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Veterinary medicine helps boost Ohio economy

Malcolm Gilbert, a third-year in mechanical engineering, pets his German Shepherd, Apollo. Credit: Cam Grey | Lantern Reporter

The boom of veterinary medicine in Ohio has impacted the economy with a high growth rate in employment and revenue.

Veterinary medicine employs more than 93,000 people and contributes nearly $13 billion to the state’s economy when the industry is broadly defined to include “all animal-related and other supporting business,” according to a recent joint report commissioned by the Ohio State College of Veterinary Medicine and the Ohio Veterinary Medical Association.

The report looks at both the direct and indirect impacts of veterinary medicine on Ohio.

Veterinary services directly contribute $2.4 billion to the economy and employ more than 23,000 people, the report found. The numbers rise to $13 billion and 93,000, respectively, when animal-related industries are included. Those industries include animal food manufacturing, racetracks, zoos, and farm and pet supply wholesalers.

As of 2015, veterinary services employment in Ohio was 15.5 percent higher than it was in 2007 — just before the recession — and veterinary auxiliary industries’ employment was 22.2 percent higher. During that same stretch, Ohio’s total employment declined 0.9 percent, according to the report.

Rustin Moore, dean of the university’s College of Veterinary Medicine, said he didn’t have a full explanation for the dramatic climb in employment. But he called attention to the fact the two employment figures were “much higher, respectively, than the employment rate overall in the state.”

In addition, Moore credited the installation of racinos — a combination of a racetrack and a casino — at equine racetracks for contributing to the growth of veterinary services. Ohio has seven racinos.

“Horses are worth more now,” Moore said. “People are breeding more racehorses, and so therefore veterinary services, in that sector, would expectantly go up because there’s more of them and they’re worth more, so people are willing to spend money to take care of them.”

In the last 30 or so years, Moore said there has been a humanization of animals, with many considering them part of the family.

Though Moore said he is not quite sure if an increase in humanizing animals can also explain the increased economic impact, he said he has noticed an increase in the number of patients that visit the Veterinary Medical Center.

“I noticed in our hospital here, over the last seven to eight years, our small animal caseload … has gone from about 19,000 to about 30-some-thousand,” Moore said. “So, its continued to grow despite the recession back in the 2008-2009 time period.”

In addition to veterinary services stimulating the Ohio economy, the human-animal bond can inspire people to invest money in dog food and toys at pet stores, as well, according to the analysis.

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