Lawmaker calls for new Texas veterinary college
Sen. Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo, wants to introduce a bill during the 2011 session that would create a new veterinary school or a large-animal program at an existing university in Texas.
"The area that I represent ... is sort of the center of the cattle feeding and beef-eating industry," Seliger says. "This is a big ranching area. When I talk to people about their needs, one is in large-animal health."
Texas ranks 45th nationally for active veterinarians per 100,000 residents, Seliger says, adding that he will spend the next 19 months working out the details of the bill.
"It's going to be a priority," he says. "It's needed in the state of Texas." Texas A&M already has a veterinary school, but Seliger believes the state could use another school or veterinary program in the Texas Panhandle. A possibility he has not ruled out is a secondary veterinary school at West Texas A&M University, which is in the same university system as Texas A&M, or perhaps a large-animal specific program at the college.
Even if Seliger's bill passes in the Senate, it would only give the go-ahead to create a new school. Funding would need to be secured via another legislative action.
"Let's analyze this and figure out statistically what the needs are going to be," Seliger says. "As our population urbanizes and goes toward more dogs and cats and fewer horses and cows, veterinarians are going the same way. But in Texas, that's our economy."
Seliger has not yet had conversations with the American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges or the American Veterinary Medical Association, but says he plans to do so.