Western University of Health Sciences (WesternU) has hired Lara Marie

Rasmussen, DVM, as assistant professor of veterinary surgery in the

College of Veterinary Medicine.

When WesternU’s College of Veterinary Medicine secures provisional

accreditation, it will be the first veterinary school ever to open in

Southern California, and the first in the United States since 1983.

Current plans call for admitting 70 students to a four-year doctor of

veterinary medicine (DVM) degree program in the fall of 2001.

According to a veterinary medicine task force report produced by WesternU,

Southern California is the last major metropolitan area in the nation

without the direct presence of a program to educate veterinarians.

Although the region hosts a rich supply of animals, the number of

veterinarians in the western U.S. remains low in comparison to national

averages: California has 1.64 veterinarians per 10,000 people, and the

national average is 2.16 for every 10,000 people.

Dr. Rasmussen is writing documents for the College’s accreditation,

developing curriculum, designing a psychomotor proficiency laboratory,

researching grants and developing a willed body program for veterinary

anatomy similar to the willed body program in the human anatomy program.

She previously worked as a staff surgeon for Veterinary Referral Services

in Washington, and also recently worked as a clinical instructor for small

animal surgery at Washington State University.

“”WesternU offered me the opportunity to develop a novel, unique surgery

program,”” Dr. Rasmussen said. “”I have an idea of how veterinary education

can be done without harming animals, and one of my goals is to prove that


She began providing alternatives to standard surgery training; which

results in the deaths of healthy, unwanted pound dogs; while she was a

student at UC Davis. It was at that school that she earned her bachelor’s

in biological sciences and policy studies as well as her doctor of

veterinary medicine degree. She is completing a master of science degree

in surgery, anesthesia and radiology from the University of Minnesota, and

she is a diplomate with the American College of Veterinary Surgeons.

According to Shirley Johnston, DVM, PhD, dean of the College of Veterinary

Medicine, Dr. Rasmussen “”has been a pioneer in the advancement of animal

welfare issues in veterinary surgery training programs.

“”At WesternU she will bring experience and compassion to a reverence-for-

life curriculum touching all of our future graduate veterinarians,”” Dr.

Johnston said.

Dr. Rasmussen lives in Azusa with her husband, Roger Anderson, a

mechanical engineer, two dogs and a cat. She plays the position of forward

in ice hockey, and also enjoys writing and cooking. She will be

volunteering as a surgeon for the Inland Valley Humane Society in Pomona.