College of Veterinary Medicine

From the Dean

WSU CVM Grad Treats Injured Police Dog

by Bryan 17. June 2009 06:51

On Monday, Gino, a Tukwila police dog was stabbed in the neck by an alleged shoplifter who the police were trying to arrest.

This video clip from KING5 in Seattle stars none other than Dr. Paul Chauvin, a 2004 graduate of our college.  One of the things about this profession ... you just never know what is going to come through the door.

Gino is doing fine, much to the relief of his police handler who, as you might imagine, is very close to his dog.

And, Paul is looking good!

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by Bryan 16. June 2009 18:12

I've mentioned previously that, although I have nothing against dogs, I am mostly a cat person, with only four of them at home right now (#5 is the perfect apartment cat and so she's off in Seattle with our son to keep him company).

This is Agate -- she's from the "rock" litter -- who came to us from the shelter in Moscow about three and one-half years ago, along with her brother Obsidian (you've guessed it, there'll be more cat pictures!).  She's a sort-of-seal-point (note the white feet).  Aggie, as we more commonly know her, is my constant little helper, always around when I'm reading, cooking, or hanging out in the den at home.  The printer is warm, I guess, making it an ideal napping spot for her in the winter.



(thanks to daughter Sarah for providing the pictures) 

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Boxer Cardiomyopathy Deciphered

by Bryan 10. June 2009 17:28

Boxer cardiomyopathy is one of numerous genetically based heart diseases that affect companion animals.  More correctly, this disease is  Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Cardiomyopathy, which usually leads to poor heart function and ventricular tachyarrhythmias (rapidly occurring abnormal heart beats) that can lead to sudden death.

Our College of Veterinary Medicine is fortunate to have on its faculty Dr. Kate Meurs, who leads the Veterinary Cardiac Genetics Laboratory (VCGL).  The focus of this laboratory is on uncovering the genetic basis for heart disease in cats and dogs.  Recently, Dr. Meurs and her colleagues determined the gene mutation responsible for Boxer cardiomyopathy.  Her strategy was insightful -- she hypothesized that the causative gene would be similar to the ones associated with a parallel disease in humans.  In humans, this disease is thought to be due to mutations in proteins associated with a cellular structure known as desmosomes, which are important for holding cells together in tissues and, in tissues like the heart, electrical conduction.

Dr. Meurs' studies led her to discover that the mutation that causes this disease in Boxers is in a protein known as striatin.  Not much is known about this protein, which means that Dr. Meurs not only is in a position to help Boxers and their owners by testing for this disease, but she also is now in a position to pursue basic studies of this protein and its role in cardiac function and disease.

This was elegant clinical (or to use the more modern term, translational) science, and it is a great example of what can happen when a dedicated veterinary clinician also becomes a dedicated veterinary biomedical scientist.  But as cool as the science was, at the end of the day, this is all about helping prevent a fatal disease in Boxers.

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... in Alligators

by Bryan 24. February 2009 17:07

One of the fun things about having an exotics ward in the Veterinary Teaching Hospital is, well, that you get to see exotic animals.  It seems that one of our local fraternities found themselves an alligator on the Internet.  When the local authorities then relieved said fraternity of their illegal boarder we, as is often the case, became the sanctuary until the critter can be placed.  The most entertaining account of the acquisition of the 'gator can be found here; but this is also a reminder that, all too often, impulses involving living things don't always work out as planned. 

Cute little bugger...about 12 inches long.  Dr. Finch tells us that in the wild they could grow on up to 16 feet.

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Genetics of Heart Disease

by Bryan 5. February 2009 16:31

Many forms of heart disease in both animals and people result from a defect in some gene that is important for the function of heart muscle.  Hundreds of different gene defects have been identified in people, but fewer have been identified in animals.  Unfortunately, many breeds are predisposed to certain forms of heart disease and much research is needed if we are to decrease the incidence of these diseases.

The College of Veterinary Medicine is fortunate to be home to Kate Meurs, the Richard L. Ott Chair of Small Animal Medicine and Research.  Dr. Meurs is a cardiologist whose research passion is to figure out the genetic basis for some of the common heart diseases, most prominently cardiomyopathies, in dogs and cats.  Her work as the leader of the Veterinary Cardiac Genetics Laboratory (VCGL) exemplifies the special connection between clinical care and the basic and applied research needed to improve animal lives.  This connection was also Dick Ott's passion, and it is fitting that Kate carries on his tradition, thanks to the gifts that made this endowed chair position possible.

Rather than place a long post here about the different facets of her work, I'll point you to the VCGL blog, where Kate will periodically provide thoughts about heart disease diagnosis and treatment, and also update you about her research to improve the ability to detect and treat heart disease.

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Dash the Cat

by Bryan 3. February 2009 19:52

One of the treats of flying in and out of Pullman is the Moscow-Pullman Airport's resident cat.  Dash, a flame-point Siamese with tons of personality, has lived there for the past four years, since being rescued by airport personnel as a stray kitten out on the tarmac.  She has been a fixture since then, zooming here and there around the airport, on both sides of security, as people come and go.  She's a great cat and loves to interact with those waiting for flights.

No longer, unfortunately.  The Moscow-Pullman Daily News reported yesterday that Dash has been evicted; regional managers of the Transportation Safety Administration have apparently decided she has to go.  The search is on for a good home for Dash.  No doubt she'll have many takers, and will land on her feet.  Still, it won't be the same without her.

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Moose, Junior, and the Obama Administration

by Bryan 8. January 2009 06:12

Just a quick post before heading to Spokane this morning.

First a confession: I'm a cat person (only four right now).  Dogs are OK, but...

In that spirit, I found this story that touches on the central role of a couple of Maine Coon Cats -- Moose and Junior -- in the life of one of Obama's staffers to be an interesting contrast to the focus on the new dog for the incoming first family.  The main thrust of the story is a look at the lives, or lack thereof, depending on your point of view, of several workaholic ABM team members.

Pete Rouser's two Maine Coons (a central part of his reputation as a "two-cat-no-life workaholic") seem, at first glance, to be somewhat incidental to that main story line.  But, the inclusion of Moose and Junior in the thread of the story illustrates very nicely the central role of companion animals in the lives of many people.

The non-cat-related stuff is pretty interesting too.

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