British Columbia’s Chief Veterinarian Clashes With College Of Veterinarians Over Reporting Of Animal Abuse

Originally Published August 9th in Abby News,  by Tyler Olsen

The College of Veterinarians of British Columbia send out a directive to their 8025748_web1_copy_jane-pritchard-gpsmembership in July, advising that veterinarians should only report animal abuse if they have “unequivocal evidence” of wrongdoing by clients.  B.C.’s Chief Veterinary Officer Jane Pritchard disagrees with this position.

“And she took the CVBC to task for emphasizing client confidentiality above reporting abuse in an email the organization sent to members in June.

That memo states that reporting a client “should be reserved for circumstances where there is clear and unequivocal evidence of an animal being in distress as a direct result of the actions of the veterinarian’s client. Threatening to report or reporting on circumstantial evidence will leave veterinarians open to criticism for breaching client trust and confidentiality … Veterinarians will best serve their patients when clients can rely on them to make patient treatment a priority, while simultaneously meeting client confidentiality obligations.”

The Prevention of Cruelty Act (PCA) states that veterinarians “must promptly report” what they know if they think a client is “likely” abusing an animal. The CVBC position, which cites the need for “unequivocal evidence,” would require a vet to know for certain that abuse is happening before reporting it to authorities.

In opposing the CVBC memo, Pritchard cited provincial law, an oath taken by vets to protect animal health and welfare, and several high-profile animal abuse cases in the Fraser Valley over the last year.

“The emphasis on protecting client confidentiality to defend not reporting animal cruelty seems to me to be less than professional within the context of our oath and the requirements of the PCA.”

Pritchard wrote that the “CVBC memo focused on the role for veterinarians to protect client confidentiality in face of possible animal abuse.”

She wrote: “In B.C. we have witnessed high-profile media coverage and public outrage on extreme acts of cruelty against farm animals in recent months and years. The public often questions what the role of the veterinarian is in these circumstances, and if we do not speak up, take an interest, ask questions and become engaged in this area, I fear we, as veterinarians, will be seen as irrelevant in protecting animal welfare. I feel that veterinarians need to remain relevant in animal welfare that we should actively continue to strive to promote animal health and welfare, relieve animal suffering.”

Thank you Dr. Pritchard!

The rest of the article can be read here.

 

Research – How Does Transport Impact Senior Horse Immune Function?

Original article – The Horse – written by Erica Larson, July 25, 2017

Transporting horses is stressful,  particularly so for the senior horse,  who may experience a compromised immune response, elevated stress hormones, and decreased body weight.  Weakened immune responses as a result of transporting the senior horse may explain the frequency of respiratory illnesses in feedlots etc.  These findings are yet another reason why senior horses should not be transported for the “humane end of life option” of slaughter.

“Researchers have long known that transportation can be stressful for horses—not only for their minds but also for their bodies. Still, scientists haven’t yet zeroed in on all the ways travel impacts horses’ body systems. They have proven that transport negatively impacts the immune function of other species, including cattle and swine, but little is known about the horse, and there’s no work investigating the impact on senior horses.

…the team hypothesized that, following short-distance transportation:

  • Stress hormone (cortisol) levels would increase;
  • Cell-mediated immune responses (which protect the body against intracellular organisms, such as viruses, using special white blood cells called T-cells; the T-cells recognize when a cell has been infected by a pathogen and act to eliminate it before the pathogen can replicate) would decrease; and
  • Inflammatory cytokine production would increase.

The team used 16 senior horses with an average age of 25 years. They collected baseline blood samples and evaluated clinical parameters a week before a 1.5-hour trip. They gathered the same samples and data 15 minutes before the trip, 15 minutes after, and on Days 3, 7, 14, and 21 after transport.

Some of the team’s key findings included:

  • Horses had decreased INF-γ (interferon-gamma, an inflammatory mediator produced by lymphocytes) production starting 15 minutes after travel and through Day 21;
  • After transport, lymphocyte gene expression showed reduced INF-γ, TNF-α (tumor necrosis factor alpha, a cytokine involved in mediating systemic inflammation), and IL-10 (interleukin-10, another anti-inflammatory cytokine) levels;
  • Cortisol levels were increased 15 minutes after travel;
  • There were no differences in whole blood gene expression before and after transportation; and
  • Horses’ body weights decreased on Day 3 post-transport.”

Please read more here.

Researchers Use Conceptual Models To Improve Equine Welfare In Veterinary Teaching

Veterinary students often lack previous experience in handling horses and other large animals. This article discusses the challenges of using horses for veterinary teaching purposes and the potential consequences for equine welfare. The article proposes a conceptual model to optimize equine welfare using equine similators during practical handling classes.

Written by:  By Christa Lesté-Lasserre, MA, originally published – The Horse

“Horses used for veterinary teaching programs often experience repeated handling and treatment techniques by students who have had relatively little exposure to horses. Unfortunately, that’s becoming more common now than in the past.

A team of researchers from Massey University, in New Zealand, said statistics suggest fewer veterinary students than in the past have prior experience with horses before entering their degree programs. And that, the team said, could have welfare implications for the horses they’re learning from, as well as increased safety risks for the students themselves.

As a result, the researchers recently reviewed the challenges of working with horses in veterinary teaching programs and the potential consequences for human safety and equine welfare. They’ve also proposed a model for improvement.

Veterinary program administrators must realize “that most students are now from an urban environment and that there is a need to formally teach what was previously assumed to be prior animal handling knowledge,” said Gabriella Gronqvist, PhD, MSc, a postdoctoral fellow in equine science at Massey University’s Institute of Vet, Animal, and Biomedical Sciences.

Long-term, she added, the team hopes to “identify parameters which we can measure, such as how many times can you repeat a procedure, given that different activities or procedures all have varying levels of (welfare) cost to the horse. With these metrics, guidelines for horse use can be put in place to assist with the management and the rotation of the teaching horses with the different teaching activities in order to optimize welfare.”

In their study, the team proposed a conceptual model to optimize teaching horse welfare. Gronqvist and colleagues suggested veterinary students receive basic training in equine learning theory and ethology (animal behavior) very early in their education, before being exposed to teaching horses. Notably, they should recall the social needs of horses and understand that keeping a familiar horse nearby during a consultation can reduce stress as well as injury risk.

“A focus on this would be a great first step and would provide the most significant improvement in animal welfare in relation to the time and resources required,” she said.

Meanwhile, computer simulators could help teach students to recognize equine communication signals and learning behavior, Gronqvist said. However, no such equine-specific software exists currently.

Other simulators and dummies—such as Breeding Bonnie, the jugular vein puncture simulator, and the joint injection simulator—can allow students to practice their skills without compromising teaching horse welfare, she said. But after the students have mastered their skills on simulators, they will have to practice on live horses, where their handling techniques will be paramount.

“The model proposed in the study is only a first step toward better understanding the welfare needs of teaching horses in veterinary schools,” she said.

The study, “The Challenges of Using Horses for Practical Teaching Purposes in Veterinary Programmes,” including details on the proposed conceptual model for improvement, was published in Animals.”

When Rescues Go Bad, Veterinarians Should Be Ready To Help

Here’s a good article by Natalie Voss from the Paulick Report, on the importance for veterinarians to recognize and act upon neglect in horse rescues. Veterinarians are in a position to observe occasions of animal abuse and have a moral obligation to report suspected cases.  That obligation has increased with the recognized link between abuse in animals and abuse in people and the recognition in some provinces (Quebec) of animal sentience. The rapid increase in the number of equine rescues and the number of horses under their control also means that increased vigilance and scrutiny must be made.

For Canadian veterinarians,  there is a Canada-specific resource produced by the CVMA that can be used for reference purposes.  Please click here to read the Microsoft Word document.

From the Paulick Report:

“As social media brings together more animal lovers and homeless horses than ever, authorities across the country are seeing an increase in the number of rescue situations gone bad. At the recent American Association of Equine Practitioners convention in Orlando, Fla., a panel of experts devoted an entire afternoon to helping veterinarians understand the legal and ethical implications involved in reporting cruelty cases and helping investigators document them.

There is no centralized authority keeping track of the numbers of horses reported neglected by owners each year, but the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals suggests the number is growing. ASPCA is often called in large-scale neglect cases of all species to provide volunteer manpower and veterinary expertise.

It’s also becoming more common than ever to receive reports of large-scale neglect from farms operating as non-profit horse rescues. Dr. Jennifer Williams, president and co-founder of Blue Bonnet Equine Humane Society, pointed out the number of rescues has grown with the number of unwanted horses. When she began working in horse rescue 18 years ago, she was one of very few in that role in the state of Texas.

“Now you can’t hardly walk down the road without stumbling into a rescue. They’re everywhere,” said Williams, who noted there are now more than 400 organizations listed with the Internal Revenue Service as being a “horse” or “equine” rescue/humane society.

It’s only logical that some of those organizations will be ill-equipped to handle the unending need for their services, the panel agreed.

This means veterinarians need to be aware of the laws governing animal cruelty and neglect in their state and county and have an idea of who to call before they need to report a case. Some vets hesitate to report cases because they assume if the owner is ordering medical care for an animal, they can’t be considered to be abusing the animal. Others may believe they have to know who is responsible for abuse or neglect before reporting it (they don’t), or feel uncomfortable reporting a case in which the animals belong to someone who’s not a client. It’s also important for veterinarians to know the language of their state’s animal welfare laws, and the difference in “cruelty” (an act of commission, like beating an animal) versus “neglect” (an act of omission, like withholding feed).
 

“Just because you or I may feel something constitutes abuse, doesn’t mean the law recognizes it as such,” said Dr. Rachel Touroo, director of veterinary forensics at the ASPCA. “Therefore, you need to familiarize yourself with these laws to form an opinion of what constitutes cruelty or neglect.”

In fact, the non-reporting of a potential abuse case can pose a legal problem for veterinarians; some 11 states require them to report suspicions of abuse. (Kentucky, Florida, and New York have no such requirement; California does.)

Touroo indicated neglect is seen more often in horses than outright abuse and can be attributed to a variety of factors. Some owners (or rescues) run out of funding, others don’t have the necessary education to understand how to feed or care for animals. Others could experience depression or other emotional issues related to caregiver stress. Still others, Touroo said, have physical or mental health issues limiting their capacity to provide care. Mental health issues often manifest in the form of hoarding both animals and objects. In Touroo’s experience, people involved in these cases have lost touch with reality, and insist their crowded, starving, or ill animals are happy and healthy, even if it’s obvious they are not.

“They often will remain vigilant with this defense, all the way through court, even if they’re found guilty,” said Touroo. “They will insist they were providing the best care for these animals and no one else could care for these animals like they do.”

Despite this odd defense, people with overcrowded farms can also be aware enough of the horse’s physical appearance to hide the worst-looking animals on the back of the property, so veterinarians are encouraged to keep their eyes open. People operating rescues with this issue are sometimes known to refuse visitors to the facility, seem to focus on acquiring more animals rather than adopting out from their herd, and may insist upon accepting donated horses at a remote location.

Once a case has been identified and reported, veterinarians were encouraged to volunteer their support to local law enforcement. Some areas have dedicated animal control officers who may have training in identifying symptoms of malnourishment or untreated disease, but others are completely unprepared.

If veterinarians are brought in to help with an investigation, ASPCA has a suggested protocol for getting neglected horses treated without disrupting the legal case. Vets should take photographs of each horse throughout the treatment process from all angles, and establish identification numbers and descriptions of animals early on. Horses with contagious diseases should be quarantined and those diseases reported to the state’s animal health department if required. Medical records belong to the veterinarian and cannot legally be released without a subpoena (or permission from the animal’s owner), but should be maintained extensively for use in prosecution. This includes notes on normal findings or on vital signs and even means veterinarians shouldn’t delete blurry or out-of-focus photos from their phones. Dr. Nicole Eller, field shelter veterinarian, noted this causes gaps in metadata which could provide a defense lawyer a line of questioning in court.

Law enforcement should be tipped to any unusual equipment on the property such as veterinary drugs or surgical supplies. Possession of these items could constitute additional charges and could help identify accomplices.

Vets should also not refrain from billing the appropriate party for their treatment of the animals, since this demonstrates to the court the financial impact of restoring animals to health (though they shouldn’t expect speedy payment, either).

Ultimately, veterinarians’ role is to provide clarity, and hopefully in turn, justice and safety for the animal.

“We are advocates, in these cases, for the truth,” said Eller. “We as vets are used to being advocate for the animal, and in a lot of cases it should probably be the same thing. You don’t need to describe guilt or innocence; you just need to describe your findings.”

Access-To-Information Documents Reveal Horse Death On Atlas Air Flights To Japan

The attached Access-To-Information documents, relating to live shipments from  the Calgary Airport in Alberta in March 2015, describe the conditions under which several horses went down once loaded or prior to being loaded on a flight to Osaka Japan via Atlas Air.

Of the horses that were taken back to be assessed,  one horse was found to be deceased in the crate.  Note that the brand has been obscured.  No explanation was provided for the cause of death,  and it`s unknown whether a necropsy was performed on the deceased horse.

 

From Equine Guelph: The Equine Biosecurity Risk Calculator

shutterstock_268534550Originally published in Equimed, June 2, 2016

“Equine Guelph has named 2016 the Year of Biosecurity.  Find out if there are extra steps your farm could be implementing to help reduce the risk of infectious disease.  With a simple 10 minute survey, the Biosecurity Risk Calculator, sponsored by Vétoquinol Canada Inc., provides a starting point to protecting your horse’s health with easy to implement practices for infectious disease control.”

The calculator is a series of 42 questions in 10 categories and will take approximately 10 minutes to complete.  The categories are:

  • General Facility
  • Housing Materials
  • Movement of Resident Horses
  • New Horses
  • Vaccination/Deworming
  • Movement of People On/Off The Horse Facility
  • Pest Control
  • Infection Control
  • Sick Horses
  • Isolation

After completing each section you will be able to calculate your score at the end of the exercise.

 

Welfare Of Horses Transported To Slaughter In Canada: Assessment Of Welfare And Journey Risk Factors Affecting Welfare

shutterstock_268534550This study  was published in the Canadian Journal of Animal Science. The findings of injury to horses are hardly surprising considering the number of unfamiliar horses travelling together in close confines and the rough handling involved whenever animals are being transported to slaughter.

Abstract:

“Injuries in horses transported to slaughter in Canada. Can. J. Anim. Sci. 95: 523–531. Horses transported in groups on long journeys to slaughter are at risk of injury. Injuries can occur following trauma and aggression from other horses. This study quantified injuries in 3940 horses from 150 loads that arrived at a slaughter plant in Canada. Surface injuries were quantified using visual assessment. Digital thermography was used to detect areas of raised surface temperature. Carcasses were assessed for bruising. Multivariable regression analysis was used to examine the associations between journey characteristics and the risk of injury. There was a significant association between journey duration and the number of horses per load with surface injuries (P<0.001). In 100 horses from 40 loads studied in detail, 33% had surface injuries identified by visual assessment, 48% had areas of raised surface temperature identified by thermography and 72% had bruising identified by carcass assessment. The levels of agreement between identification of injury by thermography and that by identification of visible injuries and carcass bruising were low. Pre-transport assessments could not be performed and hence injuries could not be linked causally to the transport conditions alone. However, the detailed assessments of injury and the use of multivariable regression analysis showed that long journeys were associated with injuries.”

The full text of the study,  available here,  makes several interesting observations:

“On the basis of changes in the behaviour and physiology of horses during a 30-h journey, Friend (2000) considered that journey durations in hot conditions, without water, should not exceed 28 h and they should be shorter if there was aggression between horses, the stocking density was high, and the fitness of the horses was less than ideal.”  This suggests that the 36 hour transport limitation is inhumane.

“There are many anecdotal reports and graphic images available on the internet and the effectiveness of the enforcement program in the USA has been called into question (United States Department of Agriculture Office of Inspector General 2010; United States Government Accountability Office (2011).”  This comment seems to question the ability of the USDA and other groups to police slaughter and transport infractions while slaughter was operating in the US.

“Some loads of horses were slaughtered immediately upon arrival, some were lairaged overnight and others were kept for up to 2 d (if they arrived during a weekend).”  This observation refutes statements made by pro-slaughter advocates that there is a “holding period for withdrawal” at slaughter plant lots.  Since most of these horses will arrive from US-based auctions  where they were previously  owned by private individuals,  we can only ask slaughter apologists where the holding time occurs in the chain-of-custody for horses.  Indeed, Under the Health of Animals Regulations Import reference document, section 5, if imported horses are going directly to slaughter they must be:

1. Accompanied by a USA-origin health certificate.

2. Inspected by CFIA at the border on entry into Canada. The load is sealed at this point

3. Licensed by CFIA to be taken directly from the border entry point to a federally registered slaughter plant. The transporter must proceed directly to the plant. The horses may only be transported to the plant designated in the license.

4. CFIA inspectors at the plant will open the sealed load upon its arrival.

5. The plant operator must slaughter the horses within 4 days of their arrival

“For journey origins associated with long journey durations the majority of horses arrived at the slaughter plant with a plasma total protein concentration that was greater than normal and indicative of dehydration.”

“Lameness and poor body condition were not identified as potential issues affecting the fitness of many of the horses that were transported to slaughter. If many very low value horses and/or geriatric horses had been purchased for slaughter then a greater percentage of the horses would have been expected to have been in poor body condition and have shown signs of lameness (Cary and Turner 2006).”  This finding supports observations elsewhere and by the USDA that 92% of horses sent to slaughter are healthy are able to lead productive lives.  It is also suggestive that most horses are not sent to slaughter as a last resort before starvation and that injuries incurred enroute are less likely to be due to poor condition at the outset and more likely to be attributed to travel itself.

Recent Study Findings – 15% Of Horse Transports To Slaughter Exceed 36 Hour Limitation

ayache horse trailer
Dorian Ayache, Three Angels Farm owner and operator, received a shut-down order in 2012 from the DOT stating the motor carrier posed an imminent hazard to public safety. Three Angels Farm had two accidents over an eight month period involving poorly maintained vehicles and fatigued drivers, which not only endangered the public, but also resulted in the death of multiple horses. Ayache was cited for those accidents.

Because it is a business viewed by many as disreputable,  horse transport to slaughter is sometimes accomplished using sub-standard vehicles traveling under cover of darkness,  driven by persons who have already incurred transport violations.  Current regulations allow horses to be transported for up to 36 hours without food, water or rest. Unlike some other species,  horses do not travel well in the company of other unfamiliar horses and often kick, bite,  or trample each other,  leading to serious injury or even death enroute.

There have been many reported cases of animal welfare violations in Canadian horse slaughterhouses including failure to provide food and water, illegal unloading of animals, late stage pregnant mares shipped, and sick or injured animals denied veterinary care.

Not surprisingly, veterinary experts around the world and leading animal protection groups have denounced horse slaughter as inhumane.

For many,  the study below, published in the Canadian Veterinary Journal, merely validates what we have confirmed via Access-To-Information requests and Order Papers submitted to the government.

From the abstract of the study“Patterns and durations of journeys by horses transported from the USA to Canada for slaughter”

Roy RC1, Cockram MS1.

rotz horse transport fire
This truck caught fire with horses aboard, and the driver stopped but neither he nor first responders were able to extinguish the flames. No reason was given for keeping the horses trapped in the trailer as it burned. The truck was pulled over in New York on March 13, 2013 and ordered out of service until repairs and maintenance could be performed. Nine violations were noted in 2011, one of which was a discharged or unsecured fire extinguisher. The horses were reportedly destined for the Viande Richelieu Meat, Inc. slaughterhouse in Massueville, Quebec.

“Concern has been expressed over the welfare of horses transported from the USA for slaughter in Canada. United States Department of Agriculture owner/shipper certificates for the year 2009 were analyzed to provide quantitative information on the patterns and durations of these journeys. In 2009, horses from 16 states in the northern USA were transported to 6 equine slaughter plants in Canada. Thirty-two percent of loads were from auction centers, 33% from feedlots, and 35% from horse collection centers.”

The median duration of the journey was 19 h.  The actual time in transit for the horses was observed as follows:

  • 36% < 6 h
  • 11% for 6 to 18 h
  • 13% for 18 to 24 h
  • 25% for 24 to 36 h
  •  9% for 36 to 48 h
  • ….and apparently 6% > 48 h

“Some journeys exceeded those specified in regulations and, based on other research, would put these horses at risk of negative welfare outcomes, such as dehydration, injury, and fatigue.”

So,  despite the median journey being 19 hours,  a full 15% of the journeys exceeded the 36 hour limitation – 36 -48 hours without rest,  food or water.

 

 

Veterinarians And The ‘Duty To Report’

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Our fight for the horses would be quickly accomplished if there were more veterinarians, farriers and trainers who would stand their ground and speak out.  We need a united front of professionals whose clients are the horses.

Very good analysis from Faunalytics – please also read  the study – Breaking the Silence – the Veterinarian’s Duty to Report by Martine Lachance, Professor,  Department of Juridical Sciences, Université de Québec à Montreal.

“When it comes to the safety and security of companion animals, veterinarians obviously play a crucial role. They are who we turn to when our companions are sick or otherwise need medical attention. In some cases, veterinarians may notice things about the human-animal relationship that is troubling or indicates abuse. While it is common to say that animals can’t speak for themselves, veterinarians may be able to identify abuse or neglect over the course of regular checkups or other procedures. Medical, legal, and other such professions often have a code of professional confidentiality in place that is meant to foster trust with patients, but in the case of veterinarians, this code of confidentiality may be more of a curse than a blessing.

This paper examines the code of professional confidentiality in the veterinary field and discusses how that code may not apply in the same ways because veterinarians have dual clients — the animals and their guardians. This tension between animal welfare and professional secrecy is largely due to the need to “minimize needless animal suffering” and to “provide full legal protection to the client-practitioner relationship,” respectively. What happens, though, if veterinarians notice something where the client-practitioner relationship needs to be set aside to protect the interests of the animal? In this sense, veterinarians are often the first line of defence for animals as they are the first people who are in a position to detect abuse. And so, we arrive at two important questions:

“Is a practitioner morally justified to report suspected cases of abuse to the appropriate authorities? If so, is the professional legally authorized to report the case even when bound by the rule of professional secrecy?”

While the answers may seem simple to animal advocates, the implications for veterinary practice could be profound. The right to professional secrecy is considered by many to be a “fundamental right” and an essential component of the medical legal framework. Still, this does not mean there aren’t exceptions, even in the human world. The field of pediatrics has long recognized the importance of putting in provisions where a doctor has a “duty to report” in situations of neglect or abuse of a child.

Some states in the U.S. (North Carolina, Georgia, Maine, Maryland, New York, and Oregon) have laws stating that veterinarians have a “moral obligation” (which is not the same as a legal obligation) to “report suspicious cases of mistreatment” of animals. In Canada, only Ontario has provisions for this, though they are also voluntary. With mandatory reporting, it may “appear to resolve the ethical dilemma of the practitioner,” but enforcing this mandatory reporting is also difficult. Practitioners may feel that they have a duty of conscience to report, but not a legal duty.

What’s more, the failure to report abuse often “does not expose professionals to any disciplinary consequences: any resulting professional penalties, being neither physical nor monetary, do not seem to carry the same weight as legal penalties.” While the legal duty to report abuse is currently in place in eight U.S. states (Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Oklahoma, and West Virginia) and two provinces (Newfoundland/Labrador and Quebec), “the actual exercise of the duty to report occurs almost as infrequently in the United States as the actual exercise of the right to report under voluntary disclosure.”

Where does this leave companion animal advocates and, more importantly, companion animals? The author doesn’t have solutions, per se, as creating provisions for the duty to report and enforcing those provisions are both very difficult legal tasks. The author does put forth the hope that codes of silence around reporting animal abuse can be broken down and that, as societies around the world become more attuned to the suffering of animals, we will see increasing importance placed on the duty to report. Professional veterinary associations, the author notes, may have an especially important role to play, to “help practitioners gain a better understanding of animal cruelty, the legal rules of disclosure, and the most appropriate response in such cases.” For animal advocates, this article gives a great deal to think about how we might also do our part in raising awareness of these issues.”

Progressive Pet Simulation-Based Veterinary Learning Paradigms Expand

Pferde-Gyn-Simulator
Researchers at the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna have shown that simulator-based training can be extremely efficient to achieve learning outcomes in veterinary gynaecology.

What began with the world’s first robotic rescue dog for medical training is evolving into a new teaching paradigm in veterinary medicine.  Simulator-based training of students at Vetmeduni Vienna has been part of the curriculum since 2012. The Skills Lab is a simulated veterinary practice in which students have the chance to train in a variety of veterinary interventions in a near-realistic setup on animal dummies.

Simulations like this have been used to teach human doctors for decades. The idea is to bridge pre-clinical learning and actual clinical experience, letting students practice applying what they’ve learned in a safe setting before the stakes get high.

A study of the effectiveness of the simulator was based on recordings of the students’ heart rate and salivary cortisol concentration during the training sessions and tests. The results of that work were published recently in the scientific journal, Reproduction in Domestic Animals.

The results from these studies are encouraging and progressive,  and we hope that the curriculum will be adopted by other institutions.

Another topic we hope will be covered more progressively with veterinary students is the issue of horse slaughter.  Far too often we hear from veterinarians who are unfamiliar with food safety standards,  the inhumanity of transport,  and drug prohibitions in horses sent to slaughter.  Instead,  many equine veterinarians often let their clients’ opinion and prejudice determine whether they take a public stance on slaughter.  Respect and integrity shape the public perception of veterinarians – please know that in Canada,  64% of Canadians polled are opposed to horse slaughter.