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Catch up on this week’s top headlines in the veterinary sphere, presented by VetX International

Headliner: ‘Self-Care Is Not Negotiable’ Says AVMA

Self-care is not negotiable, especially during times like these, said Jen Brandt, PhD, the director of well-being, diversity, and inclusion initiatives at the AVMA, referring to the pandemic and more.

“We are in unprecedented times. We are also in the midst of a call for racial justice, to prevent police brutality, and to end systemic racism,” she said. “One of the challenges, when we are in the midst of such difficult times, is that sometimes we don’t alter our expectations. We expect we should be able to operate at previous levels, and that’s not reality.”

She said there are several signs of stress to look for, including changes in sleeping or eating, difficulty concentrating, and increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs. Racism-induced trauma also has a cumulative effect on an individual’s mental and physical health, and a racial empathy gap perpetuates racial disparities.

Some people may see mental health and racial justice as not veterinary concerns, she said, but issues that impact humanity are relevant to all veterinary professionals.

Dr. Brandt said: “COVID-19 is a public health issue. Mental health is a public health issue. Racism is a public health issue. Veterinarians take an oath to promote public health.”

She suggested that if team members are experiencing stress to not try to fix the problem or advise them unless explicitly asked to do so. Just listen.

“Ask questions like, ‘How can I be most helpful to you right now?’” Dr. Brandt said.

Celebrating 100 Years of the Australian Veterinary Association

This year, 2021, the voice of Australia’s veterinary profession, the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA), celebrates its centenary.

“From small beginnings, something strong has grown— we can be proud of what the AVA has achieved over the last 100 years, and it’s the perfect time to celebrate the achievements of veterinarians and the profession,” AVA president Dr Warwick Vale said.

“The AVA is committed to empowering the veterinary profession to thrive by providing a strong and united voice, underpinned by a focus on support, education and community.”

“The veterinary profession and the leadership delivered by the AVA over the last 100 years in animal welfare disease prevention and veterinary services has been a key part of the success of Australia,” Dr Vale said.

“Veterinarians provide unique and vital services that are essential to our community. Australians can feel proud of our veterinarians in the contribution they have made to animal health and welfare of pets, farm animals and wildlife over the last 100 years—at a local, national and international level.”

The veterinary profession has diversified over the last century, seeing increasing specialisation and technological developments such as the use of veterinary telemedicine, but there remains a common bond which links veterinarians together—a focus on keeping a strong professional identity which is supported by the AVA.

AVMA & AAVMC Announce Diversity, Equity, Inclusion Commission

The Commission for a Diverse, Equitable, and Inclusive Veterinary Profession will work to drive change within the veterinary profession, expand the pipeline to include more people from diverse backgrounds, and encourage welcoming workplaces.

“Sustainable, long-term change can only come about if dedicated and influential partners from across our profession, including academia and industry, join together to identify challenges and implement solutions,” said Dr. Douglas Kratt, president of the AVMA, and Dr. Mark D. Markel, president of the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges, in a joint statement. “The commission will establish actionable goals that promote DEI throughout the veterinary community.”

The commission is co-chaired by Dr. Ruby L. Perry, AAVMC secretary and dean of Tuskegee University College of Veterinary Medicine, and Dr. Christine Jenkins, chief medical officer and vice president of veterinary medical services and outcomes research of U.S. operations at Zoetis.

“I commend the leadership of our professional organization at the AVMA and the AAVMC for noting that there is a need and now is the time to act to make our profession more diverse, equitable, and inclusive,” Dr. Perry said.

BVA to Appeal to Owners to Respect Vet Teams

The BVA has made a renewed appeal directly to animal owners to respect veterinary teams dealing with adjusted working in the new lockdowns.

In a statement, BVA president James Russell said animal owners needed to respect the clinical judgement of their vets and vet nurses in deciding whether their animals needed to be seen face to face. He has also sought to remind them if they visit the practice they must abide by the strict social distancing and biosecurity measures in place.

He said: “This is a serious public health crisis and it’s vital that we all play a role in stopping the spread of COVID. Veterinary care is still available, but it’s not business as usual. Vets are being asked to restrict the range of services they can provide during these new lockdown periods to support the strong ‘stay at home’ message.”

Mr Russell added: “During the first lockdown we heard worrying reports of clients being abusive to veterinary teams when new measures were put in place. This behaviour cannot be tolerated.”

VetPartners Expands in Italy

VetPartners has continued its expansion in Italy with the acquisition of four practices.

Centro Medico Veterinario Montecchio, a small animal clinic in Vicenza, has joined the VetPartners family of practices in Italy, along with Clinica Veterinary Colombo, a small animal practice in Camaiore, near Tuscany, and Clinica Veterinary Europa, a small animal practice in Florence.

Ospedale S Lucia in Verona, the main 24-hour practice in Verona, is the latest practice to join VetPartners Italy.

VetPartners is now preparing for further growth and expects to have doubled its number of practices in Italy by the end of the month (January) after entering due diligence with three other businesses.

The group’s Italy managing director David Giraldi is preparing to welcome more practices to the group after expansion was curtailed due to covid-19. “There is so much enthusiasm for what we are creating in Italy and, even in uncertain times, there is great opportunity,” he said.

How the Pandemic Puppy Surge and Covid Regulations are Taking Their Toll on Australian Vets

The COVID-19 pandemic saw an increase of people getting a pet, which saw an increase of people needing the services of a vet. This, coupled with COVID restrictions on how vets can operate their business, has had a severe impact on the well-being of veterinarians.

Veterinarians quickly adapted to performing their consultations on pets outside of their vet hospitals – kerbside, or the pets were brought into the vet hospital for examination without the pet owners. Veterinary telemedicine was also utilised for assessing patients.

“As daily COVID-19 cases continued to rise, we decided that it was safest to adopt kerbside consultations as it is virtually impossible to socially distance from clients when animals have to almost always be held or restrained for examination,” explained Melbourne veterinarian Dr Emma Robb, who in her almost two decades of veterinary practice, had never seen anything like it. 

“My mental health was not affected, however I was genuinely concerned about some of my full time colleagues. I also suspect we will see an increased demand for assessment of behavioural issues in pets and also for airway disease presentations given the numbers of ‘oodles’ and brachycephalic breeds purchased,” she said.

The Pet Memorial Tree Planting Scheme Acknowledges the Link Between Pets and Mental Wellbeing

A specialist animal hospital in County Durham, UK has launched a memorial tree-planting scheme to acknowledge the key part that pets play in providing mental wellbeing support to families.

A dawn redwood tree has been planted outside the hospital in memory of pets who have passed away and to also acknowledge the importance of pets in the lives of those they meet.

Ben Harris, clinical director at Wear Referrals, spearheaded the tree planting initiative.

He said: “As well as our own personal experience of our bond with pets, every day we see how pets are central to people’s lives.”

“We want to leave a long-lasting tribute to all of those pets who are lost by loving families, and for every pet who passes away or is put to sleep at our hospital, we will dedicate a tree with Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust…Pet owners will be able to visit the developing woodland in future and will receive a certificate to record their planting.”

How Veterinarians are Working to Home Singapore’s Stray Dog Population

An influx of complaints have been made regarding the growing stray dog population in Singapore. Large numbers of cyclists venturing into the Tuas South area has led to complaints being made about chasing and biting incidents involving dogs.

Animal welfare group Causes for Animals Singapore (CAS) is collaborating with veterinarians in an effort to manage the stray dog population – so far finding homes for 60 dogs.

“At the moment, [stray dogs] are cared for by kind feeders, who look out for them, clean up after their meals, feed at the latest of hours so they avoid having the dogs gathering for meals when too many workers are around,” said CAS. 

“The Animal and Veterinary Service (AVS) will also be putting up signs to alert cyclists about the presence of stray dogs in the area. Let’s help to keep a lookout for each other and pass the word around,” said Transport Minister Mr Ong. 

“The authorities will try to balance the needs of the wider public. We too can all play a part, exercise some give-and-take, and learn to coexist.” He added.

The Role of Sleep in Mental Health

“There are many different ways of telling the story of our lives, ranging from an optimistic tale of progress mixed with noble defeats to a tragic narrative of thorough-going stupidity and unforgivable errors. What can determine the difference between madness and sanity may be nothing grander, but then again nothing more critical, than how long our minds have been allowed to lie on a pillow in the preceding hours.”

So poetically put by philosopher, Alain de Botton. In other words: sleep is important. We all know this, but still fail to set aside enough time for a restful night’s sleep, and fall into an unhealthy pattern.

In this article, de Botton explores how sleep is inextricably linked to mental health (in both the long and short term). He even gives a squirrel based tip:

“When we lie in bed, it makes sense to think of ourselves as akin to a smaller, furry mammal, a rabbit or perhaps a squirrel. We should lift our knees up very close to our chests and pull the duvet over our heads. We might soak a whole patch of the pillow with our tears. We should – metaphorically – stroke our own weary foreheads as a loving adult might once have done. Grown-up life is intolerably hard and we should be allowed to know and lament this.”

Read the full article here: 

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