Digital innovation is changing the way vets work. Are regulators keeping up?
Success by designCan the colour of your
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Outsourcing Get by with a little help from a stranger
Australias largest privately-owned practiceThe VetFriends and North Shore groups in Sydney, the Vets4Pets group in Adelaide and the practices
that joined the Australian Veterinary Owners League have created VetPartners.
We are now a 36 practice group in four states.
Our goal is to provide the best exit strategy for owners of leading practices across the country.
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Cover storyOnline vetting 20With more and more practices offering add-on video consults to services, how are regulators keeping up with the advances in digital pet care? We explore the world of FaceTime and Skype vet consults.
News + eventsThe latest in the veterinary world 4A feline virus outbreak, Queensland set to stop puppy farms, the latest on the greyhounds scandal, a new shark species discovered, the tropical reef fish most vulnerable to climate change and much more.
Your worldNot just a pretty face 12Celebrity vets are often derided, charged with being in it for the famethis group of animal lovers and passionate vets set the record straight.
Your businessOutside perspective 16When youre running a busy practice and falling behind on admin or short-staffed over the holidays, outsourcing can be a good way to get out of a jam.
Training day 24Training your staff might be the best investment you make in your practice. How to get started, from making a plan to measuring the outcomes.
Success by design 26Good practice design can boost your business, attract more clients, help owners and animals feel comfortableand even increase pet adoptions!
Your toolsTools of the trade 42Reviewed by real-life vets around Australia.
Your lifeStraight shooter 46To be a champion rifle shooter, Dr Erica Young from Queensland utilises focus, patience and psychology.
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news + events
Victoria Vsquez, from the Pacific Shark Research Center in the USA, and her co-authors Dr Douglas J. Long and Dr David Ebert, have identified a new species of shark and christened it with the stealthiest of monikers. The newly named Ninja Lanternshark joins the 40 other bioluminescent lanternshark species that are already known.
The sharks snappy aliases dont end there, its scientific nameEtmopterus benchleyihas its own back story. The species is named in honour of Peter Benchley and the conservation work he did to counter the negative portrayal that the movie Jaws gave sharks (he wrote the book). His legacy continues through the Benchley Awards, which recognise outstanding achievements in ocean conservation, says Vsquez.
The suggested common name, the Ninja Lanternshark, refers to the uniform black coloration and reduced photophore complement used as concealment in this species, somewhat reminiscent of the typical
outfit and stealthy behavior of a ninja.The Ninja Lanternshark is quite
diminutive in comparison to Bentleys giant Great White. Vsquez sees the discovery as forging a path for understanding the wide variegation to be found in sharks ocean-wide.
When we think of sharks as one type, were not understanding the true complexity of sharks and the roles they play in the ecosystem, Vsquez said. Theyre not all apex predators.
Ive seen a few reports alluding to how dangerous and scary this shark might be, which is pretty funny to me since the largest one we found (a full-grown adult) was 515mm-long from head to tail. Since we dont have a lot of specimens we cant confirm if they grow larger. Nevertheless, since it lives in the deep sea a chance encounter with people is highly unlikely. You would need a submersible to better your odds at finding one, so I just wanted to clarify that there is no danger to people with this new species.
Ninja shark found lurking beneath the shadows
The Special Commission of Inquiry into the Greyhound Racing Industry has been told that racing stewards were advised to downplay both deaths and injuries of dogs to avoid further bad publicity for the industry.
Clint Bentley, the chief steward of Greyhound Racing NSW, was revealed to have sent an email in 2013 to all stewards in NSW telling them to minimise details.
It has been discussed at a recent management meeting and decided that it is in the best interests of all that we desist from providing too detailed information in our Stewards Reports with regard to injuries sustained by
greyhounds, wrote Bentley in his email.In order to do this we suggest that
you no longer report injuries such as fractures or breaks but rather just as injured: i.e. if a greyhound was to sustain a fractured hock we would report it as an injured hock...
The inquirys commissioner, Michael McHugh QC, was not persuaded by the excuses for the policy offered by Brent Hogan, the former Greyhound Racing NSW (GRNSW) chief executive officer.
Hogan was queried on whether the policy had been deliberately designed to disguise the gravity and frequency of injuries. He claimed reporting was changed to increase consistency between
reports and simplify the process.However, McHugh was not swayed:
I dont find your explanations very convincing. It appears to me there was a deliberate policy to euphemistically describe injuries so it would not excite the interests of animal welfare groups.
Mr Hogan said he was not attempting to conceal the data.
I think I had a concern that, in the absence of context, that raw data could be open to various interpretations.
Bentley gave further evidence that the misleading method of reporting had continued through to November of 2015, and it never occurred to him to report it.
Greyhound stewards deliberate policy of misreporting injuries
The Ninja Lanternshark is so-called because of its stealth.
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The federal governments proposed changes to Department of Agriculture and Water Resources veterinary staff may put both animal welfare and public health on rocky footing.
The governments proposal would see an entry-level vets wages drop by $21,000 per annum, a reduction of opportunities for continuing professional development and increased difficulty for mobility within governmental employment.
In defence of its members, the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) has expressed apprehension over the proposed changes. AVA president, Dr Robert Johnson voiced his concern, calling for the government to consider the role vets play in agriculture-related health and safety.
Government vets provide services that protect biosecurity, health and food safety. They are as integral to government decision-making on agriculture as doctors are to policy in the medical system, said Dr Johnson.
Dr Johnsons concerns are not unfounded, the AVAs workforce modelling report from 2015 found that the government could already expect a shortage of vets in their employ, even without changes to pay and conditions.
Reducing pay scales and classifications for veterinary officers will only make this situation worse and it will be our livestock industries and public health that will pay the price, said Johnson
We believe the government needs to be proactively employing more vets. Its also important to invest in the development and retention of those already working in Australian government roles so their expertise is not lost.
Dr Johnson explained the important role Australian veterinary expertise played in food and livestock trade.
Multi-million dollar decisions rest on the... signature of Australian vets. Were very concerned about the impact these proposed changes will have on protecting livestock industries from disease, and our ability to respond when theres an animal health crisis.
Undervaluing these many contributions of government vets opens the door to risks that we just cant afford to take.
AVA opposed to federal government vet cuts proposal
Government vets provide critical advice on biosecurity.
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Simulator animals take their place in the herdMany vet schools are increasingly relying on animal simulators to train students. While this reduces the number of animals required for practice, questions have been asked as to whether simulators appropriately prepare students for real-life situations. Researchers at the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna have tested exactly this question. The team found that simulators provide a stress-free environment for training that works to allow students to efficiently achieve their learning outcomes.
Researchers Christina Nagel, Christine Aurich and a team from Vetmeduni Viennas Centre for Artificial Insemination and Embryo Transfer worked with a sample of 25 third-year vet students. The team worked to test how efficient simulator training could be in teaching large animal gynaecology.
The sample, separated into three groups, were instructed on palpation and ultrasonography of the equine genital tract of horse mares. The first group used a simulator box with rubber genital organs and were each trained four times. Group two were also trained four times but on teaching horses. The final group received only a single training session on horse mares.
The study found that simulator training was almost as efficient as using teaching animals. After a two-week gap, the sample students used their knowledge to examine and diagnose a horse mare.
The group who had the chance to train on horses four times received the best scores, but those who had trained on the simulator werent far behind, with those who had a single session coming in last.
Simulator-based training prepares the students very efficiently for diagnostic procedures on live horses, Nagel said. Simulators are, however, not only an additional teaching tool for our students but also a contribution to animal welfare. Only when students have successfully finished the simulator-based training course are they allowed to perform the same diagnostic procedures in animals.
news + events
The secrets of wombatsFor the first time ever, researchers from the University of Adelaide have been able to non-invasively study the inner workings of wombat warrens, with a little help from ground-penetrating radar.
Despite being the faunal emblem of South Australia, very little is known about the burrowing habits of the southern hairy-nosed wombat.
As part of a larger study into wombat conservation, Michael Swinbourne, PhD candidate in the Universitys School of Biological Sciences, set out to test a new way of mapping wombat warrens.
His research has been published in the peer-reviewed journal Wildlife Research.
A major problem we are grappling with is understanding just how many wombats there are and whether their numbers are increasing or decreasing, Swinbourne says.
At the moment we use satellite imagery to count the warrens and then use that information to estimate the numbers of wombats living inside. This method isnt perfect because we dont know much about how wombats share their warrens.
Using ground-penetrating radar meant Swinbourne and his team
were able to map warrens built underneath thick layers of hard limestonewhich occurs throughout much of the wombats range.
The aim of this project was to map the extent of wombat warrens in different ground conditions; to gain a better understanding of the relationship between how they look on the outside and what goes on underneath, he says.
They found warrens built under limestone differ substantially to soil warrens, being an extensive series of tunnels and chambers rather than simply a discrete tunnel underground.
These findings have important implications for how we estimate the numbers of wombats, and also how we think about the social structure of a wombat colony. They might be more social than we previously thought, Swinbourne says.
Wombats are considered an agricultural pest because their burrowing activity can cause damage to farm infrastructure and equipment as well as crops.
Lessening the southern hairy-nosed wombats impact on agriculture on one hand, while conserving it on the other, continues to be a significant challenge for conservationists.
In a bid to stop the states puppy farms from flying under the radar, Queensland MP Leanne Donaldson has this week introduced a bill she hopes will stamp out the problem.
The bill, if passed, will require compulsory registration for all dog
breeders. The agriculture and fisheries minister said that
the registration will allow for detection of previously hidden puppy farms.
A new dog breeder registration system will, for the first time, make
it possible to locate and close down those dog
breeding facilities where profit is put before the welfare
of dogs, said Donaldson.The government has worked with
the RSPCA to create guidelines. The guidelines were sanctioned in public survey discussions, in which 95 per cent of respondents were in favour of the compulsory registration...