Oklahoma State changes live-animal surgery program
"This plan has been under study for several years but not implemented due to lack of funding," Dr. Michael Lorenz, veterinary school dean, told faculty, staff and students in an April 20 e-mail. "I am pleased we now have the funds to implement the shelter medicine plan for the Year 3 Surgery Laboratory beginning this fall semester. All live-animal surgery will be survival, and we will utilize dogs from animal shelters for spay-and-neuter procedures. Animals will be returned to the shelters for adoption."
Previously, the school obtained animals from private dealers, and the animals were euthanized after a second surgery by third-year students. Last year, 76 dogs were euthanized.
The program sparked some controversy after the college newspaper reported that Madeleine Pickens, wife of OSU alumnus and philanthropist T. Boone Pickens, said she wanted to redirect her $5 million donation from the veterinary school because of laboratory practices.
According to reports, she now says she is comfortable sending the money to the school, but Lorenz and other school officials say the Pickens' $5 million gift was never specified as to purpose and remains in the OSU Foundation. The funds for the new shelter-medicine plan "are from the university and not from the OSU Foundation," Lorenz says in the e-mail.
The university budgeted $300,000 to finance the shelter program, which OSU President Burns Hargis says "is a win-win situation that continues to provide our (veterinary) students the training they need, addresses animal-welfare issues and offers a beneficial service to the community. Our veterinary school has wanted to adopt this program for some time, but did not have the necessary funding. We are pleased the funds are in place to make it happen."