Shortage of large animal vets growing problem

Elisha Blonde wants to care for large animals when she graduates from Cornell University's College of Veterinary Medicine but she says not very many of her classmates feel the same way. "There are a lot of issues, the pay isn't as good, I feel like because of the economy the jobs are down," she says.

Nationwide there is a growing shortage of veterinarians to care for large animals. In Seneca County for example, one veterinarian is responsible for the care of close to 50,000 large animals. Dr. Rob Gilbert, a professor at Cornell says the shortage of large animal veterinarians is only expected to get worse in the coming years. "About 25% of all large animal vets are going to retire within the next decade without much prospect for replacement," he says.

Cornell University and other vet schools are trying to encourage students to specialize in large animal care. Cornell has had some success with a summer program designed to educate potential students about large animal care. Dr. Daryl Nydam says attracting more large animal vets is critical for the health and safety of food producing animals. "Everything we do from the mundane day to day things protects the food supply, protects the animals, as well as our vigilance in looking out for exotic diseases," he says. For more information