Journal of Animal Science

ASAS Centennial Paper: The future of teaching and research in companion animal biology in departments of animal sciences

J. P. McNamara

Abstarc :

Departments of animal sciences must be relevant to a societyin which a small number of people can raise almost all the foodanimal products needed. The declining number of people involvedin animal agriculture has decreased enrollment of students interestedin food animals in many departments of animal science. However,several departments welcomed students from a diverse backgroundand began research on animals other than food animals. In manystates, the undergraduate enrollment is made up primarily ofstudents interested only in companion animals. A benefit ofthis is that we have recruited new students into animal agricultureand they have gone on to excellent careers. We have a new challengenow: how to maintain and expand the efforts in teaching, research,and outreach of companion animal science. Departments wishingto expand in teaching have examples of successful courses andcurricula from other departments. Some departments have expandedtheir teaching efforts across their own university to teachabout pets to a wider audience than their own majors; otherdepartments can follow. In research, a small number of facultyhave been able to establish extramurally funded projects onpets, including horses. But it will be difficult for more thana handful of departments to have a serious research effort indogs, cats, birds, fish, or exotic animals. Departments willhave to make a concerted effort to invest in such endeavors;joint ventures with other universities and colleges of veterinarymedicine (or medicine) will probably be required. Funding sourcesfor "traditional" efforts in nutrition, reproduction, and physiologyare small and inconsistent; however, with the progress of theequine, canine, and feline genome projects, there should beopportunities from federal funding sources aimed at using animalmodels for human health. In addition, efforts in animal behaviorand welfare can be expanded, perhaps with some funding fromprivate foundations or animal-supportive organizations.

Key Word :
companion animal, outreach, philosophy, research, review, teaching

Volume 87, Number 1, January 2009