that benefits that population,” she said. “It’s amazing what a horse can do for a person that they can’t do for themselves.” She has been on horses since she was just a year old. She said she has been through some difficult things in her life, and her goal is to use those experiences to help other people. “I feel like I can get down on myself and be sad or pull up my boot straps and help people who are going through similar things,” she said. “I love horses, and I’ve found the perfect match. My dad always told me, ‘Do something you love, then write it off your taxes.’” Equine activities and therapies are quickly expanding at USU. Weed came on board in April 2016 to one horse in training, no participants and one part-time staff member. Since activities and events officially began June 1 there have been 43 participants. Two undergraduate courses are underway this fall: principles of equine-assisted activities and therapeutic riding instructor training. The long-range goal is to have an associate’s degree, bachelor’s degree and a graduate certificate in equine-assisted learning and counseling. “The overwhelming response we’ve had shows the need for alternative programs for our community members and students,” Weed said. “I am excited to be part of growing

Photo: Courtesy of Julene Reese


this program. Horses have a unique way of nudging us over those plateaus we hit in therapy, in life and in relationships.” To donate or learn more about equine activities and therapies at USU, contact Brandon Monson, 435-7972208, or Michelle Merrill, 435797-8556,

Author: Julene Reese

2016 Fall/Winter






Chelsea Whitehouse, DVM

Kristen Lucibello, DVM

I am working at Capeway Veterinary Hospital, a small animal practice in Fairhaven, Massachusetts. I am one of five doctors, two of which have been practicing for over 30 years, one for 15 years, and the other for 2 years. With a mix of experience, a desire to be progressive and up to date is something we all share. We work as a team, discuss cases daily, and have both doctor and staff meetings monthly. The staff is wonderful and supportive of me as a new veterinarian. As grateful as I am for my education at USU and WSU, there is still a lot of learning on the job! I am enjoying learning something new each day, and helping both animals and humans.

After running the gauntlet (known as vet school) I have landed in gorgeous southern Utah at Zion Veterinary Clinic in Hurricane. We are a small animal practice that also welcomes exotic critters through our doors. I am happily living with my best friend Finnian, a Heeler/Catahoula mix and we are always on the lookout for new places to explore outdoors. Life after vet school is wonderful so don’t get discouraged! Also, please, please, please take care of yourself physically, emotionally, spiritually. It is easy to forget about your own needs when everyone is depending on you for help. If you can care for yourself you can care for any living being. Best of luck to you all!"

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At the end of 4 challenging years, the inaugural class of Utah State University’s School of Veterinary Medicine received their DVM degrees. Congratulations to this pioneering group! The new veterinarians and representatives from our faculty and staff (noted by*) gathered for a celebratory photo. Left to right, front row: Heloisa Rutigliano*, Audrey Raby, Elizabeth Read, Chelsea Whitehouse, Danielle Rowen, Amanda Vockler, Chiara Velotta, Heather Skinner, Jessica Crozier, Colton Thacker, Lee Rickords*; Second row: Michael Bishop*, Briedi Gillespie*, Amanda Amstutz, Jennifer Bunnell, Emily Ozmun, Bethany Bushe, Cassandra Westfall-Eakins, Kristen Lucibello, James Akagi, David Payne, Michael Noyes, David Wilson* Fourth row: Johanna Rigas*, Brent Yardley, Heidi Brinkley, Alexis Sweat, Hayley Rasmussen-Ball, Taylor Hatton, Bryan Johnson, Mark Carter, Alika Fisher Top row: Kerry Rood*, Tom Baldwin*, Aaron Olsen*

Jace Hill returned to Utah prior to commencement to begin work with his father's equine practice in Ogden, but received his diploma at USU from Associate Dean Dirk Vanderwall.

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ALUMNI/DONOR Recognition

In September, we celebrated the remarkable career of Dr. Don B. Olsen and his wife Joyce C. Olsen as we put their names on the classroom at the Equine Education Center. Dr. Olsen, DVM, had placed nearly 3,000 artificial hearts into calves and sheep before joining the historymaking medical team that implanted an artificial heart in the first human recipient, Dr. Barney Clark. Some of our students have had the opportunity to hear Dr. Olsen speak about his remarkable career, and the impact he has had in the veterinary and human medical industries will always be remembered. We are honored to have his name on our classroom building and grateful for the help he and Joyce provide for many students through their scholarship endowment.

Photo: Courtesy of Dennis Hinkamp


Recently, Dr. David Gardiner, chief medical and executive officer of Animal Reference Pathology, hosted his 3rd Annual USU School of Veterinary Medicine Spelling Bee. Students take on words they will be seeing and using in their veterinarian careers. It is challenging, but it provides students the chance to win prizes and bragging rights and a welcome change from the usual rigors of student life. As you’ll see in this issue, improving mental health among veterinarians is a priority at USU. We sincerely thank Dr. Gardiner for supporting students through a cash scholarship, and providing an avenue for students to take a well-deserved short break! Also in September, Dr. Susan Ettinger, aka Dr. Sue Cancer Vet, visited the USU campus as the School of Veterinary Medicine hosted a CE credits course in oncology. She also gave a presentation to our students who were inspired by her passion for animals and her endeavors to tackle cancer in our pets. We look forward to seeing more of you on campus as we provide additional continuing education opportunities in the future. We sincerely thank all those who financially invest in our future veterinarians and helping their dreams of being like Drs. Olsen, Ettinger or Gardiner become a reality! If you are interested in helping our students, please contact me at michelle. Thank you for helping us Teach What You Love!


Director of Development


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SCHOLARSHIPS DR. GARY CRANNEY SCHOLARSHIP The Dr. Gary Cranney Scholarship assists students in achieving their dreams of working in the service of animals.

DR. KELLY ESPLIN SCHOLARSHIP Dr. Kelly Esplin Scholarship assists students pursuing a degree in veterinary medicine at Utah State University.




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4815 Old Main Hill Logan, Utah 84322-4800


Sponsored by Dr. David Gardiner Imagine you’re standing in front of your peers and professors, now close your eyes and spell arhinencephaly. Oh, and remember, the clock is ticking. The whole scenario actually presents less pressure than many days in vet school, plus a lot of laughs. Each fall for the past 3 years, Dr. David Gardiner, DVM, Dipl. ACVP has added spelling bee creator and announcer, to his usual titles of chief medical and executive officer of Animal Reference Pathology in Salt Lake City. This year’s winners of swag, reference books and bragging rights were: 1st place, Carine Otto; 2nd place, Sarah Frandsen; 3rd place, Katrina James.

Pictured left to right are Dr. David Gardiner, Katrina James, Carine Otto and Sarah Frandsen.


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