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250th Anniversary of the Veterinary Profession


Veterinarians play a huge part in the lives of our pets. We would like to show our appreciation by informing everyone that 2011 has been declared World Veterinary Year.

In the waning days of the 111th Congress, the House of Representatives followed in the Senate’s footsteps by passing a resolution in early December marking the 250th anniversary of veterinary medicine and proclaiming 2011 as World Veterinary Year (see JAVMA, Aug. 15, 2010, page 346).

Introduced by the two veterinarians elected to Congress—Sen. John Ensign of Nevada and Rep. Kurt Schrader of Oregon—the congressional proclamation acknowledges the valuable role veterinarians have played in society since the world’s first veterinary school was established in Lyon, France, in 1761.

The entire world joins in celebrating the veterinary profession, which has been working to improve both animal and human health for the past 250 years. Veterinary organizations within 78 countries are expected to observe the 2011 milestone with special events throughout the year. A brief history of the beginning makes for an interesting and fascinating read.

The world’s first veterinary school was founded in Lyon, France, in 1761, shortly followed by the Alfort veterinary school, near Paris, in 1764, both of them at the initiative of French veterinarian Claude Bourgelat. This means that 2011 will mark the 250th world anniversary of veterinary education.

By setting up the world’s first veterinary training institutions, Bourgelat created the veterinary profession itself. Thus, 2011 will also mark the 250th world anniversary of the veterinary profession.

Bourgelat’s genius did not stop there. As a result of his fruitful collaboration with surgeons in Lyon, he was also the first scientist who dared to that studying animal biology and pathology would help to improve our understanding of human biology and pathology. And as such, 2011 also marks the 250th anniversary of the concept of comparative pathobiology, without which modern medicine would never have emerged.
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When you visit your vet this year, give them a hug and let them know you’re happy they do what they do!

For more information visit Vet 2011, or see their World Veterinary Year Calendar of Events.


About Author

Devoted pet owner and now, devoted pet editor, Judi worked in traditional offices, keeping the books and the day-to-day operations organized. Taking her dog to work every day for over a decade never seemed odd. Neither did having an office cat. She knows what it's like to train a new puppy and she's experienced the heartache of losing beloved companions. Retired, she currently lives with her spoiled dog and four chickens (who are, interestingly enough, also spoiled).


  1. The veterinary field has changed so much in just the last 15 years I have been a part of it! Yes the costs have increased but the new discoveries & care provided has provided its own proof that it works! Look how much longer pets are now living! The other day I met 2 cats – one was 19 years old & the other was 20. You NEVER would have guessed they were that old by looking at them! They looked more like between 11-15 years old. They looked great! I know a 20 year old poodle who is blind & deaf but not on any medications & still has full control of his bodily functions! Obviously we are doing something right as pet owners & we couldn’t do it without our veterinarians!! However I do wish I saw more compassion in the veterinary field. Sometimes it seems to be about the $$ vs the personalize care.

    Shannon Cole – Shannon’s Pet-Sitting
    Compassionate , Professional, Better Business Bureau Accredited Pet Care.
    Serving Suburban Lake, Cook, & Kane Counties in Illinois.

  2. Thanks for the brief history of Veterinary Medicine, I found it pretty interesting. Veterinary medicine and it capabilities have changed along with the other professions around us. Every veterinarian has compassion, if money was their interest, they would have picked another profession because it is not a lucrative profession. As does the rest of the world, they also have bills to pay and a life to live.

  3. Even the way we have dealt with the loss of pets seems to be different. There is great demand for at home pet euthanasia. Along with pet hospice care services our profession is understanding how strong the human animal bond is.

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