Veterinarians, armed with expertise and a wealth of knowledge, help save animals every minute of every day. To honor the work they do, World Veterinary Day, on April 29, is a day set aside to celebrate and acknowledge the life-saving work carried out by veterinarians all over the world.
In honor of World Veterinary Day, we’ve compiled a list of some fun facts about veterinarians and the veterinary profession:
- Egyptian hieroglyphs from around 3000 BCE record the use of herbs for domestic animals as a way to treat disease and to promote good health.
- The first written accounts of veterinary medicine can be found in Vedic texts from India dated around 1500 BCE, and Egyptian texts dated to approximately 1900 BCE.
- The first veterinary school was founded in Lyon, France, in 1761 (and is still in operation).
- The oldest accredited veterinary school in the United States still in operation is the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine, founded in 1884.
- In 1889, Dr. Henry Stockton was the first African American to obtain a veterinary medicine degree in the United States.
- In 1903, Mignon Nicholson was the first woman to earn a veterinary degree in the United States.
- As of 2010, women made up 80 percent of enrolled veterinary students in the United States, a sharp gender turn in a field that was once considered a male profession.
- Zoltán Magyar, men’s Olympic gold medal gymnast in 1976 and 1980, is a veterinarian in Hungary.
- Miss America 1990, Debbye Turner, also is a veterinarian.
- Dr. Martin Fettman is the first veterinarian in space, flying aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia in 1993 as a payload specialist.
- Dr. Peter Doherty is the only veterinarian to win a Nobel Prize; jointly awarded in 1996 for his work in immunology.
- High-altitude mountaineer Ed Viesturs, the only American to have climbed all 14 of the world’s 8,000 meter peaks, has a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Washington State University.
- There are 35 accredited colleges of veterinary medicine in the United States and Canada, compared to 179 accredited medical schools in the United States alone.
- Morris Animal Foundation was founded by a veterinarian.
Dr. Mark Morris Sr., who established Morris Animal Foundation in 1948, was committed to solving important animal health problems. He embodied the passion of the veterinary community, looking for answers to sometimes difficult topics.
His most noted accomplishment was linking animal health problems to nutrition and creating health-promoting diets for pets. He founded Morris Animal Foundation to provide funding to improve the diagnosis and treatment of diseases that impact the daily lives of animals. Learn more about our work and the life-saving animal health research we fund.