Lack of Veterinary Care for Rural Animals Could Impact Our Health

By: Candace Sweat Email
By: Candace Sweat Email

A recent report says there's a growing need for veterinarians in rural areas.

This basically means much of the food that ends up on our dinner plates may not be getting the proper care.

It seems like no matter where you are in the U.S. you'll find a reliable veterinarian to take care of your four-legged family member.

But what about the the animals that go from the pasture to your plate?

Experts at Florida A & M University's Veterinarian Technology program train their students to treat large animals. Animals that are a part of our daily diets, and could end up in our local markets.

"I work a lot with the youth and If you ask them where a steak comes from they say the grocery store, when that's not true. It starts way before that."

Right now there are nearly 30 veterinary schools nationwide. And some say a majority of their graduates plan on treating small animals. What about the others?

"When we talk about rural medicine typically we're talking about live stock or food animals. Vets are on the front line as far as protecting our food supply," says FAMU Director of Animal Health, Eric Peterson.

According to a report done by the American Veterinary Medical Association in 2008, Leon County has nearly 3 thousand food animals. And just one Food animal veterinarian.

Jefferson County has nearly 14 thousand food animals, and just five veterinarians. That means more than 2 thousand animals per vet.

In Suwannee County, there's nearly 63 thousand food animals. And how many food animal vets? Just three. That means each one of them is responsible for more than 20 thousand animals each.

"It's the food that we need to eat everyday. A healthy animal makes a healthy human," says FAMU Veterinary Technology Liaison, Lia McWhorter.

FAMU Currently has 12 students in its program. That means 12 more students prepared to maintain healthy farm animals, and ultimately the health of those sitting around our dinner table

FAMU says even though they have only twelve students in the vet tech program now, the program is fairly new, and they expect to have up to 25 by the next academic year.

Congress passed a Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program. It's designed to assist veterinarians willing to work in rural communities.


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