Officials reflect on accomplishments as leadership changes
By MITCH LIES
In a few weeks, Don Hansen will hand over his duties as the state's top veterinarian to Brad LeaMaster, leaving a legacy that includes battles with West Nile virus and preparations for pandemics that never materialized.
Shortly after he started as state veterinarian in 2004, Hansen spearheaded a campaign urging people to vaccinate their horses.
"Whether that was a contributing factor or just coincidence, the incidence of West Nile virus in horses has been drastically reduced over the last couple of years, and the vaccination pool has drastically increased," Hansen said.
"I tend to look at that and say, 'Yeah, our campaign worked,'" he said.
Hansen also took part in preparations for the arrival of bird flu and swine flu, two potential pandemics that didn't materialize in Oregon, but had officials on edge.
"We have taken the time to draft an emergency response plan for the (Oregon) department of animal health, so it is codified on paper," he said. "And we have taken the time to train about 150 veterinarians and technicians to be first responders."
Oregon Department of Agriculture Director Katy Coba said Hansen will be missed.
"Dr. Hansen has provided Oregon's animal industries with exemplary service," Coba said. "We will miss Don, and we are grateful for the time he spent with us."
Hansen, 72, came to the ODA from Oregon State University, where he was an extension veterinarian 19 years.