Page 84 - ShowSight, March 2020
P. 84

                IN THE BEST OF HEALTH
  Left to right: AKC CHF Board members Dr. Kristin Bloink and Dr. Diane Brown share a moment with a friend at the Golden Retriever National Specialty. Smiling vet students at the AKC CHF booth at Westminster encourage breeders and exhibitors to become members.
That last point is really important. Don’t breeders and vet students share a common love of animals?
I think that people still go into veterinary medicine because of the passion and the heart that goes with caring about animals. But you can only be as good as what you’re taught. So [it’s important to] get into the schools, fund educational grants and work with the AKC. It’s also important to bring students to dog shows so they see what that’s like, what’s involved. I use the example of the racing Pugs. When veterinary students see Pugs doing agility, for example, they say, “I didn’t know Pugs could race!” You know, it’s the nature of the work that veterinarians usually see animals that are sick. But when they come to a dog show they find all these healthy dogs!
What else is the AKC CHF doing to help foster good will among vet students and pure- bred dog breeders?
We fund clinical scientist fellowships, because who’s going to train the next gener- ation of veterinarians and scientists for ani- mal health? We collaborate with the AKC and the Theriogenology Foundation for the theriogenology residency grant program. Theriogenology is the study of reproduction in animals across all species. What we’ve tried to do with this program is bring fund- ing into the veterinary schools where they can train post-DVM residents to actually be working with dogs. And in every case we have seen the caseloads at those schools grow through bringing in this small animal theriogenology residency funding. Those residents then are working with breeders.
(Local breeders get involved, we encourage that.) This has been another way to have vet- erinary students and faculty be able to see what breeders are trying to do and understand what they’re trying to achieve. They’re working with canine reproduction, female and male, semen evaluation, TCI, the whole bit. (This is an area in veterinary medicine where pro- grams were going away, and the Theriogenology Foundation and the AKC recognized that.) Then they’re also teaching veterinary students. There’s something about veterinary students learning from their own peers and colleagues, right? We at AKC CHF became involved to manage the whole grant process and, again, we’re seeing fantastic outcomes. The veterinar- ians graduating from these programs are now out in practice working with breeders and they’re specialists in reproduction.
Is it a two-year residency?
Some schools do a two-year residency, others do a three. We now have a competitive grant program going forward where we’re able to fund two new residents a year at different schools. They’ve finished their veterinary degree and are being spread across the country. They’ve got significant student loans, so if they’re not provided funding to go and train at that next level, they end up going into practice because they need a job. The [residency] grants are $100,000 so students can be paid a living wage while they’re training in their resi- dency. They then need to go pass their boards. So, they study, they write articles for publica- tions and they pass their board exams. Then they’re specialists out in practice, serving breed- ers. It’s adding to that critical mass that breeders really need for support. But, let’s say you’re training at a veterinary school and you don’t have a small animal theriogenology program there. You probably will never see a pregnant bitch, a litter of puppies, do a C-section, etc. [By contrast], the theriogenology grant program has been successful with the AKC get- ting into the vet schools and bringing local breeders who come and take the vet students to dog shows and/or bring in their pregnant bitches and their puppies so that the students can see how this works. And I’ve even heard of instances where breeders around veteri- nary schools will invite veterinary students to come when they’re going to be whelping a litter. Bringing the therio residency program into a school helps make that official. Mari- Beth O’Neill is the person in charge of veterinary outreach at AKC. One example, she and I both went to a week-long dog breeding elective course that North Carolina State University held, and vet students elected to attend. It was run by a theriogenologist fac- ulty member and the theriogenology resident whom we were funding. They arranged with all these local breeders so that every day they had different breeders in and all these stu- dents could be hands-on. They got to look at pregnant bitches. They got to learn how to collect a male. They got to learn how to look at semen samples. They got to learn how AI works. They learned about—as Mari-Beth fondly says—pupsicles. They made those connections and you could see their eyes lit up. It’s such a two-way street to have the breeders participate.

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