Proving Ground for Veterinary Practice

Wendy Baltzer
Wendy Baltzer

By Lee Anna Sherman

In 2008, Chewy (see Cut to the Bone) was one of almost 6,000 dogs and cats referred by veterinarians across the Pacific Northwest to OSU’s small-animal clinic and hospital, a leading institution not only in minimally invasive surgery but also in therapeutic laser research and treatments for cancer, cardiovascular disease and other illnesses.

After his surgery, Chewy participated in a double-blind study (meaning that nobody knows which patients are getting the therapy and which are getting a placebo) conducted by his surgeon Wendy Baltzer. She is administering low-level laser treatments to 12 subjects to test whether the technique speeds healing after surgery. Another recent study led her to invent a new method of Achilles tendon repair using a muscle flap as described in the March 2009 issue of Journal of Veterinary Surgery. And with a seed grant from the American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation, she is currently looking into hormonal links to the growing incidence among dogs of cruciate ligament ruptures like the one that hobbled Chewy.

Baltzer’s career demonstrates the three-pronged mission of a land grant university. That’s because teaching, research and outreach are tightly bound into every aspect of her practice. It’s this tripartite opportunity — to mentor aspiring veterinarians, to investigate novel treatments and to heal cherished pets — that keeps Baltzer in academia when she could earn significantly more in private practice. She sums up her commitment this way: “You can’t help but love coming to work.”