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Monday, May 30, 2011

Stephen Laudermilch, DVM 2011 Joins a Rural Practice Steeped in History

Posted May 28, 2011
By Donald F. Smith, Cornell University


Stephen Laudermilch entered veterinary college in 2007 with the singular goal of returning to his home town to join his father and brother in one of the oldest and most distinguished rural veterinary practices in Pennsylvania. Dating back to 1917, what is now called Rome Veterinary Center is located about 60 miles south of Ithaca, New York, just 15 miles over the Pennsylvania border.

Dr. Stephen Laudermilch (center), with Drs. Ben (L) and Donn Laudermilch (R)

Being from a closely-knit family, the proximity of Ithaca to Rome was one of the reasons why Stephen selected Cornell over the three other northeastern colleges that offered him a seat after only three years undergraduate study.

During his time at Cornell, Stephen would make over 300 trips between Ithaca and Rome to visit family and work in the practice where he will now be a full time associate. “Being able to go back home to practice is a huge asset for me, because the establishment is family-oriented and I know right from the beginning that the level of trust and involvement will be high”.

Stephen’s father, Donn Laudermilch (U Penn ’79) agrees. “Stephen has been doing veterinary calls with me since he was two-years-old. He would sometimes join me before school, and often ride with me on calls that extended way into the night, helping treat cows with calving problems or most metabolic conditions that occur just before or after parturition.”

Stephen was one of about twelve of the 87 students in his class with an interest in food animal programs. However, because he realized that there are no guarantees that the dairy industry in upstate Pennsylvania will remain stable in the future, he took full advantage of Cornell’s excellent small animal teaching program so that he could diversify his practice as appropriate to meet future needs in the community.

The practice is currently 85% dairy cattle, with the remainder being equine and small animal medicine. For the top-producing dairies in the practice area, Stephen his brother, Ben (Virginia-Maryland ’07) and their father, all agree that new techniques they are adopting, like in vitro fertilization, could add tremendous value to the dairy industry.

The veterinary profession faces shortages of well-educated food animal veterinarians seeking to work in rural areas. The Laudermilch family provides an excellent example of how committed veterinarians continue to advance animal health in farming communities and also support the public health needs of society by assuring a safe and abundant source of animal-based protein.

Stephen Laudermilch’s interest in serving people goes beyond rural veterinary practice.  He desires to use his veterinary skills to establish relationships in foreign countries with the human medical profession--two of Stephen's siblings are medical doctors and a third is in training--to help people with both their physical health and their productivity in agriculture. With veterinary medicine as a step-stool, Stephen's goals are to reach people for Christ through veterinary medical missions.

Dr. Smith invites comments at

Dr. Koji Yasuda: Connecting Veterinary Medicine in Japan and America

Donald F. Smith (Cornell University)
Posted May 30, 2011


When Koji Yasuda received his DVM from Cornell last weekend, he joined his father and older brother, Junya, as a family committed to advancing veterinary medicine in both Asia and America. 

Koji (L) and Junya Yasuda relax after Koji received his DVM
 from Cornell University May 29th, 2011. Photo by author.

Koji’s father, Hidemi Yasuda, owns one of the most progressive small animal practices in Tokyo, and also manages a dermatology (IgE) diagnostic service (Spectrum Lab Japan) that employs four staff and receives over 10,000 samples per year from 4,500 veterinarians throughout the country. 

Junya (L) and his parents, Dr. Hidemi and Mrs. Sanae Yasuda.
Yasuda Veterinary Clinic, Tokyo, Japan (2010). Photo by author.

Junya, who already has a college degree in history, is in the process of finishing his veterinary education in Tokyo. Though he has been to the United States multiple times, he has decided to remain in Japan and ultimately take over the family business.

Koji, on the other hand and with his family’s full support, decided to make his career in the United States. He left home at age 15, attended a boarding school in New Hampshire. After receiving his BS and MS from Cornell, he became one of the relatively few international students to receive a DVM from Cornell.

Koji recently received his green card (signifying permanent resident) from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, and now embarks on a comparative pathology residency at the New England Primate Research Center at Harvard Medical School in June. With his commitment to the concept of the “One Health” advancing both human and animal medicine, he plans to establish a career in comparative pathology at either a veterinary or medical school setting.

Dr. Smith invites comments at

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Veterinary Class of 2011 - Congratulations and Best Wishes

Posted by Donald Smith (Cornell University)
May 26, 2011

On this Cornell Commencement weekend our 87 DVM graduates will be among the 2,630 nationally to become the nation's newest Doctors of Veterinary Medicine. They enter the veterinary workforce at a time when the demands and opportunities to promote animal health and welfare, public health, and biomedical research have never been greater.

Commencement Hooding Ceremony, Cornell Class of 2011
The new graduates will cite the Veterinarians’ Oath, at the Hooding Ceremony on Saturday afternoon, May 28th. The oath connects animal health, human health and animal resources, and states, in part: “I solemnly swear to use my scientific knowledge and skills for the benefit of society through:
·         the protection of animal health and welfare
·         the prevention and relief of animal suffering
·         the conservation of animal resources
·         the promotion of public health, and
·         the advancement of medical knowledge
As is traditional, most of our graduates will enter practice initially, either in general small or large animal practice, or through an internship. However, by their fifth-year reunion, many will broaden their career scope. Those in the Army may be deployed overseas or have entered into a PhD program in epidemiology. Others will be engaged in research or advanced training in a clinical specialty like surgery or oncology; or will be employed in the pet food industry or a pharmaceutical company.

By their tenth reunion in 2021, many of today's graduates will be owners or associates in general or specialty practices involving a broad array of companion, farm and sport animals.  Others will be leaders in humane shelter medicine, homeland security, food quality assurance, in comparative biomedical research in a medical school, or in conservation medicine, perhaps internationally.

2011 is designated by U.S. Congress as World Veterinary Year
 in honor of the 250th anniversary of the veterinary profession.
Logo by Vet2011 and the AVMA

This year’s graduates enter the profession during the World Veterinary Year which has been designated by Congress to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the veterinary profession throughout the world. The congressional resolution cites many of the critical roles that veterinarians play in society beyond clinical practice, whether in public health, biosecurity, biomedical research, international development, disaster medicine, or in promoting the unique role that animals, especially pets, play in human health and welfare.

To the Class of 2011, congratulations on your remarkable achievements and best wishes as you assume the leadership of veterinary medicine for the next generation.

Dr. Smith invites comments at

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Joanna Asmus Sutorius, DVM (1929), Cornell's Fourth Woman Veterinary Graduate

Guest Blog by Michelle Pesce, Cornell Class of 2012
Posted May 25, 2011

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

Careers for Veterinarians Series

Like many young girls, Johanna Asmus took delight in the company of animals. She was a member of the Science Club at Ithaca High School and the idea of becoming a veterinarian had great appeal to her. Her proximity to Cornell, where her father was a professor, likely influenced her decision to pursue an education there. Being granted admission to Cornell is no simple task for prospective veterinary students today, but Johanna faced an even greater challenge. The year was 1925, and Johanna was to become only the fourth female graduate of the New York State Veterinary College (now the College of Veterinary Medicine).

Joanna Asmus Sutorius, DVM, graduation photograph 1929 (Cornell University photo)
Johanna’s father, Henry Asmus, was no ordinary professor. In 1913, he took a position as a farriery instructor at the veterinary college. A building had been newly constructed for his students, and was “the very finest place of its kind to be found in the country;” a country where horses were still the dominant form of transportation. A preeminent farrier until his death in 1939, Henry Asmus’ horseshoes still hang on display in Cornell’s current farrier shop.

Cornell's DVM Class of 1929 with photo (bottom center) of Joanna Asmus, the college's fourth woman graduate. Cornell University photo.
Johanna began veterinary college immediately after completing high school, as was the norm for students in 1925. Johanna’s daughter, Barbara Sutorius, explains her focus on small animal medicine. “The farmers who provided the large animals for the student vets to practice on wouldn’t let her treat their animals, so she only worked with small animals.” When her daughters inquired as to whether she faced discrimination, Dr. Sutorius denied it was ever a significant issue. “She was determined to ‘show the fellows’ that she could do it,” said her niece, Marianne Leavitt. In a 1960 interview by The Post-Standard, a Syracuse newspaper, Dr. Sutorius admitted she encountered disbelievers early on, but “after they found out I meant to stay and get my degree, the boys made things pleasant for me.” Johanna spent the summer of 1928 at the Westminster Dog Hospital on West 54th Street in New York City. Drs. Frank Miller and Trelford Miller welcomed her help that summer, with the latter making reference to the fact he was a student of Henry Asmus.

Dr. Sutorius considered continuing her studies in Vienna following completion of the DVM program in 1929, but it was not to be. She moved to Sayville, NY that summer with her husband, where he remained employed in spite of the stock market crash and ensuing Great Depression. “It was her aspiration to start her own small animal practice there,” her daughter Nancy Holland explains. “However, she was a product of her times. Because my Dad could provide very well for us, it would have been considered a mark against him to have his wife go off to work.” Dr. Sutorius instead worked as a relief veterinarian in various small animal practices for two years, and resumed this role in full when her three children reached school age.

Thirty years after her graduation, Dr. Sutorius reflected on her experience as one of the first to break ground for women in the veterinary profession. “I enjoy this work, so it doesn’t seem like any effort at all,” she told the Post-Standard interviewer. She had remained active in organized veterinary medicine, taking the position of Secretary-Treasurer of the Long Island Veterinary Medical Association in 1947.

Since Dr. Sutorius began her schooling, much had changed for women in the profession. “There are about 200 women veterinarians in the country,” she stated in the 1960 article. “Some are in general practice, others teach and work in research. One woman works in a zoo. Most people are pleased that a woman is going to treat their pet; however, I have had people turn around and walk right out of the office!”

By the conclusion of Dr. Sutorius’ career, veterinary medicine had seen a sharp increase in the proportion of female students. At the time of her death in 1989, roughly half of all graduating veterinarians in the United States and Canada were women.

In recent years, Dr. Sutorius’ family took a renewed interest in her experiences in the veterinary profession. A visit to Cornell revealed Henry Asmus’ influence on the college, as evidenced by display cases featuring his work. While no physical monument exists to commemorate Dr. Sutorius and other early female veterinarians, the conspicuous abundance of women in the college is a compelling testament to their efforts as pioneers.

Author Michelle Pesce, Cornell's DVM Class of 2012, is from Massapequa on the southern shore of Long Island. Dr. Asmus Sutorius also lived and practiced on Long Island.

Michelle expresses appreciation to Dr. Sutorius' family -- her daughters, Mrs. Nancy Holland and Sister Barbara Sutorius, and her niece, Mrs. Marianne Leavitt -- for their contributions to this article.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

I want to be a Veterinarian: History of Veterinary Medicine 1940-1970.

By Donald F. Smith, Cornell University
Posted May 5, 2011

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

By 1940, only ten veterinary colleges in the United States remained open. Twenty others had closed since 1900, including those at Harvard, New York University, and George Washington University.

World War II created a huge need for veterinarians to serve in food inspection domestically and overseas, for development of vaccines anticipated in enemy attacks, and to accompany pack mules in combat with Japanese forces on the rugged Burma trail.

Male Studenta in Cornell's Veterinary Classes of 1943, 1944 and 1945 were members of the Army Specialized Training Progam.  Courtesy of Cornell University.

Veterinarians were in such short supply that colleges operated year-round. Dr. Morris Povar remembers the experience: Going to veterinary school during the summer was a hideous experience. The room must have been 90 degrees; no air.

After the war, hundreds of thousands of battle-weary veterans returned home and many wanted to become veterinarians, but only a handful of states had programs to educate DVMs. In Minnesota, it was the insistence of veterans with strong political ties who forced the legislature to establish a new veterinary program. In all, seven new veterinary colleges opened between 1944-48.

Glen Nelson was in the inaugural class at Minnesota. Most of us were veterans. We had a B17 pilot who was shot flying over France, a B29 pilot who flew over Nagasaki the day after THE bomb. I was a tank officer under Patten in North Africa. We had a POW, and another who was shot up pretty badly on Saipan. Going to the student center was like sitting around the American Legion Club.

Prior to 1945, only about 70 African-Americans had ever received DVM degrees, mostly from northern univerities like Iowa State, Kansas State and Cornell. But that all changed when Frederick Douglass Patterson, DVM, PhD became the third president of Tuskegee Institute and not only founded a veterinary college that continues to this day, but also was the principal force in establishing the United Negro College Fund.

Women, though sporadically admitted to veterinary colleges since 1910, were vastly underrepresented in the post war years when so many men squeezed them out of the few slots previously available.

Even through the 1960s, women were evaluated differently than men. Linda Reeve Peddie sat through her grueling interview at Cornell in 1961, They asked me if I cooked, if I sewed, if I danced. Did I date?  And then the question, ‘If you were to marry someone who had a vocation out in the desert somewhere and there weren’t any animals, just what would you do with this degree?’ I did not think there was a prayer that I would be accepted.

Fulfilling the desire to become a veterinarian is the dominant theme of my second article in a four-part series on veterinary education in the United States (1940-70). It is published in the Spring 2011 issue of the Journal of Veterinary Medical Education, Volume 38 (1), pages 84-99, and should be available in veterinary or medical libraries, or online services provided by these libraries.

For those how do not have access to the article and would like a copy, please contact me at the following e-mail address.

Comments are welcome at

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

National Pet Week: My Puppy Pledge

By Donald F. Smith, Cornell University
Posted May 3, 2011

Join me in celebrating the 30th anniversary of National Pet Week (May 1-7) as we rededicate ourselves to the responsibilities associated with having a pet.

Beau, my 14-year-old PUPPY
 Over 70 million dogs are members of households, reaching every community of the United States with love and affection. As new puppies are added to families this week, our children should consider the obligations and enjoyment of having a dog.

One way to do that is to understand the meaning of the word, P-U-P-P-Y.

“P” is for pleasure, that effervescent joy that radiates from a well-cared-for pet. Dogs love to please, craving attention and play. In return, they provide friendship and unconditional love.

“U” stands for utility. Dogs were made to work: to pull a sled, to guide the blind, to fetch a stick, to swim, to protect the weak. Make sure you give your dog lots of exercise, which he or she needs for emotional as well as physical health.

The second “P” stands for presence. As you admire your dear puppy, also look around you and see all of nature’s creatures, both wild and domesticated. Your puppy is part of a world where animals of every kind fill an essential role in nature.

Puppy’s next “P” is perseverance. Acquiring a pet carries the obligation to take care of your dog, to train, to groom, to assure proper nutrition, to provide quality health and veterinary care.

Most importantly, it all comes down to you, the final letter of PUPPY.  Getting a pet will change your life. It will bond you with joy, with friendship, with commitment, and – yes – occasionally with sorrow. Because dogs have a shorter life span than people, they often leave us before we are ready.

As you welcome your puppy into your home and your heart, may you acquire a fresh and personal perspective on the wonder of animals and the world that we share with our pets.

Dr. Smith invites comments at