The daughter of a successful Casper veterinarian, Kelsie Speiser grew up around animals and, naturally, dreamed of following in her mother’s footsteps.
She envisioned, someday, opening her own clinic. She would wear the white coat, care for her clients’ loyal companions and be a nurturing friend to every cuddly dog and purring cat.
That would all make for a nice story. Except that’s not how this story goes.
“When I was about 10 or so, we had a horse get attacked by a mountain lion at our place in Casper. I swore, after doctoring him for, like, three months, that I would never be a veterinarian,” Speiser recounts with a smile. “I told my mom, ‘I will never be a veterinarian—ever!’”
Though she attempted to steer clear of veterinary science upon her arrival at the University of Wyoming in 2006, Speiser slowly migrated to the branch of science dedicated to the prevention and care of disease, disorder and injury in animals.
The Natrona County High School alumnus earned her undergraduate (‘10) and graduate (‘13) degrees in veterinary science, first under the mentorship of E. Lee Belden, and then under Myrna Miller, and began veterinary school this fall at Colorado State University.
That wasn’t supposed to be part of the story, either.
“I know, I know,” she says. “But I bleed brown and gold. Don’t worry, I won’t wear green and gold.”
She laughs and adds, “Those are Kelly Walsh colors, too, so I never did like them.”
Rather than become a clinical veterinarian like her mother, Julie Horsch, a familiar face in central Wyoming’s veterinary scene who owns Paintrock Animal Clinic in the Casper suburb of Mills, Speiser plans to devote her efforts to regulatory medicine, or the control and elimination of animal disease.
Her master’s research at UW focused on Blue Tongue Virus (BTV), a vector-borne disease transmitted by a tiny biting midge. One serotype of the virus spread across Wyoming’s Big Horn Basin in 2007, killing sheep, pronghorn antelope, white-tailed deer and mule deer.
“It’s the mystery aspect that I like. There’s something wrong. What’s wrong?” says Speiser, who received valuable hands-on training on the necropsy floor of the Wyoming State Veterinary Laboratory. “I want to figure out the answer.”
That wasn’t the only advantage of her UW educational experience.
“I think one of the greatest benefits of being at a small university in a small college, like I was here, is the one-on-one relationship that you build with faculty,” Speiser says.
There’s a sense of community here that I don’t think you get at a lot of other schools.”
She adds, “I’m sad to leave. I wish we had a vet school here—I’d stay.”
But Speiser’s sojourn to UW’s Border War rival isn’t the last wrinkle to this story.
“When I graduate, ultimately, I’ll probably spend five to seven years—I can’t believe I’m saying this—in clinical practice,” she says. “Just where I never thought I would be.”