When an animal dies, veterinary pathologists like Stephen Raverty investigate possible causes of death.
The bodies of livestock, companion animals, and other specimens that have died mysteriously are submitted to the Animal Health Centre in Abbotsford where postmortem examinations - the dissection and examination of the body to determine cause of death - are undertaken.
Raverty works to find out how the animal might have died. He screens for health concerns that may not only impact other members of the animal’s population, but may also be transmitted to other animals, including humans.
Raverty volunteered at the Vancouver Aquarium (vanaqua.org) as a youngster, an experience that spurred his interest in veterinary pathology. He now works with B.C.’s Ministry of Agriculture examining deceased animals. He reports his findings to specimen submitters, including pet owners, farmers, biologists, and veterinarians.
Raverty is most passionate, however, about his research with marine mammals. In the case of stranded marine mammals, he investigates underlying health issues the animal might have had, and what they might reveal about the health of our ecosystems, particularly the transfer of terrestrial pathogens (germs or diseases from land dwelling species) to the marine environment.
The scientist currently averages two to three whale postmortems a year. The federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans decides whether or not to request a necropsy on a whale. These are primarily carried out on those whales that are endangered or threatened.
“It’s a wonderful profession to be involved with,” Raverty says about his work, adding that it is tremendously important to ensure animals are healthy for their own well being and society as a whole.
Learn More:Most of this article first appeared on the Year of Science website.
The popular site has quite a few features on scientists whose work benefits agriculture.
Have a look at the links below.
- Search results for Year of Science articles about agriculture (yearofsciencebc.ca)
- Science and food (yearofsciencebc.ca)