A History of Veterinary Medicine

...the present century
The History of Veterinary Medicine:
A Time Line


First cloned transgenic animal produced that carries a gene designed to enhance the health and well-being of the animal. This cow has the potential to produce an enzyme that destroys mastitis-causing bacteria.

First pathogenic bacterium identified that does not need or use iron. The bacterium causes Lyme disease in humans.

Using her tenacious approach to diagnosis, NYC zoo pathologist Tracey McNamara, DVM linked a rash of local crow deaths to a mysterious human encephalitis outbreak in 1999. McNamara found their common cause to be West Nile Virus, a foreign pathogen not then recognized in the United States, which causes death in many of its human and animal victims. A diplomat of the American College of Veterinary Pathology, McNamara earned her veterinary degree from Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine in 1982, and is the chief of pathology at the Wildlife Conservation Society, headquartered at the Bronx Zoo.

An internationally-recognized authority on blood diseases in animals, W. Jean Dodds, DVM established Hemopet, the first nonprofit blood bank for animals, in the mid-1980s. Through southern California-based Hemopet, Dodds - a grantee of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, and author of over 150 research publications – provides canine blood components and blood-bank supplies throughout North America, consults in clinical pathology, and lectures worldwide

A pioneer in the field of early-embryo development, Ralph L. Brinster, VMD, PhD conducts revolutionary research in embryonic-cell differentiation, developmental mechanisms of gene control, and transgenesis. Extending transgenic techniques to farm animals, Brinster, a 1960 graduate of the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, showed that new genes can be introduced into these species with the potential to increase disease resistance, enhance growth, even produce vital proteins like blood-clotting factors, needed by hemophiliacs. Brinster‘s work has spawned opportunities for other scientists to pursue research in such areas as oocyte maturation, fertilization, embryogenesis and nuclear transplantation.

The first person to visualize the Ebola virus, under the electron microscope, Frederick A. Murphy, DVM, PhD has spent his career studying rabies, viral encephalitides and other zoonoses. At the Centers for Disease Control, where he served as director of the Division of Viral Disease and chief of Viral Pathology, Murphy played key roles in the discovery of the Ebola virus in 1976 and in investigations of Ebola outbreaks in monkeys in Virginia and Texas in the late 1980s. Murphy, now dean emeritus and a veterinary virologist at the University of California, Davis, has recently been involved in National Academy of Sciences efforts to ensure the conversion of overseas biological-warfare research institutions to peaceful purposes.

MRI and Cat Scan technology starts to become available to veterinary specialty practices: Raymond Damadian made an important contribution to the fields of science and medicine when he built the first nuclear magnetic resonance (N.M.R.) body scanner in July 1977. Born in New York in 1936, Damadian studied violin at the Julliard School of Music and worked summers as a tennis pro on Long Island. He turned away from music when it became clear he would never find fame as a soloist. A math and science whiz, Damadian studied mathematics and chemistry as an undergraduate, then, aspiring to cure cancer, he became a doctor

A computed tomography scan (CAT-scan) uses X-rays to create images of the body. However a radiograph (x-ray) and a CAT-scan show different types of information. An x-ray is a two-dimensional picture and a CAT-scan is three-dimensional. By imaging and looking at several three-dimensional slices of a body (like slices of bread) a doctor could not only tell if a tumor is present, but roughly how deep it is in the body. These slices are no less than 3-5 mm apart. The newer spiral (also called helical) CAT-scan takes continuous pictures of the body in a spiral motion, so that there are no gaps in the pictures collected

Digital Radiographs, Surgical Lasers, Ultra Sound Machines, Dental Radiographs, Computerized Practices, Microchipping, and extensive laboratory testing become common place in U.S. companion animal practices


Annie, bred by ARS, is the first transgenic cow clone engineered to resist mastitis, which costs the U.S. dairy industry $1.7 billion annually.

Sep 10, 2001 - 10, 2001) — COLLEGE STATION, September 5 -- Researchers at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Texas A&M University have cloned a litter of pigs ... The CABG includes researchers from the College of Veterinary Medicine, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, The Texas Agricultural ...

2001 - In collaboration with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Dr. Vivek Kapur leads a team that completes the genome sequence of mycrobacterium paratuberculosis, the bacterium that causes Johne's disease in cattle.

2001- Dr. Vivek Kapur, director of the Advanced Genetic Analysis Center, leads a team of researchers to sequence the genome of Pasturella multocida, a bacterium that causes disease in poultry, cattle, swine, and humans. The breakthrough represents the first entire genome sequence of a veterinary pathogen.

2001- The Center for Animal Health and Food Safety is established. With the terrorism attack of Sept. 11, 2001, the first year of operation sees activity related to terrorism, anthrax, agroterrorism, and biosecurity.

2001 - Last know case of Rinderpest in the world (in Kenya)  For thousands of years, rinderpest plagued cows, yaks, and water buffalo sometimes killing 80% of all cattle in the area.  The first successful vaccine was invented in the 1950's but it wasn't until the 1990's and a world wide effort by governments and veterinarians everywhere before the disease was conquered (hopefully):   U.N. monitors haven't seen a single case since 2001.  (I'm writing this in Nov 2010)   Dr Peter Roeder who has worked with U.N. Global Rinderpest Eradication Program for a long time says "this is probably the most remarkable achievement  in the history of veterinarian science."  This disease has caused unimaginable suffering throughout history.

2002 - The Transition Management Facility (TMF) is launched in partnership with Baldwin and Emerald Dairies. The TMF gives veterinary students hands-on experience with large populations of dairy cows in the weeks before and after giving birth.

2000 - Scientist Carrie Mahlum develops the first test to detect bovine viral diarrhea, which costs the beef and dairy industries thousands of dollars each year.

2003 - Dr. Sagar Goyal develops a vaccine to help stop the spread of a severe respiratory disease caused by avian pneumovirus.

2003 - Dr. Kent Reed creates a first-generation map of the domestic turkey genome, helping breeders produce healthier turkeys.

2004 - The University of Minnesota receives the two largest grants ever to be awarded for animal disease research from the United States Department of Agriculture, Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service. Totaling $8.8 million, the grants will fund research on Johne's disease in cattle and porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome in swine, both having a devastated effect on agriculture economy.

2004 - Dr. Mitchell Abrahamsen and other researchers complete sequencing of Crytosporidium parvum, and intestinal parasite that affects humans and animals. It is considered a major public health threat for which there is no known treatment or prevention.

2004 - Drs. Stephanie Valberg and Jim Mickelson identify an inherited disease in American quarter horses and related breeds call glycogen branching enzyme deficiency.

2004 - U of M named one of three national Homeland Security Centers of Excellence and received a 3-year, $15 million grant to develop ways to protect the nation's food supply from deliberate contamination or terrorist attack.

Ever since 1776, when George Washington requested a “regiment of horses with a farrier” to help the fight for independence, veterinarians have played a key role in military operations around the globe.
In 1916, Congress officially created the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps. Today, hundreds of veterinarians serve in our armed forces, providing care to bomb-sniffing dogs, mine-detecting dolphins and sea lions, ceremonial horses, and therapy animals. Military veterinarians also play a vital role in protecting public health.

    More than 1,000 military working dogs have served in Iraq and Afghanistan since the beginning of hostilities. They are specially trained to find roadside bombs or booby traps, detect weapons or drugs at checkpoints and border crossings, and chase down suspects.
Man of 1,000 Pets

    The work is demanding and dangerous, and some canine soldiers lose their lives in action. But thanks to the Veterinary Corps, countless others have been saved.

    Dogs aren’t the only animals on the front line. Veterinarians also care for the health needs of dolphins and sea lions that are trained to find enemy swimmers and mines or other dangerous objects on the ocean floor.

What many people don’t realize is the important role the Veterinary Corps plays in protecting public health.

Capt. Robert Hawley, DVM, who established the Army’s first AAHA-accredited veterinary practice while serving in Huntsville, Ala., is currently stationed at Incirlik Air Base in Turkey. He is responsible for inspecting nearby food and water plants.  Hawley and his fellow veterinarians evaluate more than 3,800 food producers in more than 80 countries to ensure safe food for U.S. service members and their families in the United States and overseas.
Military veterinarians are also charged with preventing and controlling zoonotic diseases — illnesses that are transmitted from animals to humans, such as West Nile virus, rabies, and leishmaniasis — and possible bioterrorism diseases, such as tularemia and plague.

One way they do this is by providing care for pets of military personnel. Flea control for all animals on a military base is not only good medicine; it is good strategy for inhibiting the spread of plague.
Army veterinarians contribute to research and development as well. Their work ranges from breast cancer research to developing new smallpox and malaria vaccines.

As the only military veterinarian in Turkey, Capt. Robert Hawley, DVM, operates a full-service veterinary clinic at Incirlik Air Base. A member of the Army Veterinary Corps, he and his staff of three care for 13 patrol dogs, as well as pets belonging to the base’s 5,000 service personnel and their dependents.
“We have more than 1,000 pets here on base, and I consider each and every one of them mine,” he says with a smile.
The setting is exotic, but the high-quality care pets receive is business-as usual for Hawley. “If you brought your dog or cat into our clinic, you wouldn’t notice much difference from your veterinarian back in the States,” he says. “We’ve got state-of-the-art equipment, X-ray machines, a dental work station, digital processors, and the latest surgical instruments.”
Hawley also serves as a food inspector for the Corps. He travels throughout Turkey and to Cyprus, Greece, Bulgaria, and Armenia to ensure that companies producing food for the U.S. military meet quality standards. Hawley says his job sometimes feels like a scene from the movie Planes, Trains, and Automobiles.
Recently, he flew to Istanbul and took a taxi to the train station. From there he rode a train to the harbor to catch the next ferry. After a two-hour cab ride, he was finally able to inspect a company that supplies bottled water.
“Food inspection is the most frustrating, yet satisfying, part of my job,” the 39-year-old says. “It’s frustrating because of the travel, having to arrange for interpreters and so forth. But it is rewarding knowing that what I do can affect the lives and health of hundreds of thousands of service personnel and their families.”
Last year, Hawley received the 2007 Above and Beyond Award, which names the top veterinarian among the nearly 400 who serve in the corps.

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Veterinary History: Women & Minorities    Hoof and Mouth on the Mexican Border
On This Page:

A history of veterinary medicine in recent years

Please be patient

On Other Pages:

The History of Veterinary Medicine: Introduction

Veterinary medicine before 1800






Veterinary Time Line USA:





Veterinary History:  South Carolina

Veterinary History: Women & Minorities

Our site about the love and veterinary care of pets: Animal Pet Doctor

Veterinary History of South Carolina

Veterinary Medicine: Women & Minorities

More than 45,000 veterinarians currently practice medicine in the United States, primarily in private hospitals and clinics. Of these, about 60 percent treat small animals such as cats and dogs exclusively; about 10 percent treat large animals such as cattle and other livestock; and some 5 percent specialize in horses. The remainder treat both large and small animals. About 9,000 veterinarians in the United States work in corporations or public institutions, such as pharmaceutical companies, colleges or universities, or in local, state, or federal government agencies such as the United States Army Veterinary Corps.

Pfizer introduces a vaccine for gum disease
(later taken off the market)

The first veterinary DNA tests become available

Military and government veterinarians are involved in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as througout the world.

2007:  Pfizer introduces the first FDA approved medication for weight loss that's 97% effective helping a lot of overweight dogs live longer, happier, healtier lives. 
2016 update: Pfizer Animal Health is now Zoeitis and Slentrol, the "miracle" weight loss product is no longer available.  I'm not quite sure what the problem was.

Dairy veterinarians work on farms around Yaroslavl, a city 200 miles northeast of Moscow, but rural poverty limits resources and education. Many veterinarians have not obtained adequate experience in surgical procedures, and even if they have, they may not have the tools to carry them out.

To offer his expertise, Ellis went to Yaroslavl March 15 April 2005 to meet farmers and veterinarians. He trained veterinarians to carry out efficient and safe surgeries and also taught cattle breeding methods.

He was volunteering with a project called Farmer-to-Farmer, a U.S. Agency for International Development organization that gives technical assistance to farmers and agriculturally based businesses in developing countries. Farmer-to-Farmer cooperates with eight "implementing agencies." One of the agencies that works in Russia is called ACDI/VOCA, which is dedicated to worldwide poverty alleviation and economic growth.

This was Ellis' eighth assignment with Farmer-to-Farmer. He first became involved with the program in 1987 when he traveled to Honduras as a consultant for the Peace Corps. Since then, he has completed two other assignments in Honduras, four in Russia and one assignment last year in Ethiopia.

Describing the value of the Farmer-to-Farmer experience, Ellis said there is "a lot to learn about different areas, different breeds of cows and different problems." For example, in Ethiopia's fledging dairy industry, cows are milked mostly by hand.

One problem facing dairy farming in rural Russia, Ellis said, is a lack of adequate housing for cow herds. As a result of barn shortages, cows produce about 8,800 pounds of milk per year, less than half of what they could, and should, be giving.

During his three weeks in Yaroslavl, Ellis trained two young vets to perform Caesarian sections on cows. Operating with few resources, Ellis noted, had not deterred the doctors from unwavering dedication to their work. They were eager to learn ways to improve the lives of the cows and enhance Russia's dairy industry.

The veterinary officer in the above picture is Indian.

Much of what I've written on this page is more about the United States... partly because the United States is still the source of much of the world's inventions, energy, and action ... and partly because, as a U.S. veterinarian and U.S Army veteran, I am most familiar with my own country.

But I wanted to make it clear that health organizations and veterinarians all over the world are working, often in harmony, to improve the lives of farm animals, to improve the quality of the world's food supply, to fight and control disease.

Most countries now have very dynamic veterinary universities that include agricultural extension services.  Sharing of veterinary medical information and the training of veterinary graduate students from all over the world is common in veterinary schools.

Many veterinary schools sponsor veterinary projects and good works all over the world.

Many veterinarians from many developed countries ... especially those in semi retirement... volunteer to go all over the world for mission work ... usually doing herd health work.

In a world full of devisive politics, hatred, and mistrust, you'll be pleased to know that when it comes to veterinary medicine, as well as related disciplines in agriculture and science, the world get's along quite well. 
This page is in it's first draft... I will edit this page soon .... please be patient. 
Roger Ross April 2016