New comprehensive textbook on companion animals fills need

08/12/04

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Cats, 77 million. Dogs, 65 million. Such are the estimated totals, as of 2002, of these popular companion animals living with people in the United States. Two-thirds of U.S. farms have dogs, but 90 percent of the canines are owned by city dwellers. Then there are the various birds, guinea pigs, hamsters, hedgehogs, lizards, mice, rabbits and turtles, to name only a few, that share space in human homes.

So many companion animals, and so many opportunities for jobs as veterinarians, veterinary technicians and technologists, trainers and animal behavioralists, groomers, operators of pet motels and boarding facilities, and pet sitters.

With the rapidly growing number of pets and related job opportunities is a large demand for college-level courses that teach various aspects of both pet ownership and pet-related careers, said veterinarian Karen L. Campbell, head of specialty medicine in the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

She is a co-author of a newly published textbook, "Companion Animals: Their Biology, Care, Health and Management," (Pearson Prentice Hall), that is finding its way into university classrooms beginning this fall. The 25-chapter book contains more than 430 photographs, including 152 in color, line drawings and other illustrations.

Campbell teamed up with two others to compile the book: her father, John R. Campbell, former president of Oklahoma State University and former dean of the College of Agriculture (now the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences) at Illinois; and James E. Corbin, who as an animal nutritionist with Ralston Purina in 1954 formulated and extruded the world's first expanded foods, including Purina Dog Chow and Cat Chow. In 1973, Corbin founded the companion animal program in the department of animal sciences when he joined the Illinois faculty.

"This book is not just pre-veterinary; it is much broader than that," said Karen Campbell, who is board certified in both veterinary dermatology and veterinary internal medicine. "Our goal was to cover as much of the companion animal industry as possible. We wanted the book to show the breadth of opportunities that are available to students who study in companion animal biology programs."

The 640-page book also could be a resource for students studying veterinary technology and as a reference book for animal lovers and people already in animal-related professions, said Corbin, professor emeritus of animal sciences at Illinois. "This book took two years to put together, and it represents the phenomenal amount of background of the folks involved in compiling it," he said.

Each chapter on the various animals included in the book covers biology and behavior, husbandry, common diseases and zooneses. There are sections on companion animal health, toxicological hazards, diagnostic techniques, therapeutic approaches, feeding and nutrition, and service uses of dogs. Within four chapters, there are discussions of pet behavioral problems, the use of companion animals in research, the issues of animal welfare and animal rights, and problems related to people giving up once-wanted pets.

Eleven veterinarians contributed to the book, based on their individual expertise. For chapters on careers and operating pet businesses, contributions and editing help were solicited from numerous industry leaders, said John Campbell.

The book's conception came from an academic discussion in July 2002 at the joint annual meeting of the American Dairy Science Association, American Society of Animal Science and the Canadian Society of Animal Science held in Quebec City, Canada.

"In one of the sessions, teachers from various universities were reviewing all of their course offerings, looking for elective courses that could fulfill general education requirements for their institutions," John Campbell said. "It hit me that a general course in companion animals would be a popular possibility, but there was a serious lack of a comprehensive general textbook on the topic."

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