Weekly News Roundup 12/13 to 12/19

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Texas A&M veterinary team treats Baylor bear mascot for benign tumor

Judge Sue “Lady” Sloan is no ordinary American black bear. In Waco, Lady holds a distinguished role as one of Baylor University’s two live animal mascots. She also has the luxury of regular veterinary care from zoological specialists at the Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences’ Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital. When these veterinary specialists discovered a benign mass called a thymoma in Lady’s chest, they teamed up to deliver a course of treatment never before used on a bear—stereotactic body radiation therapy using the TomoTherapy system, a system found at only one other veterinary hospital in the world. This treatment has the potential to completely stop the tumor’s growth while also preserving the 17-year-old bear’s quality of life. . . . more

Santa Claus’ official veterinarian okays reindeer for flight

Rudolph, Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, and Blitzen have been cleared for travel by the North Pole’s veterinarian. John Howe, DVM, Santa’s personal animal caregiver and president of the American Veterinary Medical Association, visited the North Pole earlier this month to give the reindeer a preflight health check, ensure they were up to date on their vaccinations, and make sure they have the certificates required to allow them to travel across state and national borders. “After a full examination and review of their medical records, I’m pleased to say Santa’s reindeer are healthy, in great shape, and ready to fly on Christmas Eve,” Howe says. The annual exam includes a health check to ensure the team is not showing any signs of disease, such as brucellosis, tuberculosis, or chronic wasting disease, which might affect their ability to fly or make other animals sick. . . . more

Researchers visit Idaho to see if dogs can detect avian flu

Dogs, known for their keen sense of smell, can detect things like illicit drugs, invasive species, and even whether someone is having a stroke. Now, a team of researchers from Colorado State University is looking at whether canines may also be able to sense the presence of avian influenza. They recently came to Hagerman, Idaho, to conduct a study with help from the United States Department of Agriculture and Idaho Fish and Game. In the parking lot by a boat launch, the group gathered around what looked like a training course for dogs. Liz Ramirez, the dog handler, took six dogs down rows of black metal boxes sitting on the ground. At each box, the dogs paused to sniff. Inside the boxes were waterfowl, most likely mallards, that were donated by local hunters. . . . more

Bill would cover cost of service dogs for veterans with PTSD

Lawmakers and veterans advocacy groups are ready for change after waiting nearly a decade for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to change its policy on not reimbursing for service dogs for veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The Puppies Assisting Wounded Servicemembers, or PAWS, Act would require the VA to offer $25,000 vouchers to veterans suffering from PTSD for use at qualifying nonprofits. Currently, the VA only supports service dogs for use in mobility issues, not in cases that only involve mental health conditions. In 2010, Congress mandated that the VA study the use of service dogs for PTSD and other mental health problems. But the pilot was suspended twice when two service dogs bit children and some dogs experienced health issues. . . . more

BluePearl joins Banfield to expand associate relief program

BluePearl Specialty and Emergency Pet Hospital announced it will work with Banfield Pet Hospital to support and expand its associate relief program, the Better Together Fund. The program—which is now jointly funded by BluePearl, Banfield, and their associates, along with public donations—grants financial assistance to employees experiencing hardships due to domestic violence or a natural or manmade disaster. Employees impacted by natural or manmade disasters such as fires, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, terrorism, and domestic violence can apply for a tax-free financial grant ranging between $500 and $3,000. These relief grants help provide essential, short-term living expenses such as housing, utilities, food, clothing, and other necessities otherwise not covered by insurance. . . . more