Hello, I’m Dr. Barry Pittman, an Area Emergency Coordinator for Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). I cover the states of Kansas and Missouri, where I do liaison work with local, state and other federal representatives to help ensure we’re prepared to respond when disasters or outbreaks strike. Some areas of my expertise are: developing animal response plans, providing training, building a veterinary reserve corps to response to disasters (like the Joplin, MO tornado), conducting vulnerability assessments, participating in exercises, and responding to incidents.
Becoming a veterinarian was something I decided I wanted to do at age twelve. I loved our pediatrician (he made house calls) and at first I wanted to be a doctor… but the vet in town was much more laid back. After time in the Air Force and Army, I went to vet school to fulfill my dream.
After vet school, I spent 13 years as a veterinarian in the U.S. Army. I traveled to 23 countries and had a wide variety of experiences, including jumping out of planes. I also ran animal clinics, including one assignment where I was serving three clinics at three different military installations in California each week. My coolest veterinary moment came when I spent eight weeks in Chile with a special forces climbing team. The Chileans taught us how to climb glaciers and even a 17,000 foot mountain. I cared for their pack mules on the trip and shared animal husbandry information – but I also got to climb, learn sniper techniques and demolition training, and jump into the Andes with Chilean commandos!
After the military and a stint in state agriculture I came to APHIS and took my current position. In addition to emergencies in the Midwest, I have responded to animal health events in the rest of the country. I was sent to New Mexico and California for bovine tuberculosis (TB) outbreaks that were great learning experiences. I served as a liaison and a deputy operations officer, working with state, federal and private entities as well as writing disposal, cleaning and disinfecting plans for multiple dairies, appraisal and indemnity work, and assisted with testing animals for the disease.
Being a veterinarian is a great career for me. I have an impact on the health and vitality of our country’s agriculture. We feed ourselves and much of the world, and it’s important to keep our herds here in the US healthy.