FAIRBANKS — Consider it turkey soup for the soul. Christine Hardy, a veterinarian from Colorado State University, will share some post-Thanksgiving stories that show how helping animals can help us all.
Hardy, who is the senior director for Professional Veterinary Medicine Student Services at CSU, will give a free seminar Monday at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and recount her adventures in Africa where she helped perform vasectomies on bull elephants.
“It’s not your average surgery,” she said, explaining that it requires helicopters, cranes and at least 30 people.
The surgeries help curb the population of elephants in parks and reserves where the forage guzzlers are too numerous. These largest of land animals can overgraze and destroy habitat when their numbers are too high. Wildlife officials consider culling elephants as a way to control their populations, but the vasectomies offer a non-lethal alternative.
Hardy and some other volunteers with this project founded the nonprofit group Elephant Population Management Program to help organize and continue this volunteer work for years to come.
While stories of saving elephants might give you the warm fuzzies, Hardy also will share a story about the warm fuzzies themselves — dogs. She said more than companionship makes them a human’s best friend. They also help doctors understand diseases in humans.
Hardy has seen this while working at the CSU Flint Animal Cancer Center. She said there are different cancers that are similar in both dogs and humans. One example is an aggressive type of bone cancer in dogs that often required a veterinarian to amputate a leg. This cancer also affects humans and especially children. By treating this cancer in pet dogs, a colleague of Hardy’s was able to develop a new technique that saved the lives and limbs of dogs — and humans.
Hardy also will discuss interesting careers related to veterinary medicine, like helping endangered animals reproduce or practicing acupuncture on horses (which she does).
In the end, Hardy said, it’s important to remember we help animals and they help us because of the connection that binds us.
If You Go
What: Christine Hardy lecture
When: 4:30 p.m.
Where: Murie Building auditorium on the UAF campus
Cost: Free to attend
FYI: This program is part of the One Health seminars that the Department of Veterinary Medicine hosts. For more info, go to www.uaf.edu/vmed.
Meghan Murphy is the public information officer and recruitment coordinator for the University of Alaska’s College of Natural Science and Mathematics.