LUBBOCK, Texas– Over the years, the number of veterinarians throughout Texas has dwindled, including on the South Plains.
Some ranchers are worried this problem is getting worse not just for small animal vets, but for large animal vets as well.
“We had occurrences where our clinical vet was out of pocket for some reason and we had to end up going to Muleshoe or 75 miles away to get a vet,” said Glenn Schur, a rancher in Plainview.
Often, veterinarians are needed in an emergency, and it can be difficult to find one in a moments notice, Schur said.
“Most times when you need a vet, it’s at the worst times,” added Layton Schur, Glenn Schur’s son. “It’s not just an 8 to 5 ordeal.”
In addition, the Schur’s are worried that the experienced veterinarians are getting older and there may not be enough young talent following in their footsteps.
“In our area, they are remarkable,” Layton said. “They have been here so long, they are experienced, they are vetted, but I really hope my age group can take that into play and use that experience to carry that legacy on.”
Guy Loneragan, the Dean for Texas Tech’s future School of Veterinary Medicine, said this shortage spans across all rural areas of Texas.
“There really is a need for veterinarians that serve rural and regional communities all across Texas, and our whole program is designed to support these communities,’ Loneragan said.
Loneragan said he believes the addition of the vet school in Lubbock would generate more future veterinarians in the South Plains.
“Lubbock needs its small animal vets, large animal vets, and equine vets,” he said. “We need to be attracting all types of students from rural and regional communities and training them to be successful in rural and regional communities, and then graduating them so they can be successful.”
While the demand is high in several regions of Texas, Loneragan said the impact of not having veterinarians would be damaging to multiple communities.
“If they can’t hire a vet, they can’t provide services to the community. The citizens of that community have to travel further. That vet practice can’t grow. It’s a drag on the community, it affects all the citizens,” Loneragan said.