Many of you are aware of Louisiana’s budget shortfall and its potential effect on LSU. When the SVM was asked to prepare for a 32% budget cut in addition to the 20% budget rescission already incurred over the last 24 months, the very existence of the SVM was threatened. In our current weakened financial condition, the negative impact of even small cuts will be magnified.
In our disaster-prone area, the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine stands firm. After Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the faculty, staff, and students of the LSU SVM cared for more than 8,000 animals affected by the storms. Approximately 2,000 animals were sheltered on the LSU Baton Rouge campus and the vast majority of these were reunited with their original owners all over the U.S. The entire equine rescue operation was staged and administered by the LSU SVM.
When Hurricane Gustav struck Baton Rouge in 2008, the LSU SVM once again provided care during and after the storm. Our hospital remained open and hundreds of animals came through our doors because many local veterinary offices were without power and unable to open.
On April 20, 2010, the Deepwater Horizon oil platform exploded, causing immeasurable damage to the Gulf of Mexico and animals along the coast. Once again, LSU SVM faculty, staff, students, and alumni worked alongside rescue groups in the field to care for oiled wildlife. Thousands of birds and turtles were de-oiled, rehabilitated, and released. Many birds were brought to the LSU SVM’s Wildlife Hospital for direct care.
The LSU SVM changes lives and saves lives by providing superior education for exceptional future veterinarians, conducting ground-breaking research in both human and animal disease, and providing a huge array of services to the surrounding community and even the nation. The LSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital receives over 23,000 clinical cases annually working closely with local, state, and regional veterinarians. The SVM allows Louisiana veterinarians to provide expanded services for their patients so Louisiana animal owners do not need to leave the state to receive the best possible care.
We, in concert with the University, are committed to providing a top-tier learning environment and preparing our graduates for academic and professional success. The average LSU SVM graduation rate for the last 10 years is 95%; in 2005, it was 99%. Our graduates are a testament to the dedication of our faculty and staff and the high priority we set for excellence in academics, service, and research.
Maintaining a vibrant LSU School of Veterinary Medicine is essential to Louisiana. Quite apart from everything else that would be lost, who would look after the animals?
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