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Fair vet watching over barns

ROME TOWNSHIP — It’s noon Monday at the barns of the Lawrence County Fairgrounds and it’s a lot quieter for Dr. Mike Dyer, fair vet, then it was the night before.

That’s when Dyer got an emergency call from the owner of a steer that the animal was in trouble. Trouble meaning a swollen, distended belly causing the animal distress.

Possible cause may have been some bad hay.

So the vet brought the steer out of his stall into a confined area, then put seven feet of a stomach tube down the animal’s throat to give him some relief.

That and orders for mineral oil turned a distressed animal back into one ready for competition.

However, as Dyer goes through the barns Monday for one of the three daily checks he does on all the animals, he makes sure that the steer is recovering nicely.

It’s only for a week, but when the fair is going full tilt Dyer’s workload grows exponentially. And the Proctorville-based vet wouldn’t have it any other way.

“The animals’ welfare, that responsibility lies with me,” Dyer said. “The state mandates that.”

Welfare translates to everything from major health concerns down to water, feed and clean hay for all the animals.

“I have a personal rule that there is fresh water at all times in the stall and it is kept clean,” he said.

And always Dyer is there to listen to the one who knows the animal best – its owner.

“If they are not eating and drinking, that is a clue” (of a health issue,) he said.

Dyer starts the fair segment of his day around 6:30 a.m. when he makes the first rounds through the barn. Then he’s off to his own practice at the Proctorville Animal Clinic, before returning to the fairground around noon for the second check of the livestock.

One plus for the vet is that during fair week he calls a camper parked on the fairgrounds home for the duration. That’s because his two children are competing again this year. His son, Naaman, 15, is showing a steer, while his daughter, Ann-Michal, 12, is working with feeder calves.

Just as the rides on the midway are going full speed, Dyer makes his last round for the day. But always letting owners know he’s still on call, if needed.

“I tell the owners to get in touch with me in the middle of the night, if they need to,” he said.