Veterinary Medicine Pioneers: Celebrating The Many People Who Help Improve Our Pets' Lives

Veterinarian with a dog

International Day of Veterinary Medicine is celebrated on December 9th every year. Today, we recognize the extraordinary efforts accomplished by veterinary professionals.

Veterinarians are medical doctors with additional education and training specifically focused on animals. They often carry out surgeries, prescribe medications, and perform preventative health checks for pets at home or in a clinic. Veterinarians work long hours daily from early morning through the evening, leading them to feel drained mentally and physically. However, they still strive to improve the lives of both humans and animals by providing excellent care that is always available throughout the day or night if needed!

When did the International Day of Veterinarian Medicine begin?

In 1762, the first veterinary school was established in France by surgeon Claude Bourgelat. Claude was a horse enthusiast and, in 1750, wrote a book on the topic of veterinary medicine. The veterinary college was specifically started to combat the cattle plague (also called the rinderpest), and students trained at the Lyon veterinary college were credited with helping to cure the disease. The United States waited almost a century before our first public veterinary college in Iowa. by 1898, practitioners from 7 states joined forces and formed the USVMA (United States Veterinary Medical Association), which later became AVMA.

Significance of International Day of Veterinary Medicine

Veterinarians work tirelessly to take care and save the lives of our fur babies. They help save the lives of pets and the livestock that provides us with food. A vet has to care for all creatures, great and small.

Did you know...

Animal health is linked to human health.

Several medicinal advancements within the veterinary realm have also helped improve human healthcare and treatment, such as vaccines, organ transplants, and the powerful therapeutic abilities many companion animals innately have.

Animal diseases are connected to human diseases.

Adopting a One Health approach is key to preventing and controlling various zoonotic and vector-borne diseases that impact both animals and humans alike. Diseases such as Ebola, Zika, and SARS all have animal origins, stressing the importance of keeping a vigilant eye on the welfare and health of animals to ensure a healthy human population.

How has Veterinary Medicine Evolved Over The Years

Xray of a dog

Advances in the treatment of animals have been remarkable, and the life span of pets has increased dramatically.

Veterinary medicine has seen many changes to diagnosis, treatment, and care over the years. MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging), ultrasound scans, and laparoscopy used solely on human beings are now the norm for treating pets and other animals.

Today veterinary medicine plays an essential role in the health and welfare of our pets, livestock, and wildlife. Vets are well-versed in animal health science, and they promote public health by identifying and combating infectious zoonotic diseases that can be passed from animals to humans. Advances in medical science have provided veterinary professionals with sophisticated equipment, tests, procedures, and medicines to treat our pets.

Famous Veterinarians in History

CLAUDE BOURGELAT

            Veterinary medicine as we know it would not exist were it not for Dr. Claude Bourgelat. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) reports he founded the first veterinary school in Lyons, France, near the end of 1761 after years of work to establish the necessary reputation and connections.

             Focusing on preventing livestock disease was one of Dr. Bourgelat's primary motivations for establishing vet schools. A deadly disease called rinderpest was widespread at the time. Though Dr. Bourgelat didn't live to see the end of this veterinary health concern, International Day of Veterinary Medicine was officially eradicated in 2011.

BERNHARD LAURITZ FREDERIK BANG

            Dr. Bang grew increasingly interested in zoonotic diseases and became involved in scientific research. His efforts led him to discover the type of bacteria that causes brucellosis, leading to miscarriages for cows and flu-like illnesses for humans. He was also the first to demonstrate the importance of heating milk to kill bacteria.

ELINOR MCGRATH

           Dr. Elinor McGrath graduated from veterinary school in 1910, and she began a small-animal practice in Chicago, IL, shortly after. While this is a typical route today, it was more common for veterinarians to focus on farm animals in the early 20th century.

BUSTER LLOYD-JONES

           Known as one of history's most compassionate veterinarians, Dr. William Llewelyn "Buster" Lloyd-Jones opened his home to all manner of creatures during World War II. Families were forced to leave their pets behind as they evacuated, so Dr. Lloyd-Jones purchased an estate to house all of them.

           Natural remedies were a big focus for Dr. Lloyd-Jones. After noticing how animals seek certain plants to heal themselves, he founded Denes Natural Pet Care to make high-quality foods and herbal products more available.

LOUIS J. CAMUTI

            After his family emigrated from Italy, Dr. Camuti was raised in New York City, NY. Though he began a small-animal practice once he obtained his veterinary degree, Dr. Camuti realized the feline portion of his business was growing substantially. He eventually transitioned to a feline-only, house-call practice.

           According to The New York Times, Dr. Camuti practiced for 60 years and sometimes visited up to 30 houses per week.

PATRICIA O'CONNOR

           Dr. O'Connor didn't just pave the way for women veterinarians but also those specializing in zoo animals. She became a full-time veterinarian at New York's Staten Island Zoo in 1942 and practiced for nearly 30 years.

           Clinical practice was only part of what Dr. O'Connor achieved. She also founded the AAZV, where she served as president two times. She penned a highly respected bibliography of the most reputable sources on a wide range of wild animal diseases.

We certainly owe many thanks to these famous veterinarians from the past. Their contributions have helped pave the way to improving animal care in just about every setting.

Vet with a Cat having check up

Veterinary professionals deserve appreciation.

Animal health doctors and professionals are not seen or treated as equals to human medical practitioners, even with the defined connection to human health. It is time to shatter this notion and recognize veterinary professionals' vital role within the entire healthcare field.

International Day of Veterinarian Medicine is a day to celebrate the veterinary professionals who care for our pets and ensure their lives are healthy, happy, and long. Veterinary medicine has changed drastically due to so many advancements in understanding how animals think and behave. This includes better ways of treating them when they get sick or injured and developing new techniques that allow us to communicate with them more effectively. To continue this vital work, we must remember not only what veterinarians have done but also the people who helped make it happen - all those pioneers whose contributions made it possible for today's vets to do what they do best!