Stock Show Veterinarian Stays on Top of Problems Big, Small

Animals staying healthy at stock show

A small staff is helping to care for the thousands of livestock at the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo.

Over the course of the show's three-week run, more than 22,000 livestock will come to the grounds to take part in shows and rodeos and be sold.

Livestock owners provide most of the care, but show veterinarian Dr. Bill Anderson and his staff are ready if something more serious happens.

"The main issue is like, when the people come to the show, it's either respiratory or G.I. primarily," he said.

Whether it's cattle, horses, goats, sheep, rabbits, chickens or pigeons, Anderson handles it all. He described his work at the show as being like an ambulance driver -- he simply waits for a call.

On Sunday, he got a call from Joe Brand. Brand's All-American cow, which won shows in Madison, Wis., and Louisville, Ky., in the last year, wasn't feeling well.

The cow is allergic to some medications, so Brand usually brings some horse medicine to treat his temperamental show winner.

"She likes to get gut aches before the show," Brand said. "We always bring (a horse medicine), and I didn't bring it with me, so it's good to have the vet here."

Brand, 450 miles from his Dalhart home, had to rely on Anderson.

"Having a vet that has the right medicine is a big help," Brand said.

Anderson said issues such as Brand's are pretty typical and are mostly stress-related as animals adjust to their new environment at the stock show.

And he could see more stressed animals in the coming days because of the change in temperatures.

Anderson said highs and lows that are widely spread apart -- such as Monday's highs in the 70s and expected overnight lows in the 30s this week -- get stressful.

"If it just gets cold and stays that way, they do much better," he said.

The stock show has never had any major disease outbreaks. It has a plan to keep it that way, by isolating any sick animals.

The staff isolated a horse during the Appaloosa Horse Show in October. The horse was fine, but the staff is ready to take such action again if a problem comes up.

But Anderson said he doesn't anticipate anything though outside of the occasional walking injury or a stomachache.

"And if there's something out of the norm, then we notice it pretty quickly and try to get a handle on it, so it's not as difficult as it sounds," he said.

The Andersons know a little something about how to keep animals healthy and safe. Anderson took over as the show's veterinarian in the early 1980s from his father, who started in 1945. Anderson also was the PRCA Vet of the Year last year.

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