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

Headliner: Veterinarian Petitions For Inclusiveness, Transparency in AVMA

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) is concerned about the shrinking proportion of veterinarians belonging to the AVMA. The reasons for the trend aren’t entirely known, but about two out of 10 of new veterinary school graduates don’t join. If the AVMA truly believes it is powered by veterinarians and that members are at the heart of organizational decision making, the leadership needs to allow members a peek inside the inner workings. Veterinarians are scientists who rely on our powers of observation, and not wholly on the narratives given to us, to make decisions.

Veterinarian Gail Hansen, epidemiologist in Washington, D.C. was, therefore, disappointed by not being allowed open access to the most recent meeting of the AVMA House of Delegates.

“In my veterinary career, I worked in private clinical practice for 13 years, served in public health for 27 years, and was a 2008-09 AVMA Congressional Science Fellow. I have taught veterinary students, developed public health policy, furthered One Health, and promoted veterinarians and veterinary medicine. Over the years, I have put myself forward as a volunteer for AVMA committees, but after several rejections, have given up volunteering for AVMA committee assignments. I have volunteered in both state and local veterinary associations in a variety of positions. During my 40-year AVMA membership, I have not unconditionally agreed with every resolution or position but had believed that the AVMA overall was benefitting the profession, animals and me, and was a place for openness.”

She continued: “Lately it appears that the AVMA’s commitment to advance the shared core values of innovation, being member-centric, inclusive and supportive needs work. The leadership needs to figure out how to include more veterinarians in its governance and provide transparency to its members.”

High Suicide Rates Reflect the Many Stresses Experienced by Veterinarians

Many veterinarians face a mountain of debt after medical school and struggle to cope with the trauma endured by pets, the emotional distress and stressful social interactions in a line of work where the patient can’t speak, and pet owners facing life and death decisions.

Veterinarians are 2.7 times more likely than the general public to die by suicide, according to a 2020 study from Merck Animal Health in partnership with the American Veterinary Medical Association. Female veterinarians have higher levels of suicidal thoughts, but male veterinarians have a higher rate of suicide attempts, the study found.

Jordan benShea, the executive director of the VIN Foundation, has seen some of the struggles veterinarians share with the network firsthand. “I think the two most challenging factors in the veterinary profession right now are mental health and student debt, and they play off each other,” benShea said.

On the topic of euthanasia, Dr. Zachary Ward, coordinator at UC Davis’ VetMed counselling service, says: “Veterinarians have much greater access to the means that they would use to end their life, and are quite literally been trained on how to euthanize another living thing,” he said. “They’ve really come to understand that euthanasia can be a viable treatment plan for suffering and it can be a natural next step for them to think that it could be a viable treatment plan for their own suffering.”

Useful helplines if you feel you are struggling:


Mental Health America – call 1-800-985-5990 or text “TalkWithUs” to 66746 

State Wellbeing Programs for Veterinary Professionals – Numerous states have wellbeing programs to help veterinary personnel and their families.

National Suicide Prevention Helpline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)


Mind charity – call 0300 123 3393

Remploy aims to help people remain in (or return to) their role after experiencing mental ill health – call 0300 4568114

Rethink Mental Illness – call 0300 5000 927

Samaritans – call 116 123


Beyond Blue – call 1300 22 4636

Mental Health Australia – access the website (linked) for a list of resources

Lifeline Australia – 131 114

RSPCA Reveals Number of Animals Helped in Their Hospitals During Pandemic

The RSPCA has released figures showing its hospitals cared for more than 22,000 animals during the 2020 pandemic.

Several thousand operations were carried out by hospital staff despite difficult circumstances – as well as 2,495 animals neutered, 6,261 vaccinated and 2,027 microchipped – once the rules were relaxed to allow these procedures.

Chief vet at the RSPCA Caroline Allen said: “2020 was a busy and challenging year for the veterinary profession as a whole, and the RSPCA was no exception…I am very proud of the work our fantastic teams have achieved, and the procedures carried out by our hardworking hospitals and centres. Our staff have remained dedicated to animals throughout the coronavirus pandemic.”

Dr Allen added: “We are also very grateful to all the vets in private practice across the country who have supported our inspectorate and animal centres, and provided veterinary care for RSPCA animals during this very difficult period.”

Veterinary Software Market Expected to Reach $2.08 billion by 2027

According to the report published by Allied Market Research, the global veterinary software market was estimated at $1.31 billion in 2019 and is expected to hit $2.08 billion by 2027.

A rise in companion animal ownership, increase in need for streamlining daily tasks in veterinary hospitals, and surge in expenditure on animal health fuel the growth of the global veterinary software market. On the other hand, lack of veterinary infrastructure facilities in underdeveloped countries impedes the growth to some extent. However, growing adoption of cloud-based technologies and potential opportunities in developing markets are anticipated to pave the way for lucrative opportunities in the coming years.

The outbreak of Covid-19 led to increased demand for companion animals, since most of the people are working from home and they have adequate time to spend with their pets. This has been utterly advantageous for the veterinary software industry.

At the same time, the global market for veterinary software is expected to boom even post pandemic, as the software offers custom client communications and telehealth & remote monitoring solutions.

The full report can be accessed here:

VetPartners Commits to Sustainability and Charity Goals

Practice group VetPartners has set out ambitious plans to reduce its carbon footprint, cut waste and boost its charitable activities.

The group – which has 142 veterinary practices and 5,514 employees in more than 400 sites – has launched its first sustainability strategy, the “VetPartners Sustainability Strategy: Looking Forward Together”.

It commits to a range of short and long-term goals to put sustainability at the heart of everything the company does, including: Measuring its carbon footprint, and setting reduction targets for 2026 and 2030; Diverting at least 90% of waste from landfill; Making sustainability training available to all team members; Volunteering at least 5,000 hours and raising a minimum of £50,000 for charity every year.

Jo Malone, chief executive of VetPartners, said: “VetPartners was founded on the values of caring for and respecting animals and people, and that includes looking after future generations by protecting the environment that we all rely on. We know that our colleagues care deeply about this.

“The response to the first steps on our sustainability journey has been overwhelmingly positive. The veterinary sector has a huge amount to offer: veterinary professionals are highly skilled and passionate, so they’re ideally placed to understand and share new ideas and sustainable ways of working.”

Animal Wellbeing Centres in Bhutan Face a Struggle

The wellbeing centres looking after injured animals are struggling with shortage of staff, food items and medical supplies amid the lockdown.

Animal caring associations such as Jangsa Animal Saving Trust (JAST), Bhutan Animal Rescue and Care (BARC) and Maya Foundation-Barnyard Bhutan Animal Rescue and Sanctuary are desperately waiting for the government to end the lockdown to provide proper services.

Jangsa Animal Saving Trust’s (JAST)  programme manager, Sonam Norzin said that the association had stored rice and other food items before lockdown. However, he said the food stock may not be sufficient if the lockdown continues.

He said that animals undergoing active treatment and care at the shelter were short of medical supplies but procuring the needed supplies becomes a challenge.  “We are trying to manage and put in our effort to ensure that the animals are not deprived of their most basic needs.”

Referral Centre in Wiltshire, UK Treats World-First Dual Penis Dog

The case was seen by Tim Charlesworth, head of surgery, who shared details of the case. The dog was a seven-month-old Jack Russell Terrier which had been referred suffering from urinary incontinence and preputial pruritus. 

Tim said: “We believe this is the first reported case of complete unilateral duplication of the urinary tract in a dog presenting with incontinence…The dog concerned was born with a duplex or ‘double’ left kidney. Each section of the left kidney drained urine via separate ureters into the prostate gland. Its urinary bladder was also divided into separate left and right compartments, each of which then drained through separate urethras that coursed through separate penises.”

“The two penises were both stuck within a prepuce designed for one which was causing the dog’s pruritus or ‘itching’ of the penis. The incontinence was caused by the left ectopic ureters.” 

Tim was faced with the challenge of devising a surgical strategy that would resolve the dog’s clinical signs. He said: “The left kidney was severely dilated and was deemed to be non-functional and so the dog underwent surgery for the removal of the affected left kidney and ureters; the two halves of the bladder were united by ablation of the septum between these two cavities; the left urethra was transected and the left penis amputated to allow the right penis to have room to fully fit within the prepuce.”

The Joy of Steps: 20 Ways to Give Purpose to Your Daily Walk

Amy Fleming writes for the Guardian: The weather is rubbish, there is nowhere to go and, bereft of the joys of spring, the daily lockdown walk can feel pointless. But, of course, it is not: the mental and physical health perks of exercise are immune to seasonal changes. We need to gallivant around outside in daylight so that our circadian rhythms can regulate sleep and alertness. (Yes, even when the sky is resolutely leaden, it is still technically daylight.) Walking warms you up, too; when you get back indoors, it will feel positively tropical.

But if meeting these basic needs isn’t enough to enthuse you, there are myriad ways to add purpose to your stride and draw your attention to the underappreciated joys of winter walking.

Read the full article here: 

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