John Madigan’s address

Photo: John Madigan

John Madigan, professor of veterinary medicine, said his faculty, staff and students work to make the world a better place for animals. (Karin Higgins/UC Davis photo)

Chancellor Larry Vanderhoef’s introduction

I’d like next to introduce Dr. John Madigan, professor of veterinary medicine and the leader of our Veterinary Emergency Response Team.

When disaster strikes and animals are threatened, you know Dr. Madigan will be there. An expert in emergency medicine, he has actively engaged in national and regional rescue operations for animals caught in such natural disasters as floods and fires.

He also helped design a special sling and large animal lift, both widely used in emergency medicine and large-animal rescue. He’s clearly another inspiring UC Davis example of “doing what matters.” John?

John Madigan’s address

At the University of California, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine, we make the world a better place for animals by doing what matters.

Veterinary medicine is the only branch of medicine dedicated to the worthy task and challenge of caring for the animals of our world and their impact on the environment and society.

Society looks to veterinary medicine, now more than ever, to improve the health and well-being of animals and improve animal welfare including agriculture, food production and animal shelters.

UC Davis has met the many challenges of educating veterinarians for service and made many discoveries through research that often begin on a local level but then expand to the national and global community.

At our Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, we would receive horses with injuries and illness which prevented them from standing. Horses don’t do well if they can’t stand.

They struggle and exhaust themselves trying to get up. Doing what matters meant developing a sling which anatomically supported and lifted horses to provide a chance for recovery.

We then applied our sling to support horses waking up from anesthesia after orthopedic surgery (the fight to save the life of Barbero used our sling), and we used it to airlift stranded horses in the Sierra mountains and move them to safety. This life-saving sling is now being used nationally and internationally.

In preparation for the spread of avian influenza in birds and its potential to become a human flu pandemic, my colleague Dr. Carol Cardona and her associates developed “Flu School” to reduce the potential spread of the flu virus from birds to people in the live bird markets in our local Asian and Mexican communities.

This program has been followed up nationally and globally by USAID as a means of curbing the spread of viral diseases between birds and people around the world.

When a group of sick kittens was presented to our Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital for recurrent runny eyes and respiratory infections which were not responding to treatments, Dr. Niels Pedersen of the School of Veterinary Medicine looked for the root cause, because at UC Davis we do what matters.

By doing so, he isolated the feline AIDS virus which has now been shown to be present in feline species worldwide, including the endangered large cats of Africa.

In 2006, a wild fire struck Yolo County, burning 40 square miles overnight. No human lives were lost, but animals were severely affected. Sheep rancher Bill Slaven of Zamora, Calif., had 1,400 sheep on the range that night , most of which suffered burns and smoke exposure.

Our UC Davis veterinary emergency response team, a volunteer group of veterinary school faculty, students and staff, responded. Their task was large and without precedence, but doing what matters can mean doing difficult things.

Our team examined each sheep, provided treatments for the burns, gave pain medicine and, where necessary, provided a humane end of suffering to those animals too injured to recover.

Over a six-week period, our team continued to treat the injured sheep–with our veterinary students volunteering after school, on weekends, and even by flashlight in the evenings–until their task was completed.

By doing what matters these past 100 years, UC Davis has been a good neighbor to our community, our state, our nation and our world.

I urge those beginning their associations with UC Davis to join us with your energy, your new ideas, and a willingness to take a risk to accomplish something great and of benefit to our society. Together we can carry forth this UC Davis spirit for the next 100 years beginning right now!

John Madigan is professor of Veterinary Medicine and head of the UC Davis Veterinary Emergency response Team.