Vital Signs
November 2007

Veterinary Medicine: Our Global Responsibilities

Dr. Gerhardt G. Schurig Dear Friends and Colleagues,
We hear the word “globalization” so much these days it becomes easy to forget the special challenges it poses for the profession of veterinary medicine. Global free trade agreements and transportation advancements have indeed generated important dividends. But they have also created significant challenges related to infectious diseases, public health, and the role veterinary medicine is to play.
Several of our faculty work with international organizations that seek to apply the modern benefits of veterinary medicine around the world. Several of our students conduct training clerkships in Central and South America and the Caribbean to allow them to better understand the globalization environment and the role veterinary medicine plays in it. We need to increase these opportunities for our students.
In this edition of Vital Signs, you will see we have established an important research and educational alliance with Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (TANUVAS) in Chennai, India as part of the United States Department of Agriculture’s “United States India Agriculture Knowledge Initiative (AKI).” Additionally, we have been actively establishing programs in South America which are principally focused on our collaboration with the University of Austral in Valdivia, Chile. This mutually beneficial association is becoming increasingly fruitful, and Virginia Tech’s Colleges of Agricultural and Life Sciences and Natural Resources have joined us in establishing programs with them in order to educate our new generation of veterinarians and other students on global health and international trade issues.
In April 2008, I, together with several other deans of colleges of veterinary medicine, will attend a workshop on “globalization of veterinary medicine and International trade” organized by the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC) and the World Organization for Animals/Office International des Epizooties (OIE). The workshop will focus in general on the future role of veterinary medicine and, in particular, the role colleges of veterinary medicine will play in these evolving trends and issues. Among others, I expect to explore future collaborations and interactions between the OIE and our college to expand the opportunities available to our students in the international arena.
As we look to the future, both as a college and as a profession, we must continue to seek new ways to energetically apply the benefits of modern veterinary medicine in the promotion of global well-being.

Gerhardt G. Schurig

Mrs. Shelley Duke Pledges $10 Million Estate Gift

Shelley Duke Mrs. Shelley Duke, owner and manager of Rallywood Farm in Middleburg, Virginia, has pledged a gift of more than $10 million through her estate to Virginia Tech’s Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center.
This estate gift, the largest in the hospital’s history, is expected to eventually establish a major emergency and critical care program.
“We are extremely grateful for Shelley’s generosity and vision,” said Dr. Nat White, Jean Ellen Shehan Professor and Director of the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center. “Her gift is extraordinary in terms of the impact that it will have on horses treated at the Equine Medical Center and on veterinary medicine around the world.”
Duke said she made this pledge for the future advancement of the Equine Medical Center in large part due to the strong relationships that she has developed with the center’s faculty and staff as a leader, client, and volunteer.
“I wanted to ensure that there will always be a place for horses within the Mid-Atlantic Region to be treated when they are critically ill or injured,” said Duke. “In terms of equine surgery and internal medicine, I just don’t know where you can find better care and knowledge at work.”
A member of the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors, the Ut Prosim Society, and the Legacy Society, Duke has spent more than 20 years working towards the betterment of equine healthcare and veterinary programs at the university.
She has served as chair of the Equine Medical Center Council since 1999 and is credited with establishing the hospital’s highly successful volunteer program. Duke was named the recipient of the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center’s first Distinguished Service Award in September.
Duke’s gift, along with several other multimillion dollar commitments, was announced by Virginia Tech President Charles Steger during a press conference that preceded the formal launch of the university’s $1 billion “The Campaign for Virginia Tech: Invent the Future” fundraising campaign.
“Shelley Duke’s impressive background in real estate and investment banking has made her an invaluable advisor on our Board of Visitors, the Virginia Tech Foundation Board, the Women and Leadership in Philanthropy Council and numerous other boards and committees,” said President Steger. “We are especially grateful that her passion for competitive riding and other equine pursuits has translated into tireless work in support of the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center.”
Duke hopes that her planned gift may inspire others to support innovation in the field of veterinary medicine. “If someone has a special interest that they would like to see realized at the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, then they can make it happen,” she said.
The Equine Medical Center is seeking to raise $15 million as part of the campaign and the VMRCVM has set a goal of $31.2 million.

Former Army Veterinarian Leading New Community Practice

Dr. Bess Pierce A former active duty Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps has been tapped to lead a new training clerkship in the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine (VMRCVM) that is designed to more thoroughly acquaint veterinary students with the “real world” of veterinary medicine.
Dr. Bess J. Pierce, who joined the college on August 15, is leading the Veterinary Teaching Hospital’s new “Community Practice” clerkship, which was created last May to provide veterinary students with additional exposure to more routine veterinary healthcare experiences.
“I love teaching and the academic environment,” said Dr. Pierce, whose 15 years of active military service have included posts ranging from the Pacific Rim to the national capitol. “I just couldn’t pass this opportunity up.”
Since it began seeing cases in the early 1980’s, the Veterinary Teaching Hospital has offered primary care services for clients who reside within a 35-mile radius of the Virginia Tech campus. Clients who reside outside of the immediate practice area must have their animals referred in to the Veterinary Teaching Hospital by their community veterinarian.
Over the past several years, however, the Veterinary Teaching Hospital caseload has become increasingly focused on challenging and complex cases referred in by general practitioners from communities across Virginia and Maryland who are seeking the sophisticated diagnostic and therapeutic support that is offered by the board-certified veterinary specialists on faculty in the VMRCVM.
While the college is well-equipped and pleased to provide that advanced level of care for those critically ill patients, the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences (DSACS) recognizes that it also has an instructional obligation to provide students with broad experience in managing the kinds of cases that they will likely see most of the time in their general practices.
Fourth-year DVM students in the college spend their final 12 months of training in a series of three-week clerkships that provide them with direct “hands-on” experience in areas such as medicine, surgery, radiology, pathology and many other areas of medicine.
All students, whether they are tracking in small animal practice, large animal practice, mixed animal practice, food animal, or public and corporate veterinary medicine, are required to complete the new “Community Practice” rotation. The caseload has been growing steadily in the new clerkship, Pierce says, and they are now seeing from 120-160 cases per rotation.
“This is where they get their every-day skills in veterinary medicine,” said Dr. Pierce, who is board-certified by both the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACVIM) and the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners (ABVP). “This ensures a common training experience for all students. So far there’s been excellent feedback.”
Dr. Pierce’s career with the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps, which is responsible for public health, food safety and animal care, has provided her with excellent experience for her new assignment.
After serving as Chief Veterinarian at California’s Edwards Air Force Base and a staff veterinarian with the Okinawa Branch Veterinary Services in Okinawa, Japan, she conducted a three-year residency in internal medicine at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine.
Following that, she returned to Japan to serve as Chief Veterinarian of the U.S. Army’s Japan District Veterinary Command, Okinawa Branch for three years. From there, she moved to San Antonio, Texas, where she served as Chief of Medicine and Outpatient Clinics for the Department of Defense (DoD) Military Working Dog Service.
“The military working dogs are the best in the world, and it is a privilege to work with them,” says Pierce, who estimates that there are approximately 2000-2500 military dogs in service. These dogs accomplish many of the same tasks that police dogs do, including explosives and drug detection, patrol and apprehension.
Most recently she was assigned to the National Capital District Veterinary Command at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, which includes about 90 soldiers and civilians, and eight Veterinary Corps Officers. In addition to caring for military animals, that command also provides veterinary care for other federal agencies that use working dogs, such as the Transportation Security Administration.
Dr. Pierce is excited about the opportunity to lead the new program and eventually hopes to create a two-year residency program in the VMRCVM that would lead toward board certification in the Canine/Feline Specialty by the ABVP. She created a similar program for the DoD Military Working Dog Veterinary Service based in San Antonio.
Dr. Pierce remains a Lieutenant Colonel in the Veterinary Corps, U.S. Army Reserve, and will spend six or seven weeks a year working at the DoD Military Working Dog Veterinary Service in San Antonio.
Working in a university and being able to maintain her military career has provided her with “the best of both worlds,” she said.

William Preston Society Visits VMRCVM

William Preston Society Almost 40 members of Virginia Tech’s William Preston Society recently visited the college as part of their annual meeting.
The society, which is comprised of former members of the Board of Visitors of Virginia Tech and former presidents of Virginia Tech, provides an opportunity for those leaders to remain engaged and learn more about the achievements and challenges facing the university community.
The meetings often include presentations and tours that focus on various colleges and programs.
William Preston Society members toured the college of veterinary medicine and heard from Dr. Lud Eng, assistant dean for strategic innovation, who was representing Dean Schurig.
Eng presented an overview of the college’s programs and discussed the college’s emerging translational medicine initiatives. Eng also briefed society members about the college’s collaborative activities with various medical schools, including the new Virginia Tech-Carilion School of Medicine.
Mr. Cecil Maxson, a former member of the BOV and great friend of the VMRCVM who is serving as the society’s current president, was instrumental in creating the opportunity for the group to visit the VMRCVM.

Actor Perry King Visits VTH, Commemorates Friend’s Late Pet

Actor Perry King Veteran Hollywood actor Perry King recently spent several hours visiting the college as part of a small ceremony that was arranged to commemorate the passing of a pet dog named Emmy that had been a patient in the Veterinary Teaching Hospital (VTH) for 15 years.
Bob Dills, a Roanoke-based writer, special events and promotions professional whose career has afforded him an opportunity to befriend celebrities from Los Angeles to New York, owned Emmy.
Dills began his long association with the college as a VTH client almost 20 years ago. He contacted the college shortly after Emmy’s death and asked if he could donate a photographic portrait of the dog taken by California photographer Xavier Nuez as a memorial to the dog and a recognition of the hospital staff.
Dills indicated that he wished to bring King, who had visited the VTH before, and several other guests with him to present the portrait.
On Friday, November 9, about 70 people gathered in the VTH lobby for the event. VMRCVM Communications Director Jeff Douglas welcomed everyone to the event and told the group that the ceremony was an important reminder of how powerfully the work that is done everyday by faculty, students and staff in the hospital affects the lives of clients.
Bob Dills then discussed his beloved dog Emmy and shared his thoughts about his experiences with the VTH.
He told the group that Emmy’s ashes will be buried on the family plot adjacent to a large tombstone engraved with a quote from Thornton Wilder’s “The Bridge of San Luis Rey” that reads “There is a land of the living and the land of the dead and the bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning.”
Dills said that two things in the VTH nurture life and comfort pets and family members: the most updated medical facilities and treatments and the love and compassion of the people who work there.
“Here at this hospital I have seen love given in unmeasured doses by every member of the staff from the front door, through the medical teams and through the students whom I have come to know all have pets at home,” said Dills. “That love combined with the medical treatment itself is what makes this place the special sanctuary that it is.”
Following that, Perry King, who has recently appeared on television shows like “Brothers & Sisters,” “Cold Case,” “Without a Trace,” and others, spoke with the audience about his love for animals, the animal rescue work he does on his ranch in northern California, and the importance of having advanced level veterinary care available through medical institutions like the VMRCVM.
During his remarks, King, who also played the President of the United States in the global-warming disaster movie “The Day After Tomorrow,” observed that perhaps one of the traits he admires most about animals is their capacity to accept the circumstances that life casts upon them and their ability to make the best of them.
Following King’s remarks, Dill presented the Nuez portrait of Emmy to Interim Hospital Director Dr. Bill Pierson, who graciously thanked the visitors and the hospital faculty, staff and students whose efforts inspired the tribute.

First Students Participate in International Externship Program

Externship Program The first two students to participate in a new international externship program established between the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine (VMRCVM) and CCS Haryana Agricultural University (HAU) in Hisar, India have recently returned to India after their visit to the United States.
The students, Hari Mohan and Pawan Chahal, were selected by the HAU administration to participate in the new program based upon academic merit. They spent two fast-paced, in-depth weeks studying modern clinical practices in Maryland and Virginia.
“It is becoming increasingly important that veterinary students become aware of the concept of globalization and the impact it will have on them and on our profession,” said Dr. Bettye Walters, director for international programs in the VMRCVM, who organized the program.
During their two weeks in the United States, the students spent a great deal of time with Dr. Larry Geibel, a long-time friend of the college, and his staff at the Quince Orchard Veterinary Hospital. Two of Dr. Giebel’s daughters have earned their DVM degrees in the college and a third is currently enrolled. They also visited each campus of the VMRCVM.
As the program continues to grow, VMRCVM students will have the opportunity to travel to India during their winter break to learn about livestock and poultry management practices, camel production and their diseases, foreign animal diseases, and water buffalo production, according to Walters.
“The overall benefit of this program will be an increased number of veterinarians who have the competency to investigate issues of critical importance to the international agribusiness economy,” explained Dr. Walters.
Primary support for the exchange program is derived from the United States – India Agricultural Knowledge Initiative on Agricultural Education, Teaching, Research, Service, and Commercial Linkages.

Deans’ Forum on Health, Food, and Nutrition Held

Drs. Pleasant and Thatcher The Deans’ Forum on Health, Food, and Nutrition, the third in a series of forums in support of the implementation of the University Strategic Plan, was held Monday, November 5 at the Inn at Virginia Tech.
Approximately 400 faculty, staff, and students from across the university came together to showcase their work, exchange ideas, engage in topical discussions, and consider future collaborations during the day. More than 200 abstracts were submitted to organizers for inclusion in the forum and awards were given to the best graduate and undergraduate student posters.
Virginia Tech's Doris T. Zallen, the Commonwealth's Outstanding Faculty Award winner, and Harvard School of Public Health's John Quackenbush delivered the keynote address on the "Health Implications of Genomics."
Dr. Craig Thatcher, a professor of clinical nutrition in the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences (DLACS), served as the VMRCVM’s representative on the task force that developed the forum. Thatcher also presented five posters during the event.
The VMRCVM and the College of Science will work together to organize the next Dean’s Forum, which will showcase the university’s research in infectious diseases. It is scheduled for spring 2008.

College Now Participating in Veterinary Career Network

Veterinary Career Network Students in the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine (VMRCVM) now have access to a national database of career opportunities.
To better serve students, alumni and others, the VRMCVM has joined together with the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), the Maryland Veterinary Medical Association (MVMA), the Virginia Veterinary Medical Association (VVMA) and many other professional organizations to participate in the Veterinary Career Network (VCN).
The VCN is a network of associations, schools and colleges of veterinary medicine that are dedicated to providing electronic recruitment services to the veterinary medical and animal health industries.
“The Veterinary Career Network is an excellent technological step for the college,” said Dr. Michael Reardon, veterinary career advisor. “It makes the hiring process more efficient for both job-seekers and employers.”
Potential employers have the benefit of posting job opportunities to only the VMRCVM or to the entire VCN community. Postings visible only to members of the VMRCVM will continue to be free of charge while postings to the entire VCN will incur a standard VCN job-posting fee.
Students have the advantage of uploading their resume into both the VMRCVM and VCN systems in a single step. In addition, they can also view job openings in both systems in one search.
To view or post jobs, visit

USDA Grant Supports New VMRCVM/Indian University Collaboration

VMRCVM/Indian Collaboration A major new research and educational collaboration between the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine (VMRCVM) and Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (TANUVAS) in Chennai, India has been established and participants have conducted their inaugural international workshop.
The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) “United-States India Agriculture Knowledge Initiative (AKI),” a program that seeks to enhance capacity building in food animal agricultural research and veterinary education, is supporting the new venture.
Representatives from the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine’s Virginia Tech and University of Maryland at College Park campuses recently participated in a three-day, avian viral diseases and animal biotechnological applications workshop in Chennai, India as part of the project.
“The workshop in India was a truly remarkable experience,” said Dr. Roger Avery, associate dean for research and graduate studies in the college. “The enthusiasm of the participants was palpable and many opportunities for cooperation were identified. The strengths of the cooperating institutions are very complementary which means that all the partners will benefit greatly.”
In Chennai, technical sessions were conducted on emerging and trans-boundary viral diseases, viral genome studies, molecular epidemiology, poultry health and production, the development of diagnostics, and vaccines and embryo biotechnology such as in-vitro fertilization and stem cell research.
“The US-India AKI workshop was very informative, especially regarding the quality of research efforts by graduate students at TANUVAS,” said Dr. Nammalwar Sriranganathan, a professor in the VMRCVM’s Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology (DBSP) and the principal investigator on the AKI grant award.
“They were extremely current in their technology and we were very impressed by their ability to answer pertinent and difficult questions from the audience” he said. “We look forward to continued cooperation in our capacity building in veterinary education and research.”
In addition to workshops such as the one held in Chennai, an exchange program between the universities has been instituted as part of recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding between Virginia Tech and TANUVAS.
“We intend to send five to six senior DVM students this upcoming year for their three-week summer clinical externship to TANUVAS,” said Dr. Elankumaran Subbiah, an assistant professor in the DBSP and co-investigator on the AKI who was a member of the organizing committee of the workshop. “We are also planning to host four senior students and a faculty member from TANUVAS for a three-week training session in the VMRCVM starting January 4, 2008.”
Other college faculty members attending the workshop included Dr. Ansar Ahmed, interim head of the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology (DBSP) and director of the Center for Molecular Medicine and Infection Disease, and Dr. Ruby ParamaDhas, clinical instructor in the DBSP, both from the Blacksburg campus.
Participants from the University of Maryland-College Park (UMCP) campus included Dr. Siba Samal, associate dean of the UMCP campus; Dr. Nathaniel Tablante, an associate professor, extension specialist, and director of the Veterinary Medical Sciences Graduate Program; Dr. Daniel Perez, associate professor; Dr. Bettye Walters, director of international programs; Dr. Utpal Pal, assistant professor; and Dr. Ioannis Bossis, assistant professor.
Dr. Chinta Lamichhane, director of Synbiotics Corporation, USA, also participated as the representative of the industrial partner for the AKI project.

Running Together Undergoes Preservation Process

Running Together Recent visitors to the college may have noticed that “Running Together,” the beautiful, bronze statue that greets visitors to the VMRCVM's Blacksburg campus, is glistening a little more. That’s because the sculpture recently underwent a thorough cleaning and preservation process.
Such care is necessary to preserve the bronze, according to Terry Lawrence, the medical illustrator and “artist-in-residence” in the Office of Communications and Public Relations who developed the original concept behind the statue.
“If you don’t properly clean and wax a metal sculpture, the patina will weather and the sculpture will discolor to a light green,” he said.
Lawrence, along with Larry Bechtel, Virginia Tech's recycling coordinator and noted sculptor, spent a weekend learning how to properly care for the sculpture with Renee Marino from Lexington, Kentucky. Marino is the daughter of Gwen Reardon, the noted artist who sculpted the statue.
Now that Lawrence and Bechtel are trained, the work can be completed in five or six hours, according to Lawrence. The process will need to be done twice a year for the first two to three years and then once every two years after that, he said, in order to ensure that the sculpture is here for future VMRCVM faculty, staff, students, and visitors to enjoy.
“Seeing how the water is now repelled from the surface and the fresh glow of the bronze brings a lot of satisfaction in the knowledge that we can properly care for the statue,” said Lawrence.
The statue was conceived in the late 1990’s, when the concept surfaced during a casual conversation between Lawrence and former VMRCVM Dean Peter Eyre.
An artistic theme celebrating the human-animal bond emerged. A horse was included because of the historic role those animals have played in the development of civilization. A dog was included because of the ancient role they have played as companion and working animals. A female veterinary student was envisioned to complete the trio.
Lawrence developed conceptual drawings, although no resources existed to support the project. In 2001, a bronze miniature of the sculpture was produced. But the project remained an unfunded dream until Lawrence had a chance conversation with Mrs. Jane Talbot, wife of the late founding dean Dr. Richard B. Talbot, and she expressed her interest and pledged resources to make the project a reality.
Reardon, who created the famous equine statuary at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, was selected for the commission, and the work was installed and dedicated as part of the VMRCVM’s 25th anniversary celebration in 2005.
Today, the “Running Together” statue serves as an iconic symbol of the VMRCVM, a lasting celebration of the human/animal bond, and an enduring tribute to a noble and ancient medical profession.

EMC Provides Life-Saving Surgery for Smithsonian National Zoo’s Zebra

EMC performs surgery on zebra Virginia Tech’s Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center recently lent assistance to the Smithsonian National Zoological Park when one of its two zebras became ill with a life-threatening case of colic.
Dr. Jennifer Brown, clinical assistant professor in emergency care and equine surgery at the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center, performed an operation on the two-year-old male Grevy’s zebra named Dante at the Smithsonian’s onsite veterinary hospital in the District of Columbia.
The zoo’s veterinarians were first alerted to a problem by Dante’s keepers who contacted them on the morning of Sunday, August 26.
“Any time that one of these animals is sick, it is pretty challenging because, as prey animals, they tend to hide pain,” said Dr. Carlos Sanchez, associate veterinarian at the National Zoo. “Dante’s keepers said that he seemed really depressed. His coat was darker on one side suggesting that he had been lying down for an extended period of time during the night and he was just not acting like himself.”
A dart was used to anesthetize the zebra and a diagnostic examination for colic was performed.
“The main difference between zebras and domestic horses is that you can’t approach zebras without sedating or anesthetizing them because they are dangerous animals that can hurt you pretty bad,” said Sanchez. “We have to anesthetize them even to get a blood sample or heart rate, and, in this case, to perform a colic exam.”
Mineral oil was administered through a nasogastric tube and intravenous fluids through a catheter placed on the zebra’s jugular vein in order to correct dehydration and soften blockages in the intestines which are a common cause of colic.
“We expected that the mineral oil and other treatments would do the job,” said Sanchez. “Dante was monitored closely for the remainder of the day and looked better but not as good as we would have expected so we started to consider surgical treatments. On Monday, we decided to contact the Equine Medical Center’s team about helping with the surgery since they specialize in treating this type of condition.”
According to zoo officials, its highly trained veterinary staff is occasionally supplemented with outside experts.
“We have a really talented multi-faceted staff at the zoo and one of the great things about them is that they have a network of experts to call upon,” said John Gibbons, spokesperson for the National Zoo. “The expertise that we have here is enhanced through the use of outside specialists, like the Equine Medical Center’s doctors, when needed.”
When Brown received the call from Dr. Suzan Murray, chief veterinarian at National Zoo, she knew that the situation was dire.
“Dante was experiencing moderate colic,” said Brown. “Systemically he was stable but it was a critical situation.”
As a condition that frequently afflicts horses, colic is one of the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center’s most commonly treated emergencies with almost 250 such cases having been seen at the center from July 2005 to June 2006. Zebras are members of the Equidae or equine family and therefore have digestive systems that are also susceptible to the disease.
“Although our faculty members primarily treat domesticated horses, they are fully equipped to treat all members of the Equidae family,” said Dr. Nat White, Jean Ellen Shehan Professor and Director of the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center. “We treat donkeys and mules and the occasional exotic species.”
Like a horse, a zebra’s digestive system consists of intestines that stretch from eleven to twelve times its body length, all of which can be easily affected by external factors including changes in diet or exercise. For Brown, who has performed hundreds of colic surgeries on horses, having a patient with stripes was highly unusual but technically very similar.
“Once they covered his stripes up with my drape, I couldn’t tell the difference between him and a horse,” said Brown. “They have almost the same gastrointestinal tract although colic is fairly uncommon among zebras.”
A medical team including Brown, surgery resident Sam Hart, licensed veterinary technician Tina Cooman and fourth year veterinary student Samantha Baglin, traveled from Leesburg to the zoo in Washington to conduct the surgery. National Zoo staff attending Dante’s procedure included Dr. Suzan Murray, chief veterinarian; Dr. Carlos Sanchez, associate veterinarian; Dr. Luis Padilla, associate veterinarian; Dr. Katherine Hope, zoo medicine resident; Lisa Ware, veterinary technician; and Kim Williams, licensed veterinary technician.
“We brought down some of our equipment because we didn’t know what they would have but the zoo’s hospital was very well equipped for this,” said Brown.
The 605-pound zebra was already under anesthesia having been sedated by the zoo’s veterinarians before the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center’s medical team arrived.
“Another difference between domestic and non-domestic equids is anesthesia,” said Sanchez. “We use ultra-potent narcotics on zebras, the same ones used on rhinoceroses and elephants, because the animals are so hard to anesthetize.”
During the 90-minute procedure, Brown performed an exploratory laparotomy in order to confirm the colic diagnosis. A twist of the large colon was found that was the source of Dante’s illness. The twist was corrected and there was not any significant damage to the intestines.
“Dr. Brown made the surgery look easy but it was not,” said Sanchez. “Fortunately, she didn’t have to remove any section of the intestines.”
Brown was pleased with the outcome of the procedure and left the determination of a post-treatment regimen to the zoo’s veterinarians who specialize in caring for wild animals.
“Zebras can not even be hooked up to an IV without anesthesia so we left his recovery to the experts,” said Brown.
Following the surgery, Dante was kept at the zoo’s hospital in a padded stall, treated with antibiotics and pain medication, and gradually reintroduced to a normal diet. He was discharged approximately 10 days after the surgery.
“We didn’t have the luxury of checking the incisions in person once he was released from the hospital, but we took pictures with a zoom lens camera and could see that they healed well,” said Sanchez.
It has been two months since Dante was treated for colic and zoo officials report that, as part of the African Savannah Exhibit, he is once again happily greeting the more than two million visitors who flock to the park each year. Along with Gumu, a four-year-old Grevy’s zebra stallion, Dante is part of a conservation effort managed by Species Survival Plans (SSPs), a cooperative breeding and conservation program for selected species in zoos and aquariums in North America.
The National Zoo participates in the Grevy’s Zebra SSP not by breeding animals but rather by housing juvenile stallions until they are sexually mature at approximately four to five years of age. They are then sent to accredited organizations in North America that do actively breed this species.
“Dante is a young zebra and very healthy,” said Sanchez. “He handled the surgery really well. The outcome was wonderful and we were grateful that everything went as planned.”
For Brown, working with the zoo’s veterinarians to cure Dante’s colic was a gratifying experience.
“It felt good to be able to help and it was fun to do something different,” said Brown. “I certainly would go again if they needed me.”
For more information concerning the Smithsonian National Zoological Park, visit

VMRCVM Graduates Earn Banfield Quality Award

Banfield VMRCVM graduates typically score well on the national veterinary licensing examination. The class of 2007, for example, had a pass rate of 99 percent and the class of 2004 had a 100 percent success rate. Other years the college is at or above the 96 percent pass rate that is the national average.
Now, another sign of the high quality of VMRCVM graduates has emerged. The graduates of the college who have associated with Banfield - the Pet Hospital ™ have been recognized by the corporation as those of the highest overall quality based upon a series of qualitative measurements that include medical record review, preventive care scores, client loyalty scores and other metrics.
Each year Banfield recognizes colleges of veterinary medicine and hospitals within the corporation for performance that best represents one of Banfield’s “Five Guiding Principles.” Those include quality, growth, mutuality, freedom and responsibility, according to Dr. Trevor W. Ashley (VMRCVM ’01), who serves as Banfield’s Alumni Representative to the VMRCVM.
Ashley serves as Chief of Staff/Partner Doctor for Banfield - the Pet Hospital ™ of Arundel Mills in Hanover, Maryland. His hospital was recognized as the “2007 Hospital of the Year” for Banfield.
The awards were presented at Banfield’s annual Leadership Educational Symposium held in Portland.

Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center Announces 2007-08 “Tuesday Talk” Schedule

Tuesday Talk The Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center has announced its 2007-08 series of “Tuesday Talks.”
This lecture series is designed to provide veterinarians, horse owners, and horse professionals with valuable insight and practical advice related to a wide-array of equine healthcare topics.
The first talk, “Detecting and Treating Lameness,” was featured in late November. It was presented by Dr. Nat White, the Jean Ellen Shehan Professor and Director of the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center.
“Red Eye in the Morning, Horse Owner’s Warning: Equine Eye Care” will be held on Tuesday, January 15. The talk will be presented by Dr. David Hodgson, head, Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences (DLACS), VMRCVM.
“Stem Cell Therapy for Musculoskeletal Injury” will be presented on Tuesday, February 19, by Dr. Jennifer Barrett, assistant professor of equine surgery, Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center.
“The New Equine Medicine” will be featured on Tuesday, March 11. That lecture will be presented by Dr. Doug Byars of Byars Equine Advisory in Georgetown, Kentucky.
All “Tuesday Talk” lectures will be held at 7:00 pm in the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center's library. No fee is charged for attending but seating is limited and pre-registration is required.
To register, e-mail Amy Troppmann at or call (703) 771-6843. Additional information regarding the center and its services is available online at