Weekly companion animal news: May 13, 2024

U.S. veterinary groups clash over need for more practitioners

AVMA leaders criticized a report commissioned by the American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges, maintaining that it overstated the need for more practitioners. The authors of the March 10 report, titled “Demand for and Supply of Veterinarians in the U.S. to 2032,” stated that “the supply shortfall can be addressed by reducing veterinarian turnover, improving efficiency, and increasing the supply of graduates.” In a written response, AVMA President Rena Carlson and Chief Executive Janet D. Donlin said, “Candidly, we worry that the analysis substantively underestimates the supply of veterinarians and overestimates demand for them.” Coming under further fire, the AAVMC withdrew the report for a different reason, acknowledging it didn’t respectfully represent the increasing role women are playing in a profession that is predominantly female, the VIN News Service reports.

Pennsylvania to make xylazine a controlled substance

Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro will sign legislation to criminalize the misuse of xylazine, as the animal tranquilizer shows up in supplies of illicit drugs and contributes to a growing number of human overdose deaths. Xylazine is being mixed into fentanyl and other illicit opioids. It will remain legal for its intended use by veterinarians, The Associated Press reports.

Twenty million U.S. pets experience poverty with their owners: Humane Society survey

Approximately 20 million pets in the United States experience poverty with their owners and 70% have never seen a veterinarian, according to the Humane Society of the United States. A new Harris Poll survey conducted on behalf of the Humane Society found that only around one in four Americans—or 28%—are aware of this situation. In fact, 43% of all pet owners have been unable to pay for their pets’ needs at some point due to financial reasons. The poll indicated that 89% of Americans agree that all pet owners deserve to keep their pets as long as they care for them and love them, rather than give up their pet if they fall on financial hard times.

Continued pet industry growth expected ahead: APPA

The pet industry remains strong despite changes in the U.S. economy, including the recession of 2007 and the global pandemic, according to the 2024 state of the industry report from the American Pet Products Association. The valuable connection between pet owners and pets led to record-high pet ownership and compound annual growth rates during COVID-19 isolation, according to the report. While 2024 findings show the data normalizing, the outlook for the industry projects continued growth to achieve $207 billion in pet spending in 2030. According to APPA, evidence shows younger generations are taking over the industry in new ways. Understanding their differences from prior generations will help pet leaders adapt their strategies and help the industry thrive, according to APPA.

As shelters deal with pet overflow, California groups to host statewide adoption event June 1

The California Animal Welfare Association, the San Francisco Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals have announced the first-ever California Adopt-a-Pet Day, scheduled for June 1. The statewide adoption day will feature more than 150 California animal welfare organizations offering free adoptions to find homes for 2,024 shelter pets. The ASPCA will provide funds to cover the cost of the adoptions at participating shelters. According to the organizations, the large influx of animals being brought into shelters in recent years is due to a severe nationwide shortage of veterinary professionals as well as a confluence of other factors, such as inflation and pet-friendly housing restrictions. Many communities in California don’t have access to affordable veterinary care, including spay and neuter services.

New York City’s first pet-friendly homeless shelter opens in the Bronx

The Urban Resource Institute and New York City Department of Homeless Services unveiled the Bronx-based Uplift Families Residence—the first pet-friendly shelter for unhoused families in New York City. Five families will be able to live at Uplift with their pets in apartment-style units, marking a major expansion of Urban Resource Institute’s People and Animals Living Safely, or PALS, program, which since 2013 has provided domestic violence survivors the opportunity to live with their pets, NYN Media reports.

Scientists call for greater awareness of raw pet food risks for people

A study has added to evidence of the risk posed by contaminated raw pet food to human health. Researchers investigated whether dog food available in Portugal, including raw meat-based diets, can be a source of salmonella or other bacterial strains resistant to last-line antibiotics such as colistin. Since 2020, there have been more than 20 reports or recalls of pet food and raw meat-based diets in the European Union because of the detection of pathogens. In the study, 55 samples from 25 brands of various meat and dog food types from 12 suppliers were screened by standard cultural methods between September 2019 and January 2020. Forty-one of the 55 samples were processed, and 14 were raw, according to the study published in the journal Eurosurveillance. Only RMBD batches were contaminated, with 10 of 14 containing multidrug-resistant E. coli and one MDR Salmonella, Food Safety News reports.

WSU recruits dogs for drug metabolism study

Washington State University researchers are recruiting canines for a study they hope will lead to the development of a test to determine if a dog is at risk of significant adverse reactions to commonly used veterinary drugs. The Drugs Optimized by Genomics study focuses on a group of liver enzymes—the cytochrome P450—responsible for metabolizing drugs, chemicals and contaminants from the environment. As in humans, dogs exhibit unique variations in the enzymes, which affects how their bodies break down and eliminate the drugs. Some may process medications slowly, putting them at risk during routine procedures requiring anesthesia or when drugs are needed for pain. Conversely, some dogs metabolize drugs too quickly, rendering prescribed doses ineffective. To be accepted into the study, dogs must be comfortable taking oral medications and in hospital environments, according to WSU.