Friday, February 27, 2009

Defending Oklahoma State Veterinary Medicine

In case you have not heard, Oklahoma State University’s Center of Veterinary Health Sciences is facing serious accusations from Mrs. Madeleine Pickens. After these allegations, the dean and veterinary students have fought back to defend their school and training methods.

I fully support the vet students and their dean in this matter. Mrs. Pickens allegations were simply ridiculous, and only based on the supposed testimony of an anonymous vet student. Veterinary students must be allowed to practice their surgical skills on live animals, period. If not, then it a huge disservice to the students and their future patients/clients. Upon graduation veterinarians are expected to be able to perform surgical procedures, and need to feel comfortable doing so on a live patient. Also, to accuse a vet student of “breaking legs and taking kidneys” then waking them up and doing several surgeries on one animal is just a plain lie according to multiple vet students and the dean. Further, OSU vet med has passed rigorous inspection and fallows every guideline that is required for the humane and ethical treatment for its live dog surgeries. Either Mrs. Pickens was lied to by the “anonymous vet student” or Mrs. Pickens lied to the reporter. Either way, it’s a simple smear tactic against the veterinary school. Mrs. Pickens is a known animal right activist and I suspect her “source” has a similar agenda. There is nothing wrong for supporting and fighting for animal rights, but her views have been “extreme”. Mrs. Pickens vehemently opposes horse slaughter, and for this reason has never given a single penny to the OSU vet school since they are OK with it. Further, I believe Mrs. Pickens wanted the vet school to supports other radical animal right movements in exchange for a hefty donation, OSU resisted and then she fired back with her accusations. Apparently, its well known that Mrs. Pickens has had an axe to grind with the OSU vet school for years for not following her demands and accepting her money, this all has lead to this event.

I really have to give respect to the veterinary schools dean, Dr. Mike Lorenz. He could have easily folded to the pressure put on him by Mrs. Pickens, accepted the money, and kept his name out of the headlines. Instead he stood up to her and fought for what was in best interest of his students. That’s good, quality training that is determined by veterinarians, not by a rich lady with ideals. Furthermore, one has to assume that Dr. Lorenz was pretty much alone in this fight, the university president, Burns Hargis, does not want to burn bridges with the Pickens’ because of the generous donation that Boone has given and will probably give in the future to OSU. Dr. Lorenz stood in the face of pressure, money, and harsh accusations for the best of all reasons: it was the right thing to do. The right thing for his students, his school, and for veterinary medicine. He should be applauded for this, not vilified.

I also would like to address the “solution” that Mrs. Pickens described in her interview. I really don’t think students, in their first surgical experience, should be allowed to work on people’s pets. I mean if you feel it’s unethical to practice surgery on dogs already sentenced to euthanasia, then how is it ethical to do so on beloved family pets. I know the offering of a cheap vet clinic for lower income pet owners sounds nice, but I believe that is disservice to the clients and patients. Any pet or even a shelter dog that is waiting to be adopted out deserves every chance of living a full, healthy life and the surgical expertise of a veterinarian, not just a student. Is it sad that some dogs are bred or kept and then sold for the sole reason of education/research and then to be euthanized? Absolutely, but their sacrifice is to the benefit of thousands of other animals and their owners. Further, what is the worst were to happen in surgery, how would that effect the student? How would you feel if your first surgery resulted in you losing a patient that had a chance at living a full life with a great family? Also, their treatment while in a veterinary school is second to none; they are cared for and loved in their short time.

Now I could go on forever about this because I really feel for the students and their school. It has been tarnished y someone with little to no information and a thirst for vengeance. Mrs. Pickens allegations should not be taken as anything more than a shrewd tactic aimed at defacing a perfectly ethical, humane, and excellent veterinary school. Do not fall for her hateful statements; support the students and faculty of OSU vet med. Please read the entire story and be sure to check out what the students and the dean are saying. If you have any comments please leave them as I want to know if this story has had any effect of pre-vet or veterinary students. I may post more on this later, as I said I have a lot to say on this subject. Thanks for reading, and sorry for all the grammar and spelling mistakes that I’m sure were made.


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K Johnson said...

That's just ridiculous! If you were undergoing a surgery, say a heart bypass surgery, or even an appendectomy, you wouldn't want the doctor who has never done the procedure before. There are many things that can go wrong during a surgery and one of the best ways of learning how to keep your cool and think straight during a miss-step is to do the procedure on a living being. A corpse can't shoot a stream of blood in your face if you nick the wrong vessel and when it happens to your surgeon while you're under their knife, just be glad that the surgeon has the wherewithal to fix it before it becomes a major problem.

I am currently working as a lab animal technician and applying to vet school for entry into next year's class and I'm GLAD that I've had the opportunity to be involved in training sessions on terminal surgeries. I've taught the vets I work with suture techniques that I wouldn't have gotten without practicing it in as many situations as I could.

When an animal is used in a terminal surgery, we're saddened by the loss of a member of the earth experience, but we remember that the sacrifice of that animal will help humans and other animals. When an animal is to wake up after surgery, we make sure that they get all the extra care and loving that they deserve. Many nights I've spent at work by myself in a dark room with an animal just to make sure that animal is comfortable all night long.

Kudos to you and the OSU vet program for standing up to bullies.

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