June 20, 2014 11:26 am

University of Saskatchewan vet college aided by 300K donation

Watch above: a donation will allow veterinarians to research orthopedic injuries in horses

SASKATOON – A $300,000 donation to the University of Saskatchewan’s Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM) will establish a new research fund that focuses on orthopedic injuries in horses.

Mark and Pat DuMont, a British Columbia couple, established the fund in their name. They have pledged three annual installments of $100,000 to encourage equine orthopedic research at the college.

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“It’s a tremendous donation that they’re making,” said Dr. Spencer Barber, an equine surgeon at the WCVM.

“Research is all very expensive; it’s difficult to get the funds and there are a lot of needs for it,” he added.

Orthopedics focus on injuries and diseases to the body’s musculoskeletal system, including bones, joints, ligaments and muscles.

The donation will be allocated by an external committee in the fall and will focus on horses that compete and perform.

“The orthopedic part of equine research really interests me because musculoskeletal injuries are one of the main reasons that performance horses are retired,” said Pat DuMont, in a statement released by the WCVM.

“It’s a long road to get a horse ready for the show ring, and there’s a lot of money and a lot of heartbreak when things go wrong,” she added.

However, Barber said any findings from this research could also benefit a regular, “backyard horses where they’re just ridden lightly.”

“We get a lot of wounds that we see in all kinds of horses, and those can involve tendons and joints,” said Barber, who has done research on equine orthopedic issues.

“It could have a very big impact, for horses here, locally, all kinds of those horses, but also those across the province, Canada and across the world, really,” he added.

The college serves and is supported by the provinces and territories of western Canada, however its faculty says outside investments are still needed to make sure the institution keeps improving.

“We are certainly supported as well or better than any vet school in North America, from the provincial governments, but they simply can’t do it all, and of course it can’t be on the backs of students either,” said Dr. Douglas Freeman, the dean of the WCVM.

“There’s a lot of good needs, right, and there’s never enough money to go around, but this is a sufficient amount of money that it could fund a fairly substantial amount of work,” added Barber.

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