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Former mayor gifts $10M to Texas Tech veterinary school

Texas Tech officials and former Amarillo mayor
Left to right: Texas Tech University System Chancellor and Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center President Dr. Tedd L. Mitchell; Jerry Hodge, former Amarillo, Texas, mayor; Margaret Hodge; and Texas Tech University President Lawrence Schovenec. (Courtesy of Texas Tech University)

Jerry Hodge, former mayor of Amarillo, Texas, and his wife, Margaret, have committed $10 million to the proposed Texas Tech University School of Veterinary Medicine.

The gift from the Hodges will support construction and development of a second veterinary school in Texas and the first in more than 100 years after Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences was established in 1916. The Texas Tech's board of regents approved the school, its degree plan, and funding for the initial designs last August.

"A school of veterinary medicine is desperately needed to meet the increasing demand for veterinarians serving small and agricultural communities of Texas," said Hodge in a Feb. 4 press release.

Construction of the veterinary school buildings is expected to cost $89.82 million. The school has raised more than $90 million. Texas Tech is also seeking $17.25 million from the 86th Texas Legislature, set to meet Jan. 8 through May 27, to help support the beginning stages, according to the press release.

The school is designed to enroll 60 students per year for a desired enrollment of 240 students for the four-year program. The school also would potentially serve 150-200 graduate students who are not seeking a doctorate in veterinary medicine, as well as an academic staff of 90.

Endocrine-disrupting chemicals linked to equine metabolic syndrome

Endocrine-disrupting chemicals in a horse's environment may play a role in the development of equine metabolic syndrome, found Morris Animal Foundation–funded researchers at the University of Minnesota. The finding could explain some of the variability in EMS severity that can't be explained by other commonly measured factors, such as diet, exercise, and season. The study was published in the March issue of Chemosphere.

Endocrine-disrupting chemicals usually are man-made substances, found in products such as pesticides, plastics, and personal care products. They are prevalent in the environment and can mimic hormones.

The research team studied more than 300 horses from 32 farms in the United States and Canada, focusing on Welsh Ponies and Morgan horses as these breeds are more likely to develop EMS. The team analyzed the concentrations of endocrine-disrupting chemicals in plasma from the horses to determine any correlation with other blood variables indicative of EMS. The team concluded that accumulation of endocrine-disrupting chemicals may explain some environmental variance seen in horses with EMS.

Petco closes Doctors Foster and Smith

Petco shifted its online pharmacy to Express Scripts in February while shutting down Petco subsidiary Doctors Foster and Smith.

A Petco spokeswoman provided a statement that, in closing Doctors Foster and Smith, the company was laying off its 289 employees March 10-May 9. All are based in Rhinelander, Wisconsin.

"The decision to close DFS has not been an easy one, nor was it made lightly, and we appreciate that it has a very real effect on both individuals and the broader community in Rhinelander," it says.

Petco bought Doctors Foster and Smith in 2015. It had opened in 1983 as a group of four veterinary clinics in Northern Wisconsin and, in 2003, started taking prescription orders online and by mail, according to Petco.

On Feb. 12, Petco transferred prescriptions to Express Scripts Pharmacy at Petco. A Petco statement indicates the change will make pharmacy service easier and more affordable.

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Related JAVMA content:

Texas A&M regents approve $39.6M for new projects in West Texas (Jan. 15, 2019)

Texas veterinary education expanding, one way or another (July 15, 2018)