DVM Newsmakers: Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue - DVM
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DVM Newsmakers: Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue
Practicing politics


Perdue adds: "People are our most important asset in the state, and how we prepare them for a life of economic prosperity is a great legacy."

Medicine's impact Veterinary medicine helped Perdue in his political quest.

And he is leveraging his status as a doctor. In mid-March, he was slated to perform a neuter on a dog to highlight the need for pet sterilization of animals in collaboration with an educational campaign with the Humane Society of the United States to address responsible animal ownership.

"One thing that I find in the complex delivery of healthcare these days, we have lost a lot in physician-patient relationships. But a medical provider I have found who has been endeared to their clients is the veterinarian. Most everyone loves their veterinarian. I think people have a fond affection for their veterinarian for the most part and are very trusting of people who take care of animals.

"I've had people come up and tell me that they didn't know me, but they voted for me because I was a veterinarian. It's a great profession, and I have always been proud to call myself a veterinarian."

During the years, Perdue has maintained his license even after serving in the state Senate for more than a decade.

As a young veterinarian, he practiced with mentor Dr. Jim Jackson of Quail Corners Animal Hospital in Raleigh, N.C.

"He taught me a lot about life, about people and meeting their pet's medical needs and meeting their emotional needs at the same time."

Perdue says there was only one problem:

"It wasn't home. I could never get that red clay out from between my toes."

In 1976, Perdue and his family returned to Georgia. He started an agribusiness specializing in grain. His political career began when he served on a Houston County Planning and Zoning Board. While he had no political ambitions at the time, he laughs, "I think I got too close to the pool and someone pushed me in."

This stint on the zoning board taught him a lot about tough politics, especially when balancing opinions on the public good versus personal property rights. "It caused me to listen and not prejudge issues."

Perdue says his political career was not premeditated or calculated — it just happened. While serving on a zoning board, a Senate seat opened up unexpectedly. He was approached to run for office and initially declined. Around the same time period, he and his family had a vacation set for Williamsburg, Va. Timing is everything.

"We got to look at the origins of our country and the citizens and legislators who would leave their homes to do their public duty. I think I was inspired by that, and it is a proper calling for small business people and citizens to serve in a public position and go back to run their lives."

He ran for the state Senate in 1991. After four years, he was selected as majority leader and, in 1997, was elected president pro tempore.

The rest is Georgia history.


Source: DVM360 MAGAZINE,
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