Now Hiring Veterinarians ~MPI – Ministry for Primary Industries. A New Zealand Government Department.

MPI vets make sure New Zealand’s food and animal products are of a high standard and that animal welfare is being looked after. Find out more about their work and how to join the team.


The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is looking for veterinarians from New Zealand and overseas who:

  • are either registered or eligible for registration with the Veterinary Council of NZ
  • have great people skills
  • are passionate about maintaining our high animal welfare and food standards.

Vets ensure high standards

A vet checking a cow on a farm with a stethoscope with help from a farmer
MPI vets check animals for health and welfare

MPI’s Verification Services makes sure New Zealand’s animal products meet New Zealand standards and the standards of the countries we’re exporting to. Our vets play a key role, working on the front line to ensure the welfare of animals, and that our food and animal products are safe and suitable.

As an MPI vet, you’ll talk to a range of people in your day-to-day work – so you’ll need to be able to translate your technical knowledge into everyday language and relate well with others.

Many career paths for MPI vets

MPI vets work in both rural and urban areas throughout New Zealand where meat, seafood and other animal products are processed and stored. As an MPI vet you might:

  • work with providers on-farm to ensure animal welfare is maintained
  • audit cold store, deer, fish, and chicken farm processing – meeting with facility managers, making sure animal welfare is protected, verifying their processes, and providing export certification
  • work on-site at processing facilities – conducting ante-mortem and post-mortem inspections, monitoring animal welfare compliance, reviewing post-mortem processes, certifying products for export, and working with on-site managers to ensure safe and efficient processes.

Our vets also:

  • certify food and animal products for export
  • verify and certify processing facilities for meat, seafood, game, and dairy
  • certify imported animal products at airports or seaports
  • monitor containment facilities of animals (like zoos) to ensure that they are free of biosecurity risk.

Other roles suitable for MPI vets include market access, policy, or biosecurity career pathways – all of which are open to you.

Want to become an MPI vet?

You’ll need:

  • a veterinary qualification that is eligible for registration with the Veterinary Council of New Zealand
  • a commitment to ensuring animal welfare requirements are met
  • computer literacy and familiarity with Microsoft software
  • a positive attitude and flexible approach to new challenges and ideas
  • good interpersonal skills
  • to value differences and respect alternative views
  • sound written and verbal communication skills
  • the ability to work and make decisions independently
  • a commitment to team work.

Register your interest

Sheep in a paddock
MPI vets work in both rural and urban New Zealand.

If you think you have the skills we’re looking for, you can register your interest and we’ll keep you up-to-date on the latest opportunities.

Full training after you start

If you become an MPI vet, you’ll get formal training to help you do your job. You’ll spend 6 to 8 weeks in full-time technical training before you are warranted as an MPI vet.

Once you start work as an MPI vet you’ll also get:

  • ongoing, on-site practical training, mentoring and technical support
  • a comprehensive in-service training programme to develop your technical and management skills (including interpersonal and communication skills).


Not sure whether to make the move to New Zealand? Find out what it’s like, where to find support, and what your employment rights are.

Who to contact

If you have questions about becoming a vet, email

Source: Veterinarians | MPI – Ministry for Primary Industries. A New Zealand Government Department.

Inside the headquarters for military dogs …“As an Army vet, this is really an amazing place to work”

(Source: AVMA Website)

​Lackland Air Force Base breeds and trains dogs for Department of Defense, serves as hub for veterinary care

Posted May 11, 2016

Training of military working dogs wraps up by early afternoon at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio as the temperature rises, and it’s mostly quiet inside the cool halls of the LTC Daniel E. Holland Military Working Dog Hospital.

Signs announce that the next day is Spot Day, though. Once a month, every dog on the base comes through the hospital for a check of weight, body condition, and diet and to receive preventives against heartworms, fleas, and ticks. The parade of dogs brings in more than 600 that are housed on one side of the hospital and about 200 housed on the other.


In many senses, Lackland Air Force Base is the headquarters for U.S. military dogs. The Air Force is the executive agent for almost all Department of Defense working dogs. Lackland breeds some of the dogs, buys others, and prepares and trains most of them for duty.

The Military Working Dog Veterinary Service, part of the Army Veterinary Corps, not only treats dogs on the base but also serves as the hub for veterinary care for all military working dogs, providing worldwide consulting and referral services.

At the Holland Military Working Dog Hospital, dogs from bases around the globe rest calmly in crates recovering from surgery before going into wards. In contrast, dogs in the kennel off the rehabilitation area bark excitedly whenever someone walks through.

Buying and breeding

About 85 percent of the dogs that enter U.S. military service originate from overseas, primarily from Eastern Europe, said Stewart Hilliard, PhD, a civilian psychologist who leads dog evaluation and breeding at Lackland. Buying dogs from abroad, whether through a U.S. or foreign vendor, is currently less expensive than breeding dogs or buying dogs bred in the United States.

Dr. Hilliard said working dogs seem like an anachronistic concept. “It turns out that dogs have never been more important than they are now,” he said. In particular, he added, “Dogs are the single most effective and cost-effective countermeasure helping us to detect and locate explosives of all kinds.”

Teams from Lackland purchase dogs overseas about four times a year and make several trips stateside a year. Dr. Hilliard said that before purchasing, his staff “administers behavioral tests to dogs to decide if they have the proper character and temperament and behavior to be effective working dogs.” Veterinarians on each team do a health inspection.

​Military working dog Rocco, led by Senior Airman Jordan Fuller of the Air Force, prepares to subdue a simulated aggressor during a 2015 demonstration at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio. (Photo by Senior Airman Taylor Curry/Air Force)

Among the challenges of buying overseas, Eastern Europe is becoming increas­­ingly unstable, Dr. Hilliard said. And there are indications that dogs in the region are displaying a higher incidence of hip dysplasia and other skeletal abnormalities. Also, competition for the dogs from nations around the world is more intense.

The breeding program at Lackland began in 1998 with Dr. Hilliard at its head. He was a dog breeder and trainer before becoming a psychologist, adding academic training in behavior to his practical experience. He said the breeding program at Lackland is the most challenging thing he’s done. He has found that it is not uncommon to breed two high-quality dogs and produce puppies that are all better suited to be family pets than “soldier dogs.”

Nevertheless, the program is establishing bloodlines. It has begun relying more on artificial reproduction and has only one standing male but 24 to 25 breeding females. Through frozen semen, the program has access to 15 to 20 males, some long dead.

“It used to be the case that we would produce an elite dog every few litters,” Dr. Hilliard said. “In the last two years, it has gotten to the point where it is not unusual for us to produce an elite dog” in each litter.

Preparation and training

The training program at Lackland involves much more than obstacle courses and bite suits. A row of simulation airplanes borders a simulation parking lot. A train car sits among buildings housing mock-ups of various scenarios.

Although the exact number varies, Dr. Hilliard said the training program produces about 270 military working dogs per year. Almost all are dual-purpose detection and patrol dogs, detecting either explosives or narcotics. Most are German Shepherds, but some are Belgian Shepherds, with the latter almost exclusively Malinois.

​​YYork, a military working dog in training in 2014 out of Lackland Air Force Base, was fostered by a commander in the Texas Air National Guard. The double first letter of his name indicates that he came out of the breeding program at Lackland. (Photo by Senior Master Sgt. Mike Arellano/U.S. Air National Guard)

Some dogs are detection-only, and these can be sporting dogs such as retrievers and pointers. The Transportation Security Administration also trains detection dogs at Lackland, using a variety of breeds but mostly nonthreatening sporting dogs such as black Labrador Retrievers. The Navy sometimes uses terriers for detection because the small dogs are good for close quarters.

Dogs require preparation before entering the training program. Col. Cheryl Sofaly, the veterinarian who directs the Military Working Dog Veterinary Service, said puppies born on the base are monitored closely. After weaning, they go out to foster care with members of the community, returning to the base for checkups and behavioral work.

In foster care, the puppies are able to have normal dog experiences. They encounter people and traffic, parks and stores. So the puppies are used to going anywhere, Dr. Sofaly said. Dr. Hilliard added later, “These seemingly mundane experiences are crucial to the development of well-adjusted working dogs, and the foster care method is an ideal and inexpensive method to provide such socialization.”

Formal training starts at 7 months. At 1 year of age, the dogs are evaluated by Dr. Hilliard’s team for the training program. Foster families or others can adopt dogs that don’t make the cut.

Dogs not bred at Lackland are bought between the ages of 1 and 3. They spend two to four months in the kennels being made ready for the training course.

Before dogs start training, veterinarians routinely perform a gastropexy. The dogs are susceptible to gastric dilatation-volvulus because of breed and temperament. Dr. Sofaly said the procedure has been very successful at preventing GDV.

The training course itself is 120 days long, with 60 days for detection and 60 for patrol. Dr. Hilliard said the program integrates modern methods of positive reinforcement and signaling techniques with more traditional methods of aversive control.

Dr. Hilliard’s team measures the performance of dogs at the end of the course to assess whether they have absorbed the lessons and developed the skills they need to go out into the field. Dogs that don’t make the cut are assessed for adoption.

Veterinary care

The Holland Military Working Dog Hospital is the showpiece of the Military Working Dog Veterinary Service. Completed in 2008, the 32,000-square-foot hospital replaced a 5,800-square-foot facility.

“As an Army vet, this is really an amazing place to work,” said Dr. Sofaly, a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine. “It’s the only hospital like it within the Department of Defense.”

Counting Dr. Sofaly, the hospital has 12 veterinarians, including seven specialists, plus residency programs with the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners in canine and feline practice and with the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists.

​Maj. Stephanie Kennedy of the Army Veterinary Corps performs a prophylactic gastropexy on a military working dog in January at Lackland Air Force Base. (Photo by Senior Airman Colville R. McFee/Air Force)

Radiology probably gets the bulk of the consulting requests, Dr. Sofaly said. Military bases around the world can perform CT or MRI scans on dogs. Common problems include lumbosacral disease and other athletic injuries. The dogs that come to the hospital from outside Lackland usually come for specialty surgery.

The hospital veterinarians are proud of quickly adopting a standardized anesthesia protocol developed by a veterinary anesthesiologist with the Army Reserve, Dr. Sofaly said. All veterinarians in the Army Veterinary Corps are expected to use the protocol.

Whenever a dog has a health problem, Dr. Sofaly said, “If we can fix the problem, and the dog can go back to service, that’s the first choice.” Sometimes the problem can’t be fixed well enough for the dog to go back to service. She said, “Those dogs would basically be medically evaluated for retirement, and then they would be made available for adoption.”

The rehabilitation area features underwater treadmills and is bursting with other equipment. The plan is to refurbish an older building to make a larger space. Dogs in rehabilitation often start indoors on the underwater treadmills, then progress to treadmills outdoors.

The hospital has four wards plus a bathing area. An upcoming construction project is to build another kennel bank. The hospital also has its own laboratory for routine tests. Fort Sam Houston, also located in San Antonio, does other testing, such as for Chagas disease and rabies antibodies.

In addition to Spot Day, dogs housed on the base have a twice-yearly examination, with bloodwork once a year.

Heatstroke is rare despite the hot climate. Dog handlers manage the times of day and length of training, and the veterinarians teach handlers to watch for signs that a dog is overheating.


The Air Force has an adoption coordinator for military dogs up for retirement as well as for dogs that don’t make the cut before or after training.

“There always comes a time where maybe the dog is not as effective as they used to be,” Dr. Sofaly said. Perhaps the dog is developing arthritis. Then it’s time to consider retirement.

Each dog is given a prognosis for adoption, primarily based on behavior. Despite being trained for patrol functions including controlled aggression, retired military dogs often make good pets. Dr. Sofaly said, “By the time they are a senior citizen dog, they know when they’re working, and they know when they’re not working.”

​Staff Sgt. Sharif DeLarge of the Air Force hugs military working dog OOlaf after a controlled aggression exercise in 2014 at Lackland Air Force Base. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Vernon Young/Air Force)

Dr. Hilliard added later that the modern model for U.S. military working dogs is not to breed or procure aggressive or hostile dogs for service but to choose animals that are balanced, confident, and even friendly with handlers and strangers. He said, “The majority of these dogs can make a smooth and safe transition to civilian life.”

The Department of Defense began the retirement program in 2000. In previous decades, many military dogs were euthanized at the end of their working careers, but now, very few are euthanized—and then almost always because of irreversible medical conditions.

Dr. Sofaly has a retired military dog herself. She said, “It’s nice to take an older dog that has worked really hard and done its time and bring them into a home environment. And then really once they settle in, they just become part of the family.”

In a crate nearby, a black Lab up for retirement wags friendlily.

The AVMA Convention 2016, Aug. 5-9 in San Antonio, will feature sessions relating to military working dogs. A daylong walking tour at Lackland Air Force Base highlights the breeding, training, and veterinary care of these dogs. Other sessions are “The Role and Medical Management of Military Working Dogs in Combat” and “Canine Post- Traumatic Stress Disorder in Military Working Dogs.” Registration for the convention and the walking tour is at

Source: Inside the headquarters for military dogs

Vets urge Northern Ireland Assembly candidates to take ‘One Health’ action – Farming Life

With campaigning for next month’s election (5 May) in full swing, the British Veterinary Association (BVA) and BVA Northern Ireland Branch have launched a manifesto urging incoming parliamentarians to take action on animal health and welfare as part of a One Health government agenda.BVA’s ‘The veterinary profession’s manifesto for Northern Ireland 2016–2021’ was developed drawing on the expertise and experiences of BVA’s members working throughout Northern Ireland and in all areas of the veterinary profession, and makes clear recommendations in three key areas: safeguarding animal health, promoting animal welfare and recognising the vital role of veterinary surgeons.

“Delivering positive change for animal health and welfare requires partnership working – and the announcement last year that Northern Ireland had been granted Officially Brucellosis Free status is testament to the effectiveness of that joined up working between government, farmers and vets to eradicate the disease. And we must continue to work together to tackle other endemic diseases, and health and welfare issues like the breeding and sale of dogs.” Seamus O’Kane, President, BVA Northern Ireland Branch

The Northern Ireland manifesto sets out almost 20 policy recommendations that provide a clear pathway towards improving animal health and welfare, and challenges the next government to:

* Support vets and farmers in combating endemic livestock diseases, for example through the compulsory bovine viral diarrhoea (BVD) testing scheme in Northern Ireland and the voluntary all-island control programme to tackle Johne’s disease.

* Protect the welfare of animals by requiring all animals to be stunned before slaughter to ensure they are insensible to pain: there is no non-stun slaughter currently carried out in Northern Ireland but, while non-stun is permitted under the EU derogation, the next government should introduce measures to label meat as stunned or non-stunned to allow consumers to make an informed choice.

* Review the outcomes of the Test and Vaccinate or Remove (TVR) project; moving towards a comprehensive programme to eradicate bovine TB that includes a regime of controls such as risk-based biosecurity measures, cattle controls, badger vaccination where appropriate and available, and the humane culling of badgers via cage trapping and shooting only.

* Increase collaboration and integration of the veterinary and medical professions to promote the responsible use of antimicrobials.

* Ensure robust enforcement of existing legislation to tackle illegal import of puppies across borders due to the associations with disease, dog welfare and behavioural problems.

* Ban the keeping of primates as pets and the use of wild animals in travelling circuses, as their welfare needs cannot be met.

* Embrace partnership working between government and the veterinary profession, recognising the unique skills, knowledge and expertise of veterinary surgeons across animal health and welfare and public health.

BVA Northern Ireland Branch President Seamus O’Kane said: “Delivering positive change for animal health and welfare requires partnership working – and the announcement last year that Northern Ireland had been granted Officially Brucellosis Free status is testament to the effectiveness of that joined up working between government, farmers and vets to eradicate the disease. And we must continue to work together to tackle other endemic diseases, and health and welfare issues like the breeding and sale of dogs.

As vets, we carry out our roles for the public good and, as such, we are in a unique position from which to offer evidence-based and informed advice and policy recommendations. We are on the frontline caring for animals, detecting and treating disease, and undertaking pioneering research into animal and public health – and we look forward to working with the next government in Northern Ireland.”

BVA President Sean Wensley said: “Through our daily work, and these manifestos, we believe vets are in a unique position from which to offer the next government in Northern Ireland evidence-based advice and recommendations for animal health and welfare policy. The forthcoming elections affect us all and, as a nation that prides itself on high and continuously improving animal welfare standards, we urge the incoming government to put animal health and welfare on their agenda and champion the concept of One Health in recognition of the inextricable links between animals, humans and our shared living environment.” 

BVA’s manifesto will be sent to all candidates who are standing for election, relevant animal health and welfare government groups, BVA honorary associate MPs, Peers & MEPs, and Chief Veterinary Officer Robert Huey. Following the election, BVA will also share the document with newly elected Members.

For more information about BVA’s ‘The veterinary profession’s manifesto for Northern Ireland 2016–2021’, please visit

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Source: Vets urge Northern Ireland Assembly candidates to take ‘One Health’ action – Farming Life