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The weekly rundown of veterinary news for the time-poor vet, presented by VetX International

Receptionist Jailed for Taking £100,000 from Veterinary Practice in Scotland

A receptionist of Greenside Veterinary Practice in St Boswells, Scotland has been sentenced to 12 months after embezzling £100,000 between January 2016 to February 2019.

Depute fiscal Fiona Hamilton said there was no regular check of her work but at the end of 2015 and start of 2016, a financial discrepancy was raised by a manager. She continued: “It was explained by the accused and no further action taken…however, the Practice was then sold and errors continued to be noticed.” 

Ms Hamilton said that even after the receptionist left the Practice in 2019, staff noticed she had been accessing the computer system remotely “to try and cover it up”. 

Defence lawyer Ed Hulme said: “She was trusted in her role and there was no oversight of her work and somehow this went undetected for a period of three years.

“The firm’s book-keeper queried the discrepancies between the accounts and books and management wrote it off…if there had been any inquiry by the employers this would have been caught much earlier.”

Campaign in US Aims to Keep Pets and Owners Together Amid Domestic Violence

Purina’s Purple Leash Project aims to protect domestic abuse survivors and their pets by making emergency shelters across the US pet friendly. While 70 percent of domestic violence survivors report their abuser threatened, injured, or killed a pet as a means of control, fewer than 10 percent of shelters in the U.S. allow pets. As such, nearly half of victims delay leaving their abuser in an effort to protect their pet from the inherent danger of being left behind, Purina says.

Funds raised through the Purple Lease Project will go toward transforming shelters into pet-friendly spaces, allowing humans and animals to heal together, the company says. This is particularly important amidst the pandemic, as this period has seen an increase in domestic abuse incidents.

“The bond we share with our pets is unbreakable, but for women and men suffering from domestic violence, abusers will often use pets to threaten and manipulate their victims,” says Purina’s president, Nina Leigh Krueger. “That’s why it’s critical to pave a way for survivors to leave abuse with their pets in tow, to protect the bond they share and begin the healing process together.”

CVMA Establishes Diversity and Inclusion Working Group

The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association has established a diversity and inclusion working group which aims to “formulate a definition of diversity and inclusion specifically related to veterinary medicine in Canada” and “identify high priority steps to further address this issue and help ensure our support of inclusion and diversity within the Canadian veterinary profession, and our desire to see all people treated with dignity and respect is experienced by our members.”

This new initiative is part of the CVMA’s continuing commitment to develop and make accessible its services without bias and to promote diversity and inclusion. 

A spokesperson for the CVMA said: “The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) commits to diversity and inclusion and rejects discrimination or harassment based on grounds such as race, colour, ancestry, ethnic origin, place of origin, age, creed, religion, sex, gender identity, family status, marital status, or disability. We affirm that each human being is valuable and deserves to be treated with dignity and respect…We support the open dialogue of our membership on these issues and stand united with our veterinarians, veterinary students and allied veterinary team members who face discrimination.”

Veterinary Professor David Argyle at Centre of Bullying Claims at Edinburgh University

RCVS Vice President Professor David Argyle is facing allegations of bullying at the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, Edinburgh. A report in the Times claims that 20 staff have left following conflicts with Professor Argyle and an investigation by the University and College Union (UCU) found “shocking levels of harassment”.

A UCU spokesperson added: “UCU raised the very serious concerns on a culture of bullying and harassment at the university’s veterinary school with the employer last year, and has been working together with senior management to address these issues. We will be discussing the next steps with management and we will consult with our members to gauge their views on the plans to improve working conditions”.

Simplified Retirement Plan in US Alleviates Burden of Paperwork 

According to a recent AVMA Trust survey, 40 percent of independent practice owners do not currently offer a retirement plan to their employees.In light of this, the new AVMA Trust Retirement Plan is being offered to all members who are practice owners or self-employed veterinarians. 

The plan, AVMA says, offers simplified administration, a variety of investment options, reduced fiduciary burden, and customization to meet a business’s objectives. Additional benefits include a dedicated online platform with quantitative and qualitative insights and reports; participant education, including online learning for investors; personalized consulting services; and support and training from financial advisors.

“We are thrilled to announce this new retirement plan for practice owners and self-employed members,” says AVMA’s president, Douglas Kratt, DVM. “The plan will alleviate virtually all the administrative burden of managing retirement plans from veterinarians and allow them to focus more time and energy on running their businesses and caring for patients.”

Zoos Victoria and RSPCA Victoria Collaborate to Build New Koala Hospital

A $1.84 hospital for koalas and other precious wildlife is in the making and to be built at Werribee Open Range Zoo, Melbourne.

The new koala hospital will treat wildlife from the western regions of the state and complement the existing wildlife hospitals at Healesville Sanctuary and Melbourne Zoo.

Once complete, the new hospital will increase the zoo’s capacity to care for koalas, native birds, reptiles and mammals in Victoria’s western regions by up to 400 per cent. It will also equip Zoos Victoria’s team of wildlife experts with greater resources to respond during bushfire emergencies.

“We’re very excited to be partnering with Zoos Victoria to build a new, state-of-the-art koala hospital for Victoria—made possible by the generous donors who supported our bushfire appeal last summer,” RSPCA Victoria CEO Dr Liz Walker said.

Construction of the facility is slated to commence in early 2021.

Waste from Veterinary Clinic Pollutes Riverbank in Rawang, Malaysia

Volunteers have recently stumbled upon large amounts of clinical waste suspected to be from a local private veterinary clinic. Department of Environment (DoE) director-general Norlin Jaafar said the waste had not only polluted the river, but could spread infectious diseases to the local community.

“We suspect a clinic near the riverbank (is responsible for the waste) and I have directed Selangor DoE to take the evidence to the Chemistry Department for investigation so that action could be taken against the offender,” she said.

She claimed the investigation could be carried out under Section 34B of the Environmental Quality Act 1974 and Environmental Quality Regulations (Scheduled Wastes) 2005, which provides for five years’ imprisonment and a fine not exceeding RM500,000 upon conviction.

Being Optimistic in a Pessimistic World

With the US elections, the current pandemic (need we mention it), the climate crisis and the economic downturn, it is all too easy to fall into a pessimistic spiral. Indeed, Generation Z have been termed ‘doomers’ because of a distinct sense of pessimism and, well, doom.

How can you cultivate optimism when everyone around you is complaining?

Firstly, if you believe you’re a ‘born pessimist’, think again. Research has shown that you can in fact change your thinking patterns to become more optimistic. Even spending 5 minutes at the start of your day to meditate on positive thoughts, or to write down three to five things you are grateful for, can change the way you think in the long term.

Secondly, it’s important to establish healthy boundaries with people who chronically choose to stay stuck in their own misery. It may also mean distancing yourself a bit from a relative who insists on sharing his latest predictions about the end of the world. Limit your media intake as well. Watching too many tragic stories on the news or consuming too much political news on social media can decrease your ability to maintain a “glass half full” outlook.

Finally, acknowledge when you are thinking negatively. It’s okay to have negative thoughts sometimes – in fact, it’s only natural. However, it is once we identify with them and they begin to consume us that they have a far reaching impact. A healthy outlook would be to remind yourself that all you can do is your best and you’ll be OK, regardless of the outcome.

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