Hello, I’m Dr. Terry Morris, a veterinarian with USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Veterinary Regulatory Support (VRS) staff, where I’m currently the acting Assistant Director. I’m responsible for managing VRS’ 17 Agriculture Quarantine Inspection Veterinary Medical Officers that are strategically located throughout the United States, including ensuring that they have all of the necessary knowledge, equipment, supplies, and regulatory support necessary to effectively safeguard the U.S. from foreign plant and animal diseases at the local level. I’ve been with USDA APHIS since 2001. I started out in USDA’s Veterinary Services National Center for Import and Export program and then came over to the VRS staff in 2007.
How did I choose to become a veterinarian? When I was in sixth grade, my dog died and my family was unable to afford any expenses associated with determining the cause of death. I wanted to know why my dog died. I took it upon myself to become a veterinarian, both to learn why and so that I could prevent other people’s pets from dying.
As a veterinarian, the learning never stops. One of the greatest learning experiences I’ve had was the opportunity to go visit our U.S. ports of entry. I was able to really see the volume of items entering the country. It was also a great way to really understand Customs and Border Protection’s role in allowing acceptable products into the country, while keeping out the prohibited items.
The VRS staff recently won a Deputy Administrator’s Safeguarding Award for our informational materials and “No Free Ride” video to educate the public on Regulated Garbage. I had the opportunity to participate in taping the video. One of the more memorable moments was riding on a water taxi in the Pacific Ocean.
The best part of being a veterinarian is knowing that you are providing a service to others, whether at your job or away from the office. At work, I answer people’s questions about how to bring an animal product into the United States without compromising U.S. agriculture. Outside of work, I answer people’s questions about health challenges that their pets are experiencing. It feels good to arm them with some knowledge and then provide them with next steps to resolve their situation.
APHIS and USDA are joining with organizations around the world to celebrate World Veterinary Year by highlighting the work of veterinarians on the USDA blog. This post is part of a series underscoring the important and diverse work of APHIS veterinarians. Check back each Thursday as we showcase the work of a different veterinarian.