Dr. Doug Byars, respected equine veterinarian, dies at age 70

kward1@herald-leader.comJuly 8, 2014 

Dr. Doug Byars, 70, a respected equine veterinarian, died Monday at his home in Georgetown.

Dr. Byars, who specialized in internal medicine, worked for years as head of equine medicine at Hagyard Equine Medical Institute and became known for his diagnostic capabilities and his advocacy for horses.

When mare reproductive loss syndrome hit the horse industry in 2001, Dr. Byars was among the veterinarians who led the effort to respond.

He helped found the Equine Health and Welfare Alliance and pushed for the establishment of the Kentucky Equine Health and Welfare Board, which created a certification system and care standards for horse rescue operations. He also served on the Kentucky Equine Drug Research Council.

Michael Blowen, founder of Old Friends Thoroughbred Retirement Farm, said he approached Dr. Byars about becoming the farm's veterinarian about seven years ago, after Dr. Byars made a $1,000 donation to Old Friends.

He said Dr. Byars "improved tremendously" the life of every horse he encountered, ... "and there's several of us humans who feel the same way."

"He not only loved these old horses like you would love your own children, he knew what to do. He was a brilliant diagnostician," Blowen said. "He batted 1,000 every time."

Dr. Byars moved to Central Kentucky in 1983 to join Hagyard, which was then known as Hagyard-Davidson-McGee.

Prior to that, he was a tenured professor at the veterinary college at the University of Georgia.

He was the author of a large body of written work, published in trade journals and professional publications.

Dr. Byars is survived by his wife, Susan Byars; a daughter, Carrie Byars Kilfoil; and a son, Jeremy Byars.

Services will be at 11 a.m. July 19 at First Presbyterian Church in Georgetown.

Johnson Funeral Home in Georgetown is in charge of arrangements.

Karla Ward: (859) 231-3314. Twitter: @HLpublicsafety.

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