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Ohio woman likes work as vet for large animals
By CELESTE BAUMGARTNER
Ohio Correspondent

WAYNE TOWNSHIP, Ohio — The vet’s white pickup pulls into the farmyard. There person who steps out isn’t a typical large animal veterinarian. Yet, Dr. LuAnn Geib-Garner, Okeana Veterinary Clinic, has no problems handling big critters.

“It’s used to be, when we think of James Herriot, when they were lassoing everything out in the middle of field,” Geib-Garner said. “Now everyone has a barn or a facility where you can back a trailer up into it to contain the animals. Also, I have the convenience of tranquilizers.

“I’m not saying there isn’t a lot grunt and pull, but it’s not like it used to be. You’ve got to have a little bit of muscle but it’s manageable. You have to be sturdy.”

Although Geib-Garner didn’t grow up on a farm she lived in a farming community. Her grandparents dairied, she said.

“So I was always in the barn milking the hard way and carrying milk,” Geib-Garner said. “I was always around hard work. I wasn’t ever afraid of it.”

Does she ever get tempted to limit her practice to small animals? Definitely not.

“I enjoy being out,” she said. “I enjoy farmers, especially the old farmers. They’re nice. People my age and younger are the difficult clients to handle.

“They’re not used to hard work. Everything just seems to be given to them. And the small-animal world is part of that. They want something for nothing.”

Yet having said that, Geib-Garner admitted that in five years she could be headed that way. In an area of urban growth, she has few full-time-farmer clients anymore.

“I have a lot of farmer-clients but to say that they actually farm as their total income and rely on animals for their total income, it’s dwindling in Butler County,” she said.

“I have a lot of people that farm, that have cattle, but it’s not their major income anymore.”

In fact the number of large animal vets in the area is shrinking. Only a few of them will make farm calls.

“That’s because a lot of the large animal veterinarians are now older - not necessarily ready to retire, but they want the small animal world,” Geib-Garner said. “It’s not fun to be out here in the middle of the night. To charge what you can charge for a small animal visit compared to being out here at midnight ... you have to like it.”

With little demand for large animal vets, there are few if any young large-animal veterinarians in the area.

Geib-Garner has never found any reluctance on the part of her clients to deal with a woman veterinarian. She recently pregnancy tested three cows for Wayne Township farmer Oliver Williams.

He has been her client for three years, ever since his former vet moved to another area. He said he never gave a second thought to having her care for his cow/calf operation.

“I’m satisfied,” he said. “I don’t know whether she is.”

Geib-Garner appears to be. In practice now for 18 years, she wanted to be a veterinarian ever since she can remember.

“I was always taking care of the orphaned-something,” she said. “When you ask anybody in my family ... ‘she was going to be a vet ever since she was born.’”

2/15/2006