New law hopes to offset shortage of large animal vets

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(Host) Farmers and state official hope to bring more large animal veterinarians to Vermont to offset a shortage in some parts of the state. 

The shortage is a result of retirements and the fact that most people entering the field are choosing to treat household pets rather than farm animals.

A new law passed by the legislature establishes a fund to reduce college loans for food animal veterinarians willing to set up practice in underserved areas of Vermont.  A summer study group will look at ways to pay for it.

State veterinarian Doctor Kristin Haas says not all parts of Vermont are underserved by food animal vets, but there are some critical needs.

(Haas) "Across the board the numbers might look as though there’s adequate coverage, but then you get into these pockets, dairy rich pockets of the state that are certainly experiencing a shortage."

(Host) Haas says the retirement of one veterinarian in the Northeast Kingdom has left between 60 and 70 dairy herds without a regular vet. 

She says it’s more expensive for farmers when vets have to travel long distances – and it makes responding to emergencies more difficult.  

Many of today’s vet school graduates aren’t from rural areas, so they don’t choose go into a large animal practice.  One exception is Carie Telgen.  She’s a recent graduate of the Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine.  She grew up in Shoreham.

(Telgen) "I actually was the only student in a class of 65 that wanted to do dairy work in particular.  There was two of us that were strictly interested in food animals, and there was another three or four that wanted to do large animals in general, but there’s definitely not very many of us."

(Host)  It’s estimated that 80 percent of veterinary school graduates are women. 

Telgen says that’s helped dispel a bias against women as large animal veterinarians.

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