Idiot: NZ university chancellor don’t know shit about vets

I’m so close with my new best friend, Ted the Cavalier King Charles, that I’ll share my vasectomy story, which many of you have heard (Ted is getting clipped today – not the hair, the other part).

sorenne-tedBeginning in 1987, the veterinary first wife and I had four daughters, all born at home with midwives in Ontario (that’s in Canada).

When the fourth daughter was born, I was a poor PhD student and had arranged to give a talk about 40 minutes away for some cash.

So about 12 hours after daughter 4 was born, I arranged for a babysitter, and went away for a few hours.

Bad mistake.

A couple of weeks later, I said, four kids is enough for anybody, I’m getting clipped.

Made the appointment, had it done, and when I came home, the ex said, you left me after birth, so I’m leaving now.

She took the newborn and went to visit her sister for a couple of days.

The other three girls were left with me.

I gave them some money and sent them to the corner store to buy freezie pops.

Ted will hopefully fare better.

Being married to a veterinarian for 16 years had its ups and downs.

And then there was Sorenne.

But nothing compared to the idiotic statements by Massey University’s chancellor (that’s in New Zealand).

Wellington businessman Chris Kelly, who became Massey chancellor in 2013 has come under fire for making comments about female vet graduates being worth just “two-fifths” of a fulltime equivalent vet.

He has since apologised.

Kelly told Rural News that 75 to 85 per cent of vet students were women and in the first year when there was a high ‘cull’, it was the female students who continued because the work was largely academic.

“That’s because women mature earlier than men, work hard and pass,” he told Rural News. “Whereas men find out about booze and all sorts of crazy things during their first year.”

Kelly then went on to imply that a high fallout rate in the vet profession was the result of the life choices made by female graduates.

“When I went through vet school, many years ago, it was dominated by men; today it’s dominated by women. That’s fine, but the problem is one woman graduate is equivalent to two-fifths of a fulltime equivalent vet throughout her life because she gets married and has a family, which is normal. So, though we’re graduating a lot of vets, we’re getting a high fallout rate later on.”

Texas vet who killed cat with arrow, posed for photo can’t practice for 1 year, board decides

I slept with a veterinarian for 18 years.

We have four beautiful daughters who are all exploring the world in their own way.

vet-cat-arrowI also have no doubt she would kill a cat for practicality.

Me and my dairy farmer friend Jim are all for that.

But I often lay in bed, wondering, if she could castrate cats at the kitchen table, what fate might befall me?

“Some will rob you with a six-gun,

And some with a fountain pen.”

 The Texas Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners ruled Tuesday that Kristen Lindsey, the veterinarian who posted a photo of a dead tabby cat named Tiger with an arrow through its head on her Facebook last year, will have her license suspended for one year where she will not be able to practice.

After, she will be able to practice under conditions of probation for four years.

Tuesday’s hearing was the last in a string of debates on what action to take, if any, against Lindsey, after her photo incited international uproar from animal activists.

Lindsey, a veterinarian since 2012, was fired from her position at the Washington Animal Clinic in Brenham and put under investigation by the Austin County Sheriff’s Office last April after she posted a photo holding a dead tabby cat named “Tiger” with a arrow through its head with a caption reading:

“My first bow kill, lol. The only good feral tomcat is one with an arrow through it’s (sic) head! Vet of the year award… gladly accepted.”

The clinic that fired Lindsey, 33, released a statement shortly after that saying: “We are absolutely appalled, shocked, upset, and disgusted by the conduct.”

Yup, that fits with the vet I used to sleep with.

Australian veterinarians cracking under pressure of overwork, poor pay and reduced numbers

Damien Solley knows first hand that mental health problems are intertwined with working in the veterinarian industry.

cattle_vetDr Solley has revealed two colleagues in the ACT and several veterinarians interstate, have attempted to take their own lives in recent years. 

He believes a chronic shortage of veterinarians in Canberra is a contributing factor, coupled with compassion fatigue, long hours and stress.

After months of being unable to employ sufficient veterinarians to cope with the workload at the Animal Emergency Centre Canberra, Dr Solley had little choice but to join forces with the Animal Referral Hospital brand to help alleviate the pressure on himself and his colleagues.

“Suicide rates in our industry are pretty high,” he said.

“They’re overworked, do long hours and standardized vet wages against inflation haven’t changed in 25 years.

“The average wage is dropping through the floor.”

Dr Solley said veterinarians were often picked up by the public service, due to better wages and conditions, and he feels it might be nearly time to move on to another profession after 15 years.

He said his wife, Amanda, also a vet, has asked him to leave the industry multiple times.

Strengthening vet oversight of antimicrobial use in food animals: reducing antibiotics in meat — Part II

Ron Doering, former president of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and current counsel in the Ottawa offices of Gowlings (, reports with part II of his take on antimicrobiasl in food animal production:

While the medical commu­nity recognizes that the emergence and spread of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in hu­mans is a potential disaster for humanity and that it is the overuse of antimicrobi­als in human medicine that is the largest contributor, there is a broad consensus that the use of antibiotics in animals contributes to the problem, though the scale is still unclear. This uncertainty is due mainly to a failure to adequately control and monitor the use. Health Canada (HC) lacks the authority to control and monitor use because the practice of veterinary medicine falls under provincial juris­diction. Recognizing that almost all practical efforts to reduce the level of antibiotics in meat depend on the more active participation of veterinarians, HC announced recently that it wanted “to develop options to strengthen the veterinary oversight of antimicrobial use in food animals.”

44755363What can veterinarians and their provincial regulatory licensing bodies do now to reduce the threat of AMR? Here are four suggestions:

1. Enhance awareness among members .

While the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) has developed vol­untary Prudent Use Guide­lines, I’m told that many vets are hardly aware of the issue and may not even know of the Guidelines. Concerned enough about this, Ontario’s regulatory body, the Col­lege of Veterinarians of Ontario, just an­nounced that it was launching a project to study the use of antibiotics among food animal veterinarians and to determine if they use the CVMA’s Guidelines in daily practice. Quebec requires a manda­tory day-long AMR program and a test. All provinces should follow Quebec and develop mandatory continuing education programs on antimicrobial stewardship.

2. Fill the regulatory gaps.

As long as vets continue to prescribe off label use and the use of Active Pharma­ceutical Ingredients (APIs) in production medicine, it’s impossible to know the level of antibiotic use. Own Use Importation (OUI) by animal owners is another avenue for which use information is un­available. As one recent report stressed: “The gap in reliable usage data makes it difficult to state with confidence which antimicrobials are used, in what quantities, and for what purposes.” The recent critical assessment by a group of experts, titled “Stewardship of antimicrobial drugs in animals in Canada: How are we doing in 2013?” (Canadian Veterinary Journal, March 2014), highlighted the absolute importance of improving Canada’s monitoring of antimicrobial usage.

3. Conflict of interest issue.

This issue has been flagged by several reports going back to the landmark McEwen Report of 2002. Veterinarians obtain income from the profitable sale of antimicrobials. Decoupling veterinary prescribing from dispensing raises several issues because the current veterinary prac­tice business model is based on an income stream from antimicro­bial sales. Veterinarians should lead a dialogue on this important issue that clearly needs closer examination.

ab.res.prudent.may.144. Antibiotics for disease prevention.

The real issue is not the use of antibiotics for growth promotion or the treating of disease, but whether they should continue to be used for disease prevention. While some antibiotics of very high importance to human health should only be used to treat infection, there are several arguments that some of high or medium importance to human health (what HC calls Category ll and lll, for example tetracyclines) should still, with closer veterinarian oversight, be used for disease prevention. Because major retailers, processors and consumers increasingly demand meat with “raised without antibiotic” claims, the marketplace is forcing changes in practice. But we mustn’t lose sight of the fact that while there are risks to using antimicrobials in animal production, there are also risks with non-use.

Two-thirds of animal diseases are zoo­notic, meaning the disease is transferable to humans. For this and other reasons, I have been a long-time proponent of strengthening the connections between human and animal medicine — the concept known as One Health. In this context, AMR represents an historic opportunity for vets to step up and provide greater leadership. 

It takes two: Evans replaced as food safety-vet honcho at CFIA

The people I respect most are those I can have disagreements with, based on some sort of evidence, but can still share a beer with (preferably 1 beer, two or more swirly straws).

That’s why I’m in Brisbane with Amy, why I tolerate Chapman’s inability to write, and why I’m sad to see Brian Evans go as Canada’s top veterinarian and food safety dude.

Not surprising, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency needed two people to replace him.

Evans was appointed Canada’s first and only chief vet in 2004 and added the role as of
country’s chief food safety officer in 2010.

I don’t really know him, but Evans has always been forthright – as much as someone in government can be – patient, polite and eager. He seemed to have an extraordinary ability to tolerate meetings while appearing calm and collected.

I would last about three hours in government.

Evans worked in private practice in Newfoundland and Ontario before being recruited to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada as a veterinary inspector in 1982, and went on to establish Canada’s regulatory standards for international trade in animal embryos.

By 1997, he was named director of AAFC’s animal health division, and became executive director of CFIA’s animal products directorate the following year.

I have often praised Evans’ public and professional work during Canada’s first case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy in 2003.

Unlike every other country that has discovered BSE, consumption of beef in Canada actually increased. While price discounts, advertising, and promotional statements from various social actors about the safety of Canadian beef probably contributed to the sales increase, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency was completely transparent, publicly showcasing — in the form of daily press conferences lead by Canada’s chief veterinarian, Dr. Brian Evans — a vigilant, proactive regulatory system, while acknowledging the likelihood that the disease was not limited to just one animal. Dr. Evans and his team provided daily updates that said, this is what we know, this is what we don’t know, and this is what we’re doing to find out more. And when we find out more, you will hear it from us first. Transparency, along with efforts to demonstrable that actions match words, is the best way to enhance consumer confidence.

Being on the frontlines is far more interesting than academic babble.

Dr. Martine Dubuc is Canada’s new chief food safety officer and Dr. Ian Alexander has been appointed as the new chief veterinary officer.

Dr. Dubuc has been with the CFIA since November 2008 and previously worked at senior levels in the Quebec government with responsibility for animal health and the food safety system. She will continue her work as the CFIA’s Vice-President of Science.

As Chief Veterinary Officer, Dr. Alexander will provide national leadership to ensure that Canada’s animal and veterinary public health infrastructure is positioned to effectively manage current and emerging disease threats in order to protect animal and human health, and to maintain international trust in Canada’s inspection and certification systems in support of market access.


Who doesn’t slaughter their own pigs

On Dec. 6, 2010, Karen Selick wrote in Canada’s National Post about the plight of an Ottawa-area man charged with home slaughtering and distribution in a story titled, Drop The Pig And Put Your Hands In The Air.

M. Milstein, doctor of veterinary medicine, Vancouver, responds in today’s National Post in a memo to veterinary colleagues at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency:

You wasted your time getting a veterinary degree and spending your professional lives working towards ensuring that Canadians have a wholesome food supply. All you had to do, according to Karen Selick, was grow up on a farm, hunt, join the Armed Forces and get a degree in biomedical toxicology.

Then you "could tell a healthy animal from a sick one." Who knew?

Dirty jobs? Try being a veterinarian

Patty Khuly writes in today’s USA Today that while the Discovery Channel’s Dirty Jobs features revolting trades, no profession rivals the average veterinarian’s for the variety of revolting, fetid, infectious crap we have to deal with on a daily basis.

Though some have got it bad (consider the hands-on shelter worker or the bovine reproductive specialist) and some manage better than most (the radiologist, perhaps?), we all get treated to a fair bit of repulsive fare whether we like it or not.

As a mixed animal veterinarian in suburbia (dogs, cats, chickens and goats), my work is routinely disgusting. Picking through feces and vomit, for example, figures routinely in my daily

Below are the top 10 most digusting things we veterinarians and veterinary technicians must subject ourselves to.

1. Maggot picking.
This is the worst, so I’ll mention it first just to get it out of the way. In my opinion, wounds infected with maggots rival anything else I have to deal with. It’ll surely put you off rice for at least a month. (If you can stomach this, one the nine that follow are fairly easygoing.)

2. Bovine/equine reproductive examination.
Ahhh … the full-arm rectal of vet school lore. We all have to do it, but I never really minded it. It’s better than standing bare-armed in a three-sided barn when the 10-degree wind blows … though it does take some getting used to.

3. Fecal material sampling.
How many times a day do I stick something up a pet’s bum and then gently prise the stuff onto slides and into plastic containers? Ten? Twenty? Who knows, but it’s gross.

4. Dentistry for severe periodontal disease.
Never underestimate the force with which the foulness of an oral cavity can hit you — across three masks, even. If you need further inducement to consider this the revolting job that it is, factor in the pus, blood and spray of bacterial filth contaminating the air around you. Hence, goggles are a must lest you risk suddenly contracting a novel strain of especially aggressive pink eye.

There’s more. I sent the story to a veterinarian colleague, who said her personal favorite was looking through dog vomit for all the stuff the dog ate. … did he puke up all the pieces of the tennis ball (and puzzling the slimy pieces back together to find out) or is there still some in there?

She also said she loves her job.

New Zealand’s ‘relatively ordinary’ rulebreaker

I call Andrew McKenzie a friend, and he calls me a reprobate.

Fair enough. He certainly dresses better.

And has more tolerance for meetings.

Business Day in New Zealand has a profile of the 62-year-old retiring Food Safety Authority chief executive with all the old stories, probably told through certain filters.

What I remember best – through the fog of good scotch – was an outstanding lamb dinner a pregnant Amy and I had with Andrew and his wife at their home overlooking Wellington in 2008, followed by an All Blacks rugby match on the tube.

Andrew McKenzie could justly claim the title of the father of modern meat inspection conferred on him by a speaker at a European conference recently.

The retiring chief executive of the Food Safety Authority was a lowly government official in the mid-80s when he had the temerity to challenge the European-imposed rules governing meat inspection.

The actions that flowed from this led to savings of many millions of dollars to the meat industry and freed up international trade.

He encountered his first silly rule as a young Agriculture Ministry meat inspector in the mid-70s. It required the inspectors who worked with meat workers on the slaughter chain to inspect the heads of all sheep to look for signs of disease.

Dr McKenzie knew this was unnecessary because there were no signs of disease on a head that couldn’t already be seen in the normal inspection of the carcass, but it was demanded by Britain as a requirement of accepting our exports.

The head had to be skinned, adding huge cost to sheep processing. Three or four extra butchers had to be employed on each chain, as well as one extra meat inspector. Ten years later he was in a position to do something about it.

He convinced the meat companies to run trials. In one day 325,000 animals were killed. No signs of disease were found on the heads that were not already uncovered by inspection of the rest of the carcass.

He presented the results to the British authorities and they agreed to change the rules.

It meant the loss of up to 500 seasonal jobs, but the industry estimated its savings at $10 million-$12m a year.

He went to the European Union headquarters and argued that many of the rules didn’t make sense in the New Zealand context. "They asked me to list them. Three days later I came back with 200 examples. When I flopped this on the table, they said `Ah jeez, this is a bit hard’."

The result was an "equivalency" agreement between Europe and New Zealand.
"That agrees there’s a bunch of basic things you need to do to make a difference to public and animal health, but there’s also others that are just good meat manufacturing and hygiene practice and they can vary," he says.

"Since then our relationship has gone along really well."

The agreement cleared the way for trade and was used as a template by the United States and Canada.

Crucial to the ongoing success of the agreement, and those that followed, has been New Zealand’s reputation for integrity and honesty in international trade.
"We’ve been scrupulously honest and people can rely on our word," Dr McKenzie says.

"And we’re pretty good thinkers – putting new ideas on the table, and taking a lot of their ideas, building on them, trialling them, modifying them and feeding them back into the system."

That they are, as Katie has just returned from a year working with NZFSA, helping develop a national restaurant inspection disclosure system.

One Health: chief vet now chief food safety dude too in Canada

Canada’s chief veterinary officer has been named to an expanded role as the country’s chief food safety officer.

Brian Evans (right, not exactly as shown), who’s been the country’s first and only chief vet since 2004 at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, and has also served as the CFIA’s executive vice-president in Ottawa since 2007, was named to the additional post Tuesday by Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Evans remains chief veterinary officer in his new post, which takes effect June 28.

Evans worked in private practice in Newfoundland and Ontario before being recruited to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada as a veterinary inspector in 1982, and went on to establish Canada’s regulatory standards for international trade in animal embryos.

By 1997, he was named director of AAFC’s animal health division, and became executive director of CFIA’s animal products directorate the following year.

As chief veterinary officer, Evans is also the government of Canada’s delegate to the 167-member country World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).

I have often praised Evans’ public and professional work during Canada’s first case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy in 2003, and Evans (left, exactly as shown, from the Toronto Star) was the first Canadian government official to publicly admit the screw-ups surrounding the flow of information during the listeria outbreak of 2008 which killed 23 people.

“There’s been a lot of hard questions asked … in terms of how we can get information to the public in as timely a way as possible. I accept the criticism that there is a need for us to reflect and to do a much better job of informing (Canadians)."?

The move also strengthens the One Health approach to public health, recognizing that animals, food, ecology and humans are all connected in weird and wily ways that microorganisms seem to have figured out but that we humans are just starting to understand.

Best wishes for a dedicated public servant.

Fake veterinarian worked for USDA?

I was out with the family picking up some Chinese and wine last night and a woman waiting for her take-out said, “Oh, I’m glad to know you eat here.”

“Not usually, but it’s Chinese so everything’s cooked.”

She then introduced herself as a veterinary student at Kansas State University who’d seen me lecture a few weeks ago. And then she asked me if I’d seen the story about the fake U.S. Department of Agriculture veterinarian.

I said, “Slipped my mind.”

I don’t see everything so if barfblogcom readers see anything of interest, please send along.

The student did, and it concerns a story that aired in Feb. 2010 in Atlanta.

WSB TV reported that a man used fraudulent credentials to land a job as a veterinarian with the U.S. Department of Agriculture where he worked in Atlanta-based food safety and inspection service for the past four years.

I don’t know how much of this is true or why the story didn’t get much national play – so judge for yourselves.