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Friday, 08 April 2016 11:40

Milton vet heads up medical care at Midwest Horse Fair

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Veterinarian Dean Peterson and two of his staff members will set up shop at the Midwest Horse Fair in Madison from Friday through Sunday, April 15 through April 17, 2016. Peterson’s practice, Janesville Equine Hospital & Clinic, will serve as the official veterinarian of the fair. The event is expected to draw about 80,000 people and hundreds of horses to the Alliant Energy Center. Veterinarian Dean Peterson and two of his staff members will set up shop at the Midwest Horse Fair in Madison from Friday through Sunday, April 15 through April 17, 2016. Peterson’s practice, Janesville Equine Hospital & Clinic, will serve as the official veterinarian of the fair. The event is expected to draw about 80,000 people and hundreds of horses to the Alliant Energy Center. Terry Mayer/staff

MILTON -- A local veterinarian and his staff will soon be responsible for making sure hundreds of horses have a clean bill of health.

Dr. Dean Peterson and two of his staff members at Janesville Equine Hospital & Clinic, Erica Reinman and Julie Johnson, have been named the official veterinarians for this year’s Midwest Horse Fair, set for Friday through Sunday, April 15 through April 17, 2016 at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison.

Peterson said he learned that he and his staff were selected as the horse fair’s veterinarians this past winter.

"I didn’t apply for it. They just called me and asked me if I was available to do it," Peterson said. "I’ve been in this area for 35 years as an equine veterinarian, so most people know me in the area and the president of the horse fair knows me, so it was probably a referral from her."

The horse fair will feature vendors, lectures, demonstrations and horse-related entertainment. As veterinarian for the horse fair, Peterson will help check in the horses and make sure they are healthy enough to be featured at the event.

"The owners have to fill out a check-in report about how the horse is feeling. If there’s anything on the check-in report that looks suspicious, they may call me over to look at the horse before it’s admitted onto the grounds, so it’s a pretty thorough check-in," Peterson said. "Everyone is worried about a viral disease called neurological herpes, and every year there’s a location that has a case of neurological herpes, and that’s an upper respiratory virus and sometimes it affects the brain and causes swelling of the brain and then death.

"Horse people are paranoid of getting that many horses together and having herpes or some similar disease that will affect their horse, so there’s a thorough inspection that goes on," he said.

Peterson and his staff will be responsible for treating horses that become ill or suffer an injury during the fair. In addition, Peterson will present two lectures and Reinman will host two talks about horse care.

"It’s going to be excellent," Reinman said. "I’m looking forward to it. I can’t wait to do it."

Peterson said he is looking forward to talking with vendors and attendees. About 80,000 people attend the three-day event each year.

"I like to visit. It will be fun to see a lot of the horse people from throughout the state," Peterson said. "I’ve been practicing in southern Wisconsin since 1978. With a hospital like mine, which is a referral hospital, horses come here from several hours away."

Peterson has participated in the horse fair in previous years as a vendor and as an on-call veterinarian as a member of the Wisconsin Equine Practitioners Association.

"I was in the booth talking to people and then I was available if (someone) had a sick horse," Peterson said. "So, yes and no, I’ve served as a veterinarian for the show in the past."

Peterson, 75, has worked as an equine veterinarian for about 45 years. He started Janesville Equine Hospital & Clinic, 5021 Wright Court in Milton, in 1985. As part of his practice, Peterson works with horses and small equine animals. Other staff members treat smaller animals such as dogs and cats.

Some of the services that the clinic offers includes preventative care, dentistry, digital radiography, lameness evaluations, reproductive exams and surgical procedures.

"I just had a horse that had a draining wound outside of its face for six months. I X-rayed it and it didn’t have a piece of metal in it, so I thought it had to be a foreign body to be draining that long," Peterson said. "I laid the horse on the table, went into it and I found a piece of wood that was stuck in the bone that had been there for six months. So, we curetted it out and cleaned it out, so she should be fine now."

Peterson said he works with hundreds of horses each week.

"This time of year, we’re doing a lot of vaccinations and blood testings, so you could go through 30 or 40 horses in one barn," Peterson said. "Our practice probably treats several hundred horses a week."

Peterson said the most unusual animals he has worked with include a pot-bellied pig and a tiger.

"A friend of mine works on a tiger farm. He came in and asked us to check on it," Peterson said. "We put a scope up his nose to look at its nose because it was having trouble breathing. It was kind of fun as long as it was sleeping."

Peterson became interested in veterinary work while growing up on a farm. He said the biggest change he has noticed in the industry over the years is the advancement of treatment technology.

"The changes are tremendous. There’s a lot of horses, in the past, that had aches or twisted intestines that never lived, but now a lot of them live because of good surgical facilities and chemicals to restrain them," Peterson said. "Drugs have changed and techniques have changed. There’s some things they do today that they did 45 years ago, but a lot of things have changed."

Peterson said part of the reason he has worked in the industry for so long is because he enjoys interacting with people and treating their animals.

"It’s a fun business. I love what I do," he said. "I’m at the age where I should be retiring but I don’t. I love the challenges, but it’s the people that make me stay practicing.

"That’s why I’ll have fun at the horse fair, because I will get to visit with a lot of people. I’ve always said, ‘I don’t have a job, I have a career.’ It’s been a fun career being around people I like and horses I like."

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