A good friend of mine is convinced that veterinarians are smarter than medical doctors. “Think about it,” he once told me, “vets go to school the same length of time as doctors and they take basically the same subjects, have to diagnose and treat many species, plus they don’t have the luxury of their patients telling them what their symptoms are, so they have to be smarter. When I get sick, I just go to my vet.” I found no logical argument against his premise when he made that statement years ago.
Visiting with that same friend last week, I was a little surprised during our conversation when he asked, “Have you ever imported any cattle from outside the United States?”
When I replied that I hadn’t, he informed me that he had once imported some cattle from Canada several years ago and it had been a major hassle for him. “The USDA, under guidance from their staff veterinarians, mind you, made me pay to have those cattle kept in strict quarantine at a border station for several weeks.” I was a bit confused, but he continued. “Let me tell you it was expensive, because, for days on end, they kept drawing blood to test for this disease and that disease. Plus, I had to pony-up for all the feed they were eating, not to mention the fees for the use of the pens and barn where they kept them until they were finally satisfied and released them to me.”
“Well,” I responded, “we can’t be too careful when it comes to keeping our livelihood safe and intact.”
“Oh, I agree, and I’m glad they did it. Have you ever transported cattle across state lines?”
“You know I have. What are you getting at?”
Without even acknowledging my question, he probed further. “Didn’t you have to provide health papers from a veterinarian certifying them to be healthy and free of, or vaccinated against, contagious diseases?”
“And didn’t you always have to provide health papers from a veterinarian on your boys’ show cattle before they could even take them to a fair in our own state?”
A little perturbed, I answered, “Of course, but why are you so obsessed with the health requirements of American cattle?”
“Well, it just seems to me that if we only had a good veterinarian at the Center for Disease Control, you know, someone with some authority, we’d never have had all this Ebola stuff going on here.”
I cautioned him that comparing people to cattle might not be politically correct.
“Oh, I know, we’re quite a bit more cautious with the health of our livestock. That’s why we need a vet in charge.”
As before, I found no logical argument against his premise.


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