GALION — Longtime veterinarian John Shuler, of Horizon Animal Hospital, was honored by thousands of fellow veterinarians last week when the Ohio Veterinarian Medical Association (OVMA) named him Veterinarian of the Year.
“There are about 4,000 members of the OVMA. That’s pretty much the governing bodies of veterinarians in this state,” Shuler said. “I was nominated by my peers, and it was quite an honor.”
Shuler said he did not know he was nominated and was surprised when his name was announced for Veterinarian of the Year at the Midwest Veterinary Convention.
“The (OMVA) puts that convention on and they award this and a couple of other awards for service to the association and to the profession. I was very humbled,” he said.
Shuler noted veterinary medicine is a small profession, but there are a lot things that can influence their field of work.
“We kind of lobby for things that can affect our profession. There are a lot of external influences on our profession,” he explained. “The association, which is all volunteers, volunteer their time to help keep the profession going and keep some of the influences that could hurt us at bay.”
Shuler grew up in Lexington, graduating from Lexington High School. He and his family ran a dairy farm.
“I was one of three students in 1978 in Lexington that grew up on a farm and this practice served our farm when I was a kid,” he said, noting this was the time when (Dr. Marvin E. Epperson and Dr. Boyd Epperson) were running the practice.
“I went to veterinarian school at Ohio State for eight years. When we were graduating Dr. Epperson said ‘I know your family. Would you come and work with us?’ So I joined the practice right out of veterinary school back in 1985 and I’ve been here every since.
“I joined as an employed veterinarian and then — as I stayed and became more active — I eventually purchased the practice from the Eppersons. That was back around 2000,” he said,
Shuler said he became interested in his field while growing up on the farm and being around animals all the time.
“I grew up on a farm with animals everywhere … cats, dogs and of course milk cows. Agriculture was my background,” he said.
Shuler noted that when he first started working in Galion, the business there were five veterinarians and two of then were exclusive to doing farm work, going out to farms and treating animals. He said times have now changed so much and there aren’t as many farm animal anymore.
“Most are crop farmers, so we stopped going out to farms in about 2004 or 2005,” he said.
There are about 6,000 clients at Horizon Animal Hospital. Shuler said about half are from surrounding communities.
“We of course have a lot from Galion, but I would say we have more from Ontario and Mansfield that are willing to drive here,” he said. “We try to do good medicine here and I have no retirement plans anytime soon. It’s a great profession and I still enjoy it very much.”
Horizon employee Ruth Bourne, who has worked with Shuler for three years, said she likes working with him because he takes time with the patients and he really cares.
“You can see that with him, his award is very deserved. I’ve always thought he was the best,” she said.