1984 Yearbook of Agriculture
By John K. Atwell.
If you are reading this book, it is more than likely that you own one or more animals. It may be a single dog, cat or parakeet ... or you may raise a thousand head of cattle. Regardless of the number of animals or your purpose in raising them, you are concerned with their health and welfare.
I can appreciate the concern of animal owners "officially" from my position as deputy administrator for veterinary services, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. Or I can evaluate the importance of animal health "professionally" as a veterinarian trained in the prevention and treatment of animal diseases.
But those "official" or "professional" approaches don't count nearly as much as a person's own personal commitment, when the health of his or her animal is concerned. Services and programs provided by animal health officials and veterinarians respond to the fact that people care.
That fact comes through loud and clear whenever a rancher and a veterinarian work a herd side by side, or when a veterinary practitioner examines a pet in the presence of its owner. My own 10-year-old miniature poodle gives me a daily reminder of the personal importance of animal health.
This Yearbook of Agriculture is offered to people like you because you care about animal health. I hope it will serve you well as a useful reference on the diseases and pests of animals.
But before you put this book on your reference shelf, think for a moment about who is really responsible for animal health, and how those responsibilities are met.
Three Key Areas
Animal health means more than taking the necessary care, and calling the veterinarian when an animal is sick or injured. There are three important areas of responsibility: First, your responsibility, as owner or caretaker. Second, the responsibility of the veterinarian. And finally, the Government has a distinct and important role in assuring the health of animals.
You, as the owner or caretaker, have the most immediate responsibility. There's an old saying, "The eye of the master fattens the calf," which is to say that you are the one who best can provide the feed, water, shelter, sanitation and health care for your animal or animals. You are in the best position to know when "something goes wrong."
There is no substitute for personal commitment, and with it you can do a great deal. The fact that you are reading this book shows your awareness.
And there are other sources of information. Your cooperative extension service, through Your county agent,can provide helpful advice and a variety of publications. The State university and the State experiment station are also excellent sources. Beyond these institutions and agencies, there are feed suppliers and manufacturers of pharmaceuticals and veterinary biologics who publish information on the care of pets, livestock and poultry. Livestock and poultry associations can also help.
Armed with this information, you can handle most day-to-day needs. And you can learn about the need for preventive health care, such as vaccination and treatment against parasites.
But at some point, you need to call in the expert your veterinarian. The veterinary practitioner is the animal health professional. His or her education has been long and rigorous, demanding a high commitment to scientific and professional discipline.
Good Ties Help
When you call the veterinarian is up to you, but an early and continuing relationship is best. This expert is able to diagnose and treat diseases that threaten your animals. More importantly, he or she can recommend and take preventive measures against diseases, parasites and pests. The practitioner also can develop overall herd (or flock) health management plans; these deal with the total environment of livestock- or poultry-growing operations.
Veterinarians are not there just to help when things go wrong. They can help make sure that things don't go wrong.
They also have another responsibility of which most people are unaware: Reporting certain diseases to the Government, either because they are of public health significance, or because they are regulated under Government animal health programs. In addition, they may examine animals, conduct tests, and sign vaccination and health certificates under these programs.
Most practicing veterinarians not only are licensed by veterinary medical boards of the various States, they are accredited by Federal and State Governments to participate in these animal health programs.
This is where Government responsibility comes in.
The Government is mandated to prevent, control and eradicate several types of diseases. These include animal diseases that can be transmitted to man, such as rabies, brucellosis (undulant fever), psitticosis (parrot fever), and tuberculosis.
Some diseases are of economic importance to the livestock and poultry industries, and cannot be controlled solely by practicing veterinarians. And finally, there are potentially catastrophic foreign diseases that could wreck our domestic livestock and poultry industries if they were to become established in this country.