Attitudes towards perception and management of pain in rabbits and guinea pigs by a sample of veterinarians in New Zealand

AIMS: To determine the perceptions of a sample of veterinarians in New Zealand regarding pain and pain management in rabbits and guinea pigs.

METHODS: Questionnaires were distributed to all members of the Companion Animal Society, part of the New Zealand Veterinary Association. The questionnaire gathered information on the demographics of respondents, obtained an assessment by veterinarians of the level of pain associated with clinical procedures for rabbits and guinea pigs, established the willingness of respondents to perform these, obtained information on the anaesthetics and analgesics used during these procedures, and the factors associated with selecting different types of drug.

The level of knowledge of respondents and interest in continuing education regarding pain recognition and management in these species was also assessed. Continue reading Attitudes towards perception and management of pain in rabbits and guinea pigs by a sample of veterinarians in New Zealand

Massey vets on hand for oil spill response

New Zealand’s Massey University has led the wildlife response to the oil spill caused by the grounding of the Rena cargo ship on Astrolabe reef at the entrance to the port of Tauranga, in October.

The National Oiled Wildlife Response Team is trained, managed and co-ordinated by specialists at the university’s New Zealand Wildlife Health Centre in Palmerston North, under contract to Maritime New Zealand.

Its members include vets, pathologists and wildlife technicians. Regional councils around the country also contribute personnel.

Wildlife veterinarians Kerri Morgan and Helen McConnell co-ordinate the wildlife response and are assisted by other university veterinary staff, including Brett Gartrell and veterinary residents and technicians.

Gartrell, who manages the wildlife response facility, said staff have treated more than 400 animals at the centre.

“We have a three stage system to stabilise, clean and then rehabilitate animals,” he said. “All animals affected by the oil are washed but it takes a number of days for them to regain waterproofing.”

Birds with specific health issues are held in an intensive care unit led by one of four Massey vets. Massey wildlife veterinarian Micah Jensen said the birds the unit have treated have had a range of ailments.

“There are birds that have picked up respiratory infections, one had a cloacal prolapse, another had a corneal ulcer,” Jensen said. Continue reading Massey vets on hand for oil spill response

Kiwi Post July 2011

We arrived at a dairy farm the other day to find out just how much of a shambles dairy farming currently is in New Zealand. Of course, we all know things are changing fast, but none of us ever guessed it could slump so low.

There were three of us, on farm at 4AM, to pregnancy scan and record an 800 cow herd. We pulled most of the gear out of the car, got set up, and went back to the car to find we had managed to somehow lock it with our car keys and –most distressing of all- all our phones inside.

No problem, we had most of our gear and could carry on scanning while someone broke into it and unlocked it. Plenty of half-employed drongos on a dairy farm to do this in five minutes. So we started up scanning.

But modern dairy farms have changed. And, when it comes to a bit of breaking and entry, not for the better. Nobody employs drongos anymore. These days on Kiwi dairy farms the vast majority of staff are likely to be from overseas and have a tertiary degree. So, if they’re not from Europe with a science degree, they’re from the Phillipines with a veterinary degree, or Asia with an agricultural degree.

So, a little over 3 hours later when we came to wash up we found that nobody had broken into our car because nobody had any idea how to. Worst still, even if they could, it would be simply unthinkable for them to carry out such a wanton act of crime. On the farm that day, including us, were 8 people from 7 nationalities with at least 9 degrees amongst us, and not a single Kiwi. Continue reading Kiwi Post July 2011

Atypical scrapie/Nor98 in a sheep from New Zealand

In a consignment of sheep brains from NZ, to be used in Europe as negative control material in scrapie rapid screening test evaluations, brain samples from 1 sheep (no. 1512) gave the following initially confusing results in various screening tests: the brainstem repeatedly produced negative results in 2 very similar screening kits (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay [ELISA]-1, ELISA-2), . . . → Read More: Atypical scrapie/Nor98 in a sheep from New Zealand

Panicked pets flee from quake

The recent earthquake in New Zealand’s second largest city, Christchurch, rated a bone-rattling 7.1 on the Richter scale – the same as San Francisco’s 1989 quake and larger than Haiti’s January quake. It occurred along a previously unknown fault line and sent sleeping residents into full earthquake defence mode.

Animals affected by the quake also suffered 40 seconds of thunderous rocking and rolling. Many animals simply fled, and 497 cats and dogs were registered with the Canterbury SPCA Track-A-Pet service, from when the quake struck on the fourth, to the 30 September (compared to just 81 in the previous year). Cats made up 90 per cent of this total because they were free to just ‘take off’. Dogs were less able to flee because of their confinement. Just two people were injured, no-one was killed, and a few animals suffered minor injuries from falling objects.

Happily, 246 animals were reunited with their owners in September alone, either by using the SPCA Track-A-Pet service or by returning home voluntarily. Continue reading Panicked pets flee from quake