Binnie_farmWith the increased popularity of urban farming, people are discovering goats, and are charmed by their dog-like qualities. But goats are herd animals, so you can’t keep just one; a lone goat is sad, insecure, and loud.

Goats also require plenty of care (at least an hour a day for dairy goats), and are not cost-free. They need a sturdy enclosure, quality feed in the winter, and routine veterinary care including booster shots, worming, and hoof maintenance.

Susan Ragan has always loved animals, but she couldn’t have any when she was living and working as a photojournalist in New York City. “I moved to Oregon so I could have all the animals I wanted,” she says, “Now I have forty, if you count the chickens.” Fourteen of those are goats. “I fell in love with goats when I had the first kids,” she says. “They are so nutty and take wonderful photographs.”

Ragan’s favorite goat is a five year-old Nubian doe named Binnie. “She is the sweetest goat and a wonderful mother,” says Susan. “The funny part is: she is the daughter of the most ill-tempered goat I have ever known.”

In April, Binnie was pregnant with four kids and not doing well; she was lethargic and not eating, so her veterinarian induced birth and delivered the baby goats successfully. However, immediately following birth, Binnie became progressively weaker and could not stand to nurse her kids. Ragan was referred to the OSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital where they ran tests and diagnosed toxemia and dehydration.

Toxemia is common in pregnant goats when they do not take in enough nutrition to support themselves and their babies. Because there is an urgent need for calories, the goat starts breaking down her own body’s fat reserves. “Pregnancy toxemia is a metabolic disease that typically occurs in the last weeks of pregnancy,” says Dr. Trina Westerman. “It is caused by a negative energy balance in does that are not able to keep up with the increased energy demands of pregnancy.  Does at higher risk of pregnancy toxemia are often carrying multiple fetuses, may be underweight, overweight, or have another illness while pregnant.”

The breakdown of body fat in the doe causes a build-up of ketones in the blood and can be fatal. “She was dying,” says Ragan. “OSU saved her.”

Dr. Westerman treated Binnie with IV glucose, electrolytes, and vitamins. She also treated her for parasites. The newborn kids were habituated to bottle feeding, and removed from Binnie’s pen to decrease the energy drain on her. That’s when fourth-year students, on clinical rotation in the hospital, came in handy. Two kids were assigned to Kristen Hinatsu, and two were assigned to Holly Dion. “Although the kids were adorable, they are a ton of work!” says Hinatsu. “Every day they were weighed, and from that weight, we calculated their daily milk intake. We divided this amount into 12 bottle feedings per day. This meant that every 2 hours, we would measure out a certain number of milliliters of goat milk, warm it, and feed it to each of the four kids.”

While in the hospital, the four kids slept huddled together next to the fence separating them from their mother. “Binnie missed snuggling with them and regularly greeted them over the top of the fence,” says Hinatsu. “She also bleated loudly whenever we took one out to be weighed.”

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Endo proudly displays the ribbons he won for equitation at the State Fair.
Endo proudly displays the ribbons he won for equitation at the State Fair.

When Morgan Wagner was thirteen years old, her grandmother gave her a beautiful Appaloosa colt named Endo. Together they learned to ride and work as a team. In 2005, Morgan was diagnosed with the autoimmune disease Lupus. Over the next few years, her life was turned upside down. “Normal dreams like building a career and family were gone,” she says. “Endo was always there for me. He was my reason to keep going.”

In 2010, Morgan noticed a cloudiness in Endo’s left eye and took him to the OSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital. There, Dr. Jacob Mecham diagnosed Equine Recurring Uveitis (ERU), also known as Moon Blindness. ERU is a chronic, recurring inflammation of the uveal tract of the eye. Although there is minimal research on ERU, it is thought to be an auto-immune disorder, and seems to be more common in Appaloosas. The severity and timing of recurrences can vary.

Dr. Mecham treated Endo with topical anti-inflammatory and pain medication, and the condition resolved in ten days. Unfortunately, several months later, Endo was back in the hospital with uveitis in his right eye, and the disease became progressively worse.

Dr. Mecham prescribed daily doses of pills to control the painful inflammation in Endo’s eyes, but they affected his appetite. “When Endo heard the sound of the pill bottle, he would put his head in the corner of his stall,” says Morgan.

Unable to take medication, and with his pain increasing, Morgan and Dr. Mecham decided to remove Endo’s inflamed eyes. It was a tough decision, but it turned out to be the right one. “He was there for my struggle with accepting and learning to work with my own disability. I was going to help him through his struggle,” says Morgan.

At first he had a hard time adapting. “The hardest thing for him was maintaining his balance. Without his eyes he was unable to see light and dark. We learned there is a huge difference between blind with eyes, and without them. We spent months working on large circles at a walk, then gradually increased the difficulty until he was able to canter small circles,” says Morgan.

Fortunately, Endo is a very smart horse and began to compensate in other ways. “He figured out on his own that the dirt around trees, fence posts, and the arena walls is on an slight incline; he uses that to guide him around the property,” says Morgan.

Endo also has a very good memory. “If I touch his nose to something, he remembers where it is. When we travel for shows, I use the halter to guide his nose along the walls to learn the dimension of his new stall,” says Morgan.

With time, Endo was able to resume some of his favorite activities, like hanging out in the pasture with his buddy, Cinnamon, and riding with Morgan. Amazingly, Endo has little trouble navigating around the farm, including following the road around the buildings. Because he relies on his smell and hearing, there are two things that make him nervous: very loud, continuous noise like a tractor and snow. “The tractor interferes with his hearing,” says Morgan, “and the snow deadens smells.”

Surprisingly, Morgan has also been able to retrain Endo to navigate trail courses, and even jumps, with verbal cues. In 2014, Morgan and Endo stunned the audience at the Northwest Horse Expo All Breed Challenge with their ability to fly through an obstacle course. Later that year, they also competed at the Las Vegas Andalusian World Cup in Working Equitation classes. Morgan’s fees for those events were partially covered by friends of Endo who contributed to a Go Fund Me campaign.

“Endo is amazing,” says Dr. Mecham. “The trust he has for Morgan, that allows him to jump blind, is incredible.”

Morgan just says: “He is a very special horse.”

You can view a video of Endo, coming down the road to Morgan’s call, on Endo’s Facebook page.

 

 

Pharmacy Director Brian Bowers, Pharmacy Tech Matthew Russell, and Pharmacist Rosita Proteau work with interns from the OSU College of Pharmacy.
Pharmacy Director Brian Bowers, Pharmacy Tech Matthew Russell, and Pharmacist Rosita Proteau work with interns from the OSU College of Pharmacy.

Until recently, Dr. Rosita Proteau was an associate professor in the OSU College of Pharmacy, teaching and conducting research in the human health arena. Then she decided to change things up . . . not just a different job, but a whole new group of species.

Dr. Proteau now works in the pharmacy at the OSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital (VTH), where she dispenses medication for a wide range of animals, from Chihuahuas to Clydesdales. “It is challenging in a different way [from academia],” she says. “I get prescriptions for goats, pigs, alpacas, dogs, cats . . . so I am constantly using Plumb’s Vet to calculate doses. The other day, a veterinarian called to ask about antibiotics for a duck.”

But there is a lot more to her job than filling prescriptions. Along with Pharmacy Director, Brian Bowers, she advises veterinary students, consults with hospital specialists, and trains interns from the OSU College of Pharmacy. On any given day, she fields a lot of questions from pet owners, usually about drug reactions and side effects, and spends part of every day helping veterinary students learn about drug treatment. “We have some really good discussions,” she says.

The VTH pharmacy offers services to patients of the hospital and the veterinarians who refer them. But they are also a resource for the Corvallis community. Private practice veterinarians often call for advise on regulations, dosage or compounding, and the pharmacy even gets questions from retail pharmacists. “The compounding pharmacies sometimes get veterinary prescriptions,” says Bowers.

With this great resource located right down the hall from the veterinary hospital, Bowers and Proteau have many opportunities to work closely with the doctors. “We have a ground-breaking arena for bringing pharmacists and doctors together,” says Bowers. “I enjoy working as an interdisciplinary team component.”

Bowers and Proteau don’t do all this work alone. Dr. Sophia Trieu is the relief pharmacist working Saturdays and holidays, and Matthew Russell is a pharmacy technician who helps fill prescriptions. Longtime pharmacy employee, Jeffrey Holland, is a drug room technician who manages the Cubex machine, which dispenses critical drugs, like analgesics and antibiotics, after hours when a pharmacist is not available. He also does the billing and ordering.

Both Bowers and Proteau value the variety of challenges a veterinary pharmacy offers. “I have a great appreciation for the veterinary end of pharmacy. It is multi-dimensional,” says Bowers. “It makes my day very interesting. I love it.”

 

 

JasperJasper is a very popular visitor in the hospitals and care homes around Portland. A therapy dog for most of his life, Jasper has learned how to work a room and, like any performer, he has a knack for finding the most appreciative members of the audience. “He’s very intuitive,” says his owner, Ilene Agosto. “I let him go where he wants and choose who to greet.”

As a Great Pyrenees weighing 120 pounds, Jasper is not a typical lap dog, but he’s happy to oblige if someone wants to snuggle. On a recent visit to an Alzheimer’s facility, Jasper immediately recognized a kindred spirit: He went over to the biggest man in the room and got acquainted. Then, much to the man’s delight, Jasper backed up and gently sat on his lap. ”It was love at first sight,” says Agosto.

Although the best skills he brings to his job are a gentle nature and friendly attitude, Jasper is most famous for his hats. He has dozens, including Jamaican dreadlocks, a propeller beanie and, of course, a nurses hat. All the staff at his regular stops look forward to seeing what he will wear next. “If I forget his hat, I have to stop and buy one,” laughs Agosto.

In May, Jasper was diagnosed with osteosarcoma (bone cancer) in his left fore limb. Canine osteosarcoma is an aggressive cancer and, untreated, dogs usually die within two months of diagnosis. “The gold standard for canine osteosarcoma treatment involves amputation and chemotherapy,” says Dr. Haley Leeper, canine oncology resident at OSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital (VTH). “However, we offer palliative options for owners who elect not to pursue amputation.”

Because Jasper is so big, and his cancer is in a front leg, Agosto chose to treat him for pain and quality of life only. “Dogs carry 60% of their weight in their forelimbs,” says Dr. Leeper. “A forelimb amputation puts stress on the remaining front leg which can lead to osteoarthritis and other joint disorders.”

Dr. Leeper, and canine oncologist Dr. Shay Bracha, are treating Jasper with pain medication, chemotherapy and Zoledronate, a bisphosphonate that improves bone density and prevents fracture. Now into his seventh month of treatment, Jasper is tolerating the chemotherapy and doing well, with no weight loss and no lameness in his front leg. Jasper continues to make therapy visits, and is living a normal dog life with his pal Moxie.

Dr. Martha MaloneyHuss and veteriary student Ashely Runey admire Jasper's new hat.
Dr. Martha MaloneyHuss and veterinary student Ashley Runey admire Jasper’s new hat.

Jasper’s last visit to OSU for chemotherapy is coming up so Tammy Barr, the VTH client advocate, got him a special going away present: An orange cap with Benny the Beaver on the front and his name embroidered on the side. “He’s such a special dog,” she says. “He loves to get hugs from clients in our lobby, and he puts a smile on everyone’s face, even those that are so worried about their own pet. I thought he needed an OSU hat so his other friends would know that he goes to OSU and is a Beaver Believer!”

 

Meredith Merton and her duck Issanah.
Meredith Merton and her duck Issanah.

Despite a ninety-year sports rivalry between the OSU Beavers and the Oregon Ducks, doctors and staff at the OSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital are committed to saving the lives of all animals, even ducks. Especially when a badly injured duck belongs to a young girl who is very fond of her pet.

April Merton has a small, urban farm on the outskirts of Corvallis. There, she and her two daughters have eighteen goats, numerous rabbits and chickens, and seven ducks. Ten-year-old Meredith Merton likes the ducks best. “They are nicer than chickens,” she says. Her favorite duck is Issanah because she is “friendliest with people.”

Last month, they found Issanah bleeding from multiple throat lacerations. April Merton thinks she may have been mauled by a racoon. “We’ve had problems with raccoons,” she says. “They opened the latch on the hen house and killed some chicks.” Meredith was very upset and asked her dad if they could take Issanah to a veterinarian. He agreed and they rushed her to the OSU veterinary hospital.

Usually, the hospital refers avian medical cases to a private practice veterinarian. But when the Mertons showed up with Issanah, Dr. Jorge Vanegas made an exception because the duck’s injuries were severe, including a lacerated esophagus and fractured right wing. He sedated Issanah and sewed up her neck with dozens of small stitches. “It was difficult,” he says, “because there is so little skin and muscle in a duck’s neck.” Then he set the wing with two tongue depressors for a splint.

Fortunately, student Katelyn Hollars was on duty that day and was familiar with raising ducks. “She was very helpful,” says Dr. Vanegas. “She helped calculate the medication dosage and wrapped the repaired wing next to the duck’s body.” He sent the Mertons home with an antibiotic to add to Issanah’s water, and instructions to keep her quiet and confined to a small area.

Meredith took extra good care Issanah, but one small hole in her throat was not healing well, so Dr. Vanegas added more stitches on a follow-up visit. That did the trick. “I wasn’t sure if she would make it, but I guess ducks are tough,” he says.

Now Issanah is doing great, scurrying around the farmyard with the other ducks in their little family group. “She went right back to laying eggs,” says April Merton, who now has an incubator with eggs from two ducks; the white ones with brown speckles look just like their mom Issanah.

 

Rusty_topWhen a coworker asked Kirk Rogers if he was interested in adopting a dog, he said, ‘Probably not.’ Then he saw Rusty’s happy face and big, goofy feet, and fell in love. Rogers took Rusty home that day.

Rogers was not the only one to fall for Rusty’s charm. The two-year-old Bassett Hound-mix makes friends wherever he goes. On a recent visit to the OSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital, he trotted into the lobby and immediately went around the room saying ‘Hello’ to everyone by politely standing in front of them and wagging his tail. “To him, everyone is a friend,” says Rogers. Rusty was feeling especially good that day because he had recently resumed normal dog activities. Just two months earlier, a seizure left Rusty unable to move his two right legs.

When Rogers adopted Rusty, they started a daily routine, taking one or two walks where Rogers allowed the dog to follow his nose. As a scent-hound, these walks were Rusty’s favorite activity.

But a few weeks after settling into his new home, Rusty started acting like his neck was stiff and sore, so Rogers took him to a veterinarian who prescribed NSAIDS and rest. Rusty got better. Then it happened again a month later, and periodically after that.

Rusty_Composite
Top: An MRI shows the fractured vertebra in Rusty’s backbone. Bottom: The repaired vertebra after surgery.

One day, while out on a walk, Rusty had a seizure, collapsed, and could not get up. Roger’s immediately took him to his veterinarian who referred him to the OSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital. There, orthopedic surgeon Dr. Wendy Baltzer ordered an MRI which revealed a fracture of the C2, the second cervical vertebra in his neck. The C2 forms a pivot upon which the C1 vertebra, which holds up the head, can rotate.

The C2 fracture was causing dislocation of the two vertebrae and resulting in a severe compression of Rusty’s spinal cord. Dr. Baltzer recommended surgery.

The atlantoaxial joint, in the upper part of the neck, lies between the first and second cervical vertebra; it is a complicated set of bones and ligaments. Dr. Baltzer stabilized this joint using four screws, two wires, and bone cement, effectively fusing the C1 and C2 vertebra together (see image at right).

Following surgery, Dr. Baltzer placed a brace on Rusty’s neck and, for 72 hours, the hospital ICU closely monitored him for any sign of spinal cord swelling or breathing difficulty. Overall Rusty did really well and soon began standing, and even taking short walks.

Rogers was able to take Rusty home with instructions for seven weeks of gentle physical therapy movement. But, to allow his neck to heal properly, Dr. Baltzer advised strict limits on Rusty’s activity. This meant keeping the dog in a kennel for a large part of the day, and allowing him no walks other than potty breaks: not an easy task for the owner of an energetic hound. “It was really difficult keeping a nose-dog confined to a small kennel, even with anti-anxiety medication,” says Rogers.

Despite the frustration of enforced confinement, Rusty did not lose his happy disposition and, on weekly visits to the hospital to get his neck splint changed, he quickly became a favorite with the staff, students and doctors. “The students and veterinarian were all great,” says Rogers. “I appreciated that everyone fell in love with Rusty.”

Finally the two month ordeal was over and the happy day arrived: x-rays revealed that Rusty’s neck was healing nicely and the neck brace was removed. Dr. Baltzer released him to normal dog activity, even running, but cautioned Rogers to restrict play with other dogs. Rogers is happy to have his best pal back on the trail. “I really missed our daily walks,” he says.

Rusty in his orange-wrapped back splint. Go Beavs!
Rusty in his orange-wrapped back splint. Go Beavs!
Dr. Milan Milovancev, soft-tissue veterinary surgeon at the OSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital, uses cutting-edge technology to remove the lobe of a dog's lung.
Dr. Milan Milovancev, soft-tissue veterinary surgeon at the OSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital, uses cutting-edge technology to remove the cancerous lobe of a dog’s lung.

The well-thumbed magazines and stacks of newspapers in the sunny lobby of the Small Animal Hospital at OSU represent many hours of patient waiting for the thousands of pet owners who visit the Lois Bates Acheson Veterinary Teaching Hospital each year.

Referred by their family veterinarian, most of the hospital’s clients bring pets with complex health issues like cancer, compound fractures, heart conditions, or rare diseases. With the largest group of board-certified veterinary specialists in Oregon, and state-of-the-art facilities, OSU can bring together diverse resources and a team effort to heal these challenging conditions.

A recent example of complex teamwork kicked into gear in January when a twelve-year-old Weimaraner visited the hospital with a swollen toe.

Alijah was an outwardly healthy, active dog but his family veterinarian was concerned about a small growth on the second toe of his right foot. She referred his owners to OSU for further evaluation.

Dr. Stuart Helfand is a veterinary oncologist with thirty years of experience in cancer care for companion animals. When the x-rays he ordered for Alijah revealed a suspicious area in his lung, Dr. Helfand was able to consult with Dr. Sarah Nemanic, a veterinary radiologist at OSU. They advised Alijah’s owners  that a Computed Tomography (CT) scan would help determine the nature of this suspicious mass.

The OSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital (VTH) has a 64-slice CT scanner that is currently the fastest, and only one of its kind, used in veterinary medicine in the United States. This high-speed and precise machine is capable of capturing detailed, 3-dimensional images of the entire body of small animals, providing diagnostic information that cannot be obtained using other imaging techniques.

Alijah’s CT scan revealed a two-centimeter, irregular lesion on his left lung. Based on the shape of the lesion, Drs. Helfand and Nemanic decided it was likely to be a lung tumor. The CT also revealed a ten-centimeter mass in the dog’s spleen. Dr. Nemanic then did an ultrasound-guided biopsy of the lung lesion which was tested in the OSU Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory and found to be cancerous.

As with many cases at the VTH, doctors offered Alijah’s owners several options for treatment, from continued monitoring to surgery. His owners elected to have Alijah’s spleen, second toe, and right lung surgically removed. This option was possible because a dog doesn’t need his spleen, the second toe is not a major weight- bearing toe, and the loss of one lobe of the lung does not create a major impairment.

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Cytology team at the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory: Dr. Sue Tornquist, Dr. Austin Viall, and Dr. Elena Gorman.
Cytology team at the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory:
Dr. Sue Tornquist, Dr. Austin Viall, and Dr. Elena Gorman.

While clients of the small animal hospital are waiting to get a diagnosis on a pet who may or may not have cancer, a crack team of cytopathologists are working behind the scenes at the OSU Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (VDL) to provide answers as quickly as possible.

That team of experts includes Dr. Elena Gorman, Assistant Professor of Clinical Pathology, Dr. Sue Tornquist, Interim Dean and Clinical Pathologist, and Dr. Austin Viall, Clinical Pathology Resident. Their work involves the examination under a microscope of preparations made from body fluids or solid tissue that is sent to them by doctors at the OSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital.

“In the course of a day, we take multiple ultrasound-guided, fine needle aspirates and within a few hours, or less if needed, we can get an answer if the patient has potential cancer or not,” says Dr. Susanne Stieger-Vanegas, Assistant Professor of veterinary diagnostic imaging. “Without their tremendous expertise and knowledge, we would not get a quick answer on what we are dealing with,” says Stieger-Vanegas.

Fine needle aspiration is a rapid method for determining if a solid lump of tissue is benign or malignant. By using a syringe to extract cells from a suspicous growth, then examining them under a microscope, an experienced cytopathologist can look for the presence of cell abnormalities and make a diagnosis. It is faster and less invasive than a biopsy.

In addition to the rewards of helping to treat and save pets, there are other aspects of cytopathology that make this team passionate about their work. “Cells are really very beautiful,’ says Dr. Tornquist. “I’m a big mystery fan. Looking for patterns in the cell types, and other things we see in a cytology sample, is like trying to put together all the clues in a mystery and solving it. And at the end of this process, you can have an impact on the lives of animals and their people.”

One advantage of being a VDL pathologist, as opposed to working at a laboratory that services hundreds of veterinary hospitals, is that the patients and doctors are located right down the hall. “I love that I have a plethora of specialists who I can turn to for information and education,” says Gorman. “Being associated with a teaching hospital makes our diagnostic capabilities so much stronger. It’s invaluable to be able to discuss the clinical aspects of a case and even go look at the patient if I so choose,” she says. “I can’t imagine working anywhere else.”

In addition to diagnosing disease, the pathologists also participate in numerous research projects and teach students. “I love teaching and working with students, house officers and clinicians,” says Gorman. “It’s so much more fun to share the experience because, well, cells are cool!”

Dr. Jennifer Warnock, an orthopedic surgeon at the Lois Bates Acheson Veterinary Teaching Hospital, releases at Merlin falcon after repairing its fractured wing.
Dr. Jennifer Warnock, an orthopedic surgeon at the Lois Bates Acheson Veterinary Teaching Hospital, releases at Merlin falcon after repairing its fractured wing.

At the Rogers Wayside Park near Silverton, Oregon, Dr. Jennifer Warnock and OSU veterinary student Kyra Knutson placed a pet carrier in the middle of a grassy field. It was a quiet spot surrounded by trees and, more importantly, it was on the north-south bird migration path of the Pacific Flyway. Warnock donned a pair of heavy, foot-long, leather gloves, opened the carrier door, and gently removed a brown bird the size of a cockatoo. The bird was covered with a lightweight blanket to keep it warm and calm. As Knutson removed the blanket, Warnock lifted her arms and let go. The bird was so fast, it took off in a blur and landed in the nearest tree before they could even watch it fly. After a few minutes, the bird flew across the field to a taller tree. “She’s cutting just the way she is supposed to; that’s a good sign,” said Warnock.

The bird was a Merlin, a type of small migratory falcon, also known as a Pigeon Hawk.  Six months earlier, a good Samaritan had stopped and rescued the bird from the middle of a road north of Rogers Wayside and took it to the Turtle Ridge Wildlife Center near Salem. The Merlin had a fractured wing so they called the OSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital to ask if a surgeon was available to repair it.

Unfortunately, the answer to that question is often, ‘No’. The small animal hospital at OSU is generally limited to the treatment of cats and dogs, but Warnock is an orthopedic surgeon with a personal interest in raptor rehabilitation, and squeezes enough money out of her teaching fund to help about one bird a year. She uses that opportunity to give students with an interest in avian medicine an chance to observe the surgery. “It’s a great learning experience for them,” she says.

One of the missions of the OSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital is to use minimally invasive surgery whenever possible. Dr. Warnock repaired the Merlin’s fractured radius and ulna using fluoroscopy, a technique that uses images obtained during surgery via x-ray. Those images appear on a monitor that the surgeon watches as she operates. “We were able to stabilize the fracture without making incisions, which not only decreases postoperative pain,” says Warnock, “but also preserves bone blood supply, thus allowing comminuted fractures to heal.”

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