Vets Volunteer at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo

With literally thousands of animals housed at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo you would think the vet bills must be outrageous. But as Houston Public Radio's Laurie Johnson reports, just two vets are on site, volunteering their time to care for the animals. One of them, Dr. Leslie Easterwood, is there to give back to the rodeo.

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"You hope that it's slow. You hope that you have a slow day and that you really haven't had anything that you have to treat. Answer lots of questions, ease people's minds, look at lots of things and hope that you don't have anything that you have to treat."

Dr. Leslie Easterwood's long brown ponytail is swinging as she trudges across the grounds of the livestock show, where junior steers are being unloaded for exhibition. Easterwood got her start in veterinary school through a Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo scholarship. That's why she's here every day for 28 days, volunteering her time to care for the animals.

"Start about 6:30 and finish up about 10 or 11 in the evening. Taking care of all these guys. Steers will have bloat, they'll have respiratory disease, lamenesses, anything that's happened on the trailer on the way up here, we'll run into that. The display animals, occasionally with all this dust and so forth, they'll kind of get some snotty noses, the goats and things over in AgVenture but for the most part, you know, they're pretty good. If we have something that is sick that can go out, we send them on home."

With as many animals as there are at the Livestock show, you'd think the waiting list would be endless. But Easterwood says it's really not too bad. Most of the animals here are in peak condition, bred for near-perfection and treated like royalty. But just in case, the two on-site vets have everything they need for every scenario.

"So we've got a chute here, we've got a trailer that's fully equipped. A fully stocked mobile veterinary unit here where we keep kind of this whole home base for the whole operation. And then Greg Knope, another veterinarian, comes up every evening for the rodeo, and so he comes up for that every evening and does the rodeo part of it so I can stay over here in the center. So we can do a full-fledged, you know, complete --we've got all the medications that we need or could possibly need."

Altogether, Easterwood estimates she'll treat around 100 animals during the course of the Livestock show. And she's hoping the most exciting or demanding thing that happens is a few extra calf births. Laurie Johnson, Houston Public Radio News.

Bio photo of Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson

Local Host, All Things Considered

Laurie Johnson is the Houston host for All Things Considered at KUHF NPR for Houston. Before taking the anchor chair, she worked as a general assignments reporter at KUHF, starting there as an intern in 2002...