HUMANE SOCIETY: Hug your veterinarian |

HUMANE SOCIETY: Hug your veterinarian

Dawn Armstrong
Special to the Tribune

With events beginning worldwide this month, World Veterinary Year marks the 250th anniversary of professional Veterinary Medicine.

The Vet2011 National Committee notes that the world’s first veterinary school was founded in Lyon, France, in 1761. Shortly thereafter the Alfort veterinary school near Paris was established. It is the oldest school in the world remaining on its original site.

Both institutions came about due to the vision of French veterinarian Claude Bourgelat. By setting up the world’s first formal veterinary training facilities, Vet2011 states that Claude Bourgelat not only established veterinary education but also created the veterinary profession itself.

The School of Alfort featured three different curricula: one for future veterinarians, one for inspectors of stud farms and a specific program for military veterinarians. In 1761, study was pretty much limited to the horse. Horses were critical to society since they provided transportation as well as “horse power” for agriculture and war.

Vet2011 also highlights that Bourgelat’s collaboration with surgeons in Lyon was the first time a scientist dared to suggest that studying animal biology and pathology would help to improve the understanding of human biology and pathology.

Therefore, 2011 also marks the 250th anniversary of the concept of comparative pathobiology, upon which modern medicine emerged.

According to the American Animal Hospital Association, the word “veterinarian” was first used in the mid 1600s. Early animal treatment specialists learned by watching and experimentation. In 1853 the first veterinary school was established in the Americas, the National Autonomous University of Mexico. Four years later, in 1857, the New York College of Veterinary Surgeons came into being. However, not until 1879 was it required that animal surgeons must be graduates of “established and reputable veterinary schools or colleges.” It was then that veterinarians joined the learned ranks of teachers and human medical professionals.

Today, a student with a Bachelor’s degree can apply to 28 four-year veterinary colleges accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association. Attendance is full-time to achieve a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree.

UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine lists 14 areas of special interest at this level, from academic to zoo animals.

Some graduates choose an optional one-year internship. A specialist accreditation requires a three- to four-year residency, meaning a total of eight years of study beyond a pre-veterinary degree. Passing the National Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners test is a universal requirement to qualify for a state license to practice. Each state veterinary medical board oversees standards of practice and continuing education.

– Provided by the Lake Tahoe Humane Society and Society for the Prevention of Cruelty of Animals to help “Keep Tahoe Kind.” Dawn Armstrong is the executive director of the Lake Tahoe Humane Society and SPCA.

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