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Veterinary specialist from Cornell University speaks at SUNY Canton


CANTON — SUNY Canton welcomed a special guest from Cornell University, Ithaca, Saturday afternoon to teach veterinarians, veterinary technicians and veterinary students guidelines for performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation on dogs and cats.

Daniel J. Fletcher, a veterinary specialist in emergency and critical care, is on the faculty at Cornell, and works at the school’s veterinary hospital.

His five-hour presentation was based on the first evidence-based veterinary CPR guidelines. published in June 2012 as part of a project he and 100 other certified veterinary specialists worked on.

“Any veterinarian or technician should know how to do this because this could happen to an animal at any time while they’re under the care of a veterinarian, a veterinarian hospital or any practice that does anesthesia,” Mr. Fletcher said. “In human medicine, every physician, nurse, EMT or anybody who works in a hospital has to be CPR certified because it’s a requirement for their jobs. We haven’t had that in veterinarian medicine and that’s what we’re trying to implement.”

Audience members in the Nevaldine North classroom participated in the presentation by executing CPR scenarios on a dog mannequin.

“This mannequin has pulses that you can feel, heart and lung sounds you can listen to; his chest moves like he’s breathing, and he has a patient monitor that will be displayed on the screen,” Mr. Fletcher said. “They’ll run through scenarios and at the end of each one we’ll talk as a group about what happened, what they did well, what they didn’t do so well and what they should do next time.”

Raeleen M. Willard, instructional support technician in the veterinary technology department at SUNY Canton, helped coordinate the event.

“Emergency and critical care is really hot topic in vet medicine and he himself engineered this sophisticated simulator,” she said. “With emergent cases like this it truly is life or death for that patient, so the more we’re informed on new techniques and the more we practice, this could save a patient’s life.”

Mr. Fletcher said while cardiopulmonary arrest doesn’t happen often with pets, it’s important for vets to know what to do and to move quickly when it does.

“The longer you wait, the less likely you are to get them back, so it’s true that minutes count with CPR,” he said. “Being comfortable with what you’re supposed to do and following and understanding that algorithm can mean the difference between an animal surviving and not surviving.”

Johanna L. Kingsley, a veterinarian from Ogdensburg who works at South Jefferson Veterinary Hospital, Adams, was sitting in the classroom.

She said she used to be a vet student of Mr. Fletcher’s when the CPR guidelines were “on the horizon.”

“It’s something that we heard a lot about coming soon, and this is my first time actually dealing with the finished product, so I’m excited to see how it turned out,” she said. “CPR and veterinary medicine is hard, so I’m eager for a refresher and any new tips. Hopefully, it will improve outcomes when bad things do happen to my patients.”

Kate D. Podwirny, Lake George, is a veterinary undergraduate student at SUNY Canton who’s been working at the Northway Animal Emergency Clinic in Gansevoort for seven years.

“Unfortunately, we do CPR a lot where I work and I was really excited when I heard about this — just to learn a little bit more and see how they’ve advanced in life support,” she said.

Although his presentation introduced guidelines for animal CPR, it was not the full certification training, Mr. Fletcher said.

The eight-hour training and lab session to become certified can be completed online at, he said.

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