STILLWATER — Madeleine Pickens isn’t sure how her $5 million donation to Oklahoma State University will be spent, but she’s sure it won’t be at the Center for Veterinary Health Sciences. Two months ago, she said she would give the money to the veterinary program, but Monday she sent a letter to OSU President Burns Hargis asking her donation go elsewhere. "I haven’t changed my mind about the donation,” she said. "It’s still going to go to OSU. But I’m very concerned about the practices at the vet school.” Pickens said she particularly takes issue with the practice of buying animals from dealers and then performing multiple operations on those animals before they are euthanized. Pickens described the dealers as "less than reputable.” She said she heard this information from a student in the OSU veterinary program. "We live in the 21st century,” she said, "and we have new ways of doing things.” Pickens said she and Michael Lorenz, dean of the Center for Veterinary Health Sciences, have different philosophies. Lorenz issued a statement through the OSU press office after declining interviews with the media. Lorenz said the information Pickens received was mostly incorrect. "No more than two surgeries are performed on any dog,” Lorenz said in his statement. "Terminal dog surgeries are used at the majority of the United States veterinary colleges.” For the past few months, Lorenz and his faculty have been looking to expand their surgical program to work with local shelter animals, OSU spokesman Gary Shutt said. The program would allow students to operate on animals and then return them to the shelter for adoption. The program has stagnated because it would require three extra staff positions. Students would require closer supervision because shelter dogs would not be eventually euthanized like the purchased dogs are. OSU pays $139 per dog, Shutt said. Shelter dogs would be free. Animals used at the 28 veterinary colleges nationwide come from a variety of sources, said Mike Chaddock, deputy director of the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges. The most common sources for live animals are breeders, shelters and pet owners. Professors must balance education with animal welfare, Chaddock said. Many teachers will use diagrams, cadavers or models if possible, but sometimes working with a living animal is the only way to train students. "I would equate it to human procedures,” he said. "There are some procedures we’d hope our doctor learned to do on a real patient.” All veterinarians — whether they’re working with animals or students — work within the veterinarian oath, Chaddock said. One of the pillars is to relieve animal suffering. "We want to make sure that everybody treats these animals in a humane and proper way,” he said. "We believe our schools do.” Working with live animals gives students invaluable training, said veterinarian and OSU graduate Rory Stricklin of Wewoka. "It’s just one step forward to becoming a better practitioner,” Stricklin said. "They show you what needs to be done and keep you from making the same mistakes they did.”
Animals at Oklahoma vet techsThe three veterinary technology programs in Oklahoma all use live animals in their training.
Murray State College in TishomingoThe college has a partnership with the Ardmore animal shelter, said Carey Floyd, director of the veterinary technology program. The students examine the animals and perform lab work. They also assist Floyd with spaying and neutering the animals by administering anesthesia and completing other tasks. If the animal needs to be euthanized, the students will assist Floyd with the procedure. The students practice on models before working with the animals, she said.
Oklahoma State University- Oklahoma CityStudents perform exams on their own dogs, spokeswoman Evelyn Bollenbach said. The students are allowed to bring their own animals in the classroom for practice work. The students also work shifts helping with surgical prep and recovery at the Oklahoma City animal shelter.
Tulsa Community CollegeStudents spend an entire semester with the shelter animals they work with, said Jan Weaver, coordinator of the school’s vet tech program. The program adopts animals from the Sand Springs animal shelter, and students spend the semester practicing such techniques as deworming and health exams. At the end of the semester, students find responsible adopters to keep the animals.
ONLINEVideo Madeleine Pickens, wife of OSU alumnus T. Boone Pickens wants a $5 million donation redirected from the veterinary school because of how animals are used there. "ï¿½Documents Read OSU’s response to Pickens’ donation flap. www.newsok.com