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Vets take the stage in new reality series

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Jan 01, 2012

NATIONAL REPORT — There is a new group of reality stars, and they spend most of their time surrounded by cattle, pigs and horses. Season one of "Veterinarians on Call"—http://www.youtube.com/veterinariansoncall—debuted in September and plans are already underway for season two, producers say.

"The feedback has been very positive, and the show has very much exceeded our expectations," says Clint Lewis, president of U.S. operations for Pfizer Animal Health, the organization funding the project. "The webisodes give us the opportunity to tell the story to the public about where food comes from and the great care veterinarians provide. As people move farther away from the farm, it's good for them to see what's going on. I think there is a great story to tell."

The series follows five livestock veterinarians from Texas, Minnesota, Iowa and New York as they go about their daily routines.

Filming began in November 2010, says producer/creator John Courtmanche of Essex Television.

"We decided that the vet profession was a good topic for a documentary video series like some of the reality series out there now like (History Channel's) "Ice Road Truckers" and "Deadliest Catch" (on the Discovery Channel)."

Courtmanche says they followed each veterinarian for one to two days.

"It was fascinating. I've never been on farms like these," he says. "They gave us open access to their work and also their clients gave us access to their farms."

First up, Dr. Don Goodman

Dr. Don Goodman, with the Beard-Navasota Veterinary Hospital in Navasota, Texas, spends most of his days out in the field focusing primarily on beef cattle.

"One of my clients has a herd of 3,000. Everything's bigger in Texas," he says.

When a colleague asked Goodman if he would be interested in participating in the "Veterinarians on Call" series he said he would do it as long as the film crew was comfortable around animals.

"It can be dangerous," Goodman says, adding he also wanted to show the public the positive side of the food-animal industry. "We try to treat animals on an individual basis even though they're in herds," he says.

With four veterinarians on staff for a 50- to 60-mile practice area, Goodman says the only thing typical about a day is that it is atypical.

"We have scheduled appointments, but there can be a prolapse or other emergencies that come," he says. "That's one of the things that I like in the large-animal field. It's never the same things."

Goodman says the job satisfaction and the good, positive vibes he gets from clients more than make up for the long hours, nights and weekends.

"I like the relationships we build and the friends I've made," he says.

As for his new stardom, Goodman says he was pleased after watching his webisodes.

"It was definitely a realistic portrayal. It's the real deal. I didn't mind it at all," he says. "I'd do it again, but I wouldn't be so serious this time."