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Vet urges farmers take a broader view of their role on earth

By Staff | Oct 13, 2014

Kevin Fitzgerald

SIOUX CITY – Dr. Kevin Fitzgerald is a small-animal veterinarian, best known as one of the doctors featured on Animal Planet’s “Emergency Vets” and “E-Vet Interns.”

But the staff veterinarian at Alameda East Veterinary Hospital in Denver, Colorado, talked about quality food production and environmental protection as dual responsibilities of farmers when he spoke at the Lewis and Clark Veterinary Conference in South Sioux City Oct. 1-3.

“It’s a matter of what we eat and the amount of food we need to eat to keep us healthy,” Fitzgerald said. “Livestock producers – all food producers – don’t always see the impact they have in doing this.

“We have good healthy food in this country and should be thankful for it. This comes home quickly as you visit other countries, North Korea for instance.”

He said North Korea is a prime example of nutrient deficiency.

“North Koreans are six inches shorter than South Koreans,” he said. “The reason is due to a protein deficiency in the diets of North Koreans.

“We in this country don’t always consider how lucky we are to have the protein foods we have, “Fitzgerald said. “We need to continue to learn to feed efficiently and to raise our animals in a respectable, safe and healthy way.

“In addition, knowing that I’m a small-animal vet and that the fate of the western world doesn’t hang on the balance of the cat, that might make my side of the street better. I tip my hat to our producers who really do have an impact on society and the world, and to our large-animal vets who help to make this possible.”

A broader picture

“It’s important to remember we’re just one of the 10 million other forms of life on our planet,” Fitzgerald said. “Equally important is we have all been given two great gifts by God – or by chance whichever you may think, – intellect and this wonderful and diverse world.

“It’s up to us to remember that other forms of life are waiting for us to use our intellect to figure out how we can save the planet.”

The challenge will be to improve quality of life without destroying the earth, he said.

“We’re duty-bound to show our respect to all kinds of life and the next generation gets it,” Fitzgerald said. “We need to ask ourselves if we’re taking this serious enough and doing better than earlier generations have done.”

As an example, is that the Denver Zoo is using the collected waste of its 4,700 animals for electricity to power zoo operations.

The project is focusing on new solutions for freeing dependence on fossil fuels, he said. Animal waste is dehydrated, pelletized for storage and burned to generate electricity.

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