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Lane endowment creates veterinary career options
By Patti Drapala
MSU Ag Communications
MISSISSIPPI STATE – An outreach program that Mississippi State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine developed with a special endowment and supplemental gifts is creating new career opportunities in shelter animal medicine and community service for future graduates.
Lowndes County resident Marcia Lane established an endowed chair in Humane Ethics and Animal Welfare in January 2006 to help the college develop supportive relationships with animal sheltering organizations. Her endowment also allowed the college to begin other service activities, such as Homeward Bound dog adoption, Rural Area Veterinary Services, Safe Haven for pets of families escaping domestic violence, disaster response and animal care/welfare education for schoolchildren.
Contributions to the college’s Humane Ethics and Animal Welfare Support Fund have also enhanced the college’s ability to assist Mississippi’s veterinary community in finding solutions to animal overpopulation problems. The college works with eight animal shelters and local veterinarians to provide quality health care to animals in these facilities and to promote their rehabilitation and placement in loving homes.
“Unfortunately, three out of four dogs and cats brought to pounds and shelters in the United States are euthanized,” said shelter medicine coordinator Dr. Philip Bushby, who is the Marcia Lane Endowed Professor of Humane Ethics and Animal Welfare. “A few have untreatable behavior or health problems, but the majority are healthy and worthy as pets. Some shelters have overcrowding problems, which leaves them no choice if no one adopts the animals.”
The generosity of Lane and other benefactors provided the college with an opportunity to include animal shelter medicine as a course elective. This step enhances the training of veterinary medical students and gives them a realistic view of problems associated with animal overpopulation.
“Marcia Lane and others who have made charitable contributions under the auspices of animal welfare have given us the program we needed to educate two primary groups -- the animal-owning public who want to do something and the veterinarians who are called upon to respond in these situations,” Bushby said.
The college uses its mobile surgical/animal care unit to make scheduled visits to shelters, where veterinary faculty and students monitor animal health and provide spay/neuter assistance.
“The college offers the shelter medicine rotation 46 weeks of the year, which allows us to take two students for two weeks at a time,” Bushby said. “We have built the program so that each student will conduct about 50 spay/neuter surgeries and gain experience in administering the treatment protocols inherent in practicing medicine within a large group of animals.”
The treatment protocol followed by veterinarians who work with animals at a shelter or pound is different from the care administered to individual patients. Shelter animals exist in a situation similar to herds of livestock or animals in the wild. Veterinarians must address the welfare of the shelter herd to prevent the spread of disease and effectively manage health care.
“Because students perform about 50 spay/neuter procedures, they receive extensive experience with surgery and health-care management,” said Dr. Kimberly Woodruff, a veterinary resident at the college who assists shelter rotation students. “Shelter medicine is a growing specialty, and more veterinary students are considering this career option because of the opportunities and the need.”
Contact: Dr. Philip Bushby, (662) 325-3234