Large animal veterinarians are used to social distancing.
“When you’re out on the farm, you’re usually working in the field or barn, not in a small exam room,” said Dr. Seanna Brown with Troy Veterinary Clinic, who spends two to three days a week treating livestock in Tioga County.
While small animal veterinarians have been forced to evolve their practices as COVID-19 persists (see story in the Nov. 19 newspaper), large animal vets say they haven’t had to make many changes.
“Not a lot has changed doing what I do out on the farms,” said Dr. David Reese with Dry Run Veterinary Clinic in Pine City, N.Y., who is in Tioga County nearly every day treating livestock. “Except the travel between, if I stop for gas or at a restaurant, then I wear a mask.”
Dr. Allyson Anderson of Headwaters Veterinary Service in Coudersport said her appointments can be kept even if the animal’s owner is sick, as long as they arrange someone else to be there to help.
“At small animal clinics, they can just take the animal back with staff. But because I’m going out to farms by myself, I typically need the owner or farm workers there to help with the animal. So, I just rely on people to be honest if they’ve been sick or exposed to someone else,” she said.
Anderson added while a few housecats worldwide have reportedly contracted COVID-19, no cases have been found in livestock.
“Cows, horses, just about everything has its own strain of coronavirus,” she explained. “It’s not the same as what humans contract, though.”
According to Brown, one of the advantages of working with the farm community is its already meticulous handwashing and cleaning practices to avoid cross-contamination of such diseases.
“I think a lot of people in our area, especially in the farm community, aren’t as paranoid about it [COVID] as in larger cities. We’re used to practicing bio-security,” she said. “I do try to give triage or advice over the phone, but if someone is calling, it’s usually something like a cow trying to give birth that you need to be there for.”
Reese said while the pandemic hasn’t affected his professional practices, it’s affected his work with the Tioga County Fair. He started severing the fair several years ago as an animal health inspector, then as board president and now as fair manager.
“It was a terrible situation,” he said of the decision to cancel the 2020 event. “We still had a livestock exhibition for the junior participants to sell their animals, but it wasn’t at all like a fair.”
Reese said while he and the board are preparing for the 2021 fair, they’re doing so with caution.
“A lot of the stuff we had to cancel this year like entertainments and concerts, most just said we could move the contract to next year, so a lot of it is already planned,” he said. “We’re walking on egg shells, but hoping we’ll be in good shape to go next year.”