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May be morbid - information about donating a horse after death to vet schools?

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  • May be morbid - information about donating a horse after death to vet schools?

    So, as I sit here contemplating what is the best course of action to take when my horse does finally surcumb to his kidney condition, it dawned on me that one option might be donating his body to the vet school, so that they could get some experience with his condition.

    Has anyone here ever done that, or do you vet students out there have any information? Is this even a possibility?

    I'm not saying I will do this, but I would like to think that maybe in the cases where the horse dies of a rare condition, that allowing the vet schools to study it, that more horses could be saved in the future, or at the very least, that vet students get a chance to increase their knowledge base.
    There are friends and faces that may be forgotten, but there are horses that never will be. - Andy Adams

  • #2
    I don't have any experience with this. I just wanted to commend you for contemplating such a generous idea during an emotional and tough time.

    hugs to you.

    Comment


    • #3
      I think that's a great idea, and Gainesville is close to you.

      BUT, I would be hesitant to give them a live horse. Maybe somebody knows more than me, but I've heard horror stories about some of the things they do - all for a good cause I admit - but not to something I love.

      Maybe the vets that post here can tell us more.

      Comment

      • Original Poster

        #4
        Oh no, I would NEVER donate a live horse. Just thought that perhaps if they needed a case with an unusual condition to do a necropsy and study, that I might consider it.

        I know that when I lost a previous horse in a tragic sudden way (broken leg), that in my hysteria, I was adamant that he be buried here on the farm. I'm trying to keep emotion out of it as much as possible, and try to have something good come out of this.
        There are friends and faces that may be forgotten, but there are horses that never will be. - Andy Adams

        Comment


        • #5
          I have a mare who has a VERY rare condition called Bi-Partite Navicular. It is so rare that most vets will never see it in practice. When my mare dies it has been discussed with my vet that I will donate her feet so that they may have a real example of the condition. It is a little disheartning to think of them sawing off her legs but then I have to remember that she will be dead and I most certainly won't be around when they do it.

          Losing a pet can be hard but being able to have some good come out of it makes it a little easier!!!
          RIP Sucha Smooth Whiskey
          May 17,2004 - March 29, 2010
          RIP San Lena Peppy
          May 3, 1991 - March 11, 2010

          Comment


          • #6
            Oh, I am so glad this topic came up. I really hope a vet posts with some advice.

            My geriatric has had a rough last few years, his last day always seems as if its lingering just over my shoulder. I have strongly wanted to find out about donating his body for research, especially since he has very unusual xrays, etc. My vet had told me at one point that some vet schools do accept donated bodies, and the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania near me does accept donations, but it has to be a coordinated effort and they have to have a need at the moment.

            I've tried calling the school a couple of times, but never got anyone that could answer my questions or return my calls on the subject, sadly.


            eta my thoughts and prayers with you and your horse at this difficult time.
            Being terrible at something is the first step to being truly great at it. Struggle is the evidence of progress.

            Comment


            • #7
              I had a horse at Tufts who had quite an ordeal. He had an abscess, which ultimately ended up needing surgery. It wasn't improving, and he went back post surgery. MRI showed that 40% of the bone was gone. At any rate, we ended up donating him so they could study and try to figure out what exactly went wrong, and where the infection was coming from. My horse was already at the vet hospital though, so I'm not sure how it would go if the horse wasn't. I would just call local vet hospitals, they'd be able to tell you. I don't regret donating him at all, I think it's a great thing for others to have been able to learn from his situation.

              Comment


              • #8
                I have done it.

                Sunshine had septic arthritis in her hock. We SEEMED to be improving it, (using then novel and unproven technoques) and then she went completely downhill, and I made the decision to put her down. My vet talked to U MD about the possibility of a donation for necroscopy (sp?), and they were interested.

                She was led onto their trailer, and then euthanized.

                It turned out that we HAD got the infection out of the hock. The hock had fused, but then the "fuse" had cracked. The infection had spread to her liver. And she had a inch and a half diameter ulcer (which they sent me a picture of), presumably from the bute we needed to give her to moderate her pain.

                I think your VET needs to contact the University. I don't think they are interested in dealing directly with the owner.
                Janet

                chief feeder and mucker for Music, Spy, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now).

                Comment

                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  I just spoke with my vet about this, and she said that I could call UF and see if they have a need and/or interest (when the time comes), and if not, she is so curious about this that she offered to do a necropsy at their clinic just so that she could learn (and the other folks at the clinic too). She said, we can cross that bridge when we get there. The gentleman here in town that does the body removals for the clinic has done this in the past, haul his body there, or she offered to do it here on the farm, but I would be more comfortable if they did it at the clinic.

                  I told her about FP's horse Champ, and his rare condition, and she said that because we can't do an ultrasound on the farm, we don't know what the root cause is of his kidney troubles are, and only a necropsy would tell them. She said he could very well be polycystic but can't tell just by the numbers, as any damaged kidney can give you bad numbers in the CBC.

                  It's not an easy decision, so I am trying to think about it now, before I am emotionally unstable and unable to think clearly.
                  There are friends and faces that may be forgotten, but there are horses that never will be. - Andy Adams

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    When I decided to have a necropsy done on my horse after euthanization, I called the U of MN (closest to me) vet school - I talked this over with my attending vet first, and he could not do a necropsy here. He made the initial call to the U of MN to tell them he was referring me/my horse.

                    I hauled my horse to the U of MN, where he was euthanized. I'm sure somewhere in the fine print, I did 'donate' his body. Anyway, they kept his remains. I must say here that the U of MN was very, very gentle with me and my horse - even cried with me, made sure I was ok to drive the 2 1/2 hr trip home.

                    I know that your situation is slightly different, as sounds like you want to, when the time comes, euthanize there at home.

                    ***This 'making arrangements' stuff is heartbreaking. I hope all you talk with are 'good people' who know just 'saying the words aloud' is tearing your heart out
                    Last edited by TBMaggie; Jan. 21, 2010, 02:25 PM. Reason: clarification

                    Comment

                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      Originally posted by TBMaggie View Post

                      ***This 'making arrangements' stuff is heartbreaking. I hope all you talk with are 'good people' who know just 'saying the words aloud' is tearing your heart out
                      It really does help me to talk out loud with all you wonderful people here that truely do understand. My family does their best, but I don't expect them to relate to this as well as other horsefolks do.

                      I am privately hoping that I don't have to put any of my plans into action for a while, but feel better if I have them all planned out ahead of time.
                      There are friends and faces that may be forgotten, but there are horses that never will be. - Andy Adams

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        My horse died at Tufts last year. I donated his remains. I had my husband collect hair from his tail but to be honest, I still can't bring myself to look at it.

                        His body wasn't important to me and his spirit will be with me forever.
                        Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
                        EquestrianHow2 - Operating instructions for your horse.

                        Comment

                        • Original Poster

                          #13
                          Originally posted by Bogie View Post
                          My horse died at Tufts last year. I donated his remains. I had my husband collect hair from his tail but to be honest, I still can't bring myself to look at it.

                          His body wasn't important to me and his spirit will be with me forever.
                          I understand about the hair, when I lost Dunkin to a broken leg, I cut some mane hair, and I have not taken it out and it has been 5 years. I can't bring myself to throw it away either.

                          I did bury Dunkin here at home, but I'm trying to be more pragmatic about the rest of my horses, their bodies are just the shells after all, and you are right, their spirits stay in our hearts always.
                          There are friends and faces that may be forgotten, but there are horses that never will be. - Andy Adams

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            If your horse has been seen by the vet school for the terminal problem, I suggest that you contact them to see if they would like to have the remains for the necropsy. I have had several clients do this at my my suggestion and it was set up ahead of time with the treating clinician. The horse gets trailered to the school and euthanized there so the remains are fresh. The staff is very respectful of the owners' emotions.

                            I have a client whose horse was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis secondary to a EHV-5 infection. He did not do well and the owner had agreed to have him euthanized at the school as the medicine service really wanted to have a peek inside. Unfortunately, the owner wanted to give him a few more days and he died in the stall on a Sunday night. We still took the body up but the 36 hour lag time autolyzed some of the tissues.

                            I respect and thank you for wanting to have something good come out of this.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I donated a horse to a vet school to be used as a cadaver about 15 years ago. It was a horse I had owned only a short time. He had already had one colic surgery as a 3 year old and started having colic problems again as a 12 year old. When he started getting colicy on a regular basis the vet told me he would continue to have problems and they would get worse. He wasn't a good surgery candidate due to the previous surgery. After much consideration, I donated him to UGA's vet school. I had someone take him there and they unloaded him and humanely euthanized him. And he was used as a cadaver for the vet students. It was very difficult loading him on that trailer for his last ride but I'm glad something good came from him.
                              Sarchasm: The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn't get it.

                              Comment

                              • Original Poster

                                #16
                                Well, he has not been seen by the vet school, my vet works for Peterson and Smith, which is the third largest private vet clinic in the country, and even they would be interested in seeing what is going on inside my horse.

                                I am also only 20 minutes away from UF, so if they did want him, I would still have him put down here, and have his remains hauled up to the school. I don't want his last hours to be traumatic, as trailering is an issue for him.
                                There are friends and faces that may be forgotten, but there are horses that never will be. - Andy Adams

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  I donated my horse of a lifetime to NCSU vet school. They are so good to Tuxedo and me. And I slept well knowing that I had a small part in the training of future vets of America.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    My Experiences

                                    I used to live near OSU in Oregon, and we donated several aged horses who had reached the end of their lifetime to their Vet Teaching Hospital. I knew the equine vets, and it was pleasant the work with them during this tough time. It provided the horses with a dignified passage, and it helped future vets learn. I've never heard any horros stories of the animals being treated inhumanely. We knew the horses we close to dying though, and it was better to donate them to the vet school than to come in to work one morning and find them death in their stall and not knowing that their last moments had been peaceful and painless.
                                    Sounds like the OP's situation is different, but I'd encourage the OP to look into it.

                                    On another note, there is a wildlife sanctuary in Southern Oregon that used to accept dead livestock to feed to their animals. Don't know much about it, but it's an interesting option ( that I would NEVER consider personally). I had a friend that wanted to send her crazy horse there, but I don't think it ever happened...
                                    Foaling Around www.facebook.com/foalingaround
                                    Custom Equestrian Items and Bath Products

                                    Comment

                                    • Original Poster

                                      #19
                                      Originally posted by LoveGirl83102 View Post

                                      On another note, there is a wildlife sanctuary in Southern Oregon that used to accept dead livestock to feed to their animals. Don't know much about it, but it's an interesting option ( that I would NEVER consider personally). I had a friend that wanted to send her crazy horse there, but I don't think it ever happened...
                                      We do have a large cat sanctuary here in town (abour 7 miles from my farm), but I don't think I want to go that route, but it is another option.
                                      There are friends and faces that may be forgotten, but there are horses that never will be. - Andy Adams

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by MunchkinsMom View Post
                                        We do have a large cat sanctuary here in town (abour 7 miles from my farm), but I don't think I want to go that route, but it is another option.
                                        Keep in mind, they can't be chemically euthanized if the body is to be used for feeding other animals. Shouldn't have other drugs in their systems either.

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