Double the satisfaction

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Lee Meyring says he gets "double gratification" from his job.

A veterinarian at Steamboat Veterinary Hospital, Meyring said when he treats an animal, whether it's a dog, cat, horse or steer, he makes both the animal and its owner feel better.

"You can get a lot of satisfaction there," said Meyring, who has treated large and small animals at his Lincoln Avenue location for more than 10 years.

Meyring and his partner, veteran veterinarian Mike Gotchey, serve as on-site vets for the Steamboat Springs Pro Rodeo Series.

Both doctors said injuries to rodeo animals are rare.

"More often than not, the injuries tend to be to the cowboy, not the animals," Meyring said. "The animals are pretty durable. When they do get hurt, it's usually the roping or barrel-riding horses."

Gotchey said he enjoys any opportunity to be at the rodeo, whether he's working or not.

"I like the whole idea of it," Gotchey said as he carefully sutured the damaged eye of a young foal. "Everybody wants to be a cowboy when they're little. My interest sort of blossomed from there."

Gotchey was born in Denver, and Meyring grew up on a ranch in Walden. Both are team ropers.

"Lee's much better at it than I am," Gotchey said.

The Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association requires that a veterinarian be on the premises during any PRCA-sanctioned rodeo. The PRCA voluntarily decided to enact this rule to make sure the animals receive proper treatment.

"(Owners) have a big investment in their animals," Gotchey said.

One of the biggest challenges of being the rodeo vet is that the bulls and horses aren't often handled, Gotchey said. A vet simply can't walk up to a bull, put a halter on it and take its temperature.

There can be more than 100 head at the rodeo on a Friday or Saturday night, Meyring said, making for a lot of potential injuries.

But more often than not, injuries are sparse and usually involve pinched nerves or horses that get spooked coming out of the trailer and cut their head, Meyring said.

Gotchey said in more than 12 years, he has only treated "a couple" of broken legs.

"We treat minor injuries, nothing spectacular," he said. "Our job is to be there in case something happens."

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