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Dean's Message

Published: Oct 29, 2015

Serving Our Communities, Urban, Rural, and Global

Joan C. Hendricks, V’79, GR’80, The Gilbert S. Kahn Dean of Veterinary MedicineA zoo elephant in Philadelphia. A mounted police horse in Lancaster. A dairy cow in China. At first, these animals seem to have little in common. But, as this issue illustrates, they point to Penn Vet’s leading role in serving urban and rural communities, both locally and around the globe. We not only serve; we are instrumental in helping others serve and maximize their resources.

The Philadelphia campus has a longstanding partnership with the Philadelphia Zoo, reflected by an early Penn Vet illustration featuring an elephant patient (at right). Our VMDs have for many years provided specialty care for the Zoo’s animals, while the Zoo has provided an extraordinary resource for our faculty and students.

In an increasingly urbanized world, I feel strongly that the human convergence with nature is crucial. At the Zoo, awestruck by the grandeur of a giraffe or the smarts of a Sumatran orangutan, we are inspired and sometimes humbled. As we connect with our fellow living creatures, we feel more alive and, perhaps, more fully human.

Of course, it’s our pets that most often provide this vital human-animal bond, and Penn Vet continues to expand its efforts to ensure that pet owners and shelters have access to exceptional, accessible care. As you’ll read in the cover story, our Shelter Animal Medicine Program has a broadened focus on engaging our community. Penn Vet students are providing veterinary “house calls” in underserved Philadelphia neighborhoods, empowering pet owners, and educating local youth.

The City of Brotherly Love should be the best place to be a pet—or a pet-to-be. Penn Vet is committed to providing consultative services and medical care for the Philadelphia region’s shelters, including a discount at Ryan Hospital. Plus, a growing trend of philanthropically supported animal healthcare has made even more assistance possible.

We are also proud to serve the dogs and horses that protect us. Earlier this year, the remarkable recovery of New Bolton Center patient Liam, a black draft gelding, drew quite a following on Facebook. Seven months after surgery, he’s back to his beat as a member of the Lancaster City Police Mounted Unit. This is a testament to world-class care; when Liam arrived, he was barely able to walk.

New Bolton Center serves a rural community deeply connected to the land and to animals. We have long participated in the tradition of equine events and become a trusted partner of Pennsylvania’s farmers. According to Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture Secretary Russell C. Redding, “New Bolton Center is a needed resource for the agriculture industry.”

Penn Vet’s reach extends well beyond state borders and impacts both animals and humans. As you’ll read, Dr. Phillip Scott has spent more than three decades working in Brazil to identify safe, effective treatments for leishmaniasis—and the advancements are promising. Additionally, New Bolton’s dairy experts have been traveling to China to share best practices.

New Bolton Center is itself a special community, with many who have served for decades. That’s why a loss is felt so deeply. In May, the poignant celebration of life for Dr. Ben Martin—pioneer of equine sports medicine during 34 years at New Bolton Center—drew more than 120 friends, family, and colleagues to the Allam House.

Dr. Martin exemplified Penn Vet’s legacy of service to animals and communities. The 2015 Student Inspiration Award winners suggest that this legacy will continue. I am heartened by their nascent endeavors. As veterinarians continue to care for animals and communities, we encourage both to thrive.