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Friday, March 18, 2011

Harry J. Fallon, Cornell DVM Class of 1938 (A Memorial Tribute)

Posted March 18, 2011
Author Dr. Donald F. Smith,

This historical blog is in recognition of the 150th anniversary 
of the American Veterinary Medical Association (1863-2013).

Dr. Harry Fallon, one of the last living members of Cornell's Veterinary Class of 1938, died March 11, 2011 at age 95. I had the privilege of interviewing Dr. Fallon as he shared his life story with me in December 2007.

Dr. Harry J. Fallon (2007)
Photo by the author
The son of Jewish immigrants from Poland, Harry grew up in the Catskill Mountain area of New York State. Harry FELDMAN, as he was known during his youth, developed an interest in veterinary medicine through his frequent interaction with animals and crops that provided food for the family hotel business.

He enrolled in the College of Agriculture at Cornell and worked at a pheasant rearing facility to improve his candidacy for admission to veterinary college. He matriculated in 1934, after one year preveterinary studies.

Fearing that he may not get a job after graduation with a Jewish-sounding name, Harry changed his surname to FALLON before his final year. Ironically, the practice in Akron, OH that hired him was owned by a Catholic and a Quaker, and they often preferred to hire Jewish graduates. Regardless of his name, Dr. Harry Fallon fit right in!

Akron was a bustling community at the time, and Fallon's mentors, L.D. Barrett from Ohio State, and H.P. Noonan from Cornell, gave him a solid grounding in business and clinical medicine. Two years later, Fallon relocated to Huntington, West Virginia, where he established that city's first exclusive small animal practice. Except for his WWII service in the Veterinary Corps, he remained in Huntington throughout his career.

"A Big Frog in a Small Puddle" is how Dr. Fallon modestly described his impact in West Virginia when he compared himself to some classmates who established small animal practices in New York City. However, he cared for the pets of mayors, the State governor, and numerous community leaders. He was also president of the West Virginia Veterinary Medical Association and was twice named State Veterinarian of the Year.

A more complete biography of Dr. Fallon, and the transcipt and audio of his interview can be found at,%20Harry%20J.%20'38%20BioInt.pdf

Dr. Smith invites comments at

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Veterinary College Rankings by US News and World Report

The much anticipated 2011 veterinary college rankings have been published. How are the colleges ranked and what does it mean?

The most-quoted veterinary rankings are conducted every three or four years by US News and World Report.

Rankings are based upon peer recognition and assessment. Deans, senior administrators and/or faculty at each institution are invited to rank all fully accredited colleges from one to five (highest).

Cornell, with an average score of 4.5 out of 5.0, maintained its number one ranking for the fourth time since 2000. The other top–ranked colleges include:

No. 2 - University of California-Davis, Davis, CA - 4.2
No. 3 - Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO - 4.1
No. 3 - North Carolina State University, Rawleigh, NC - 4.1
No. 5 - Ohio State University, Columbus, OH - 3.8
No. 5 - University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA - 3.8
No. 5 - University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI - 3.8
No. 8 - Texas A&M University, College Station, TX - 3.7
No. 9 - Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI - 3.4
No. 9 - University of Georgia, Athens, GA - 3.4
No. 9 - University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, St. Paul, MN - 3.4

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Dog Walking for a Healthy Lifestyle

By Donald F. Smith, DVM, Cornell University
Posted March 15, 2011

New York Times writer Hal Herzog recently questioned the validity of the growing body of research suggesting the positive impact of pet ownership on human health. Keep taking your Lipitor and Prozac, he advised.

But an article in this week’s Times describes the role that dogs can play in promoting exercise and reaping the benefits to our health.  Author Tara Parker-Poke cites research that examines the strong impetus for exercise that dogs can provide for their owners. At a time when 25% of adults report no physical activity during leisure time, the article claims that two-thirds of dog owners walk their pets at least 10 minutes a day and often increase other forms of physical exercise. Parker-Poke concluded that people should “forget the treadmill and get a dog”.

Two of my Cornell colleagues, researcher Barbour Warren, and nutritionist Joseph Wakshlag emphatically agree, citing their own research. They fitted specially-designed pedometers to a group of 48 dogs and monitored the physical activity of both dogs and their similarly-equipped owners. Favorable findings were found at “both ends of the leash”. The people who exercised regularly with their dogs were found to walk an average of almost 12,000 steps per day, putting them in the ‘highly active category’ for the typical American, and more than twice the average person. The dogs also benefitted from the physical activity.

A term for the positive role of pets in human health has been promoted by veterinarian Kate Hodgson who works with both M.D. family practitioners and veterinarians in Toronto. In her recent paper, she suggests using the term, zooeyia, from the Greek root words for animal (zoion) and health (Hygeia, the ancient goddess of health), to describe the benefits of companion animals to people.

Dr. Hodgson feels that physicians often consider only the negative risks of pets in the household, especially asthma. However, she believes that the growing problems of obesity and other conditions in both children and adults challenges all of us to think creatively about the positive role that pets can play in promoting human health.

Dr. Smith invites comments at