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Chit Chat from the Technician Liaison

Our first ExotisCon in San Antonio, TX was epic!  There were great times had by all attendees, this one here particularly!  Friday, in the wee hours of the morning, the board for the ARAV came together with NAVC staff to work on strategic planning over the next 3 years.  There are going to be amazing things happening soon and I am happy to say that our Board and Executive Director listened to what YOU, our members, had to say on last year’s survey.  I’m not allowed to give away details yet but this newsletter will keep you informed every month of the changes!  Saturday was another early morning for your ARAV board members with lots of coffee and tea to keep everyone lively for the Annual Executive Board meeting!  It was amazing to see how many of our members came to the meeting bright eyed and talking excitedly, the meeting was productive and all members left again with a renewed sense of pride and focus! 
Saturday was also the pre-conference for those who attended ExoticsCon 2015 and I do believe we may have it again next year!  It was a great success and left everyone pumped and ready for the full conference! Sunday morning dawned on a member favorite, workshop day! Sue Horton (Vice President), Katie Heinz-Taheny  (President Elect), Nicole Johnson (Secretary), Dana Varble (Executive Director), and Erica Mede (Technician Liaison) were up at dawn setting up the lab rooms after being up late the night before doing the same!  Animals were placed with care in their rooms, facilitators were guided to their rooms, and more volunteers came in to help the attendees and facilitators benefit fully from this experience!  There was laughter heard in the venomous handling lab where non-venomous water snakes were giving the attendees a run for their money.  The sounds of drills filled the corridor as the shell repair lab was underway with the latest techniques in chelonian life saving procedures! It was a marvelous day of education and networking.  Many students walked out of the labs enraptured that they had met the authors of the very books they had been reading! 
Monday was a brilliant day of lectures that ended with committee meetings in the evening where members are encouraged to join in!  Tuesday dawned on a shortened day of lectures culminating in a trip to San Antonio Zoo where behind the scene tours were offered to ExoticsCon attendees.  Our auction this year was HOT!  You’ll find a recap from Nelson Kermit in this newsletter for all the details.  Wednesday was a day of lectures and fond farewells as attendees closed the session with a talk from Scott Stahl and left by planes, trains, and automobiles.  I was so proud to see the number of ARAV members who embraced new students into their dinner groups, opened up at the bar by sharing a drink with a new colleague, and rekindled old friendships.  And so it goes.
Your Herp Blerpin’ Vet Tech,
Erica Mede, CVT
A Message from our Executive Director on ExoticsCon 2015!

Thanks to all who attended our conference this year!

With over 650 attendees representing ARAV, AEMV, and AAV it was a huge success. Special thanks to all the speakers, moderators, and our conference planners for volunteering their valuable time and energy to ARAV!

Dana Varble, Executive Director

A Message From Our New President

I am sadly back to my routine day-to-day after such a fabulous and information intense conference on all things exotics.  From fish to ferrets and komodos to cockatoos, ExoticsCon 2015 was an exciting, fun, and fact filled, fully immersive experience into exotic animal medicine.  As the incoming president for the ARAV, I look forward to a busy year of enhancing membership benefits, website additions/ improvements, and increasing the visibility of the organization in both the public and veterinary communities.  The ARAV Board met prior to the conference for focused strategic planning.  The discussion was exciting, innovative, and progressive and I hope to see many of the ideas implemented over the upcoming months.  Please feel free to contact me with any questions or comments regarding ARAV and I hope to serve you well in the coming year!
Katie Heinz-Taheny, DVM, President
A Message From Our President Elect

This year’s lab sessions were an unmitigated success!  We hosted six labs on Sunday, August 30 at ExoticsCon.  Our labs featured amazing instructors who provided one on one opportunities to learn and explore reptile medicine and surgery.  The morning started out with “Chelonian Endoscopy”, “Clinical Advances in Techniques, Diagnostics, and Therapeutics”, and “Chelonian Shell Repair”.  The afternoon sessions included “Reptilian Clinical and Surgical Anatomy”, “Chameleon Medicine”, and “Venomous Snake Handling”.  Stellar fun, excitement, and education was had by all!  World class hands on experience is on par with ARAV’s core mission statement.  It was my pleasure to coordinate this year’s sessions and I want to thank my awesome team of helpers and volunteers!
Susan Horton, DVM, President Elect
Committee Corner

Looking to become more involved in ARAV but can’t remember all the different committees or perhaps you want to learn if a particular committee is a good fit?  Take a look at the available committees that are open to all members and e-mail the Chair!  The only committee that will not be open to all members is the Editorial Board which is by appointment only.
Membership and Public Relations Committee – Works on brochures, videos, displays, and membership perks.
Contact Anneliese Strunk, DVM at
Education Committee – Reaching out to veterinary schools.
Contact Colin McDermott, VMD at

Development Committee - Fundraising and the auction, Mostly active around the conference. 
Contact Nelson Bricker, DVM at
Research and Conservation Committee - Reviews our grant proposals and recommends the winners to the Board. Their "season" is just gearing up!
Contact Byron de la Navarre, DVM at

Legislative and Animal Welfare Committee - Keeps the membership aware of any help related legislation, drafts letters and statements of support or otherwise as needed.
Contact Richard Funk, DVM at

Infectious Disease Committee - Gathers and updates information on infectious diseases affecting herps. 
Contact Rachel E. Marschang, PD Dr. med. vet. at

Legislative & Welfare Committee:
Bill 54, "An act to improve the legal situation of animals," has been introduced for consideration by the National Assembly in Quebec, Canada.  Several of our Canadian ARAV members learned about this bill and forwarded a copy of the bill to ARAV.  At this time the bill does not include captive amphibians and reptiles as "companion animals"  but our Canadian members are speaking out to have amphibian, reptile, and other exotic pets added to this legislation. Bill 54 states that owners must ensure the quality of life of companion animals by addressing their biological needs and welfare.  Bill 54 also states that "animals contribute to the quality of life in Quebec society."   The ARAV Legislative and Welfare Committee and Board prepared a letter in support of Bill 54 and adding captive reptiles and amphibians to its scope.  Our Canadian members are planning to attend the legislative meeting in mid-September to comment on the bill and introduce ARAV's letter of support.

Rich Funk, MA, DVM, Chair, Legislative and Welfare Committee
Development Committee:
The turnout for this year’s conference auction was outstanding! As you can see from the look on Mark Mitchell’s face, there were some very exciting items and heated battles during the live auction, and it made for our best year yet.  The proceeds of this year’s silent and live auction totaled over $12,000, which ensures funding for our current conservation research grants for the next two years, and may allow us to expand into further opportunities. This year really proved how great exotics vets are at putting money where their mouth is when it comes to a good cause.  I am so excited at how well the auction has gone, and will be working with my committee members to continue finding ways to bring in support for our cause with great items and endorsement every year. We have also had some wonderful help from our online store at and sales of shirts, scrubs, caps and jewelry at the conference. Having such great items has made it easy to support ARAV.  Anyone interested in helping with our committee can contact me for opportunities. 

Nelson Bricker, DVM, Chair Development Committee 
Looking for ARAV Swag?

Find our latest swag at our CafePress store:
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Job Search

Looking for a new technician?  Perhaps you need a spunkier associate veterinarian?  Or perhaps you are in the market for warmer shores!  Check out our Jobs Listing at and never miss a once in a life time opportunity!  Currently, there are several listings in Florida, Arizona, and New York!
Don’t delay, apply today!  Have a job opening you need filled?  Contact Dr. Varble to add yours to the list!