of Veterinary Medicine
My day began with a 6am wake up. After getting ready, I had breakfast and went for a walk on the paths in the forest behind our hotel. The hotel provided a beautiful breakfast buffet with cheese, meats, breads, eggs, cereals, juices and coffee. The walk in the forest was refreshing and full of bicyclists on their way to school and work.
At 8:30am we met in front of the hotel to drive to the veterinary school, Tierrztliche Hochschule Hannover (TiHo). Upon our arrival, we were greeted by the president, Dr. Gerhard Greif, and Dr. Helmut Surborg, a classmate of Dr. Hoenig who was instrumental in helping her with the organization of this study abroad program. They escorted us into the conference room where cookies, coffee, water, and soft drinks awaited us. Everywhere we went in Germany we experienced this degree of hospitality. The university also gave us a folder with brochures, a pen, a writing pad, and a pin of the with the university emblem.
Dr. Greif spoke to us first about the history of the university which was established in 1778. TiHo became a foundation university in 2003 and is currently the only independent vet school in Germany. The university has 6 clinics for cattle, horses, poultry, exotic pets and wildlife, cats and dogs, and swine, small ruminants, and forensic medicine. The university has 1,539 students. Similar to US veterinary schools, the student body is comprised of 90% females. In the US there is a shortage in all areas of veterinary medicine, especially food animal and public health, and roughly the same amounts of veterinarians enter and leave the workforce each year. However, in Germany, there is an excess of small animal veterinarians and a shortage of large animal and public health veterinarians. Additionally, 900 veterinarians enter the workforce each year with only 200 retiring. It is extremely hard to get a paying job in small animal veterinary medicine in Germany, and many female new graduates practice for one to two years before having children and becoming housewives. It was interesting to learn about the differences in veterinary medicine between the two countries.
After gearing up in jump suits and booties, Dr. Kathrin Herzog gave us a tour of TiHos cattle clinic. As we walked into the lecture hall of the clinic, we saw three students and a professor gathered around a cow on its side that was positioned for a claw treatment. The clinic hosts 100 students each year with each student staying for 10 weeks. There are 50-60 animals that belong to the clinic for teaching and research. Each group of four to five students gets their own pregnant cow to practice procedures such as caesarian sections and rumenotomies. The clinic sees roughly 1,500 cattle per year.
To be admitted to the clinic, all cattle must have documentation from the state veterinarian stating that the animal is free of Infectious Bovine Rhinotracheitis (IBR). Upon admission, animals are separated from others until another blood test is run by the university to establish the animal as IBR-free. If an animal tests positive for IBR it is placed in one of the two isolations stables. During the tour, we also observed a right laparocopic omentopexy surgery to correct an abomasal displacement. The clinic provides all services except for ambulatory services, which are a part of the small ruminant clinic.
At noon we went back to the veterinary school to have lunch. The cafeteria served a variety of things from a salad bar to hot food to a la carte items. It was a delightful change from the University Of Illinois College Of Veterinary Medicine's cafeteria that is stocked with four vending machines.
Following lunch, we discussed animal welfare regulations in the European Union and Germany with Professor Hansjoachim Hackbarth.
We learned about the legal, emotional, and scientific approaches to animal welfare. Approaching animal welfare from an emotional perspective is fueled by good intentions that may not always be in the best interest of the animal. Most cruelty to animals is caused by emotional ideas of animal welfare that are rooted in the media and anthropomorphism. Animal welfare is also affected by the laws established in a country. In Germany, under the Animal Welfare Act, it is the individuals responsibility to know the laws regarding animals and their handling. Therefore, if he/she claims he/she did not know the law, the individual is breaking the law by not knowing the laws and are always guilty for any infringements. Lastly, we went over German and EU laws regarding animal handing and housing.
Next we went to the drive through the Serengeti Park Hodenhagen, near Hannover where Professor Hackbarth organized a guided tour of the facility by the zoo veterinarian, Dr. Michael Ber, where we discussed issues surrounding wild animals being enclosed in urban areas. Recently a very fertile monkey population created an overcrowding problem for the park. The EU regulates that an animal may not be killed in order to just decrease their number - that the animal must be killed for a reason. As a group, we discussed the issues and outcome of the situation. Dr. Ber also emphasized the zoos role in creating an affinity between people and animals that promotes the advocacy and awareness of animal welfare issues. During the tour, we stopped the bus near the elephants where everyone had the opportunity to feed the elephants bananas.
Finally, our long day ended with dinner at a pizza place. Lots of drinks and camaraderie ensued, and then Uncle Hajo, as we affectionately nicknamed Professor Hackbarth, took us to the grocery store to pick up toiletries, chocolate, and gummi bears. At checkout, he sneakily took all of our world cup trading cards from the cashier and then proceeded to open each one in search of the cards he needed. He did generously dole out roughly seven Mario Gomez trading cards to us- apparently he had that one already. I was exhausted at the end of the day, but I had fun learning.
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