Haliburton County needs a veterinarian, says local farmer

By James Matthews

Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The lack of a large animal veterinarian could have disastrous consequences for local livestock farmers.
Godfrey Tyler, an experienced farmer from Waverly Brook Farm in Haliburton Highlands, brought his concerns to Dysart council March 28.
While he spoke to council as a Dysart taxpayer, the lack of veterinarian services is a Haliburton County issue.
“I figured if I start here and you guys say this is something the county needs to address, then Dysart endorses it and move it up the food chain,” he said.
This is a crisis of no large animal vet for Haliburton County, and it’s a problem of varying degrees for most of Ontario.
He said some Veterinarians from surrounding communities are providing limited service to a limited number of large animal owners in Haliburton County. But there are large animal owners who have been unable to find any care for their animals.
Tyler said the University of Guelph trains most of Ontario’s veterinarians. But, in recent years, there’s been a high retirement rate from the profession and fewer graduates from the university.
“I’ve been one of very few that have made my living in agriculture,” Tyler said, and added that the number of farmers making such a living can be counted on one hand.
He said many agricultural operations are undertaken by homesteaders.
“These are the people that want to do their own thing,” Tyler said. “They do their own thing. They have small plots of land, a few animals. They try to raise something for themselves and for their neighbours.”
Homesteaders are probably in greater need of veterinarian services than the more experienced farmers who have been in the industry for more years and have more experience with their animals.
Agriculture is an industry that contributes much to Haliburton County’s economy, he said. It provides local community food security.
Tyler has sent letters to industry stakeholder groups and to county and provincial politicians, describing the situation. But he believes such a letter from the township would carry more weight.
“This is an important issue to our community,” he said. “When agriculture has a problem, we all have a problem.”
Dysart council agreed to support the effort to get a large animal veterinarian to set up shop in the region. The township will bring the issue to the upper tier council.