Hospital’s new horse will save patients’ lives


Cornell University Hospital for Animals (CUHA) welcomes its newest permanent working animal, Mike the horse. Mike is a huge 9-year old Belgian weighing over 2000 lbs. His job involves a lot of time off lounging outside. But a few times a year when emergencies strike, Mike will play a key part in saving horse’s lives.

“He was originally an athlete, pulling weights for sport,” said Kalli Anderson, veterinary technician at the Equine and Farm Animal Hospital. “But he was performing poorly, not eating much, and losing weight. His owners brought him to us on March 16, 2010 to find out why. We discovered he had arthritis in his front feet. The pain was probably hurting his appetite.”

The diagnosis put an end to his sport career, but Mike’s visit to CUHA proved to be the beginning of a new career helping the Hospital’s equine patients for years to come. When Mike’s bloodwork revealed that he had the right credentials for the job, the Hospital bought him as its new equine blood donor.

zJoan, the hospital’s former blood donor horse, was 28, and hospital staff had been looking hard to find a good replacement. But horse blood types are even more complex than human blood types, and the search was proving fruitless until Mike came along.

“We were testing blood from horses from the equine park and research projects for years, hoping to find a good donor, but nothing was coming up. “When Mike came in, we got permission to test him. Draft horses have good antibodies, so we were hopeful,” said Anderson. “Mike turned out to fit the bill.”

“He’s still getting used to us, he internalizes and snorts a lot, he’s working through his fears,” said Anderson. “He’s a quiet horse, easy to manage and good for students to learn on.”

You can visit Mike outside most days outside behind C-Barn.; April 24, 2011

Students lauded for veterinary volunteer work in Trinidad and Tobago

jIn January 2011, four veterinary students travelled to the Caribbean to help Biomedical Sciences PhD student Miguella Mark-Carew conduct field research for her Fulbright project addressing public health risks in Trinidad and Tobago. Second-year student Jasmine Bruno and third-year students Sarrah Kaye, Erin Lashnits, and Sarah Dumas spent two weeks on the islands collecting parasite samples from dogs, cattle, and water buffalo, processing samples in the lab, counting roaming dogs in the streets, and volunteering in an intensive marathon spaying and neutering event.

“I found out about the opportunity through an informal lecture by Miguella explaining her project and asking for help from the veterinary community,” said Bruno.  “The perks were learning parasitology, free housing and transportation, and island fun. It also gave us a chance to compare the veterinary setting at home with that in Trinidad, and to experience field research firsthand. ”

b Mark-Carew’s project investigates intestinal parasites in dairy cattle and dogs on the islands. These parasites can pass on to humans, posing a serious public health risk. Further risks arise from the islands’ rising population of strays and freely roaming dogs, which Mark-Carew aims to quantify.

“The stray surveillance study interested me the most,” Bruno said. “We worked in the city of Waterloo, a notorious dumping area for unwanted dogs and

puppies. Throughout the day, we were able to cover the entire city and counted over 90 roaming dogs.”

The students spent their last two days at the Tobago SPCA staffing its biannual spay and neuter clinic event. They worked side by side with students from the local veterinary school, and other volunteers both local and American. Strapped for space and low on staff, the students worked in rotations to field a rising tide of patients.

“We split up between intake, surgery, and recovery,” recalled Bruno. “We were essentially our own doctors and technicians.  The first day we were there from 8 AM to about 10 PM and the second day we stayed until almost 11 PM. But we were rewarded with the satisfaction that the harder we worked, the more neuters and spays we got through, and the more animals we kept off of the streets. The hardest part was working under limitations. We had limited light once night fell, limited space to hold all of the recovering dogs, and limited experience since many of us were students.  There were only about two experienced doctors working per day, and they stayed in surgery all day.”

zOne of those doctors took special notice of the fourstudents. Dr. Lisa J. Kerwin-Lucci was volunteering at the clinic through the Humane Society International, and working with Cornell students for one day left a remarkable impression, which she shared in a letter to Dean Michael Kotlikoff in February.

“The clinic received invaluable and enthusiastic support from your students, and I was both grateful and impressed,” she wrote. “These students assisted with exams, anesthetic induction, monitoring and recovery, and participated in supervised procedures, and were critical in recognizing and rescuing a spay complication. They worked very long days, but were eager to learn all they could.

“My experience with them left me indelibly impressed and proud to have worked with such dedicated, skilled, and compassionate individuals. These women are excellent examples of the type of professionals veterinary schools should aspire to train. I commend your program on such fine students and hope their experience encourages other students to pursue similar opportunities in veterinary medicine.”


Lessons learned abroad can carry far, and Bruno, Kaye, Lashnits, and Dumas have brought their newly earned experience back to their veterinary training.  “As demanding as the work was, it taught us the endurance to work with what was available,” said Bruno. “It was a very fulfilling experience.”

To learn more about Miguella-Carow’s Fulbright project, check out her blog:


Clinical pathology resident receives grant to study blood clotting

vClinical Pathology resident Dr. Nora Springer received a $2500 research award from the American Society for Veterinary Clinical Pathology (ASVCP) in March 2011. For the past three years, ASVCP has given one “Share the Future” research award per year, based on the quality of the candidate’s written proposal and the potential of the project to expand the knowledge base in veterinary clinical pathology. The grants range from $1,000 to $2,500, and are used to support new research by clinical pathology residents and graduate students.

Springer will use her award to investigate how tiny particles shed from platelets in the blood can lead to blood clots and thrombotic diseases in horses. She hopes to develop tests that will detect developing problems and help prevent thrombosis. Every cell in the body sheds microparticles, and those derived from platelets are the most common kind in the blood. These platelet-derived microparticles encourage blood to coagulate, and if enough accumulate they can form clots in blood vessels that obstruct blood flow, leading to thrombotic diseases in both horses and humans.

“Horses are at risk for thrombosis with inflammatory diseases, some of which are quite common, such as colic. The onset of thrombosis can drastically alter the clinical course of the disease and result in longer hospitalization times or death,” said Springer. “Unfortunately, Thrombosis is difficult to prevent because current tests can’t detect when a patient is at risk. Identifying at-risk patients before symptoms emerge is essential to guide therapy and minimize these diseases. I aim to develop new testing methods using bead-based flow cytometry that will count platelet-derived microparticles in equine blood and plasma, and to determine how these microparticles influence thrombosis.”

These new tests may allow clinicians to detect and predict thrombosis in patients, and develop treatments or prevention plans to stop the onset of blood-clotting disease.


Alumni Spotlight: Cesar Tello ’97

Trials and triumphs of starting a new veterinary practice in NYC’s Latino community

After eight years at Cornell, Peruvian-born Cesar Tello BS ’93 DVM ’97 launched into a fast-paced veterinary career in New York City, where he now owns a thriving practice. On March 29, 2011, Tello returned to his alma mater to share his story with a diverse group of students from across the university. Tello spoke of his trials and triumphs as a sole practice owner in one of New York City’s immigrant neighborhood where a majority of his clients do not speak English, and how it has strengthened his skills and enriched his experiences as a veterinarian.
“A solid social foundation is essential, in school and beyond,” said Tello, who came from Peru to New York City when he was one and half years old with his veterinarian parents. “The worst feeling is feeling alone; you have to build and use your network. As an undergrad I joined a Latino fraternity and several cultural and political student organizations. When I started veterinary school, I stayed involved with the student groups down campus, even joining them in a sit-in protest at Day Hall. When vet school got tough, I started connecting with veterinary students as well. We all pulled each other through.”

The value of camaraderie and the networking skills Tello cultivated at Cornell proved vital later in his career. Through networking he found his first veterinary job in Staten Island. “It paid $40,000 a year for 80 hours of work per week. But the working habits you established in the first two years out of veterinary school stay with you forever. I was a sponge and was determined to learn everything I could.”

kTello built his skills in various kinds of practices, including a house call service and an emergency night service where he worked from 5 pm to 8 am. “Emergencies taught me to do what needed to be done despite the anxiety. You see some scary things and have to act fast. I was scared, but I wasn’t scared enough not to help,” said Tello. “That’s where I really learned leadership.”

At the age of 29, Tello had gained enough confidence, experience, and leadership to brave the trials of starting his own practice. He opened Noah’s Ark Pet Clinic in Jackson Heights, a Queens’ neighborhood housing 130,000 people in a one-mile radius, 80 percent of who speak only Spanish. Tello is the sole owner and practitioner, managing seven employees and fielding a heavy stream of clients.

“I was a young guy starting a new business; there were a lot of things working against me. Speaking to people, gaining their trust, showing confidence in your knowledge and skills, it’s a vital art. So I go back to basics: honesty and integrity matter and so does a network of support. I got to know my neighbors, my colleagues, my employees, and my clients. I can call up other veterinarians in the area and refer cases, we have a good camaraderie. I try to create a comfortable space for clients where we keep an open dialogue. My office has a library; clients come in with questions about a case and I bring out textbooks and show them what I’m talking about. Owners come in all forms, and I try to be fair with everyone.”

As the intensive labor of opening settled and business bloomed, Tello sought new ways of becoming involved with his community. He began a mentorship program for diverse high school and college students. “The first thing I do is ask them for resumes,” he said. “Many of them don’t have one so making them prepare one shows them what they need to start off in the world. We talk about their goals, activities, and educational decisions. Each year about 10-15 students come through my office. I let them know that as long as they keep in touch, I’ll write a good recommendation for them. Maybe four in the past 5 years have actually gone on to vet school.”

TelloAsked why there are so few minorities in veterinary school, Tello said there is no easy answer. “To be a veterinarian is the number one aspiration of kindergarten students around the country,” said Tello. “Somewhere in the education pipeline, something breaks down. Grades are the gatekeeper into vet school, and grades start in kindergarten. No matter who you are, a strong education and supportive social network are essential. I try to be a role model, to show it can be done.”

Tello finished paying his student loans two years ago, ends appointments at 4pm, and leaves work promptly at 5pm to return to his wife and young daughter. He continues his involvement in Cornell as a College of Veterinary Medicine Alumni Board Member, and as part of the Cornell Alumni Trustee nominating committee. His talk was arranged by the students of VOICE (Veterinarians as One in Color and Ethnicity), in collaboration with the Latino Studies Program, Cornell’s Pre-Vet Society, and the College’s Student-Alumni Network Group.