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Spinoff: Vet schools and horses donated for "science".

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  • #21
    when I looked at the possibility of donating the old man for terminal surgery as he was old and his end was coming and the idea of him being able to teach future vet students was a nice one

    I contacted NCSU (which has a large equine program) and they were accepting horses for specific programs that he did not fit into and did not need a terminal horse at that time

    their policy was horses used for the program would be euthanized or auctioned at the end of the study

    many of their horses from the breeding program are sold at an annual auction, many of the students try to get their favorite that they worked with

    in a state run program it is not uncommon for "surplus" to be sold at auction, including livestock

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    • #22
      I actually donated my old Arab gelding several years back to the Univ. of IL vet program. He was 20 and had the worst case of melanoma tumors three different vets had ever seen. They were under his mane, on the dock of his tail (they would break open and bleed/leak nasty liquid), in his mouth, and was starting to develop a small one on his eyelid. He had one banded off his anus as well. We suspected he had them in his sheath as well.

      I made the decision to donate him because the two in his mouth, one on each side of his upper lip, were getting to the point where he would drop grain. I was moving away to college in the fall, and I wasn't comfortable selling him or even giving him away for fear he would deteriorate rapidly. I could have left him at the boarding barn he was at, but the BO, while being very sweet and trustworthy, wasn't a horseman, and probably wouldn't have noticed if something took a turn for the worse.

      It broke my heart, but I knew they could use him to learn more about melanomas. In hindsight I'm sure they used him for other things...teaching students how to draw blood, give injections, etc. He was a very, very sweet horse. I bawled my eyes out on the way there and on the way home. The kicker was when a (ignorant) tech said "Aww, he looks so healthy!" I wanted to punch her in the face because I already felt like the worst owner ever for donating a horse who was, in most aspects, healthy. However, the vet saw the tears welling up and assured me that if the tumors are that bad on the outside, then they are way worse on the inside.

      What I appreciated was getting his halter mailed to me several weeks later, which of course brought more tears. However they did say they would let me know what the necropsy said, and they never did. I didn't follow up, though. Partially, I suspect, because I was afraid it would read "Horse was clean on inside, owner was horrible person."

      I wouldn't hesitate to do it again, however. I think it is a great thing to do if it is available. If I remember correctly, the U of IL was being picky about what horses they could accept at the time due to the number they had.
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      • #23
        I've done it twice.

        I've also helped preform a necropsy which I was in college.

        The first time I did it was after getting an OTTB from Bowie Training Center. The trainer was notorious for ruining horses and running them into the ground (a fact I did not know until after). She was a beautiful 4 year old mare, that a month after I took her developed a terrible breathing problem that just got worse and worse. I took her to 3 vets, including New Bolton, and they all said that her breathing passage was totally paralyzed and she would only get worse, and possibly smother herself if she ran around or was stressed.

        I donated her to University of Maryland (which was where I was attending). It was hard because I had to put her down in my trainer and then drive her there. They took care of everything else and I got good information back. I'm glad that students were able to learn from her.

        My other horse had severe colitis. I rushed him to New Bolton but they couldn't save him. They actually asked if they could have him due to the uniqueness of his case. Again, I was glad he could be used to maybe help other horses in the future, and help teach a new crop of vets.
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        • #24
          Originally posted by Win1 View Post
          Based on my lab animal studies in tech school, it's pretty surprising that this would be possible. Even when the animals are adoptable, they are normally euthanized once the research is done because of the universal lab animal protocols in place. It's very much regulated where the animals can come from and what you can do with them afterward....pretty sure that's not an option.
          I agree that most animal studies have specific instructions on what should be done with the animals after the research study has concluded, and most do involve euthanasia. However, some do allow for adoption, as I have a lab cat. I worked in the Department of Vet Med at K-State, and this one lab had research cats for flea medication trials. When the research was concluded, the 3rd year vet students would perform the spay/neuter surgeries, and vaccinated them, then they were put up for adoption. My roommate was getting her MS in the entomology department, and was working with these cats. They were bought from a company in NY specifically for research studies, so as to guarantee they were drug and disease free. So it might not be the norm, but it's also not completely unheard of either.

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          • #25
            I donated a horse once, and would do it again.

            Students need to learn, and research needs to happen to educate and improve veterinary medicine. So I view it as helping the future generations of vets and horses, and perhaps one day that horse that was donated may help a future horse of mine.

            The vet school I worked with was very honest about what most donated horses are used for - and they stated horses will have the best care and comfort, and are humanely euthanized.

            They were also very clear that once a horse is dropped off it becomes the property of the university and the owner is not allowed to visit or call/email and ask for updates on the horse. I had to sign papers agreeing to this and that I was aware the horse could be euthanized if used in a research and/or surgical study.

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            • #26
              We moved this thread here to Off Course since the topic isn't specifically eventing-related and might benefit from a larger audience.

              Thanks ~
              Mod 1

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              • #27
                Originally posted by Simkie View Post
                From what I understand, CSU is REQUIRED (or used to be) to sell horses they no longer had a use for and were not euthanised in studies at auction. So they went to Centennial, many purchased by the kill buyer and presumably sent off to slaughter in Mexico.
                I think that holds true at a lot of state schools. Texas A&M had to follow that policy as well - horses donated to the animal science/horse center that weren't suitable for their programs had to be sold (because the state considered them property, and the state said excess property had to be sold). They could (and did) sell to individuals as well as auctions.
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                • #28
                  Originally posted by Foxtrot's View Post
                  I don't know really, but I would be surprized if universities took donated horses without explaining that they would NOT be used for agonizing vivisection procedures.
                  FWIW, there are strict guidelines used by universities and funding agencies that control the use of living research subjects.

                  Have any of you seen "way out of line" suffering by an animal in a research institution?
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                  • #29
                    For those of you who made this self-less decision, how exactly did you go about it? Did you call the school directly or did your vet intercede for you?

                    I ask because I know that my Tank's days are short. She's IR and EPSM. While's she fine right now, all it would take is one more summer like she had last year and I'd have her euthanized.

                    I know that vet students could learn so much from her having both issues, each disease fighting the other, and would rather they learn from her than have her just become part of the dirt again.
                    <>< Sorrow Looks Back. Worry Looks Around. Faith Looks Up! -- Being negative only makes a difficult journey more difficult. You may be given a cactus, but you don't have to sit on it.

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                    • #30
                      Originally posted by mvp View Post
                      FWIW, there are strict guidelines used by universities and funding agencies that control the use of living research subjects.

                      Have any of you seen "way out of line" suffering by an animal in a research institution?
                      Not to mention....my mother did a vivisection in dental school gross anatomy (they took more or less the same classes as the medical students, just without some of the limb work on the human cadavers.) It wasn't any more agonizing than surgery for the dog--they were anesthetized and never woken up. The dogs used were from the pound and back then they didn't do 'no kill', so they were on their way out anyway. The students learned how to do surgery on something alive (as opposed to cadavers), the dogs went out under anesthesia instead of in a gas chamber.

                      The only horses I've known that have gone to MSU were originally sent for diagnosis--I know one was found to have a respiratory condition and they kept him to study, the other was sent to be euthanized and necropsied because of neurologic symptoms that had gotten dangerous to her and anyone around her (they found a brain tumor, which explained the random flipping and panics.) I do know they keep some research animals but I don't know anyone who's donated just with an older/injured horse.
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                      • #31
                        One horse from our barn had horrific melanomas. She went to the vet school where, I think, she was used for a very benign feeding study and then euthanized.

                        Conversely, two new OTTBs at the barn came from the vet school/university after they were done working with them (racing treadmill studies and the like). Both are very nice, one especially, who is a mare from Afleet Alex's first season, who I believe was donated when the owner ran out of money and liquidated his horse farm. She is going nicely under saddle and is a lovely horse.

                        So it can work nicely from both directions.

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                        • #32
                          Originally posted by Win1 View Post
                          Based on my lab animal studies in tech school, it's pretty surprising that this would be possible. Even when the animals are adoptable, they are normally euthanized once the research is done because of the universal lab animal protocols in place. It's very much regulated where the animals can come from and what you can do with them afterward....pretty sure that's not an option.
                          My alma mater occasionally held sealed bid "autcions" on horses which were suitable for rehoming after whatever study they were part of had finished.

                          And the undergrad animal studies program I teach in routinely adopts out our lab animals at the end of the year.

                          Anyone interested in some rats? <G>
                          "It's like a Russian nesting doll of train wrecks."--CaitlinandTheBay

                          ...just settin' on the Group W bench.

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                          • #33
                            Originally posted by Foxtrot's View Post
                            I don't know really, but I would be surprized if universities took donated horses without explaining that they would NOT be used for agonizing vivisection procedures.
                            "Agonizing vivisection" procedures would be shot down by the institutional IACUC before they ever got off the ground.
                            "It's like a Russian nesting doll of train wrecks."--CaitlinandTheBay

                            ...just settin' on the Group W bench.

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                            • #34
                              While waiting for my horse to be seen at UF, I read every available brochure. They want horses 700 pounds or less, unless it's for a specific research project.
                              “Pray, hope, and don't worry.”

                              St. Padre Pio

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                              • #35
                                Originally posted by ChocoMare View Post
                                For those of you who made this self-less decision, how exactly did you go about it? Did you call the school directly or did your vet intercede for you?

                                I ask because I know that my Tank's days are short. She's IR and EPSM. While's she fine right now, all it would take is one more summer like she had last year and I'd have her euthanized.

                                I know that vet students could learn so much from her having both issues, each disease fighting the other, and would rather they learn from her than have her just become part of the dirt again.
                                It may help if your vet makes a call to the University, especially if he or she has a contact at a school near you. In the case of the mare we had with OCD, our vet made the suggestion to donate her; we knew she would have to be euthanized one way or another, and he made the point that students could benefit from the study. He made all the arrangements for us, we hauled her up, filled out the paperwork and left her at the school. They did let us know when she had been put down.
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                                • #36
                                  I called the large animal hospital and asked to speak to the department that handled such donations

                                  I would imagine that if your vet did have close connections to the "correct" department that you could possibly get an "in", especially if you have a very unique case

                                  for me it was hard yet easy to inquire, I still feel that it is such a great thing to be able to help future vet students, and future horses by teaching the up and coming vets, every horse has something to teach, but it is not something for everyone

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                                  • #37
                                    Originally posted by Maven View Post
                                    I believe there are a few different avenues for horses that get donated to vet schools. I donated one about 20 years ago into a breeding program. It was a tb mare, the vet school was standing a stud, and iirc selling the offspring. The students also used those mares in repro labs etc. I also believe they take horses in some of the equine exercise physiology programs, treadmill work, etc. They would not guarantee that a horse wouldn't end up in a cadaver lab, but they did emphasize that the healthy/useful ones didn't usually end up cadavers...
                                    This, but they also do not guarantee they will not be sold at auction!! It is a "no strings attached" donation. If you don't mind your horse getting "dead"...I'd just put one down and not risk a trip to Mexico for a beloved horse.
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                                    • #38
                                      My husband/wife vet team are both Auburn alumni... methinks I'll see if they can gently inquire as to current studies being done. Thanks.
                                      <>< Sorrow Looks Back. Worry Looks Around. Faith Looks Up! -- Being negative only makes a difficult journey more difficult. You may be given a cactus, but you don't have to sit on it.

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                                      • #39
                                        Originally posted by ChocoMare View Post
                                        For those of you who made this self-less decision, how exactly did you go about it? Did you call the school directly or did your vet intercede for you?

                                        I reached out to a number of organizations first, by calling or emailing whatever contact information I found on Google. Kentucky Horse Park breeds barn, Purina Feeds research farm, etc. I got a reply from everyone I contacted, mostly saying, "no thanks".

                                        I called 3 vet schools in my general area (WI, IA, and IL). The Illinois school had an active research project that suited my goals and their needs. I paid for hauling him to Champaign (tears included at loading on the trailer) and that was it.

                                        The key was persistence. I had to explain what I wanted several times before I got the right person (Director) and even then we played phone tag a few times.
                                        Inese

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                                        • #40
                                          It really depends on the needs of the school at any given time. I donated a mare with neurological problems a few years ago, and their only use for her was anatomy study. It was easier for me emotionally to euthanize her that way than simply dig a big a hole. I'd have been open to including her in a study had there been an opening, assuming they could safetly handle her. As chance would have it, they didn't have any open studies at the time.
                                          "I did know once, only I've sort of forgotten." - Winnie the Pooh

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