pebbleA little, nine-pound cat with a dicey history is trying to give Benny Beaver a run for his money in the mascot department. The cat’s journey from critically-ill stray to Beaver Believer began at the Oregon Humane Society in Portland, Oregon.

A unique partnership exists between the Oregon Humane Society (OHS) and the College of Veterinary Medicine at OSU. It began in 2007 with the opening of the Animal Medical Learning Center (AMLC), a full-service animal hospital adjoining the OHS shelter.  At the center, veterinary students from OSU live onsite in dorms and take two-week clinical courses in primary care as part of their graduation requirement. They join OSU veterinary faculty and the OHS medical staff, working on everything from diagnoses to surgery. It’s a win-win collaboration and, as the first program of its kind in the nation, has become a model for other universities to follow. The benefits of the program to veterinary students and the Humane Society are obvious but for Pebble the cat, the partnership between OSU and OHS was a life saver.

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ScottieWhen Brenda Cutting was teaching her dog Scottie to lie down and ‘take a nap’, she had no idea how beneficial it would be to his future health, she was just training him to dazzle an audience.

Scottie is a twelve-year-old border collie with a whole slew of doggie titles under his collar. He is a Canine Music Freestyle Champion, a Heelwork Music Champion, and has received 2nd and 3rd place awards at the national Agility Dog Championships. Scottie came to Cutting as a youngster from Border Collie Rescue and the pair have spent thousands of hours together in training and performances.

Last year, Cutting noticed Scottie was breathing heavily during practice and his bark sounded funny. She took him to Ash Creek Animal Hospital where Dr. Bob Archer diagnosed laryngeal paralysis (larpar).

Larpar is a condition where muscles that control the larynx cease to function. It is fairly common in older, large-breed dogs, especially retrievers. Because dogs with larpar can’t breathe effectively, it deprives them of oxygen in their blood and impacts their quality of life. In some situations it can even be life-threatening. “They can get into a crisis situation, especially with heat or excitement” says OSU veterinary surgeon, Milan Milovancev. “A lot of people don’t pick up on the fact that their dog has larpar, they just notice a bark change or raspy sound in their breathing and think their dog is getting older and slowing down. They don’t realize their dog is suffocating.”

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Student Amy Sachs was part the team that saved the life of Leo.
Student Amy Sachs was part the team that saved Leo’s life.

“Leo is taller, has outgrown his halter, and is getting more assertive.”

This email message was big news in the offices and treatment areas of the OSU large animal hospital. Just a few weeks earlier, Leo was one of the sickest little calves doctors had ever seen.

Leo came into the world in April 2012, one of four newborns in Teresa Smith’s small herd of cattle. A white-faced Hereford bull, he arrived bright and peppy but by his fourth day, had a high fever and quit nursing. Smith was very concerned and brought him to the OSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital. By the time he arrived, Leo could not stand and was unresponsive. Doctors at the clinic started him on IV fluids and quickly ran diagnostic tests which revealed he was suffering from meningitis. most likely caused by a failure of passive transfer.

A failure of passive transfer happens when a calf receives too little antibody-rich colostrum (early milk) from its mom. Sometimes the mom is unwilling or sometimes the colostrum isn’t adequate; either way, it can be a life-threatening situation because the calf is born without any antibodies to fight bacteria. The amount of time a calf has to ingest colostrum and absorb antibodies is narrow and crucial: two or three hours after birth. It is literally a race against time to protect the newborn.

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