Dr. Maggie Baldwin works with herd animals in a regulatory capacity as the state’s first-ever female state veterinarian for the Colorado Department of Agriculture; she has been with the Animal Health Division since January 2017. Courtesy Dr. Baldwin

Dr. Baldwin brings passion for animals to job of state veterinarian

JOHNSTOWN — Dr. Maggie Baldwin of Johnstown spends her work day thinking about the state’s herd animals, then goes home to her small herd of five goats, one horse, two cats and a snake.

“These guys are companion animals. We call them the Misfits of Wise Acres,” Baldwin said about the rescues she raises on her hobby farm, where she lives with her husband, Jason, and their two children.

Baldwin works with herd animals in a regulatory capacity as the state’s first-ever female state veterinarian for the Colorado Department of Agriculture, a role in place since 1954 to support the mission of CDA’s Animal Health Division. Formerly the assistant state veterinarian, Baldwin replaces Dr. Keith Roehr, who retired May 1. She’s been with the Animal Health Division since January 2017.

“The state veterinarian is really a regulatory veterinary medicine role,” Baldwin said. “Our job is to protect the herd of Colorado … to promote and protect the health, welfare and marketability of Colorado’s livestock.”

Agriculture is the second leading economic industry in the state, making the Animal Health Division’s work important in its overseeing of livestock, companion animals and exotic animals, Baldwin said. 

Baldwin manages the Animal Health Division by planning, budgeting, directing and executing its programs, policies and cooperative agreements with other governmental agencies. She oversees the division’s work in several areas that include providing livestock disease prevention and control, animal disease traceability and disease surveillance. The division also coordinates livestock emergency incident preparedness and response, collaborates toward predator control services, licenses aquaculture facilities and oversees the Bureau of Animal Protection. 

“All of the work we do is a collaborative team effort. We work with practicing veterinarians, livestock producers, animal owners and other state and federal agencies,” Baldwin said.

In her new role, Baldwin plans to enhance animal disease traceability, education and stakeholder engagement. She also will prioritize the implementation of secure food supply and emergency response plans in the case of a large-scale livestock disease outbreak, allowing for animals to continue to move in a safe, low-risk manner, she said.

“All movement of animals is stopped for a period of time until we access the risk of disease transmission, but we can’t hold them for long,” Baldwin said, adding that when animals cannot go into processing, for example, they end up backed up on farms, affecting their health and safety. “We have to make sure the continuity of business can resume in a safe, low-risk manner.” 

The division deals with reportable diseases, such as rabies, coxiellosis in small ruminants, brucella canis in dogs and trichomoniasis in cattle. During her time with the division, Baldwin has seen a number of animal disease responses. They include a complex tuberculosis trace in beef cattle in 2017 that involved more than three dozen premises in the state. In 2018, there was an Equine Infectious Anemia trace investigation with nearly 500 exposed horses across more than a dozen states. A year later, the division handled the largest vesicular stomatitis outbreak in the state’s history with nearly 900 case investigations and 700 premises quarantined. And last year, there was the introduction of a new foreign animal disease in rabbits with Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus Type 2, an ongoing outbreak to this day.  

“Every year we seem to have one significant outbreak that we deal with on top of a disease response,” Baldwin said. “It’s never the same response. It’s never the same incident. … The reportable diseases we deal with on a routine basis are important diseases. The reason we try to control them and prevent them is the economic consequences and public health worries.”

Baldwin loves everything about her job, knowing that the work the division does makes an impact and a difference in her community, protecting both people and animals. She started out as a child with a passion for animals, writing in some of her elementary school papers about wanting to be a veterinarian. As a state veterinarian, she can work with animals not on an individual basis as she would in a veterinary clinic or hospital but as part of a larger population.

“This role is allowing me to do something bigger … just having a bigger impact protecting a whole state of animals, not just looking at one farm,” Baldwin said. “It’s important to me being in public service and providing that service. It’s got a bigger meaning.”

Baldwin served in four different roles with the Animal Health Division before becoming the state veterinarian. She started out as a temporary veterinarian working on emergency response plans, then became an animal incident management specialist, an epidemiology traceability veterinarian and, most recently, the assistant state veterinarian, a role she held for 18 months. 

Baldwin has worked in regulatory medicine since she earned her doctorate of veterinary medicine from the University of Minnesota’s College of Veterinary Medicine in St. Paul, Minnesota, in 2013 (she grew up in the rural west-central part of the state). She took her first position that year as the supervisory public health veterinarian with the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service, followed by the veterinary medical officer with the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service in 2015.

Baldwin considers her role as the first female state veterinarian to be “an exciting step forward for our state,” she said. Women represent more than 60% of graduating classes in the field of veterinary medicine but hold a comparably smaller number of leadership positions in the field, she said.

“The landscape of veterinary medicine has changed over the last two decades,” Baldwin said. “More younger veterinarians are dedicated to regulatory medicine and public service. A large percentage happen to be women. … It’s exciting to be a role model and leader in our field.” 

Baldwin was named 2020 Veterinarian of the Year by the Colorado Veterinary Medical Association for her work as assistant state veterinarian. She has a few hobbies, including reading and being part of a couple of book clubs, furniture refinishing and, over the past year, bird watching. 

“I attribute that to being at home more and being able to stop and see everything around us,” Baldwin said. “(With) commuting, I didn’t have time to stop and pause to take in my surroundings. It’s been nice to get acquainted with all the birds that visit Wise Acres.”

JOHNSTOWN — Dr. Maggie Baldwin of Johnstown spends her work day thinking about the state’s herd animals, then goes home to her small herd of five goats, one horse, two cats and a snake.

“These guys are companion animals. We call them the Misfits of Wise Acres,” Baldwin said about the rescues she raises on her hobby farm, where she lives with her husband, Jason, and their two children.

Baldwin works with herd animals in a regulatory capacity as the state’s first-ever female state veterinarian for the Colorado Department of Agriculture, a role in place since 1954 to support the mission of CDA’s Animal Health Division. Formerly the assistant state veterinarian, Baldwin replaces Dr. Keith Roehr, who retired May 1. She’s been with the Animal Health Division since January 2017.

“The state veterinarian is really a regulatory veterinary medicine role,” Baldwin said. “Our job is to protect the herd of Colorado … to promote and protect the health, welfare and marketability of Colorado’s livestock.”

Agriculture is the second leading economic industry in the state, making the Animal Health Division’s work important in its overseeing of livestock, companion animals and exotic animals, Baldwin said. 

Baldwin manages the Animal Health Division by planning, budgeting, directing and executing its programs, policies and cooperative agreements with other governmental agencies. She oversees the division’s work in several areas that include providing livestock disease prevention and control, animal disease traceability and disease surveillance. The division also coordinates livestock emergency incident preparedness and response, collaborates toward predator control services, licenses aquaculture facilities…