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Caring for Hawai‘i, One Animal at at Time

By Office of Communication Services    Published on 11/01/2017 More stories >>

CTAHR Animal
Sciences almuna Dr. Raquel Wong is the Hawai‘i State Animal Health Official and
the administrator of the HDOA's Animal Industry Division.

CTAHR Animal Sciences almuna Dr. Raquel Wong is the Hawai‘i State Animal Health Official and the administrator of the HDOA's Animal Industry Division.

Working as a veterinarian for the state is a demanding and multifaceted job, but CTAHR folks are up to it. Coincidentally—or maybe not so coincidentally—the college is associated with at least two intrepid and caring state vets.

Formerly a Hawai‘i state veterinary medical officer, Jenee Odani left the post to become CTAHR’s Extension veterinarian. As she explains, this has entailed a change of focus for her: as a veterinary pathologist, she was more familiar with examining animals after death, diagnosing what killed them. She was also focused on regulatory concerns and on the big picture, on patterns and movement of diseases. As Extension vet, she noted in a recent presentation to Big Island farmers, her focus is more individual: she brings her scientific expertise to the particular farm she’s advising, giving specific recommendations for that producer’s situation.

Dr. Odani has some large-scale goals too: she wants to establish a baseline database of the diseases farmers and ranchers are seeing in their own stock; address big gaps in knowledge about medical interventions in organic livestock production; and create basic protocols for livestock: feeding, vaccinations, and other care guidelines, which can help prevent diseases because animals that are optimally cared for are usually healthier.

Dr. Jenee Odani
(left) is CTAHR's
Extension veterinarian.

Dr. Jenee Odani (left) is CTAHR's Extension veterinarian.

Animal Sciences alumna Raquel Wong, the Hawaii State Animal Health Official and the administrator of the Department of Agriculture’s Animal Industry Division, has plans of her own. Tasked with protecting Hawai‘i’s livestock and poultry industries through the control and prevention of pests and diseases, she supervises the animal quarantine program and the State Veterinary Laboratory, as well as providing aquaculture and livestock support services. Dr. Wong is in charge of disease investigation for both livestock and domestic animals, with both keeping out diseases we don’t have in the Islands and dealing with those we do.

As she explains, although the state doesn’t physically touch any other land-masses, it receives a lot of traffic and imports from Asia, where many animal diseases are coming from—including zoo­notic diseases, those that can be spread from animals to humans. They don’t just arrive via animals, she stresses; they can also be carried by humans or even found in the rubbish. She is looking to increase community education about these diseases and how to prevent their spread. In the end, both vets are helping the Islands and the people who live here…by helping the animals.