State Veterinarian uses a lifetime of experiences
Riverton – “My grandpa had a farm and ranch with sheep, cattle, horses and a few goats. I spent most of my time with him and around that stuff. By the time I was 12, I had decided a veterinarian was what I wanted to do, and I pretty much had tunnel vision from then on. Everything I did was geared towards becoming a vet,” explains Wyoming State Veterinarian Jim Logan.
“I went to UW first, and then finished at Colorado State University. I did two years of pre-vet and went straight through, because I didn’t really like school. I graduated in 1975 and came back to Riverton and joined a practice that was established in 1958,” says Logan.
The practice was mixed, with cattle, small animals and a lot of horses. Logan continued with the clinic for five years before starting his own. He continued his private practice for the next 18 years, in addition to running some sheep. He first began working with the Wyoming Livestock Board (WLSB) in 1993.
“I went on the Livestock Board in January of 1993, when Frank Philp was elected to the House of Representatives. He had only served a year of his term, and they needed to replace him with a sheep producer from Fremont County.
“I remember I was in my clinic early one morning, getting ready to do a cesarean on a cow. My secretary came back and said, ‘There’s a phone call, and this guy says he’s Governor Sullivan.’ I replied with, ‘Yeah, I just bet he is.’ I begrudgingly went and took the call, and remembered his voice. But, when he said this is Governor Sullivan, I almost replied with, ‘Yeah, and this is Mickey Mouse.’ But I didn’t do that, thank goodness, and he did appoint me to the Livestock Board, where I served until 1997. I was also the chairman from 1995 to 1997,” says Logan of his early experiences with the WLSB, which initially stimulated his interest in becoming state veterinarian.
“Then, in April of 1998 I was appointed to serve as the state veterinarian. I was still in practice and continued to practice for the rest of that year and do the state thing as an interim while the Livestock Board advertised and conducted a search for a state vet. I applied and was hired full time Jan. 1, 1999,” notes Logan.
“It’s different in practice than it is as the state vet, because as the state vet I deal with more big-picture issues instead of the more immediate challenges with one owner’s livestock,” explains Logan.
He adds that the state doesn’t require the state vet to have had a practice prior to taking on the position, but he feels it probably should be required. “There are some vets who have been very good and successful state vets in other states who have never practiced. But in Wyoming, I think it’s very important for somebody to have practiced and to be familiar with the livestock industry,” comments Logan.
He discontinued his practice and served as state vet through Oct. 18, 2004. “At that time the state vet was essentially the director of the Livestock Board, and there was no assistant state vet or field vet. For nearly six years I was doing what four of us do today, and I burned out and went back into practice in early 2005,” says Logan. “I was asked to come back by the Livestock Board when my replacement resigned. I went back as the assistant state vet in mid-2007 until then-Wyoming State Veterinarian Walt Cook, requested of the board that he and I switch positions, so I took over as state vet again in June 2009.”
During his time with the state, Logan lists animal identification, brucellosis and some minor scrapie findings among the more notable issues. He adds that as far as disease control goes, brucellosis has been at the forefront, and he expects it will continue to be.
“It’s never fun to quarantine somebody, and it’s certainly never fun to depopulate a flock of sheep or herd of cattle. You lose a lot of sleep over that – certainly not as much as the producer does – but it still works on your emotions,” says Logan of one of the challenges of his position.
“I have been very privileged to work with a lot of good people, both producers in Wyoming and staff and other state vets from all over the country. In that respect it’s a very rewarding job. We have a very cooperative industry in Wyoming. People are willing to at least sit down and discuss issues. We don’t always see eye to eye, and I don’t expect to always see eye to eye with the people I end up having to regulate. But, for the most part, Wyoming producers are open-minded enough to understand and discuss the evolving nature of animal health in this country, and I appreciate that,” comments Logan.
Logan’s wife Stephanie owns and operates a quilt shop and does long arm quilting in his old clinic. “When I went back to work for the state in 2007, she chased me out of there with a quilt and crowbar and remodeled the clinic – I guess to make sure I wouldn’t go back into practice,” notes Logan with a chuckle. He also has three grown daughters and three grandchildren.
Heather Hamilton is editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and ca be reached at email@example.com.