SLIDESHOW: The top 10 veterinary stories of 2012 - DVM
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SLIDESHOW: The top 10 veterinary stories of 2012
Here are the most popular news topics of the year based on your traffic on dvm360.com.

DVM360 MAGAZINE

The reality of Dr. Pol

The life of Jan Pol, DVM, produced more drama in 2012 than a top-rated reality TV show. While Nat Geo Wild’s The Incredible Dr. Pol charmed viewers, set ratings records and polarized the veterinary profession, its star was placed on probation for a 2010 case that resulted in a dog’s death. Pol utilizes an unapologetically “old school” approach to veterinary medicine, but Nat Geo Wild (a spinoff of the National Geographic Channel) has no plans to end its relationship with Pol anytime soon. Pol has paid his $500 fine and has until May 2013 to complete his mandated continuing education hours in order to lift the probation. The longtime veterinarian doesn’t apologize for his practice and doesn’t worry about his critics. The new season of The Incredible Dr. Pol is slated to begin airing January 2013.

For more on Dr. Pol:

Pol stands by 'old school' approach to veterinary practice

Dr. Pol, reality TV veterinarian, fined and placed on probation for negligence, incompetence

Some reviews of 'The Incredible Dr. Pol' reality show not so incredible

Photo gallery: Who is Dr. Pol?

The Incredible Dr. Pol: Michigan veterinarian makes television debut

Walmart: The 600-pound gorilla

In early 2012, Velcera’s FidoPharm unveiled a canine generic heartworm preventive and made the controversial decision to sell the product only through Walmart and Sam’s Club pharmacies. The company sent veterinarians letters about PetTrust Plus (ivermectin/pyrantel), an FDA-approved prescription chewable tablet, but despite these overtures, many veterinarians were far from pleased. One wrote on the dvm360.com Community, “These companies come across like they have the pet owners’ best interests at heart, when the net effect is going to be higher veterinary fees so we can keep our doors open. This ... is not a good thing for the consumer in the long run.” In August, Walmart announced the launch of a new premium dry dog food, and the company is also said to be behind the Fairness to Pet Owners Act, a bill that would require veterinarians to write prescriptions for all meds (see no. 7). “Walmart is a force to be reckoned with,” says analyst John Volk.

For more on this issue:

FidoPharm readies for heartworm preventive launch through Wal-Mart, Sam's Club

Discussion: What do you think of FidoPharm's strategy?

Walmart launches premium dog food

Losing product sales? Go down swinging, CVC speaker says

Slipping veterinary salaries

While almost everyone has felt the sting of a struggling economy over the last few years, when it comes to healthcare professionals, veterinarians are among the hardest-hit. In 2011, entry-level salaries for DVMs were far lower than starting salaries for dentists, medical doctors and pharmacists, although the debt burden among veterinarians and MDs was about the same. Making matters worse, a survey conducted by the AVMA this year revealed that not only have starting salaries been slipping, but job offers for new graduates have declined as well. The only thing that’s rising steadily? The debt loads most of these veterinary students face upon graduating.

Related articles:

AVMA survey reveals bleak situation for new veterinary graduates

Imbalanced veterinary workforce highlights opportunities as well as challenges

Bound by debt: Veterinarians struggle with student loans in a tepid economy

State of the Profession: A look at veterinary compensation

Jeers for NBC's Animal Practice

The NBC comedy Animal Practice, about a veterinarian who loves animals but hates people, premiered Sept. 26 and survived only five episodes before being put out of its misery. The show revolved around a chaotic New York veterinary hospital where George Coleman, DVM, played by Justin Kirk, played poker games with a resident monkey and hosted turtle races in the break room. Needless to say, the majority of DVM Newsmagazine readers were less than thrilled with the show’s presentation of the veterinary profession. Many veterinarians rejoiced when NBC announced that it was canceling Animal Practice and putting an end to the monkey business once and for all. The last episode of the attempt at comedy aired Oct. 24.

For more on Animal Practice:

New sitcom Animal Practice coming to NBC this fall

Animal Practice canceled by NBC; last episode Oct. 24

Jerky illness: an ongoing mystery

The number of reported illnesses and deaths associated with chicken jerky imported from China continued to rise throughout 2012 without confirmation of a cause, despite ongoing investigations by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA has reiterated its warning concerning products made with chicken jerky several times and has expanded its investigation to duck and yam products as well, but it will not issue a recall without a specific cause of illness. Manufacturers, including Waggin’ Train LLC, claim their products are safe to feed as directed. A federal class-action lawsuit is pending against Nestlé Purina Petcare Co., Waggin’ Train and distributors of the treats, including Wal-Mart Stores Inc. According to the FDA, 360 canine deaths and one feline death have been reported to date, along with thousands of illnesses.

For more on this issue:

Death toll associated with chicken jerky treats reaches 360; illnesses at 2,200

Pet owners find lack of chicken jerky recall, FDA warning unacceptable

Dog's death leads to federal lawsuit over chicken jerky treats from China

FDA warns consumers to take caution when feeding pets chicken jerky products imported from China

Video: Causes of glucosuria

The myth of the veterinary 'shortage'

Is there truly a shortage of veterinarians in the United States? Four years after launching an investigation into this question, a National Academies of Science panel says “no.” However, that’s a highly qualified “no.” The panel did find that there are unfilled positions in many sectors of veterinary medicine, especially those focused on research and public health. The committee also says that a decline in veterinary school funding is jeopardizing the profession’s ability to meet society’s needs, that the cost of veterinary education is at a “crisis point,” that the profession is losing its presence in food animal production and care, and that veterinarians must be ready to manage the global food challenges that will dominate the 21st century.

For more on this issue:

No veterinary workforce shortage, study finds

Imbalanced veterinary workforce highlights opportunities as well as challenges

Veterinary pharmacy's uncertain future

The veterinary drug distribution model is no longer as clear-cut as it used to be. Big-box retailers, online pet pharmacies and even human pharmacies have slowly been chipping away at one source of revenue—prescription drug sales—that many veterinarians have been relying on for decades. And while seemingly dead this year, HR 1406, the Fairness to Pet Owners Act, will probably resurface again in 2013 and further complicate matters. If passed, the bill would require veterinarians to write a prescription whether or not they will dispense a product, provide a written disclosure notifying clients that they may fill prescriptions at the veterinary clinic or at an off-site pharmacy, and verify prescriptions electronically. In light of these challenges one thing is clear—veterinarians will have to find creative ways to to replace eroding pharmacy revenue.

For more on this issue:

The changing veterinary drug model

The real future of veterinary pharmacy

FTC seeks veterinarians' input on pet medication industry

HR 1406, Fairness to Pet Owners Act, is dead, says AVMA lobbyist

FTC, AVMA, pharmaceutical industry members to discuss business practices and distribution of pet medications

FTC workshop focuses on pet medications

Alabama's nonprofit debate

An ongoing battle between low-cost spay-neuter clinics and the Alabama State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners (ASBVME) kept the role of nonprofit veterinary clinics in the news. After the quiet death of a pro-nonproft-clinic bill in the Alabama legislature, the ASBVME wasted no time in trying to close what members deemed a “loophole” in the state practice act. A proposed amendment would not only have required veterinary ownership of all practices but also would have forbidden nonveterinarians from providing equipment, facilities or materials to veterinarians. Public backlash and the 11th-hour opposition of the Alabama Veterinary Medical Association resulted in the amendment’s failure. Many in Alabama say the issue is far from decided and will again be front and center during the next legislative session—if not sooner.

For more on this issue:

Alabama spay-neuter conflict called a 'PR nightmare' for veterinarians

Hotly debated amendments to Alabama practice act voted down by state board

Conflict over nonprofit veterinary clinics escalates in Alabama

Alabama spay-neuter bill dies quiet death

Spay-neuter bill passes Alabama Legislature

Explosion kills woman, horse

In February, an explosion at Kentucky Equine Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation Center (KESMARC) South Equine Rehabilitation Center resulted in the death of an employee, Erica Marshall, and a 6-year-old gelding, Tux, who was receiving hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Sorcha Moneley, who was observing the treatment and injured in the blast, said Tux was being treated for equine protozoal myeloencephalitis (EPM) and that the horse had been in the chamber for about 22 minutes and was “unsettled.” Eventually, Tux kicked out sharp to his rear, knocking into a lid at the rear of the chamber. The lid became dislodged and fell, revealing raw metal to the inside of the chamber, said the Marion County Sheriff’s Office. Tux, who was wearing steel shoes, dislodged protective padding inside the chamber and continued to kick and create sparks.

For related article:

Equine hyperbaric oxygen chamber explosion in Florida kills woman and horse

Veterinarians (and team members) behaving badly

Most veterinarians and team members make headlines for the good work they do—but some get spotlighted for notorious criminal behavior. A few examples from 2012: Amanda Limmer, a technician in Oklahoma, was arrested after the hospital where she worked discovered that 11,000 pills and 2.5 gallons of hydrocodone syrup were missing. Brandi Tomko of Akron, Ohio, was indicted after accusations surfaced that she was acting as a veterinarian without a license or formal training—including performing surgery. Andrew Manesis, DVM, of New York City was arrested in May for allegedly dumping 35 pet carcasses along a highway in Westchester County. Pamela Johnsen, DVM, of Washington, Ky., was charged with stealing $170,000 from her mother to send to a man she met online who turned out to be a group of scammers. And finally, after 19,000 µg of fentanyl went missing at the Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine, Kari Boyer, a technician, was charged with felony theft.

For related articles:

Veterinary employee arrested on drug charges

Ohio woman faces charges after acting as veterinarian without license

New York veterinarian charged with unlawfully dumping dead animal bodies

Veterinarian charged with theft, exploitation after falling for Internet scam

Veterinary technician charged in fentanyl theft at Iowa State

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