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

Identity Thefts Sentenced for Stealing $46,000 from Veterinary Clinic, Sacramento

The Rancho Cordova veterinary clinic, Sacramento, has been involved in an identity theft scheme which saw $46,000 worth of goods and cash stolen, as well as clients’ personal and financial information.

An employee of the practice, the first defendant also used her pet-sitting work to find other victims and provided the sensitive information to her partner, who then used victims’ financial accounts to make purchases and used the victims’ identities to open new accounts and make purchases with those fraudulent accounts.

According to a news release issued from U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott’s office, the pair obtained over $46,000 in items and cash. They have pleaded guilty to access device fraud and aggravated identity theft and face up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

35% of UK Pet Owners Consider Changing Practices 

A recent study by Bluetree Group, a Type IIR surgical face mask manufacturer, has revealed that one in three pet owners would consider changing practices if their vet’s face mask wasn’t up to scratch.

40-50% of the 2000 people surveyed across the country were concerned about the standard of veterinarians’ masks. 26% of respondents said they would ask their vet to prove their medical grade face mask meets the certified standard and 22% of pet owners said they would expect their vet to wear a medical grade face mask during routine checkups for the foreseeable future.

James Kinsella, Director at Bluetree Group, said: “During such an unprecedented time, it’s no surprise that people are worried about the use of face masks. It is clear that the public has strong feelings about the quality of face masks in practices, with a third of pet owners saying they are worried about the standard of their vet’s face mask. It’s encouraging to see that where expectations are not met, people will seek an alternative.

“The majority of people admit they would not be able to identify a fake face mask, however it is encouraging that a third of those we spoke to would have the confidence to take action and change their vet if they didn’t think their face mask was up to standard.”

A Focus on Health Topics Affecting Women in the Veterinary Profession, UK

The organisation Veterinary Woman has launched a new initiative to run throughout October and November, tackling issues women face in the veterinary profession. A series of live interviews, articles and surveys will be on offer to explore the impact on women – but including all genders – regarding breast cancer, menopause, infertility and baby loss. The initiative plans to find ways the profession can better support affected individuals in the workplace.

Liz Barton, editor of Veterinary Woman, said: “I have been incredibly moved to see the deep empathy and encouragement among veterinary colleagues beginning to open up about the impact of health challenges – particularly at work.”

“When I realised the campaigns in October were topics we need to talk about more as a profession, it seemed right to use this as a platform to tackle some of the hidden, emotive health challenges we bear throughout our life and work.”

For more information:

University of Nottingham, UK Launches First Degree Apprenticeship for Veterinary Professionals

The University of Nottingham has launched the country’s first masters-level veterinary degree apprenticeship programme to support the transition from graduate veterinary surgeons to well-rounded, experienced general practice clinicians.

The program has been developed with employers to ensure that the syllabus is as relevant as possible and will prepare graduates for the future. 

A spokesperson for University of Nottingham’s School of Veterinary Medicine and Science said: “This groundbreaking programme is the first of its kind in the veterinary sector and is another innovative step for Nottingham. The degree apprenticeship is open to both new graduates and more experienced vets and will provide a mechanism for supporting newly qualified vets through their Professional Development Phase as well as developing those who wish to advance their clinical practice skills.”

Upon completion of the programme, apprentices will be awarded an MSc Advanced Clinical Practice (Veterinary), which also includes an introductory phase that will support PDP, and a Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons Certificate in Advanced Veterinary Practice (Cert AVP).

New Resource Aids Veterinary Clinics in US during the Aftermath of Suicide

AVMA, NAVTA, and other veterinary groups have partnered on a free resource to support clinics in the aftermath of an employee suicide. 

Published as part of National Suicide Prevention Month (September), After a Suicide: A Guide for Veterinary Workplaces offers “postvention” strategies managers can implement within veterinary workspaces should an employee die by suicide.

“Supporting veterinary medical professionals in the aftermath of a colleague’s suicide is vital,” says AFSP’s chief medical officer, Christine Moutier, MD. “Because suicide loss survivors can develop significant grief and even physical and mental health issues if not appropriately supported, postvention is a critical step and is actually part of suicide prevention. The appropriate handling of the aftermath of a suicide in a veterinary office can pave the way for a workplace culture that is smart about mental health.”

“An employee’s suicide has a deep and disturbing impact on survivors, including coworkers,” adds VHMA’s president, Michelle Gonzales-Bryant, CVPM. “Managers who have had to support and comfort employees in the wake of such a tragedy understand the importance of offering grief counseling and other actions to support employees, mitigate the impact of the trauma, and prevent further loss.”

Access the guide here:

Magawa the mine-detecting rat wins PDSA Gold Medal

An African giant pouched rat has been awarded a prestigious gold medal for his work detecting land mines. Magawa has sniffed out 39 landmines and 28 unexploded munitions in his career! Indeed, there are thought to be up to six million landmines in the southeast Asian country.

The UK veterinary charity PDSA has presented Magawa with its Gold Medal for “life-saving devotion to duty, in the location and clearance of deadly landmines in Cambodia”.

PDSA’s Gold Medal is inscribed with the words “For animal gallantry or devotion to duty”. Of the 30 animal recipients of the award, Magawa is the first rat.

The seven-year-old rodent was trained by the Belgium-registered charity Apopo, which is based in Tanzania and has been raising the animals – known as HeroRATs – to detect landmines and tuberculosis since the 1990s. The animals are certified after a year of training.

“To receive this medal is really an honour for us,” Apopo chief executive Christophe Cox told the Press Association news agency. “But also it is big for the people in Cambodia, and all the people around the world who are suffering from landmines.”

Read more here:

New Service in Australia Helps Pet Owners in Remote Areas

AMRRIC, or Animal Management in Rural and Remote Indigenous Communities, has been working hard to improve the health outcomes for companion animals in remote communities across Australia.

Due to restrictions around the COVID-19 pandemic, roughly 27,500 dogs have had reduced access to veterinary services and parasite protection—some have had absences of vet services for more than 12 months. In addition, since the tick-borne disease Ehrlichiosis was discovered in the Kimberley in May, there have been worries about its spread.

Following the resumption of remote travel, teams of veterinary service providers from AMRRIC and its partners have been on the road non-stop delivering veterinary services with parasite protection. 

“AMRRIC works with our partners to provide support for companion animals in remote communities—when animals are healthy, people and communities are healthy,” AMRRIC CEO Dr Brooke Rankmore said.

“Ehrlichiosis poses a massive threat to the health of not only dogs but the whole community. By providing anti-parasitic medications to at-risk communities, the threat posed by ticks infected with the Ehrlichiosis bacteria is lessened.”

UK Veterinary Practices Back to 82% of Pre-lockdown Revenue

Veterinary Insights, a business intelligence provider, says it calculates that revenue in UK companion animal practices has now recovered to 82% of pre-lockdown levels. 

However, this does not account for losses in products typically sold in the waiting room: sales of pet food dropped by 44% during early lockdown, and still down by 25% compared with February’s figures.

Furthermore, there are also significant business stresses that may not be captured in current revenue data. Alexander Arpino, Managing Director of Veterinary Insights, said: “Anecdotally, we’re hearing that vets are increasingly hard-pressed for time, with logistical difficulties arising from social distancing. Consults are taking longer, and there’s an additional headache for receptionists as payments have to be collected afterwards over the phone.”

One-Minute Stress Strategies for the Busy Veterinarian

Although these strategies are simple – and only last one minute – they can make a huge difference to how you handle stress.

  1. Tension release: tense your muscles one area at a time and enjoy the relaxation upon release.
  2. Deep breathing: When tense, we often breathe from the upper chest. A full, deep breath helps relieve tension. Hold your breath for at least three seconds and then let your breath out all at once.
  3. Focussed breathing: When our minds are filled with stressful thoughts, our bodies become stressed. Focusing on body processes can help calm mental activity, which in turn can result in physical relaxation. As you are breathing, become aware of your bodily functions and sensations.
  4. Ideal relaxation: this requires deep visualisation of a relaxing place. Using all senses, feel yourself in comfortable clothes, hear pleasant sounds, see beautiful colors.
  5. 4-7-8 breathing: Inhale quietly through your nose to the count of four and then hold your breath to the count of seven. Finally, exhale with sound through your mouth to the count of eight.

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