By NANCY TULLIS
VINDICATOR SALEM BUREAU
LISBON -- Caring for the health of animals large and small at the Columbiana County Fair may seem like a daunting task, but four Lisbon veterinarians are up to the challenge.
For several years, Lisbon Veterinary Clinic on Race Road has been the fair's official veterinary service. This year, Eric Gordon, Doug Wiley, Aaron Tangeman and Fred Bennett are the doctors on call.
As fair participants brought livestock onto the fairgrounds Monday, the doctors checked paperwork to ensure that the animals had the necessary immunizations.
Taking samples: Throughout the week, they take blood, hair and urine samples to test prize-winning entries for diseases and performance-enhancing drugs.
Gordon was on hand for Tuesday's harness races, drawing blood from winning trotters as they came off the track.
The vets share responsibilities and time on call for the fair, Gordon said. They make morning and evening rounds through the livestock areas each day, checking for sick animals, he said.
"We just walk through the barns to see if anyone needs us," Gordon explained. "Usually someone will come to us with a problem."
Gordon said covering the fair makes the veterinarians' long days even longer.
"We work all hours of the day and night," he said. "I was here yesterday all day, did some work off the grounds until about 8:30 and was called back here for a sick cow about midnight."
Between races Tuesday, Gordon examined a coughing goat and talked to a farmer about a farm visit to conduct some routine tests on his livestock.
Unpredictable shifts: He rubbed a muddied spot on his forearm where a cow kicked him.
"That's going to hurt in the morning," he said. "We never know what's going to happen. There's never a dull moment."
As Gordon finished drawing blood from a lathered filly that had just won one of the harness races, a group of children approached and thrust a mewing, squirming kitten into his hands.
"Can you tell us how old he is?" a youngster begged. "We found him out in the street and we want to be sure he's OK."
"I'd say he's about 3 months old," Gordon said as he patiently examined the kitten. "He still has his baby teeth.
"He seems healthy enough," Gordon said, patting the kitten's bloated stomach. "He's been eating something."
"We gave him milk," one of the children said proudly. They took the kitten and dashed off toward a nearby barn.