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Vet Hospital 1An MU veterinary medicine student inspecting an alpaca near Mexico, Missouri.
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Alpaca FarmAn alpaca farm near Mexico, Missouri.
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Vet HospitalA dog is getting help by Mizzou's vet college staff.
By Kathy Gangwisch
This originally ran in the April/May 2011 issue of Missouri Life.
Professor Ross Cowart, DVM, began his swine lecture by asking who said this: “Well-being and happiness never appeared to me as an absolute aim. I am even inclined to compare such moral aims to the ambitions of a pig.”
Answer: Albert Einstein.
Dr. Cowart is one of 126 faculty members at the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine in Columbia, the only such school in the state and one of just 28 in the nation.
The unique Mizzou school draws students from more than 20 states, some as far away as Alaska.
Students say the main attraction is two years of clinical study at Clydesdale Hall, the school’s massive teaching hospital, whereas most veterinary colleges offer just one year of clinic.
Another notable feature of the school is The National Swine Research and Resource Center, a joint project with the university’s College of Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources. New genetic models of pigs are being used to study human diseases. Dr. Neil Olson, Dean of the Veterinary College, says, “Pigs have a lot of physiology similar to us; our goal is to make it possible for pig organs to be transplanted into humans.”
The College of Veterinary Medicine is also the only site in the nation with a National Rat Research and Resource Center where genetically altered rats are being studied for human conditions. Some diseases in rats mimic those in humans and their genes are being studied in hope of identifying treatments and cures for people. Mizzou is also one of three sites in the nation where mice are being studied for the same purpose.
Occasionally, there are really big critters at the Veterinary Hospital.
There is no exotics service at the hospital, yet students under the tutelage of teaching doctors have periodically examined and treated lions, tigers, giraffes, and gorillas. Sometimes, professors and students travel to treat animals, especially large herds. On a trip with Mizzou vets and students to an alpaca farm near Mexico, Missouri, the quizzical creatures gathered around to see what was being done to their pals. A couple of the alpacas became annoyed with the exams and kicked and spit. No one on the team seemed to care; they grinned and kept working.
Of the large animals seen at the hospital, horses are the most common. A recent noteworthy invention, called the Lameness Locator, uses wireless motion detectors to measure and analyze movement.
Dogs and cats, however, are the mainstay of the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital. Specialty services for pets are vast and include cardiology, dentistry, dermatology, neurology, oncology, orthopedics, physical rehabilitation, and ophthalmology, among others.
Gary Storch of Williamsburg is one of thousands of pet owners who have brought their companions to the veterinary hospital. His seven-year-old black lab Shooter was in a life-or-death situation.
“We were out running when Shooter slowed, stopped, and it looked to me as though he was bloated,” Gary says. “I called my vet. He asked a few questions, then told me to get the dog to Mizzou immediately,” he says.
“What happened is that Shooter’s stomach had twisted on itself. The blood supply to the stomach was cut off, and he was deteriorating very rapidly,” Gary says. “My vet fi gured it out on the phone and called ahead to alert hospital staff. The minute we got there, about 10 doctors and students were in the ICU caring for Shooter. He had surgery very quickly, and I’m so grateful. My dog came through it just fi ne, thank God.”
The hospital’s emergency and critical-care unit is open day and night all year. As with doctors staffi ng emergency rooms for human patients, veterinarians on call react fast.
Mason, a super-friendly golden retriever and leader-dog for the blind, didn’t require more than a little friendly petting. He trotted in with a blind woman, Maud Campbell of Jefferson City, who brought Mason to the veterinary hospital that day for a free eyesight test performed by Dr. Elizabeth Giuliano, a renowned ophthalmologist. Maud, blind since birth, relies on Mason to get around and was happy to learn her guide dog could see perfectly. The testing is just one of the community services provided by Mizzou.
Professors also make themselves available to other veterinarians nationwide who call the hospital for advice. “There’s no charge for this,” says Dr. Giuliano. “We’re glad to be of service.”
Veterinary education began at the University of Missouri in 1884 as a single course in animal science. The Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine was first offered in 1946. Since that time, course work and facilities have grown tremendously, and today a relatively new program called One Health, One Medicine is in place. OHOM entails researchers at the veterinary college and medical schools pooling their expertise to develop cures for diseases that occur similarly in animals and humans.
One example is the collaboration between Mizzou and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, which found that a genetic mutation responsible for canine degenerative myelopathy is similar to some forms of the human condition known as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease). Scientists can now use this information to begin identifying cures.
Other Mizzou divisions partnered with the veterinary college to develop a drug that treats bone-cancer pain in dogs and people. The National Cancer Institute has funded research where veterinarians and medical school oncologists are cooperatively studying cancer in dogs and humans.
The list of research and successes at Mizzou between animal and human medicine is long and varied. Our pets—and we —are benefiting.
One example is Dudley, a Labrador with a painful developmental bone disorder in his shoulder. Associate Professor and orthopedic surgeon Derek Fox, small-animal surgery resident Dr. Mirae Wood, and several students doing surgery rotations surrounded an operating-room table to remove a bone flap.
The sterile environment for animal surgery looks the same as that for humans. Everyone wore scrubs, face masks, and shoe covers. All eyes were on the TV monitor as first Dr. Wood and then Dr. Fox maneuvered an arthroscope fitted with a camera in a delicate procedure to remove the piece of bone without it fragmenting. A senior student administered the dog’s anesthesia once a professor approved doing so to keep Dudley under.
Within minutes the surgery was wrapped up, and Dudley was going to be fine.
Another day, another dog, another healing.
Small animals: 573-882-7821 • Food animals: 573-882-6857 • horses: 573-882-3513 After hours emergencies: 573-882-4589