MSU Chief Works to Restore Ex-Racehorses' Health

The American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) has named John Stick, DVM, the chief of staff at Michigan State University's (MSU) Large Animal Teaching Hospital, April's honored practitioner for the Good Works for Horses campaign.

Since 1999, Stick has served as a veterinary advocate for the Michigan chapter of the Communication Alliance To Network Thoroughbred Ex-Racehorses (CANTER). Operated solely by volunteers, CANTER offers Thoroughbred owners and trainers a solution for horses that can no longer race by providing rehabilitation, medical procedures, training, and adoption services. The organization's efforts are funded by charitable donations, which include contributions from the MSU College of Veterinary Medicine and the Large Animal Teaching Hospital.

Stick was instrumental in creating the partnership between the MSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital and CANTER that provides life-saving surgeries for injured racehorses coming off the track. While the primary goal of the partnership is to rehabilitate racehorses, it has become a valuable teaching tool for veterinary students. With Stick's supervision, MSU students have performed arthroscopic surgery, removed bone fragments, and repaired fractures on CANTER horses.

"This has been a God-send to be able to teach students about these types of injuries," Stick said. "Students know they get to do the work on the horses. It's a great teaching tool."

In addition to facilitating surgeries for as many as 60 ex-racehorses every year, Stick has written grant letters on behalf of CANTER, fostered recovering racehorses on his personal property, and helped steer the organization through his role as a board member. When he was presented with an invitation from early members of CANTER to get involved with the program, he said the decision was easy.

"I felt like I owed something back to the racehorses that made my career," Stick said. "There was no doubt that this was something I wanted to do."

Today CANTER has expanded from Michigan to include chapters in California, Colorado, Arizona, the Gulf South Region, Illinois, the Mid-Atlantic Region, New England, Ohio and Pennsylvania. For more information about CANTER, visit canterusa.org.

Good Works for Horses honors AAEP-member practitioners who perform volunteer service to benefit horses and the equine community. Horse owners and veterinary professionals are encouraged to nominate veterinarians to be considered for the next monthly recognition by May 31.

Throughout 2011, the AAEP's Good Works for Horses Campaign will spotlight AAEP-member practitioners whose volunteer efforts are improving the health and welfare of horses. Monthly honorees will be considered for the 2011 Good Works Award, to be presented during the 57th Annual Convention in San Antonio, Texas. Nomination forms are currently available at aaep.org/goodworks.htm.

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