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MAGA ZINE of thE cuMMINGs school of vE tErINAry MEdIcINE

fa L L 201 1 VO L . 1 3 N O. 1

veterinary medicine


InsIde the

the tough and tender stories of pets in crisis

PLUS: bad kitty



ca s e solv e d

true hollywood story

an award-winning career. a triumphant return from retirement. a battle with a life-threatening illness. a starring role in a film that's getting Oscar buzz. in her 10 years, bella, a wirehair fox terrier, already has seen enough drama to warrant her own sensational tell-all on the E! television network. "i fell in love with bella at first sight," says Lucia Hackett of the retired show dog she purchased from a breeder. bella (or Ch Hiwire act at Hexham Cd RE SE CGC, as the titlewinning terrier is officially known) and Hackett began obedience work and soon started showing, this time in the veterans' ring. Life seemed unfailingly sunny. then last april, Hackett brought bella to tufts' foster Hospital for Small animals with gastrointestinal issues. Veterinarians found a lump in her abdomen: a mast cell tumor, a common type of skin cancer in dogs. "i couldn't believe bella was so sick," says Hackett, who lives in North Grafton, Mass. "i love this dog, and i never want to see her suffer." Rob McCarthy, V83, a veterinary surgeon at tufts, removed the tumor and two lymph glands, one of which was malignant. five days later, bella was back home."i didn't want her climbing stairs, so i decided to sleep with her on the kitchen floor," says Hackett. "Later that night, she came to lick my ear. Her tail was wagging, and i think she was saying, `i'm home.'" determined to be optimistic about bella's recovery, Hackett submitted some photos of her pet to a casting call posted online for a new Wes anderson film. anderson, who received academy award nominations for The Royal Tenenbaums and The Fantastic Mr. Fox, cast bella in his seventh movie, Moonrise Kingdom. four weeks after her surgery, bella was on set in Newport, R.i., with the actors bill Murray, bruce Willis and tilda Swinton. the film, about two runaways, comes out early next year. it's already garnering Oscar chatter. far from the glare of tinseltown, Hackett is content to simply enjoy more time with bella: "i hug her especially tight each day."

photo: AloNso NIchols



6 the Landlord

Ray Powell, V84, is the guardian of 13 million acres of land in New Mexico that generate $500 million annually for the state's public schools, universities and hospitals.

fALL 2011 vOLUME 13 NO.1

8 ain't misbehavin'

Some expert advice on transforming your "cat from hell" into a mannerly feline. By Genevieve Rajewski

COvEr StOry

12 inside theer

Their stories are heartwarming and heartbreaking, and more than 10,000 of them play out in the emergency room of the Foster Hospital for Small Animals each year. We take you behind the scenes in this photo essay. By Alonso Nichols

20 Forces ofnature

Even though 61 percent of folks say they would ride out the fury of a natural disaster rather than abandon their pets, it wasn't until after Hurricane Katrina that officials began thinking about the plight of animals in these dire situations. By Genevieve Rajewski



2 From the Dean upFront



3 24 28 30 32

on Campus



t H E PAt H t O d I S C Ov E r y




On the cover: Adam Porter, v08, senior resident at the foster Hospital Er, cradles Ozzie, the Belgian shepherd he diagnosed with a virulent lung cancer. Photograph by Alonso Nichols Back cover photograph by Alonso Nichols

from the dean



tornadoes, a hurricane and an unusually early snowstorm in October reminded us to expect the unexpected in Massachusetts this year. Around the world natural disasters, including earthquakes and tsunamis, have devastated animals and humans and reinforced the impact of misfortune in a global economy. In this issue you will read how veterinarians respond to emergencies--from those that play out in the microcosm of the Foster Hospital to regional and national crises in which trained veterinary responders render assistance through increasingly sophisticated networks. Emergency response is about being prepared and having the right organization followed by the right process. Our students benefit from learning these principles and are eager to apply their talents when regional and national emergencies strike. It is gratifying that many already have participated in local emergency preparedness organizations even before they begin their veterinary studies. Our students hone their interest in service throughout their time at Tufts University by mounting campaigns to assist shelter animals, collecting supplies for and conducting research with veterinary schools in developing countries and responding generously to disasters in the U.S. and abroad. The quality of our students reassures all of us that the veterinary profession remains solidly on the right track, despite persistent national economic challenges. These challenges have led to reductions in the numbers of faculty and staff, the elimination of some programs and dwindling resources for basic, clinical and translational research. For the sake of current and future students, there is a sense of urgency on the part of the profession to reverse the national trend of declining state and federal support for veterinary education. The Tufts way is to address economic challenges by harnessing and enhancing creativity. A partner and leader in these efforts is the university's new president, Anthony P. Monaco, himself a physician and scientist. His first semester at Tufts has highlighted themes important to our campus, including excellence in graduate and professional education, evidencebased thinking and learning, research in infectious diseases, neurosciences and clinical specialties and a commitment to global health and active citizenship. To achieve our aspirations, we draw support from tuition, return on research investments, revenue from our hospitals and clinics and critical philanthropic partnerships with our friends. Sadly, one of our most ardent supporters, Dr. Agnes Varis, passed away this summer. This issue ends with a tribute to Dr. Varis that I hope you will enjoy. She was a friend to animals and to our students and valued the many ways in which veterinary medicine brings good to the world. Her partnership transformed our campus, and she is remembered with great fondness, esteem and gratitude. Sincerely,

vOL. 13, NO. 1

fA L L 2 0 1 1

Executive Editor Deborah T. Kochevar, Dean Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine Editor Genevieve Rajewski Editorial director director Karen Bailey design director director Margot Grisar design 2COMMUNIQUÉ Contributing Writers Gail Bambrick, Marjorie Howard Staff Photographers Alonso Nichols Kelvin Ma Contributing Editor Bob Sprague Editorial Advisors Shelley Rodman, Director Veterinary Development and Alumni Relations Joseph McManus, Executive Associate Dean Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine Tom Keppeler, Associate Director Public Relations Tufts Veterinary Medicine is funded in part by the Edward Hyde Cox Fund for Publications. It is distributed to alumni, friends, veterinary students, veterinarians and key university personnel. We welcome your letters, story ideas, and suggestions. Send correspondence to: Genevieve Rajewski, Editor Tufts Veterinary Medicine Tufts University Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine 200 Westboro Road North Grafton, MA 01536 or email: [email protected] The Cummings School's website is The telephone number is 508.839.5302. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

deborah turner kochevar, d.v.m., ph.d. dean and henry and lois foster professor

2 t u f t s v e t e r i na ry m e d i c i n e f a l l 2 0 1 1

tufts Prints Green Printed on 25% post-consumer waste recycled paper. Please recycle.


people, places & animals


Pooled expertise strengthens response to outbreaks of infectious disease By Genevieve rajewski

he northeastern united states is known as a hot spot for infectious diseases that sicken both animals and people. West Nile virus and Lyme disease made their first U.S. forays in the region, and Eastern equine encephalitis and rabbit fever infect wildlife and sporadically claim human lives. Despite its vulnerability, the Northeast did not have a designated wildlife team to investigate potential disease outbreaks--until the Northeast Wildlife Disease Cooperative was established earlier this year. Administered through the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, the organization pools the expertise of veterinarians, scientists and wildlife managers throughout the region to detect, investigate and manage outbreaks of infectious diseases.


The genesis for the network was the Cummings School's Seabird Ecological Assessment Network (SEANET), which dispatches volunteers to monitor the welfare of seabird populations along coastal northeastern United States and Canada. Citizen-scientists combing beaches over hundreds of miles in many states and Canadian provinces can detect patterns of seabird mortality. However, SEANET cannot provide data on disease outbreaks in


f a l l 2 0 1 1 t u f t s v e t e r i na ry m e d i c i n e 3


other species or in other ecosystems, says Julie Ellis, executive director of SEANET. Scientists decided that the region could dramatically increase its capacity for diagnosing outbreaks of all kinds simply by marshaling the expertise in their own backyard, says Sarah Courchesne, V07, project director for SEANET.

the lab to get data to decision makers faster. They, in turn, can keep the public informed about diseases affecting human health or agriculture." This kind of collaboration will enable the region's veterinarians and veterinary pathologists to share their findings and track the movement of disease across state lines.

" ithsomanypeoplelivinginsuchasmall W area,ifawildlifediseasepopsup,it'savery shorthoptoalargehumanpopulationorits food supply." --randy mickley, usda biologist

Before, if a wildlife biologist noticed an unusually large number of deaths in a certain population, deer for example, there was one primary option for figuring out what was going on: Ship the carcass to the National Wildlife Health Center in Madison, Wisc., home to the only federal wildlife diagnostic laboratory serving the eastern United States. In short, that's a whole lot of territory to cover, from Minnesota, south to the Gulf Coast and east to the Atlantic. The Northeast cooperative will ease some of the burden on the Wisconsin health center by sending dead wildlife to veterinary diagnostic laboratories at the Cummings School, Cornell University, the University of Connecticut and the University of New Hampshire for postmortems and other analyses. "There's capacity at the national level, but it's being stressed," says Chris Dwyer, a migratory game bird biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which provided $50,000 to help launch the cooperative. "By pulling together the considerable but scattered expertise within our region, we enable experts working in the field and in The cooperative will develop a system for responding to and reporting wildlife diseases, including centralized communications and a shared database of verified outbreaks. Within three years, the cooperative also plans to begin assessing the health of wildlife populations throughout the Northeast to predict the emergence of new diseases before they become widespread. "Emerging infections can lead to wildlife population exterminations or even species extinction," says Ellis, citing as one example the fatal fungal disease chytridiomycosis. First discovered in Australia in 1993, chytridiomycosis has been linked to dramatic population declines and even extinctions of frog species on that continent and in western North America, Central America, South America and the Caribbean. At its core, the wildlife cooperative is a public health initiative. "Humans are animals, too, so whether we are talking about a disease in children, pets or wildlife, we are all interrelated," says Randy Mickley, a wildlife biologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. "Here in the Northeast, we have about a quarter of the nation's population.

With so many people living in such a small area, if a wildlife disease pops up, it's a very short hop to a large human population or its food supply." In fact, 60 percent of the infectious diseases identified between 1940 and 2004 are zoonotic, meaning they first occur in animals, according to a study published in the journal Nature in 2008. The research also found that 70 percent of those diseases originate in wildlife. Even wildlife diseases that don't infect us can affect our well-being. Consider white-nose syndrome, a lethal fungal infection in bats that was first identified outside Albany, N.Y., in 2006. While the disease (which gets its name from the ring of white fungus on the muzzle) is decimating bat populations, humans are unscathed. But the disease is harming "our shared ecosystem," says Rich French, director of the veterinary diagnostic laboratory at the University of New Hampshire. The only major predator of night-flying insects, bats devour thousands of tons of potentially harmful agricultural pests each year as well as pollinate crops. If t he Nor t heast Wi ld life Disease Cooperative had been around in 1999, perhaps West Nile virus, a mosquitoborne illness, could have been contained before it spread from New York City to neighboring states and then throughout the U.S., says Ellis. When crows began dying and some elderly residents got very sick in Queens, it took public health officials months to connect the dots because the multiple labs involved were not set up to collaborate. "West Nile Virus was finally identified because of the persistence of a veterinary pathologist at the Bronx Zoo," says Ellis. "If there had been quicker, more coordinated diagnostics offered by a regional lab, the disease may have been addressed much faster."

oVe rhea rd

"When it's not available, that limits the little bag of tricks to reach into."

--kristine burgess, a veterinary oncologist at the foster hospital for small animals, in a wall street journal story about drug shortages, including doxorubicin, a chemotherapy medication used to treat cancers in humans and pets.

4 t u f t s v e t e r i na ry m e d i c i n e f a l l 2 0 1 1

Down to the Bone

When M.S.A. Kumar started his career in anatomy, criminal investigations weren't part of the plan. But a guy who makes his living studying bones can come in handy when authorities find remains they can't identify. And so they call Kumar--a handful of times in the past few years alone. "Once the police brought me a bone they thought was from a human pelvis," says Kumar, a professor of biomedical sciences at the Cummings School. "It was actually easy for me to tell it was from a pig. In a human pelvis, the pubic bones come together at the bottom because we stand erect." Most recently, the Grafton (Mass.) Police department asked Kumar to examine some bones unearthed during the renovation of a Civil War-era building into a community arts school. Kumar determined that the severely deteriorated bones were from two large animals, most likely a cow and a sheep. He estimates the bones--part of a skull and pieces from a spine and hind limbs--were more than 150 years old. While Kumar's osteo detective work has not turned up a gruesome crime scene, he does know at least one dicey story. "you get to know a lot about early history studying bones because many [bones] were named by the Greeks and romans," he says. "I know how roman soldiers used to spend their time," he offers, tossing an astragalus (a sheep anklebone) across his desk. "Another word for astragalus is talus, which means `dice' in Latin," he says. "the romans used to roll anklebones for sport. the smooth surfaces of the joint would have numbers painted on them." Hence, the origin of "roll them bones" at the craps table.


the great indoors isn't a haven against the disease

many owners believe that if their dogs stay indoors and only make brief trips outside, they don't need protection against heartworm. That's a dangerous myth, says Michael Stone, a clinical assistant professor at the Cummings School. A bite from a single infected mosquito can spread the potentially lethal disease, which is caused by parasitic worms living in the arteries of the lungs. "We all have been bothered by a mosquito buzzing in the bedroom after the lights have been turned out," says Stone. So although the risk of a strictly indoor dog getting heartworm is lower than that for a hunting dog, that risk is "not zero," he cautions. Although owners and some veterinarians once believed dogs were only susceptible to the disease in the high humidity of the South, heartworm is now found in all 50 states.If that's not enough evidence to support prevention, consider this: the only FDA-approved medication to treat heartworm infection in dogs, Immiticide, is in very short supply, and it's unclear how long that shortage will last. An ounce of prevention is what veterinarians recommend. The cost of treating heartworm infection is $1,500 to $2,000. Compare that to the $8 monthly pill that prevents the disease in a 25- to 50-pound dog. --betty liddick Betty Liddick is the editor of Your Dog: The Newsletter for Caring Dog Owners, published by the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine. This article is adapted with permission. For subscription information, go to or call 1.800.829.5116.

--genevieve rajewski


f a l l 2 0 1 1 t u f t s v e t e r i na ry m e d i c i n e 5


The Landlord

By G e n e v i e v e R a j e ws k i p h oto g r a p h by j u l i e n m c r o b e rt s

as new mexico's land commissioner, ray powell, v84, manages a land trust roughly half the size of Pennsylvania. Those 13 million acres generate $500 million annually for the state's public schools, universities and hospitals from leases for grazing, mining oil and gas and producing renewable energy on wind and solar farms. ¶"What makes my job very unusual is that although it's an elected position, the land commissioner in New Mexico can sell, lease or trade the land without anyone else's approval," says Powell, who was elected to a second 10-year term this year. "Given the enormous autonomy and responsibility, you have the power to do really good things in office--or be a real scoundrel."

Typical Day aT The Office:

None. "If I look back at the 10 years I previously served as state land commissioner [1993 to 2002], literally no two days were the same. One day I was dealing with oil and gas issues. The following day I was dealing with predator/prey relations affecting agriculture and urban communities; the next, catastrophic forest fires. The only consistent thing is that I get to work with and learn from some of the brightest people around." prOuDesT achievemenTs: Helping pass legislation banning animal fighting and increasing penalties for animal cruelty. Bringing the first wind turbines to New Mexico. Brokering land swaps to protect wilderness areas, national parks and sacred tribal lands, deals that led to such projects as Mesa del Sol, a 13,000-acre, master-planned community in Albuquerque, and La Semilla, the 3,000-acre urban nature preserve next door. "Mesa del Sol will bring billions of dollars to our public schools over the next 75 years-- while leaving the lightest footprint on the land possible. And even amidst an economic downturn, it has created thousands of hightech jobs for New Mexicans." On his TO-DO lisT: Renewable energy. "We are blessed in New Mexico with huge amounts of nonrenewable resources--oil, gas, coal, potash, uranium--and those are mined to

support our public schools. But we have just as many opportunities in terms of renewable energy. We are among the top five states nationwide when it comes to potential resources for solar, geothermal, wind and biomass energy production. Our land can support us, literally forever, if we care for it in a thoughtful and respectful manner." inspireD By: Jane Goodall. "After I served for 10 years as state land commissioner, I went back to my small animal veterinary practice. I got a call from the Jane Goodall Institute and joined them as a regional director of wildlife research, education and conservation. Dr. Jane has become a great friend and mentor." his WinDing paTh : Changing places, from the Southwest to the Northeast--and back again--and shifting interests, from anthropology to plants to animals. "I was captivated by native cultures' use of the land and became a field botanist before I went to Tufts. I am originally from New Mexico, and Tufts at the time had a contractual agreement to take five students from the state because we didn't have a veterinary school." Where his hearT is: New Mexico. "It is really a dream location if you are a natural sciences person. Within a mile, you can travel from 5,000 feet to more than 10,000 feet above sea level. It's a great place to study natural resource and ecological issues." tvm

6 t u f t s v e t e r i na ry m e d i c i n e f a l l 2 0 1 1

New Mexico has five of the six global life zones (all but the tropics), says Ray Powell, who likes to explore the natural world with his wife, Jean, and the four-legged members of their family.

By G e n e v i e v e R a j e ws k i i l lu s t r at i o n by wa r d s c h u m a k e r

ain't misbehavin

With professional help, you can transform your bad kitty into a mannerly feline

for five years, toby and ivy, sibling sphynx cats, lived happily together--until the day their owner returned home to find their relationship had inexplicably turned ugly. "I left them sleeping together at the sliding door a few hours before. I usually see them as soon as I come home. But that day I didn't," recalls Diane Hutchison, of Agawam, Mass. She found Ivy cowering under the bed. "Something had happened while I was away, but I had no idea what," she says. When she went to bed that night, Toby joined her as usual. But when Ivy tried to claim her normal sleeping spot, "Toby went straight after her," says Hutchison. "You know the horrible screeching and wailing you hear when there's a catfight outside? Well that was happening under the covers." For more than a month, the cats remained on the outs. "The situation finally brought me to tears," says Hutchison. "I thought I was going to have to give one cat up. Or one was going to have to live upstairs and the other downstairs." Hutchinson wondered if the medication Toby took for a heart murmur was causing his aggressive behavior. She found a path to feline harmony in the office of Nicholas Dodman, director of the Animal Behavior Program at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine. "Medical issues can masquerade as behavioral changes, and behavioral issues can fool people into thinking it's a medical problem," says Dodman, the veterinary equivalent of a human psychiatrist. Dodman specializes in unwanted behaviors that may require medication as well as medical problems that may have behavioral symptoms. Working with him on Toby's case was Nicole Cottam, VG03, the behavior and research coordinator at Tufts' Foster Hospital for Small Animals. As an applied animal behaviorist, Cottam, who earned a master's degree in animals and public policy at Tufts, is like a psychologist in human-medicine terms: qualified to provide counsel on pets' emotional issues, but unable to write prescriptions.

Wh en th e Fu r Flies Feline aggression--whether directed at another cat or the owner--is the second most common cat behavior problem treated at Tufts. Still, it's not normal. "Cats are not programmed to behave aggressively, because as solitary hunters, they have to maintain their own health to survive," says Elizabeth Colleran, V90, VG96, the president of the American Association of Feline Practitioners. "Cats' main defense mechanism is to leave, to just get out of the way. Aggression is their last resort." When aggression is directed at a human, it usually indicates a cat is being mishandled in some way. "If a 16-year-old cat bites you after you touch his back or hips, he's saying, `Don't touch me there. I have arthritis, and it hurts,' " says Colleran. Combativeness between cats may stem from incompatible temperaments, territorial struggles or too many animals in too little space. But even cats that have gotten along famously may experience an abrupt falling out after a separation, such as after a visit to the vet, or when one cat is startled and attacks the other. That's what the Tufts animal behaviorists suspected had happened with Toby. "We see a lot of cases where cats get into a fight while the owner is away," says Cottam. "One cat sees something out the window that freaks him out, and since he can't get to the thing that has frightened him, he turns around and beats up his cat buddy." To reconcile the feuding felines, Dodman designed a gradual reintroduction program keyed to positive experiences. He instructed Hutchison to install hook-and-eyelet latches on doors in her home so she could reacquaint Toby and Ivy at mealtime, feeding them in adjacent rooms so they could see and smell each other through the cracked doorway. As the cats appeared to grow more comfortable with each other, Hutchison would move their food bowls closer to the door. Once the growling and hissing subsided, Hutchison let them in the same room; she swaddled Toby, the aggressor, in her lap while petting Ivy to soothe her. Once it seemed safe to release Toby around Ivy, Hutchison spent time supervising both pets, distracting them with treats or toys. Then she started leaving them alone, first for just

20 minutes and then for increasingly longer periods. After three months, Toby and Ivy were finally back to being pals. It's been 15 months since the fur first flew.

a lit tle De tec tive Work Despite the proven success of feline behavior treatment, cats still lag far behind dogs in receiving appropriate care for such issues. Of the 600 behavior cases treated at Tufts each year, just one in 10 involves a cat. Dodman suspects this may be because many cat owners ascribe to a common misconception: their animals cannot be trained. "Cats are smaller and quieter than dogs," he adds. "They aren't going to tear holes in the walls the way a dog with separation anxiety will. Your neighbors won't complain about noise like they would with barking." However, cat owners should be aware that ignoring behavioral changes can endanger their animals' health. "Cats are creatures of habit," says Colleran, who also holds a master's degree in animals and public policy from Tufts. "So whenever there is an abrupt change in behavior, even if it's subtle, the first thing I think of is, `Okay, what kind of health problem is going on here?' "

Veterinarians initially screen a misbehaving cat for kidney issues, bladder problems, diabetes and signs of pain. "We will take blood samples if we suspect hyperthyroidism," a possible cause of aggression, night yowling and compulsive grooming, says Dodman. Once all potential medical causes of the aberrant behavior have been eliminated, vets look to the cat's home for clues. "We ask clients about the people in the cat's environment, other pets, where resources such as food and litter boxes are located and where the cat came from," says Colleran. "Cats are happy to have a social life with people and with other cats, but they don't need it. What they do need is to feel unthreatened. Their sense of safety depends on having adequate places to eat, to rest, to hide and from which to view their surroundings. They look at the world in a whole different way from the way we--or even dogs--do," she says. "Owners don't inf luence what a cat does as much as t hey do w it h dogs," Dod ma n notes. "The majorit y of cat behavior problems are actually normal cat behaviors that are inappropriate from an owner's perspective. These cats are not so much in need of a shrink as much as

managing your own `cat from hell'

DOn'T gO iT alOne. Regardless of what type of behavior problem your cat has, always consult your veterinarian to ensure that the cause is not a medical one. Many feline diseases first present themselves as behavioral problems. DO geT an experT OpiniOn. The Cummings School's VetFax service ( enables your veterinarian to seek consultation on a puzzling case. You also can use the school's PetFax service ( to request a report describing potential causes and a treatment plan to bring to your veterinarian. For more information, call 508.887.4640. DO TaKe a viDeO. Technology makes it cheap and easy to capture problem behavior and share

it with your veterinarian. A picture can be worth a thousand words.

DOn'T give up. Fortunately, treating a behavior problem is often easier than the detective work needed to determine the cause. And your cat will thank you for it!

For more tips on common feline behavior problems--including plant eating and couch shredding--visit

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someone to straighten out their environment so it works for all involved." Consider the number-one feline behavior problem: inappropriate urination. "People talk about a cat that's urinating outside the litter box as, `Oh, she's mad and getting back at me,' " says Colleran. "But it's never about revenge." A full examination is necessary to determine the cause of inappropriate urination. A lapse in litter box training can be caused by a urinary tract infection or other conditions that can quickly develop into a lifethreatening urinary blockage. Other illnesses can cause a cat to drink more water than usual, meaning it can't always make it to a litter box in time. And as a cat ages, Colleran says, the litter box may

adopted with a bit of a bully. She was afraid to use the covered litter box because she couldn't see where he was, and the bully cat guarded the entrance to the room with the other box. The client got an uncovered litter box and put it in an open, easily accessible spot. And the problem was over."

oth er hairy issu es When a cat is torn between fight or flight, it may channel that emotional tension into a seemingly unrelated behavior. For example, "there's a whole subset of cats that lick themselves so much that they lose fur," says Cottam. After first ruling out dermatological problems, Dodman treats obsessive grooming with Prozac to reduce the cat's anxiety.

to munch on Billingham's cashmere sweaters and once even gnawed a hole in a dress while she was wearing it. When the cat was hospitalized after his digestive tract became blocked by the clothing fibers, Dodman diagnosed Gabriel with anxiety related to construction work being done in the home. The noxious nibbling was successfully treated with Prozac.

tele viseD baD b ehavior Cesar Millan's show about misbehaving mutts, The Dog Whisperer, has aired on the National Geographic Channel for seven years, turning the trainer into a multimedia and dog-product franchise. Animal Planet's competing program, It's Me or the Dog-- featuring positive-reinforcement training tips for getting pets out of the family doghouse--has been airing almost as long. However, it wasn't unti l this past summer that Animal Planet launched My Cat from Hell . In t he pi lot, Jack son Galaxy, a musician by night Dodman and a cat behaviorist by day, brings his guitar case full of cat toys and knowledge to the aid of couples whose relationships are strained by dysfunctional cats. It's certainly time for such a culture shif t, says Colleran, of the American Association of Feline Practitioners. She opened her two cat-only veterinary clinics in California and Oregon because she felt cats were an underserved population in small animal medicine. "When you consider that behavioral issues are the top reason that healthy cats are surrendered to animal shelters, helping owners understand and live with their cats better is an absolutely crucial part of saving feline lives," she says. To owners, retraining a cat may seem intimidating, but the rewards are well worth it, says Hutchison, the owner of the oncepugilistic Toby. "I felt discouraged by having to do all this work," Hutchison says of the behavior-rehab program for Toby. "But Tufts held my hand the whole way, and the effort really paid off. Toby and Ivy are lying together on the couch right now, and they're just fine." tvm

"These cats are not so much in need of a shrink as much as someone to straighten out their environment so it works for all involved." --Nicholas

be in a spot "that's too inconvenient or painful to reach, or the box's walls are too high for arthritic joints." Treating the underlying medical condition usually resolves litter box issues. When illness is ruled out and the problem persists, veterinarians look for other explanations, such as stress-induced urine marking. Unneutered male cats of ten engage in this type of territorial marking during mating season, and so fixing the cat usually fixes the problem. In other cases, cats may boycott the litter box when something about it is not to their liking--whether it's too dirty, filled with the wrong kind of litter, covered or recently moved to a less-private area of the home. Social conf lict can also cause cats to abandon their litter training. After one of Colleran's clients adopted two cats, one consistently urinated outside the litter box. "I went to the house to see where the cats lived," she says. "One litter box was covered, and the other was shoved into a tiny little bathroom with one access point. Well, this one poor cat had been He and Cottam also work with owners to identify stressors in the household. Pica, a medical disorder in which cats develop an appetite for nonfood substances, such as wool or other fabrics, is another common compulsive disorder. "It appears to have a genetic component as it's seen predominately in Oriental breeds, such as Siamese and Burmese cats," notes Dodman. That was Stephanie Billingham's experience. Over the years, the South Easton, Mass., psychologist has sought help at Tufts for several Siamese cats with expensive tastes. "I first saw Dr. Dodman after meeting with multiple vets because Sebastian, one of my two Siamese cats, was eating anything I hung up to dry. He'd gnaw nylons, running gear, even towels," says Billingham. Dodman diagnosed Sebastian with an eating disorder, which he treated by putting the cat on a high-fiber diet to sate his cravings. The sa me problem occurred when Billingham's Siamese k itten, Gabriel, developed a taste for cashmere. Gabriel, now 13, used to climb into dresser drawers

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no time to lose

emergency surgery and heavy-duty antibiotics saved sarkis, a german shepherd with a ruptured bowel. Opposite page, top: faculty member Therese O'Toole, v95, senior surgical resident shanti Jha and Jonathan Babyak, v09, emergency and critical care resident, review the dog's x-rays and discuss a treatment plan; bottom: the anesthesiology and surgical teams move sarkis to the operating theater. This page, left: lena rosen, v12, and Katherine rodriguez, v12, prepare the dog for anesthesia; below: Jha removes the damaged piece of the dog's bowel.

by g e n e v i e v e r a j e ws k i


is cOmpassiOnaTe

pHoToGRapHs By alonso nicHols

insiDe THe

The pace is fasT, The sTaKes are high anD The care

the waiting room at the foster hospital is packed with people and their pets on this Saturday evening. On the TV, the Red Sox, still in playoff contention, are up against their archrivals from New York. No one is watching. The real drama is unfolding in the emergency room, where veterinarians, technicians, students and others work in controlled chaos to care for animals in crisis. It's only 5:30 p.m., but the staff is already handling 13 cases. Much like a traffic controller juggling jets at a busy urban airport, the lead veterinarian calls out directions to the ER staff. There's the ever-present soundtrack of technology, people and sometimes the quiet whimper of someone's pet. A pulse oximeter beeps insistently as it measures the oxygen in a dog's blood. A student crouches by a kennel, murmuring sweetly to an anxious dog that was injured after it accidentally got tangled in its lead. Two veterinary technicians soothe an unhappy cat as they replace the dressing on a laceration that has scored the length of its back.

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Then Sarkis arrives, so feverish and weak that the German shepherd can barely stand. His owner, Anthony Jetmore, rushed the dog 40 miles from his home in Stafford Springs, Conn. Sarkis instantly commands the attention of several veterinarians, veterinary technicians and students. In a swirl of blue scrubs, the team jumps into action--administering intravenous f luids and antibiotics, hanging the dog's x-rays on a light board so the images are crisp in relief, and studying a cytology report to assess the causes of the excess fluid in the dog's abdomen and chest. The diagnosis: a septic abdomen, potentially fatal. A bacterial infection and blood clots caused the f luid buildup in the stomach and chest, which is why he's having trouble breathing. During a week in the intensive care unit, the dog will undergo lifesaving surgery to repair a bowel tear. It is a happy outcome. "Sarkis is doing great now," reports Jetmore. "But he's really lucky to be alive." Like most pet owners, Jetmore never expected to end up at the ER. But the chances of a pet needing emergency care are actually quite high: One out of every 10 cats and dogs visits the ER each year, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association. When it comes to deciding whether to rush a pet to the emergency room, owners should trust their instincts, says Armelle de Laforcade, V97, who heads the emergency service at the Cummings School's Foster Hospital. Some indicators that a pet needs emergency care include difficulty walking or breathing, collapse, difficulty urinating, weakness, vomiting or diarrhea, lack of appetite, heat stress or seizures. "You never know what type of day it's going to be," says de Laforcade, who oversees more than 10,000 emergency cases each year. "You may see fulfilling emergency cases, ones with heartwarming endings. But you also have days when it feels like you put all your patients to sleep." On the following pages, we take you to the ER, where the Tufts staff cares for their patients and the people who bring them there. tvm

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all tyPes and striPes

The foster hospital er treats more than 10,000 small animals each year--from guinea pigs to show dogs--and is home to the country's largest training program in emergency veterinary medicine. clockwise from above: nicole Denezzo, v12, administers fluids to molly, a Jack russell terrier brought in for vomiting. sheba, who was treated for parasites, gets a head scratch from amy straut, v12. sarah Willis, v12, senior resident adam porter, v08, intern audrey Wanstrath and faculty member Therese O'Toole, v95 (white coat), examine a blue heron who injured its leg after becoming entangled in fencing alongside a road; once the bird was stabilized, they had to scramble to find a pet carrier big enough to carry their patient over to Tufts' Wildlife clinic. On the phone with a pet owner, resident mary aslanian records vital information about the incoming case, while Bella, a Japanese chin, sits quietly, waiting to go home.

f a l l 2 0 1 1 t u f t s v e t e r i na ry m e d i c i n e 1 5

all hands

some er patients are very sick pets that their regular veterinarians refer to Tufts for intensive care. Others arrive after experiencing an accident or other trauma or suddenly becoming gravely ill. above and at right: The er team works to resuscitate gabby, a Bichon frise that went into acute respiratory distress during a visit to her local vet.

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sPecialiZed care

The foster hospital emergency room staff consults with an array of veterinary specialists, including ophthalmologists, neurologists and cardiologists. left: veterinary technician shannon Weaver soothes princess, a young maltese that needed a neurological exam after she experienced a cluster of seizures. Below: a tear test and fluorescein stain identify the cause of the redness and swelling in coco's eye: a superficial scratch on the dachshund's cornea.

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say goodnight

pet owners are welcome inside the emergency and critical care unit. "We always offer people a chance to come out back," says armelle de laforcade, v97, head of the foster hospital's emergency service. "if they live far away and can't visit every day, they can still visualize where their pet might be staying for a few days." Below: sue martone hugs phoebe, a young bulldog with pneumonia, as her neighbor and phoebe's owner, elizabeth haight, strokes her puppy's chin. Bottom: paul and pat ruggeri crowd into a kennel to say goodnight to Blue, their greyhound that had a chest tap to remove fluid around his heart. it was the first time Blue, right, had ever spent a night apart from his sister, Dori, left.

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hard news

"i know he's older, and that i'm not going to get another 10 years," says erin swantner, left, of Ozzie, her beloved 12-year-old Belgian shepherd. "i thank god for giving me even a couple extra weeks with him." Ozzie was referred to Tufts by his vet in rhode island for coughing, wheezing and vomiting. The diagnosis was not good: aggressive lung cancer. senior resident adam porter, below, with swantner, prescribed steroids so that she could keep Ozzie comfortable at home--and gave strict orders that the dog eat "nothing but steak tips and ice cream" if he likes. "it's hard," says porter, who had hoped Ozzie's x-rays would reveal treatable pneumonia or even heart failure, which can be managed. "most of the animals that come through the door are very sick," he says. "i think if you can give people solace during a difficult time, that's as important as any other part of the job."

f a l l 2 0 1 1 t u f t s v e t e r i na ry m e d i c i n e 1 9

When trouble heads your way, here's how you can keep your animals safe


By G e n e v i e v e R a j e ws k i P h oto g r a P h by a lo n s o n i c h o l s


in just 25 seconds, they lost everything. While JoAnn Kass, her husband, grandson and their three dogs huddled in the basement, a fast-moving tornado plowed through central Massachusetts, leveling their farm in Brimfield. "It sounded like we were being attacked by aliens," Kass says. "We heard the roof go first, then the sucking sound of everything being pulled out of the house." There was nothing left: house, barn, car, truck-- all gone. She and her husband, Steven Bush, raced to the paddock to check on their four horses. They found Leader nuzzling the body of their quarter horse, Dakota, killed after being hit in the head by a 4,000-pound horse trailer that the twister had tossed the length of a football field. Their 9-year-old paint, Cajun, had a finger-sized shard of wood protruding from his right rear leg.

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cajun is one lucky horse.

u.s. army soldier alfredo lopez offers water to dogs that had been evacuated from a flooded new Orleans neighborhood after hurricane Katrina in 2005. Officials say that at least 10,000 people ignored mandatory evacuation orders and refused subsequent rescue attempts because they were determined to remain with their pets.

It's hard to obtain accurate statistics on just how many animals, large and small, are lost, injured or killed in natural disasters. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals estimated that more than 600,000 cats and dogs had been affected by natural disasters this year--and that was before Hurricane Irene powered up the East Coast in August. Further complicating matters for first responders to these forces of nature: Sixty-one percent of pet owners say they would not evacuate to escape a natural disaster if they had to leave their pets behind, according to a Zogby International poll. Sti l l, governments and emergenc y responders only recently started considering the plight of animals when preparing for disasters. The impetus: Hurricane Katrina, which claimed nearly 2,000 human lives after it slammed into the Gulf Coast in 2005. Despite evacuation orders up and down the coast, a significant number of residents chose to take their chances with the rising flood waters and damaged levees rather than abandon their pets. Back then, most evacuation vehicles and shelters did not allow animals. A year after Katrina, Congress enacted the Pet Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act, requiring state and local governments to develop emergency and evacuation plans that include pets and service animals. "It's a mandate, but also good practice," says Ben Dauksewicz, of the American Red

Cross of Eastern Massachusetts. "People consider pets part of the family." In the Bay State, the all-volunteer State of Massachusetts Animal Response Team (SMART) trains and coordinates teams of veterinarians, veterinary technicians, animalcontrol officers and shelter workers to conduct animal search-and-research missions, operate emergency shelters for pets and care for animals in the field following a disaster. SMART works as an adjunct to the traditional emergency responders: firefighters, police officers and the National Guard. "We fold into the existing emergency management system because we don't want to be an additional burden," says David Schwarz, president of the SMART board, who taught a course on emergency response and disaster medicine at the Cummings School earlier this year. "And we can't have people [doing unauthorized] searches for animals in buildings that might collapse. That adds the potential for even more casualties." Being plugged into the emergency management system helps animal rescue teams operate more efficiently, says Bonnie Smith, V93, a large animal veterinarian who was deployed by Massachusetts state veterinarian Lorraine O'Connor, V88, to Brimfield on June 2, the morning after two tornadoes had torn through the region. Over the next 24 hours, Smith checked on 175 horses in the town, where 100 homes were damaged or destroyed.

"I helped people climb over rubble to get out and made arrangements for their animals to be taken care of," says Smith. "The National Guard brought in water trucks. There was so much assistance at my disposal. I was able to tap into central command and say, `We need this or that,' and help came extremely quickly."

you go, the y go Disaster response veterinarians recommend that folks take their small animals with them if they have to evacuate. Most emergency shelters for people still don't allow pets, but in Massachusetts and other states, disaster preparedness plans now contain provisions for temporary animal shelters, either at the same location as the human shelters or nearby. SMART, for example, sheltered pets near emergency housing for people during hurricanes Earl and Irene. "It's a great source of comfort, both for the animals and the people, to be able to see each other," says Schwarz. "When everything else in your world is totally upside down, it becomes therapy for everybody." Evacuating people and pets simultaneously can save lives, says Dan Hebert, V01, who serves on the board of the Rhode Island Animal Disaster Response Team. When the Pawtuxet River overf lowed its banks in Warwick, R.I., in March 2010, local officials told residents to evacuate without their

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sixTy-one peRcenT of peT owneRs say

pets, even though shelters for animals had already been set up. "A major apartment complex right on the river flooded, and the cops ended up going in with boats to rescue pets. It was just a mess," says Hebert. The rescuers were endangered "by having to go into a water-filled area with live wires to get cats and dogs." Of course, not every impending disaster comes with a lengthy warning, as was the case with the Massachusetts tornadoes. Once the storm had passed, Kass, the horse owner, made two phone calls: the first to her equine veterinarian, Paula Orcutt, and the second to 911. It took Orcutt more than five hours to navigate through downed trees and piles of rubble, often crawling on her hands and knees, to reach Kass and the injured Cajun, around one o'clock in the morning. She did her best to remove the wood embedded in his leg and administered antibiotics and an anti-inflammatory. It took another 16 hours, 25 rescuers, eight chain saws, a Bobcat and a tractor to clear a path so that the Animal Rescue League could trailer Cajun to the Cummings School's Hospital for Large Animals. Tufts surgeon Carl Kirker-Head eventually would perform three surgeries to save the horse's life. It's important for animal owners to have a disaster plan, says Smith, the large animal veterinarian. "When you have a plan in place, you're more likely to be able to help yourself in case somebody can't get to you." Disaster plans for your pets should borrow from best practices for people, says Dauksewicz, of the Red Cross. "Make a disaster kit and stay informed and ready," he advises. (See "Ready for Anything." ) It's also important for rescuers and other emergency personnel to be able to ID your animal in case you get separated from it or your pet gets lost. Whether you own a dog, cat, horse, goat or llama, a microchip is the best way to ensure you and your animal are reunited. "In the shelter I volunteered at following Hurricane Charley, in 2004, maybe three out of the 300 animals we received were microchipped," says Lori Prantil, V13. "Do you remember how after September 11 people would put up posters of their missing family and friends? Well, that shelter had a wall

THey woulD noT evacuaTe To escape a naTuRal DisasTeR if THey HaD To leave THeiR peTs BeHinD.

ofposters from people who were missing their pets. People were constantly coming to the shelter to ask, `Do you have my animal?' and we didn't. It was awful. Only once did I get to hand this woman her cat. She was crying, and I was crying, and it just really touched me more than anything I've ever done" (so much so, in fact, that at age 39, she left a lucrative management job at AOL to enroll in veterinary school). If you have large animals or farm animals, the recommended disaster preparedness protocol can feel a little counterintuitive. "Whenever there's going to be a chance of high winds and f lying debris, let your animals out," says Smith. "Your instinct is to keep them inside and protected. But in the barn, they're susceptible to anything blowing around because they are stuck in a stall. If they're outside, they can get themselves into the lowest spot and out of the wind. The animals know their pastures way better than we do because their whole life depends upon it." Kass says if she had locked her horses in the barn when the tornado warnings were first issued, "there's no doubt they all would have been killed." In August, Cajun returned home to Brimfield, where Kass and her husband are living in a trailer while their home is being rebuilt. But the homecoming was hardly serene: Hurricane Irene was headed for the Northeast. A representative f rom t he Federa l Emergency Management Agency "called us to say we could not stay in that mobile home with a hurricane coming," Kass says. "I was frantic. But at least with a hurricane you have enough warning to move everyone to a safer place." Their three horses rode out Irene at a nearby farm. Kass, her husband and the dogs spent the night at a pet-friendly hotel nearby. "What I've learned is if it doesn't breathe, it doesn't matter," she says. "Everything else you can get through." tvm

ready for anything

The american veterinary medical association recommends that animal owners prepare an emergency kit containing the following items: n a three-day supply of water for each animal n a three-day food supply, plus a can opener and spoon for wet food n medications n photos of your pet, preferably with you in them, in case you need to prove ownership n copies of your animal's medical history, particularly immunizations n a collar with iD (plus a leash for dogs); halters and leads for large animals n Bowls for small animals and buckets for large animals n a crate or pet carrier n a small bag of cat litter, scoop and litter box for cats and newspapers and plastic bags for dogs n a map of your area with possible evacuation routes n contact information for your veterinarian and your own emergency contacts n a list of pet-friendly hotels and shelters n animal first-aid kit more tips about disaster preparedness can be found at

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on campus

cummings school news

Left: Tufts veterinary ophthalmologist Chris Pirie. Inset: An image of a feline fundus, taken with Pirie's digital camera adaptor. "As long as the animal is reasonably well-behaved, you can get a quick snapshot," he notes. "But that's where I'm a little jealous of my human medicine counterparts. You can't tell dogs and cats to just sit there and look straight ahead. You really have to move with your patients."

Eye is for Invention

Veterinarian develops device to advance diagnosis and treatment of ophthalmic disease in pets and people By Genevieve Rajewski


hris pirie never fancied himself an inventor. he was busy enough as one of two ophthalmologists at the Cummings School's Foster Hospital for Small Animals, where he treats patients and teaches veterinary students. But, as the old saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention. When it came to assessing the health of the back of an animal's eye, known as the fundus, Pirie discovered he no longer had the proper equipment. The Foster Hospital has always had a fundus eye camera that clinicians use to monitor the progression of eye disease and how their patients are responding to treatment. But recent advances in digital photography have rendered that diagnostic machine pretty much obsolete. "You can't buy film for it anymore," says Pirie, "and even if you could find the right film somewhere, it's just as difficult to get the pictures developed." Replacing the camera didn't make financial sense, especially during an economic downturn: A new high-quality digital fundus eye camera costs roughly $25,000, and more advanced models run around $80,000. So armed with some introductory books on optical engineering--and a supply of glass, plastic and metal pieces--Pirie sat down at his kitchen table

to cobble together a solution. For two years he worked on developing a device capable of producing crystal-clear images. His two dogs and two cats were his coinvestigators, patiently sitting while he examined their pupils to check his progress. Each time an image turned out too blurry, Pirie built another prototype. "It could be frustrating, but it was also fun," he says. "[I was] making a colossal mess all over the place, using a hand saw, a router and various other tools. My wife was about ready to shoot me." His patience paid off. He now has a working prototype with the potential to revolutionize digital imaging of the eye in both animals and humans. Instead of building a table-mounted fundus eye camera, he created an adaptor that can be attached to any digital camera. The device offers enormous flexibility at a reasonable cost, because it simply upgrades a tool most veterinary ophthalmologists already own. "My adaptor does not have the same magnitude quality as the table cameras that cost $80,000. The images you get with those are phenomenal," Pirie says. "However, the resolution is very good--comparable to

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photos: kelvin ma; inset CoURtesY oF ChRis piRie

most fundus eye cameras on the market-- and the adaptor could be manufactured and sold for less than $1,000." To get his prototype to market, Pirie turned to the Tufts Office for Technology Licensing and Industry Collaboration, which helped him secure a patent for his invention and is working to license the idea to a manufacturer. After receiving approval from the Cummings School's Clinical Science Review Committee, Pirie is using his device to diagnose and treat patients at the Foster Hospital. One of the clinical applications of his adapter is a technique known as fluorescein angiography, which allows veterinary ophthalmologists to see blood circulation in the retina and detect swelling in the optic disc, tumors and diabetic retinopathy, a common condition that can lead to blindness. "It's an imaging modality often used in human medicine," Pirie says, "but it's not done too often in veterinary medicine because of the current cost of the equipment." The adaptor also helps Pirie to teach pet owners and students about eye disease. "With the LCD screen on the back of the camera, you have the ability to immediately show people what's going on in an animal's eye," he says. The invention may someday have applications in human medicine by allowing patients without access to an ophthalmologist, such as those who live in remote locations, to be monitored for potential eye problems. With the adaptor, primarycare physicians could use their own digital cameras to photograph a patient's eyes and email the images to a consulting ophthalmologist. Pirie's inventive juices continue to flow. "There are three or four different ideas I'd like to pursue, all along the lines of creating cheaper imaging alternatives," he says. This time, though, he won't encroach on his family's space. "Last year we bought a house with a basement," he notes. "That gives me more room for this kind of stuff."

She'S AlwAyS Stringing him Along

Ask Mark Pokras, V84, about Betsy, and he'll tell you a story about his banjo. Although he went to high school in Venezuela, where his father managed a chocolate factory, he was a fan of the Kingston Trio and Pete Seeger. On vacation in the States during high school, he bought what turned out to be his favorite instrument--the banjo. He named it Betsy, after Davy Crockett's rifle, because, he says, it invoked a spirit of independence and the frontier. Betsy was his companion throughout the journeys of his youth--a high school hitchhiking adventure around Latin America and later around the United States, when he took time off from college at the height of the Vietnam War. "I had to take her," he says. "It wasn't a choice. I had to have something musical with me." During his trek across America, Pokras hitchhiked through 47 states in a little more than three months. He earned money by washing dishes at diners and restaurants and slept in churches and even jails on rainy nights. At campgrounds, he discovered he could eat by playing the banjo, serenading other campers who offered him grilled hot dogs and hamburgers. Betsy now shares Pokras' office at the Cummings School, where he is an associate professor of environmental and population health, along with an array of other instruments he plays: guitar, mountain dulcimer, flugelhorn and bouzouki, a lutelike instrument used in contemporary Greek music. He's got more instruments at home--quite a collection for someone who never studied music. His secret? Plenty of teach-yourself-to-play books. One of his favorite activities is open mike nights at the Cummings School, which he hosts for the veterinary school and participants from the community. He's especially pleased when students bring their instruments. "We're in medicine, and these students spend so much time every day focusing on the technical and quantitative stuff," Pokras says. "The relatively rigid, relatively linear kind of thinking we do doesn't necessarily make you a well-rounded human being." The music, he says, adds another dimension. You'll find Pokras plucking his banjo in his office early in the morning or when he's on call at the Wildlife Clinic, and students don't need him immediately. "I love being a veterinarian," he says. "But there's more to life." Mark Pokras Just ask Betsy. and Betsy --marjorie howard


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on campus

A Backyard Education

Veterinarians brush up on the ABCs of poultry care


Veterinary students Laura Jaworski and Laura Kielbasa

wo cummings school students went to the head of the class to help New England veterinarians respond to the surge in the number of their clients who are keeping backyard chickens. Laura Jaworski, V13, and Laura Kielbasa, V14, and their professor, Robyn Alders, offered a continuing education course on raising poultry to more than 70 veterinarians this past spring. Jaworski, who's been around poultry since her mother brought home some chicks on a whim when

she was a girl, led a session on caring for backyard layers and egg-handling safety. Kielbasa, who volunteered at a small free-range farm in Pennsylvania before starting veterinary school, discussed issues related to humanely raising and processing meat birds. Both students had taken a course on backyard poultry with Alders, an associate professor of environmental and population health, and Tufts farm supervisor James Phillips prior to assisting with the continuing education class. As the eat-local movement inspires people to think about where their food comes from, more folks are turning to raising their own meat and eggs. Of the 176 small animal veterinarians in New England who responded to a Cummings School survey, the majority said they have been receiving more poultry-related questions from their clients. However, 60 percent of those vets said they had never received training on caring for backyard birds, and 85 percent wanted more education in this area. One challenge to the veterinary profession is that "with the trend toward backyard birds comes owners who think of their chickens as pets," says Kielbasa. "Instead of following traditional herd-health practices--where a veterinarian would euthanize and necropsy a sick chicken to see what's wrong for the benefit of the entire flock--clients want you to treat it as you would a sick dog or cat." "People love their egg layers," adds Jaworski. "Chickens can live a long time if no predators get to them, so you get to know their personalities. To most people with these pet chickens, the idea of killing one--even to save the rest--is not appealing." A n A merica n Veterinar y Medica l Association-approved provider of continuing education, the Cummings School also offers lectures on companion animals, horses and farm animals for owners and breeders. For a schedule of upcoming events, visit or call 508.887.4723.

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photo: alonso niChols

Students turn their tassels, signifying they have officially graduated from the Cummings School. Below, a group hug for a job well done.

Together, we begin...

In a time of transition and expanding horizons for the university, Tufts Alumni is pleased to invite you to meet Tufts' 13th president, Anthony P. Monaco. All members of the Tufts community are encouraged to attend any of these special events to welcome President Monaco and hear his thoughts on Tufts today and his vision for the future.

London tuesday, november 29 San Francisco monday, January 9 Los Angeles tuesday, January 10 Honolulu Friday, January 13 Atlanta thursday, February 23 Miami Friday, February 24 Palm Beach saturday, February 25 Sarasota sunday, February 26 Chicago tuesday, march 20 Cape Cod Friday, June 15

And they're off

For the 88 members of the Cummings school's Class of 2011, these words offered at commencement held special significance: "this is your hour and your century. leave here and make a difference," the tufts trustee emeritus William Cummings, a58, h06, told them. it was the real estate entrepreneur's foundation that provided the naming commitment for the school in 2004. During the school's 29th annual commencement on may 22, 77 graduates received Doctor of veterinary medicine degrees, three received ph.D.s in comparative biomedical sciences and eight received master's degrees in animals and public policy. two D.v.m. recipients also earned master's degrees in public health, while another six received the master of science in laboratory animal medicine. Clinical associate professor mary labato, v83, who was in the school's first graduating class and is immediate past president of the massachusetts veterinary medical association, administered the veterinarian's oath. in keeping with the aspirational mood of the day, student speaker Carolyn Gross offered this to her classmates: "if we can achieve this dream, we can do anything."

As the president's itinerary is developed, event times and locations will be listed at

f a l l 2 0 1 1 t u f t s v e t e r i na ry m e d i c i n e 2 7


the path to discovery

Sam Telford trawls for ticks in the undergrowth.

Tick Trackers

In the field and in the lab, Tufts scientists launch an assault on Lyme disease By Gail Bambrick


n search of his quarry, sam telford stalks the leafy underbrush, wielding what looks like a giant white flag. His prey will surrender to the cloth, called a tick dragger, which allows him to easily spot the sesameseed-sized arthropods against the white background. In this patch of woodland near Grafton, Mass., Telford counts how many of the deer ticks clinging to his bug-catcher are likely carrying the bacterium that causes Lyme disease. Despite a significant uptick in the number of reported cases of Lyme over the past decade, efforts to prevent, diagnose and treat it have not achieved large-scale breakthroughs. Attempts to curb the deer tick population have had limited success. There is no vaccine for humans--although one is available for dogs and horses. And while antibiotics work in many cases, they fail to eliminate symptoms in 10 to 12 percent of those treated for Lyme. Telford, an expert at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine in tick-borne diseases, and the Tufts immunologist Linden Hu are trying to slow--and perhaps

even stop--the spread of Lyme disease, which is caused by the bite of a deer tick infected with the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. The scientists have launched their attack on two new fronts: They're developing a vaccine to kill off the bacteria in the wild as well as a more accurate way to detect persistent Lyme bacteria in people, a precursor to better treatment. Lyme disease was first identified in the mid-1970s near Lyme, Conn. Once the spiral-shaped B. burgdorferi bacterium invades the body, it goes undercover, triggering an immune response that can produce symptoms ranging from flu to joint swelling and stiffness. Undetected, the bacteria can spread and produce totally different symptoms throughout the body. That makes the disease even trickier to diagnose, because those symptoms may--or may not--be caused by the Lyme infection. The number of reported cases of Lyme disease in the U.S. nearly doubled between 2004 and 2009, when almost 38,500 people were diagnosed, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). But the real story is even worse, say the government epidemiologists. Because of misdiagnoses and a failure to report, as many as 500,000 Americans could have Lyme disease. Human encroachment on wildlife habitats, including suburbanization, has caused the explosion in Lyme cases, says Hu, the principal investigator on both the vaccine and bench science projects, who has been studying the disease for nearly two decades. Seasoned hitchhikers, the deer ticks simply hop a ride as their human taxis brush against bushy undergrowth. Lyme disease has been reported in nearly every state, but 90 percent of all infections occur in New England, the Mid-Atlantic and Wisconsin and Minnesota, according to the CDC.

BAIT An d Tr Ap In some New England communities, efforts to rein in the disease have focused on reducing deer populations through controlled hunts. Despite the deer-tick label, deer don't get Lyme disease, although they are a primary host for the bacteria-toting ticks. The deer provide the transportation, ferrying infected ticks to new areas. Ticks contract the disease when they feed on

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photo: kelvin ma

mice infected with Borrelia burgdorferi. The ticks, in turn, broadcast the disease when they feed on birds, dogs, horses and humans. Telford and Hu, a professor at the Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences, figured that if they could inoculate mice against the Lyme bacterium, they might be able to break the disease transmission cycle. Here's how their vaccine would work: Lyme-infected mice would eat food baits impregnated with the vaccine, causing them to produce an antibody to the disease. A tick that feeds on these mice would also draw up the Lyme antibody, and so, could not be infected. The population of "clean" ticks would grow, while the Lymecarrying tick population would decline. And if an infected tick dined on a vaccinated mouse, the antibody would kill the Borrelia burgdorferi. The researchers are planning to load the mouse baits with a genetically modified cow pox virus, similar to the human small pox vaccine, to trigger an immune response against Lyme. The vaccine delivery system borrows from Tufts veterinary school research that used oral vaccine baits to keep Cape Cod free of raccoon rabies in the 1990s. To determine whether mice would actually go for the baits, Telford did a test run, minus the actual vaccine. He f lavored the baits, which look like a two-inch-square granola bar, with peanut butter and then loaded them with a harmless fluorescent dye. In field trials between April 2009 and June 2010, the baits were placed in 10 mouse nest boxes across two acres on the Cummings School campus. Mice were trapped monthly, and if the rodent had gnawed on the bait, one of their hairs would be marked by a fluorescent band from the dye. The result: More than half of the 85 mice that were trapped had nibbled on the baits. "So we have a system that will deliver the vaccine with little effort to more than half the mice," says Telford. He and Hu have applied for funding to conduct the additional field testing required by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for

the mouse-baiting program to launch. Potentially, Telford says, the vaccines could cut the infected tick population at least in half, and maybe by as much as 90 percent, "if consistently deployed."

Bac teria De tec tives But what about people who already have Lyme disease--particularly the 10 to 20 percent of patients who continue to experience joint, neurological and other health issues for months, or years, even after several courses of antibiotics? "Right now we have tests that determine the level of antibodies in your blood that are fighting Lyme, but we cannot test for the presence of the bacteria itself," says Hu. In work funded by the National Institutes of Health, Hu discovered that some mice whose Lyme antibodies had dropped to normal levels still had B. burgdorferi in their systems. Because it has already been established that the bacteria are drawn to a tick's saliva, Hu turned to xenodiagnosis--letting Lyme-free ticks feed and then testing them for the bacterium. His research team was able to detect B. burgdorferi in dogs, mice and monkeys, even after they had received antibiotic treatment for Lyme. Now he's using the same method on human volunteers to see whether he can replicate those results and determine how long the Lyme bacterium can remain in the body. Though xenodiagnosis has a high "ick factor," Hu says it has been used successfully in humans in other instances, such as diagnosing Chagas disease, a parasitic infection that is a major health problem in Central and South America. However, Hu cautions, much more research needs to occur before biomedical science can proclaim that because people are still infected with B. burgdorferi, that's the definitive cause of any Lyme-like symptoms they continue to experience. "The first thing is to see if the bacteria are there at all," Hu says. "This is at least a preliminary step in changing how we think about Lyme disease."

A New Look at Old Lungs

Biomedical researchers at Tufts have demonstrated for the first time how aging is associated with a loss of lung stem cells that are vital for tissue repair and regeneration. The findings hold enormous potential for understanding why serious lung diseases, including cancer and emphysema, are so common in people over age 40. When we are young, we can regenerate parts of our lungs, says Andrew M. Hoffman, a Cummings School researcher who studies lung disease. However, human lungs lose their regenerative ability at about the time we stop growing taller. In analyzing lung tissue samples from mice of various ages, Julia Paxson, V04, a research assistant professor at Tufts and the lead author on the study, discovered that one particular kind of stem cell, the mesenchymal stromal cell, disappears as a mouse ages. "As mice age, the number of mesenchymal stromal cells, and the ability of those cells to respond to stimuli that would ordinarily cause them to divide, diminishes to the point where there are very few left," says Hoffman. "This means the lung is completely vulnerable to injury as it gets older, because there are either no mesenchymal stromal cells, or the ones that remain aren't capable of doing the repair work." The study was published August 30 in the online science journal PLoS ONE. In continuing their work, Hoffman and Paxson are investigating whether mesenchymal stromal cells could deter tumor growth in lung cancer patients. There is a strong relationship between aging and lung cancer, which rarely kills people under age 45 but remains the deadliest cancer. Additional research into why mesenchymal stromal cells decline in number may produce new treatments that could slow, or even halt, the course of lung disease. Possibilities include developing drugs to increase the survival or proliferation of mesenchymal stromal cells or even transplanting the cells into the lung, Hoffman says.

Gail Bambrick, a senior writer at Tufts, can be reached at [email protected]

f a l l 2 0 1 1 t u f t s v e t e r i na ry m e d i c i n e 2 9

beyond bounda r i e s

providing the means for excellence

$1.2 Billion raised

Beyond Boundaries campaign ends triumphantly


ufts university has completed its $1.2 billion beyond Boundaries campaign, the largest fundraising effort in the university's 159-year history. The goal was reached during the most challenging economic climate in decades and on the eve of Lawrence S. Bacow's departure from Tufts in July, after serving as president for a decade. The campaign mobilized nearly 140,000 donors, including half of Tufts' alumni. Together they contributed $434 million for scholarships--among them 630 new endowed and term scholarships--and other enhancements to the student experience. Another $386 million is earmarked for faculty recruitment and research and $137 million for new facilities. The balance will fund new academic and research programs. Among the donations were the six largest gifts in Tufts' history, two of them exceeding $100 million. The campaign added $609 million to the university's endowment. Jonathan Tisch, A76, a university trustee and cochair of the campaign, was jubilant about the outcome. "The goals of Beyond Boundaries were thoughtfully developed with Tufts' academic leadership to support our core priorities as a top teaching and research university," he said. "To be able to garner this kind of support, particularly in this economy, is not only a good story for Tufts; it's a great story." Supporting student access and affordability was a campaign priority, and some innovative financial aid programs have arisen as a result. Tufts can now provide scholarships for needy undergraduates to attend summer school, eliminate

Top: With classrooms, study lounges, a fitness center and café, the Agnes Varis Campus Center is now the nucleus of the Cummings School community. Above: Lydia Scheidler, V11, feeds a baby squirrel at the Wildlife Clinic. The clinic and related programs in conservation medicine and environmental research benefited from the Beyond Boundaries campaign.

loans for students from families with modest incomes and offer paid summer internships at nonprofits. On top of that, a firstof-a-kind university-wide loan repayment assistance program helps alumni working in public service or nonprofit jobs repay a portion of their education loans. Thanks to Beyond Boundaries, Tufts has 23 new named professorships. These coveted posts have helped Tufts attract and retain world-class researchers. And new construction and renovations have benefited students, faculty and staff on all three of Tufts' Massachusetts campuses.

30 t u f t s v e t e r i na ry m e d i c i n e f a l l 2 0 1 1

photos: Joanie toBin (CampUs CenteR), alonso niChols

cu m mIngs goEs B E yon d During the campaign, the Cummings School was named by a $50 million commitment from Cummings Foundation Inc., and its chief benefactors, William Cummings, A58, H06, a university trustee emeritus, and his wife, Joyce Cummings. Veterinary students are important beneficiaries of the campaign. Endowed funds for scholarships more than doubled, with $11 million added during the campaign. An endowment for the Henry L. Foster, D.V.M., Scholars Program was established by the late Henry Foster, V83, H92, a trustee emeritus, who served as the school's campaign chair until his death in 2008. The dedication of the Agnes Varis Campus Center boosted the sense of community at the school. The late Agnes Varis, H03, a trustee emerita and veterinary overseer, made a $4 million naming gift for the campus center (and later committed $2.5 million for an adjacent auditorium), while trustee emeritus and overseer David McGrath, V86, gave $1.5 million toward the project. A $3.7 million gift from The Manton Foundation funded a six-stall isolation unit to care for large animals, including horses, cows, goats and alpacas, with infectious diseases. A $1.5 million bequest from the estate of Edward Lanciani established the Anne and Edward Lanciani Endowed Fund for Wildlife Medicine, supporting the school's Wildlife Clinic and related programs in conservation medicine and environmental research. Overseer emeritus Gabriel Schmergel and his wife, Valerie, committed $1 million to fund interns in the Wildlife Clinic. Gifts from Anne and D. Travis Engen, totaling more than $1.25 million, advanced faculty and resident research in comparative oncology, cardiology, emergency and critical care, and internal medicine, improving diagnosis and patient care in all these specialties. The philanthropy of overseers V. Duncan and Diana L. Johnson and many others benefited homeless cats, dogs and other animals by supporting training in shelter medicine. A $4 million bequest from the estate of an anonymous benefactor, a longtime client of the Foster Hospital for Small Animals, supported that hospital as well as the Hospital for Large Animals.

The Art and Science of Veterinary Practice

What makes a superb veterinarian? Research tell us there's a very human answer: integrity, good attitude and good communication skills rank as the most important qualities to clients--in addition to having good technical ability and medical knowledge. that's not surprising to lisa Freeman, J86, v91, n96, a professor in the Department of Clinical sciences at the Cummings school. "if we ask why someone didn't like a physician, he might say: she was condescending. i felt rushed. nobody says he didn't know how to put in good stitches," says Freeman. "that is also how people judge veterinarians. so we wanted to give our students the training to be practicing at the highest possible level." that training has evolved into the accelerated Clinical excellence (aCe) program, which offers coursework in communication, lifelong learning and evidence-based medicine--topics that generally are not included in veterinary medical education, but can contribute to graduates' success. Freeman will continue to develop the tufts aCe program, thanks to a gift from nestlé purina petCare. as head of the school's Clinical nutrition service, she has juggled that job (plus a busy teaching and research schedule) with establishing the aCe program. the gift made it possible for her to hire a second faculty member for the nutrition service so she can devote more time to amplifying the aCe program. "i spent 15 years developing the nutrition service," Freeman says, "and i'm very grateful that nestlé purina recognizes the good work we're doing. this funding allows us to expand the nutrition program and enhance the student experience." kurt R. venator, a veterinarian who serves as a marketing official at nestlé, says, "We believe that the participation of two nutritionists at the school will strongly contribute to the success of the aCe program and the nestlé purina nutrition outreach program." the impetus for introducing evidence-based medicine as well as nonscience topics to the Cummings school curriculum came from feedback from recent graduates and their employers. "Communications always comes up," says Freeman. "the aCe program helps students polish their communications skills and reinforces the importance of lifelong learning. another important aCe component, evidence-based medicine, gives students the tools they need to keep pace with rapid advances in their profession and to continue to practice veterinary medicine at the highest level of excellence." at tufts, students also are introduced early on to opportunities to get involved in the clinics and clinical research. "in the past it wasn't until third or fourth year that they met the clinicians," says Freeman. "now we want them from day one to feel part of this whole clinical experience."

f a l l 2 0 1 1 t u f t s v e t e r i na ry m e d i c i n e 3 1


remembering Agnes varis

Cummings School overseer was a friend to animals and to Tufts University

gnes varis, a pioneer in the generic drug industry whose ph i la nt h ropy helped t r a n sfor m Tu f t s University and its Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, died in New York City on July 29, following a two-year fight with cancer. A renaissance woman, Varis exuded her own special brand of élan about many things: education, animal welfare, affordable health care, the arts, the power of women and her beloved Democratic Party. At her core, Agnes Varis she cared deeply about young people and and Zeus believed in their ability to do good things for society. A university trustee emerita and overseer to the Cummings School, she was a longtime supporter of Tufts because she was convinced that the institution prepares students to go out and do great things. "I see all these young people who want to change the world, which gives me hope for our country," she once said. "Tufts builds citizens of the world. That's our mission, and boy, do we need it more than ever." The daughter of Greek immigrants, she helped establish the U.S. generic drug industry that lowered the cost of pharmaceuticals for millions around the world. One of her favorite conversation starters was a throw pillow emblazoned with these words: "Behind Every Great Woman Is Herself." Visitors to the Cummings School campus immediately understand the influence this one-woman force of nature has had on New England's only veterinary school. Her unending generosity helped transform the school, including the construction of the Agnes Varis Campus Center and Auditorium, the heart and soul of campus life. Her philanthropy also enabled the Agnes Varis Lecture Hall, the Varis Cat Ward in the Foster Hospital for Small Animals, funds to expand the graduate program in biomedical sciences and summer research fellowships for veterinary students. A former managing director of the Metropolitan Opera (Beverly Sills admired her business savvy), a great supporter of Jazz at Lincoln Center, a friend to the Democratic Party and a mentor and role model to women from all spheres, she dispensed her selfdescribed "Agvice" to presidents and just plain folks. Upon learning of her death, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., suspended debate on the federal debt ceiling to offer a tribute to Varis on the Senate floor. "Agnes was an angel to many," Schumer said, noting that she provided free prescription drug cards to New York City workers who lost their jobs after the 9/11 attacks. And


after Hurricane Katrina leveled New Orleans and put many jazz musicians out of work, Varis hired them to play for Louisiana elementary school children, he said. Although Varis counted as friends some of the most influential people in the country, including Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, who appointed her to the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities, she also derived great joy from the simple things in life, including her cats, Zeus and Kallee. When Zeus was diagnosed with lymphoma, Varis realized how difficult it was for pet owners to manage the cost of treating their animals' cancer. She responded by creating the Zeus Varis Fund, which helps sustain the special human-animal bond that she so cherished. Her vision was grand and contagious. As the founder of three pharmaceutical companies, she learned that scientific inquiry changes lives, and she donated the funds to establish the Agnes Varis University Chair in Science and Society at Tufts University. "My background is science, and whatever I have made, I have made as a result of science," said Varis, who earned undergraduate degrees in chemistry and English from Brooklyn College before heading off to business school. "But you can't separate science from society." Well-known patrons of the arts, Varis and her husband, Karl Leichtman, donated funds for the Karl Leichtman Performance Stage and Agnes Varis Music Lecture Hall in the Granoff Music Center on Tufts' Medford/Somerville campus. Varis was ever agile in weaving together her varied interests. When she decided to mark the dedication of the Agnes Varis Auditorium at the Cummings School with a gift of a grand piano, the instrument's arrival was heralded with a Concert for Animals. The audience included the specially trained dogs, cats and even a miniature horse that work with the school's pet-assisted therapy group, Paws for People. Those who knew Varis say she embodied the spirit of Tufts University and its commitment to public service. In awarding her an honorary doctor of public service degree in 2003, President Lawrence S. Bacow commented on the "powerful commitment to active citizenship" that infused every aspect of her life. Gifts in Agnes Varis' memory may be made to the Zeus Varis Fund, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, Office of Development and Alumni Relations, 200 Westboro Road, North Grafton, MA 01536.

32 t u f t s v e t e r i na ry m e d i c i n e f a l l 2 0 1 1

advice for our readers

ask the vet

Your horse's special diet need not Break the Bank

Nicholas Frank, professor of large animal internal medicine and the new chair of the Department of Clinical Sciences at the Cummings School, responds to a reader's concern about her horse's special dietary needs:

first, let me offer a brief introduction to pssM, or polysaccharide storage myopathy, for readers who are not aware of this condition. pssM is a muscle disease that occurs primarily in horses with quarter horse bloodlines--including quarter horses, American paint horses and appaloosas--and occasionally in draft breeds, crossbreeds and warmbloods. When a horse has pssM, its muscle cells store too much of a carbohydrate called glycogen, and when the horse exercises, its body can't use that fuel the way it should. As a result, the muscle cells go into an energy crisis and become damaged both during and after exercise. commonly known as "tying-up," symptoms of pssM include stiffness, sweating and a reluctance to move. A horse having a pssM episode also may have muscle tremors and a high heart rate from the pain, which is like the worst full-body charley horse ever. because there is a genetic component to the disease, most pssM cases are diagnosed through a genetic test on a hair or blood sample. horses

Q: A:

What are good feeds for horses suffering from polysaccharide storage myopathy? i have been buying a commercial feed specially formulated for this condition, but at $46 for a 50-pound bag, it's expensive.

that display clinical signs but have negative genetic test results are diagnosed with a muscle biopsy. horses with pssM should be exercised daily, and the intensity and duration of exercise must be increased gradually. they also benefit from a diet that decreases the amount of sugar in their bloodstream while providing calories through fat. the good news is that you don't need to splurge on an expensive commercial feed to manage pssM. purchase a lower-sugar pelleted feed and then add fat by mixing in a half-cup to one cup of vegetable oil. Another option is to feed a combination of molasses-free beet pulp and vegetable oil.

Please email your questions for "Ask the Vet" to Genevieve Rajewski, Editor, tufts veterinary Medicine, at [email protected]

how to reach us

Main hospital switchboard and after-hours emergencies Henry and Lois foster Hospital for Small animals, appointment desk Hospital for Large animals, appointment desk tufts ambulatory Service, Woodstock, Conn. tufts VEtS, Walpole, Mass. Wildlife Clinic directions to tufts (ext. 84650) Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine administration Veterinary Student admissions Office Veterinary alumni Relations Cummings Veterinary fund tufts Pet Loss Support Hotline Continuing Education Public Relations 508.839.5395 508.839.5395 508.839.5395 860.974.2780 508.668.5454 508.839.7918 508.839.5395 508.839.5302 508.839.7920 508.839.7976 508.839.7909 508.839.7966 508.887.4723 508.839.7910


if you are interested in learning more about how you can support the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, contact: Jonathan burton, interim director of veterinary development and alumni relations, at 508.839.7907, or email: [email protected]

IllustrAtIoN: ANN boyAjIAN

Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine

NoNprofIt orG. u.s. postAGE

200 Westboro Road North Grafton, ma 01536

bostoN, MA pErMIt No. 1161

pA Id

toRnado suRvIvoRs

Steven bush walks Cajun amid the wreckage of his farm, which was leveled when two tornadoes swept through a 40-mile stretch of Massachusetts this summer. the horse required three surgeries to recover from a leg injury, and bush and his wife, Joann kass, plan to rebuild their home. for more about their story and how you can keep your animals safe in a natural disaster, turn to page 20.

tufts uNIvErsIty offIcE of publIcAtIoNs 8261 11/11


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