Dr. Jack Shere, a long-time employee of USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), was recently named USDA's Chief Veterinary Officer leading APHIS's Veterinary Services program.
Shere joined APHIS in 1990 and has held a variety of field and leadership positions — serving as the area commander during the exotic Newcastle disease outbreak in 2003 and spending many weeks in Iowa during the 2015 Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza outbreak where he represented USDA and Secretary Vilsack. Shere also spent several years in private veterinary practice prior to joining APHIS.
Asked about his goals for Veterinary Services under his leadership, Shere explained that the program has fbeen aced with budget changes over the past several years, which has reduced our field force and the ability to respond as quickly as we would like. He's committed to moving the program forward and addressing those needs.
'The challenge is to re-strengthen and build us back to what we used to be,' he said.
Shere will bring his enthusiasm for learning to his new role. While he already has many degrees — B.S. in Biology and Chemistry, M.S. in Education with a minor in counseling, doctorate in Veterinary Medicine, and Ph.Ds in both Poultry Science and Microbiology — Shere wants to continue to be a lifetime learner.
'There's always new knowledge out there, and you can always acquire more. It's just fascinating to know how much you won't ever know!' he said.
But what brought him to the veterinary field was his love of caring for animals. As a child, he would often take wounded animals home to take care of, and Shere said his mother 'never knew what she would find in (his) top dresser drawer.'
A few years later, he made the conscious decision to become a veterinarian when dealing with his family's German Shepherd puppy, which had become increasingly ill. On a Friday evening, the puppy had a violent seizure. The family vet said he was closing his office for the day, and recommended that the animal be euthanized on Monday morning if it was still alive.
Shere's father was left in a terrible position, and decided to put the animal out of its misery that night. While heartbreaking, it prompted Shere to resolve that after becoming a veterinarian himself, he would always go and help an animal if he was called — 'So when I was in practice, if anyone called me, I would go, no matter what the time.' And he's kept that vow in the years since graduating vet school.
Shere brings a wealth of knowledge, experience and passion to the table, which will only benefit this country's livestock and poultry populations.