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Chiropractic is New Twist in Pet Care

The above title comes from the headline of a July 23, 2003 article in the Boston Globe. The story starts by reporting on a class at Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine, where some two dozen veterinarians from across the country and Canada are trying to be certified as chiropractors for animals. The article noted that the class was the third of four in a continuing education program Tufts is offering for the first time this year to veterinarians who want to be certified in chiropractic for animals.

Dr. Julia H. Sturm of Dayton, MD was one of those who traveled to Tufts for the training noted that she already offers some alternative medicine for animals. ''This just goes hand in glove with what I'm already doing,'' Sturm said.

Dr. Narda G. Robinson, head of manual therapy at Colorado State University's College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences commented, "It's riding on the coattails, on the popularity, of complementary medicine'' for people. Dr. Kerry J. Ridgway, an instructor from Sonoma, Calif., has been trying to persuade veterinary schools to incorporate chiropractic into their curricula for 15 years. He commented, "Many dogs can't climb stairs and could be helped by chiropractic. ''People are actually coming in my office and saying, `Can you recommend a chiropractor?' ''

Dr. Ridgway stated that horses are regularly treated by veterinarians because they are often involved in sports. "Along with seeking comfort for the animals, many owners want chiropractic treatment for their horses to improve their performances on tracks," he said. ''You know what it feels like to have a sore back and be asked to run 100 meters?''

In 2001, Colorado State's veterinary school became the first in the country to offer training for such practice, which the university calls ''manual therapy,'' Dr. Robinson said. Colorado State University avoids using the word chiropractic, she said, because some veterinarians who use the term have been sued by chiropractors who treat humans.

According to the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association, which certifies animal chiropractors, 683 veterinarians worldwide are certified to perform chiropractic work on animals, 571 in the United States.