The information here was from a speech given by Dean Smith of Cornell and the material was researched by Laura Finkle
Also on this page are other pictures, articles, and tributes to women veterinarians that I thought interesting.
American veterinarians of both genders are doing some very interesting things around the world.
In addition to the veterinarians that care for our beloved pets, horses, farm and zoo animals ...
Many vets work for our government in food safety jobs, The Center for Disease Control, in medical and pharmaceutical research, and in teaching. And many others work around the world doing missionary work or working for government or non goverment agencies helping less developed countries with herd health, poultry and other important programs.
But this page is devoted to women veterinarians. As you will read, the very first women vets had a difficult time establishing successful veterinary practices
There are many more links to our other pages below on your left. There is a complete directory of links at the bottom of the page.
Florence Kimball; The First woman veterinarian
From the Cornell web site :
A native of Worcester, Massachusetts, Florence Kimball entered Cornell in the fall of 1907 and graduated with 21 men three years later. She returned to Massachusetts and renovated a stable in Newtonville in which she opened a small-animal hospital. Though relatively little is known about her practice, there is no reason to believe that it was not successful. In fact, in the January following her graduation, Dean Veranus Moore received a letter from Dr. Kimball indicating that her caseload was more than ample
Within a relatively short period of time, however, Dr. Kimball left veterinary medicine to enter the nursing profession. She trained at a hospital in the Boston area, may have served in the Army Nurses' Corps during World War I, and later worked at the State University Hospital in Oklahoma City, where she spent the remainder of her career. She died on her farm outside Oklahoma City in 1947.
Two years before Florence Kimball matriculated, Stella de Liancount Berthier entered the College with aspirations of becoming a veterinarian. The young woman was recommended to Dean James Law by Professor Hobday of the Royal Veterinary College in London. Miss Berthier steamed across the Atlantic on a Cunard luxury liner, the Luciania, and commenced classes in the fall of 1905. Her interests unfortunately did not extend beyond her love of dogs. After several letters rebuking Dean Law for the difficulty of the curriculum, she abandoned her studies in disgust later that fall.
In retrospect, one can imagine that our early faculty and administrators, having seen their first female student drop out in a matter of weeks and the second one forsake veterinary medicine for a career in nursing, might have been less than enthusiastic about admitting more women. After a 15-year pause, however, Cornell resumed its course of leadership and began admitting women on a regular basis - albeit, in modest numbers - many years before peer institutions adopted a similar policy. The women chosen were ready for the challenge.
The next chapter in this story begins with a most determined 17-year-old woman. Her name was Helen Goldhaft, daughter of Arthur D. Goldhaft, a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania's veterinary class of 1910.
The Goldhaft family resided in Vineland, New Jersey, just 40 miles across the Delaware River from Philadelphia. Helen was bright, ambitious, and wanted to follow in her father's footsteps and become a veterinarian. Alas, Dean Louis A. Klein of the University of Pennsylvania would not accept her - Helen's younger brother, Tevis, remembers the rationale being that "there were no facilities for women at Penn."
Not to be dissuaded, Helen enrolled in the New Jersey College for Women (now Douglass College, part of Rutgers University), where she excelled academically. In 1929, her father met Dean Pierre Fish of Cornell at a conference in Detroit. When Dr. Goldhaft told the dean what had happened, Fish said that his daughter should come to Cornell - and that her year at the New Jersey College for Women qualified her for a scholarship. Helen joined the Class of 1933 later that fall, becoming the fifth woman to graduate with a Cornell DVM.
The Goldhafts' son, Tevis, also aspired to become a University of Pennsylvania veterinarian. However, his father insisted that his two children should be together in college, so Tevis joined his sister at Cornell as a member of the Class of 1935.
Between studies in veterinary college, Helen met Nathan Wernicoff, Class of 1931. They eloped on October 7, 1932. They kept their union a secret until after her graduation so that she would not lose the dormitory privileges that were available only to single students.
The Drs. Wernicoff moved to Forest Hills, New York, where they operated a small-animal practice. Six years and two children later, they moved to Vineland and became partners with Helen's father and brother in a company called Vineland Poultry Laboratories. Originally established by the senior Dr. Goldhaft to perform tube agglutination tests for local hatchery operators, the laboratory soon expanded to include the manufacture of live-virus fowl pox, pigeon pox, and laryngotracheitis vaccines. The Goldhafts supplied their vaccines to farms throughout the U.S. and overseas.
The Goldhaft family was involved actively in Vineland Poultry Laboratories until they sold the company in 1970. After Helen's husband died in 1976, she retired to Coral Gables, Florida, where she remained until her death in 1997.
Tevis Goldhaft still lives in Haverford, Pennsylvania. He is proud that his sister led him to Cornell some 71 years ago, and that her significant accomplishments in the field of poultry medicine are still recognized today
Cornelia Jaynes, 1927 became the third female graduate of the college. After spending a year as a research technician at the Rockefeller Institute, she opened her own practice on a farm in Princeton, New Jersey. In 1951, she established the Small Animal Veterinary Endowment (SAVE), which rescued strays and provided neutering services regardless of the clients’ ability to pay. Dr. Jaynes was never able to raise enough funds to build a shelter. She died on her farm April 15, 1969. Two years later, SAVE merged with another organization and, together, they were able to build the shelter of which Dr. Jaynes had dreamed, on the very land where she had spent 40 years caring for the community’s animals.
Gertrude Fisher Kinsey, 1936 received her degree. Before entering the veterinary college she had earned an arts degree from Cornell, studied for two years in medical school, and done a serious stint as a professional dog breeder, handler, and judge. Upon graduation she became the first female member of the New York City Veterinary Medical Association. In a 1938 article she declared, "Women can handle animals better than men, who, I think, lack something necessary for this difficult work."
Marie was born in Ithaca in 1913 and received both her undergraduate and professional education at Cornell. With her graduation she became the eleventh female veterinarian in the United States. According to her son James, who is also a Cornell-trained veterinarian, Marie was a dynamic person of unlimited energy. She was first employed at Webber Brothers Dog and Cat Hospital in Rochester, then joined her father's Jamestown practice. In addition to building her mixed-practice clientele, she also performed regulatory tuberculosis and brucellosis testing for New York State.
Dr. Koenig met her future husband, Raymond "Fred" Olson, while treating his English setter for canine distemper. According to family lore, the dog pulled through, and owner and veterinarian became a couple. After they married, Fred went off to World War II while Marie stayed behind to care for a newborn daughter and tend the business. After the war, the Olsons decided that Raymond should go to veterinary college to enable the family business to expand. In 1948, he began coursework at Jamestown Community College, from which he continued to Alfred University. He matriculated at Cornell in the Class of 1957.
During that period Dr. Olson shouldered the entire responsibility for her family, tending to two children and to her father, who had congestive heart failure, while fighting her own battle with Parkinson's disease, running the practice, doing state regulatory work, and putting her husband through college. Her son testifies that this was a monumental burden, but one that she accepted without complaint, as it was "just expected".
Some of the practice ideals that Marie Olson instituted are worth mentioning: v-trough restraint methods, the use of IV fluids, isolation wards with separate air flows, and a passion for continuing education. She also established protocols before her time for treating liver and inflammatory bowel disease.
After her husband graduated as the "old guy" of the Class of 1957, the Olsons built a modern small-animal veterinary hospital. The clinic incorporated new thinking with skylights in every part of the building, radiant hot-water-heated floors, the first computer cash register in the area, a modern surgery suite with prep and treatment areas, a well equipped laboratory with an early Coulter counter, avian anesthesia equipment, and epoxy-painted walls for easy clean-up.
Dr. Olson was also a community leader and activist. Along with such people as Amelia Earhart, she was a charter member of Zonta International, an organization of executives in business and the professions working together to advance the status of women worldwide. But when the National Organization for Women approached her for leadership support, she said, "Why would I ever want to join an organization of wannabees when I have it all … To join NOW would be a step down!"
Marie Koenig Olson was a "ra-ra-ra" Cornellian who raised her children to recognize the value of a great education. Her children were given free access to anything scientific, practical, or mechanical. She encouraged her daughter to go to Cornell, where she received a baccalaureate and two master's degrees. Her son James, a member of the veterinary college's Class of 1973, is now a feline specialist in Colorado. In November 1970, while her son was in the midst of his second-year veterinary examinations, Dr. Olson succumbed to a stroke at the end of a day spent working in the career she had always loved.
Following a year in private practice in Charleston, West Virginia, Dr. O'Connor married a classmate, John Lewis Halloran, Jr. They moved to Staten Island, where the two of them worked in his father's general veterinary practice.
In 1942, at the height of the Second World War, Dr. O'Connor accepted a call to serve as veterinarian at the Staten Island Zoo. She was initially hired on an interim basis, chosen only because there were no men available to fill the position during the war. She soon gained national recognition in zoo medicine and education, and the zoo was fortunate enough to keep her on for 28 years.
Dr. O'Connor wrote numerous articles, but even more were written about her. She was an icon in the veterinary world, not so much because of her gender - though that was clearly an issue of great interest - but because of the manner in which she blended zoo medicine with public education and scientific writing, most notably in her 1955 compendium and bibliography on the pathology of wild birds and mammals.
Dr. O'Connor and Dr. Halloran raised three children born between 1941 and 1944. After her husband died, Dr. O'Connor kept his small-animal practice going while continuing to carry out her zoo responsibilities. In 1998, as a capstone to her zoo career, a wonderful dinner-tribute was held on Staten Island to honor her legacy. The following year, Patricia O'Connor retired to Indiana, where she could be near family and friends. She died there on July 8, 2003.
Andre Moul Ross is pictured above; the only female veterinary student in Cornell's Class of 1943.
All the men in this picture were also military officer cadets. Andre Moul became a Ross by marrying Donale Ross, an engineering student at Cornell.
The vast majority of new veterinary graduates in the United States are now women. This picture was too cool not to post. Zoo vets (all women) working on a polar bear ! Speaking of cool. Our profession in general is pretty cool but zoo vets are the coolest of all.
Pictured above: Dr Dorothy Segal 1943 Graduate of my alma mater; Michigan State. There were more women vets than usual in veterinary school in the early 1940's in great part because of the War. My first veterinary boss (Dr Watson Matthew of Rock Hill, SC) was a graduate during the War. The veterinary program he went through was condensed from 4 years to 3 years in order to get the new graduates into the service as soon as possible.
Marie Koenig Olson, Class of 1937
Like Johanna Asmus, Marie Koenig was the daughter of a faculty member. Her father, Fred F. Koenig, received his DVM from Cornell in 1909 and served as an ambulatory clinician until 1918. Professor Koenig was a popular teacher and a dynamic community leader. Koenig's wife, a friend and campaigner for Eleanor Roosevelt, was equally engaging, and politics were always an active topic of discussion at their dinner table.
After the end of the First World War, the perceived value of the horse declined precipitously. Dr. Koenig, whose practice at Cornell had been largely equine, moved his family to Jamestown, New York, and established Koenig's Dog and Cat Hospital.
Patricia O’Connor (Halloran), Class of1939
The veterinary classes of 1939 and 1940 had seven female graduates combined. Dr. Patricia O'Connor was one of three women from the Class of 1939. Drs. John Murray, Isidor Sprecher, Norbert Lasher, and Morris Erdheim were also members of that illustrious class. While recounting stories of the women of their era, these men always speak with great affection and admiration for Pat O'Connor. Born on the 29th of November, 1914, Patricia grew up in Buffalo, New York. As a young girl she would stop every afternoon on her way home from school at the fence of the local veterinarian and gaze with great interest at his menagerie of dogs, cats, and ponies. Determined to become a veterinarian herself, she attended the University of Alabama in 1933-34, then entered the veterinary class of 1939 at Cornell.
Rikki von Decken-Luers, 1939 practiced briefly in Connecticut and then spent sixteen years in the U.S. Virgin Islands as veterinarian-in-charge for the Department of the Interior. In 1962 she moved to Florida and started her own grooming and boarding service, which she maintained until her retirement.
Dr. Suzanne Saueressig, 1925-2013
Suzanne Saueressig, DVM, the first practicing female veterinarian in Missouri and a tireless advocate for the humane treatment of animals, died Friday, February 08, 2013 at age 88. She joined the Humane Society of Missouri in 1955 and served as chief of Veterinary Services from 1965 until 1997 and continued her veterinary practice at HSMO until 2010.
Born in Germany on Feb. 4,1924, Dr. Saueressig graduated from the University of Munich Veterinary College in 1953 and completed her doctoral dissertation magna cum laude in 1954. In 1955, she traveled to America to gain hands-on animal experience, intending to study for one year. Instead, she remained at the Humane Society of Missouri for the next 55 years.
When she joined the clinic, it was understaffed and underequipped. Two veterinarians – one part-time, one full-time – worked in two hot rooms attached to the animal shelter. Soon after joining the Humane Society, she was put in charge of the fledgling facility and its rotating staff of interns. One of the interns was Richard Riegel, DVM. They married in 1956 and resided in Richmond Heights. Dr. Riegel survives.
When Dr. Saueressig was named Chief of Staff in 1965, she began a crusade to update the clinic and add surgical facilities. Her first surgeries were spays and neuters of dogs belonging to Humane Society staff members. From the beginning of her career, Dr. Saueressig was an advocate for the need to spay and neuter pets as the means to end animal suffering caused by overpopulation. Unlike today, there was neither awareness of the need, nor inclination to limit pet reproduction. At the clinic, and in her weekly “Ask the Pet Doctor” column for the St. Louis Globe-Democrat (1979-1985), she unceasingly campaigned for the need to spay and neuter.
In 1972, she was honored as national “Woman Veterinarian of the Year” by the Women’s Veterinary Medical Association not only for her work on behalf of the profession but also for inspiring dozens of young people to become veterinarians. In 1983, she was honored as a Leader of Distinction and inducted into the YWCA Metro St. Louis Academy of Leaders. Dr. Saueressig also served on many veterinary and community organizations.
Dr. Saueressig is credited with developing the Humane Society of Missouri’s City Headquarters clinic into the vibrant animal hospital it is today. Together with the Westport Area and Chesterfield Valley Centers, the Humane Society of Missouri operates one of the largest veterinary practices in the Midwest.
2014 note: I edited this page today, but I first wrote this page in 2007 and I included the following tribute at that time. Since then, of course, there have been 7 more awards given out to exceptional women veterinarians. I'll leave it to you to find their stories.
I suspect that it won't be long before this category of rewards will no longer exist.... it will soon be remarkable only if a MAN wins the "Outstanding Veterinarian of the Year award" !
Tribute to Carla Carleton: 2007 Outstanding Woman Veterinarian of the Year
Dr. Carla L. Carleton, MSU associate professor of equine theriogenology, was named the 2007 Outstanding Woman Veterinarian of the Year by the Association for Women Veterinarians Foundation on Monday, July 16, 2007.
The award honors a woman graduate of an accredited veterinary school in recognition of special effort and achievement in any area of veterinary medicine. Winners are selected on the strength of their professional accomplishments.
Dr. Carleton is a very talented, board certified, equine theriogenologist. In addition to her clinical duties, and her years of teaching veterinary students and residents at Michigan State University, and previously at the Ohio State University, she has a long history of international collaboration.
One of her first international involvements, which began in 1992 (and continues today), was at a thoroughbred stud farm in India, where she worked with and trained equine veterinarians. Her activities have evolved to include continuing education for Indian equine veterinarians on a larger scale. In 1996, following invited lectures at a veterinary conference in Chiang Mai, she extended her reach to Bangkok and other provinces of Thailand. This collaboration with colleagues in Bangkok provides veterinary care in an underserved province in northern Thailand. Dr. Carleton and Dr. Siraya Chunekamrai initiated a study in Feb. 2003 to study the seroprevalence of equine disease in this part of the world, in what had been an area void of routine vaccinations and other preventive care. The initial results of the seroprevalence study were presented to the World Equine Veterinary Association in Marrakech, Morocco in 2006.
She and her colleagues (Chunekamrai and Nanna Luthersson) founded the Lampang Pony Clinic (LPC) in April 2004. The staff of the LPC continues to provide regular healthcare to the ponies and horses of Lampang and surrounding provincial villages. The building of the clinic was made possible by funds provided by the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA). The LPC provides preventive healthcare and medical treatment of colic and wounds, addresses problems linked with nutrition (deficits resulting from a rice-based local diet), and conducts quarterly continuing education meetings for the drivers of local pony carriages.
Dr. Carleton was a main instigator, co-chairperson, and lecturer/lab instructor of the first weeklong conference of the Indian Association of Equine Practitioners (IAEP) held in Pune, Maharashtra State, India in November 2003. At its closing ceremony she was recognized as the “Mother of the first IAEP Conference.” She is a pioneer in large-animal veterinary medicine, representing women in Southeast Asia, Northern Africa, and India, where there are few female veterinarians in large-animal practice. The team’s efforts (Drs. Chunekamrai, Carleton & Luthersson) extended into provision of veterinary care to native ponies in underserved areas in Cambodia in December 2006 and early 2007. Local Khmer veterinary graduates are receiving additional training at the LPC and with a mobile unit will begin to provide veterinary care to equids in rural Cambodian villages.
Dr. Carleton has partnered with equine veterinary practitioners in India, Thailand, Cambodia, and Morocco. Her nomination was supported by letters from veterinarians of six countries on three different continents. While she works on valuable racing and performance horses in the States, her passion lies with working equids essential to the success and survival of the village farmer/family economy.
Dr. Carleton has been involved in organized veterinary medicine in multiple capacities since receiving her DVM. She is currently in the AVMA House of Delegates (HOD) representing the Society for Theriogenology and, to date, has served in the HOD for fourteen years. She is a past-president of the American College of Theriogenologists and was the ACT’s representative to the American Board of Veterinary Specialties (ABVS) for nine years, serving on its Executive Board for three years and as ABVS’ first woman chairperson. A new foundation, ACT Globally, Inc. has been created to continue the veterinary projects serving these rural communities and their native ponies.
Discussion about problems related to the reproductive tract such as uterine infections, False Pregnancy, lack of milk, Infection of the mammary glands and trouble giving birth. But also fun stuff like new born care. Aso about undescended testicles.
Sylvia Burg Salk was one of the most interesting graduates of the mid-1940s. As an applicant, Sylvia had three strikes - maybe four - against her. In addition to being a woman, she was Jewish at a time when anti-Semitism was a reality in some academic circles, and she was young. She had also grown up in the Catskills, an area with very few veterinarians, so she had limited opportunity to gain experience in the animal-health field. This latter issue was remedied, at least in part, by a semester's leave-of-absence to work in New York City and learn - in her words - "what NOT to do" as a veterinarian.
After Sylvia's second rejection from Cornell, her mother journeyed from her home in Hunter, New York, to Ithaca to have a private conference with Dean William Arthur Hagan. Mrs. Burg, a petite and quiet - but determined - woman, advanced on the hallowed office of the dean of the College with a mission. To this day, Sylvia knows neither the substance nor the tenor of the conversation, but she was admitted to Cornell the following fall.
As with so many women of her era, Sylvia Burg met her husband at Cornell. In Sylvia's case, they met in anatomy class over the dead quarter of a horse. Following graduation, the Salks moved to Montpelier, Vermont, where Sylvia became the state's first female veterinarian. The Salks opened a joint practice with classmate George Brightenbach; Sylvia did the small-animal work while the other two looked after the large animals. The relationship ended one year later when Herman accepted a position in the virology department of Parke-Davis Labs.
The Salks' next move was to a farm in western Pennsylvania, where Herman reared laboratory mice. His salary of $100 per month was supplemented by raising boxers and running a practice out of their home. The table was either cleared for surgery or cleared of surgical instruments for dinner. Those were also the days when Herman's brother, Jonas Salk, was feverishly working at the nearby University of Pittsburgh to develop a killed vaccine against polio. The children of the two families grew up together during this period in the mid-1950s when the vaccine was being developed and tested. In 1954, however, Herman and Sylvia moved their children to California and opened a small-animal practice in the desert.
Always intrigued by other cultures, the Salks began their international involvement in the late 1960s by hosting African exchange students in their home. In 1975, Sylvia and her two daughters went to Tanzania to visit her oldest son, Steven. A recent graduate of the UC-Davis veterinary program, Steven was working with the Masai tribe as part of a USAID program. Once Sylvia returned and persuaded Herman to visit, the inoculation was complete. A whole new aspect of their lives opened, and they became fascinated with the problems of the developing world. They sold their practice and answered an advertisement in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association for Heifer Project International. During the next several years, they embarked on a series of tours of duty in Cameroon, Egypt, Thailand, China, and Laos. They later returned to the U.S. to work in the Southwest with the Navajo and Hopi nations. Their collective experiences were remarkable. They lived under conditions that were as satisfying as they were challenging. They taught vaccination strategies, production medicine, nutrition, and management. They made a difference and left places better than they had found them.
In 1990 Sylvia enrolled in a master's degree program in international public health at Loma Linda University. As the oldest student and the only veterinarian at the time, she was able to bring a broader perspective to the program, especially on the subject of zoonotic diseases. For example, she reminded faculty and students alike to check cattle for scabies while treating villagers for the same condition, and described techniques for raising ducks and pigs over the fish ponds. Her life experiences were shared for the benefit of all.
After returning from the Cameroon project in 1978, the Salks established a scholarship program for African students to come to college in North America. Limited to the health sciences, education, and agriculture, the program has so far benefited 32 African students. A young Masai woman currently enrolled in a master's degree program at Indiana University of Pennsylvania has become the first woman of her tribe ever to pursue an advanced degree.
Cardiology Heart disease in Cats, Cardiac Hypertrophy, Valvular disease, Cardiac Insufficiency, Congestive Heart Failure, Heartworm Disease, and a little history about the milestones in treating heart disease
Cats: general information page and directory of diseases and problems specific to cats including vaccine recommendations, leukemia, feline viral infections, feline upper respiratory disease and cats that just aren't feeling well.