RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – The N.C. State College of Veterinary Medicine said an “isolated” and “unfortunate” incident led to a blood donation horse being euthanized.
N.C. State addressed the horse’s death following a report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture which was part of a routine inspection on May 11.
The report says the school’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee failed to conduct in-depth investigations into the deaths of animals even after the committee was made aware of the incidents.
In a statement to CBS 17, the College of Veterinary Medicine said a team did not recognize the symptoms of a bladder stone in a horse before it was euthanized.
That horse provided “life-saving blood donations for other sick horses,” according to N.C. State.
The USDA report says an observer saw the horse had urine scalding on the rear legs from incontinence.
A husbandry sheet at the college showed the horse had been observed daily.
But the USDA said, “there was no indication in the records that the urinary incontinence, urine scalding of the rear legs and/or the foul odor had been detected and/or reported to the Site Veterinarian or the AV (attending veterinarian).”
An investigation by the USDA’s inspector said several College of Veterinary Medicine employees expressed concern about the horse and said there was no “Standard Operating Procedure describing how daily observations and communication to the AV must occur.”
The horse received treatment as soon as the AV learned about its condition.
The animal was taken to the Veterinary Teaching Hospital for further treatment where a large cystolith, or bladder stone, was found in the horse’s bladder, the report says.
The horse was then euthanized.
The USDA report then said:
“Each research facility shall establish and maintain programs of adequate veterinary care that includes daily observations of all animals to assess their health and well-being, provided however, that daily observation of animals may be accomplished by someone other than the AV; and provided further, that a mechanism of direct and frequent communications is required so that timely and accurate information on problems of animal health, behavior, and well-being is conveyed to the AV.”
In response to the report, the N.C. State College of Veterinary Medicine said it strengthened procedures and requirements for the daily treatment of animals, something the USDA report said the school had until June 15 to complete.
The inspection report also says the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) did not conduct thorough investigations into the circumstances surrounding the deaths of a rabbit, which apparently broke its back after being handled by a veterinary student, and a ferret that died after surgery.
In addition, it says 16 horses were housed in pastures without enough protection from the elements during severe weather.
Mike Charbonneau, director of communications for the NC State College of Veterinary Medicine addressed the report, saying “There is and has always been shelter available for all of the horses at the facility, but we are also in the process of building additional shelters based on the USDA recommended specifications.”
In a full statement from the school, Charbonneau said the following.
“The compassionate treatment of all animals is at the heart of all we do, and it’s something clinicians, faculty, staff and students at the NC State College of Veterinary Medicine carefully train for and prioritize every day,” the statement from CVM said.
In an unfortunate, and isolated, incident, a team caring for a horse that was on campus to provide life-saving blood donations for other sick horses didn’t immediately recognize medical symptoms of a bladder stone, and when the condition was discovered and diagnosed, the decision was made to humanely euthanize the horse.
Following this incident, we strengthened our procedures and requirements for daily health monitoring of all teaching and support animals. A primary staff member involved is no longer directly involved in that type of animal care.
We continue to work with our partners at the USDA to ensure that all animals at the NC State College of Veterinary Medicine have the appropriate shelter, food, water and medications as well as exceptional medical care.”Mike Charbonneau – NC State College of Veterinary Medicine