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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Important Figures In Veterinary History

If you've followed my blog for a while you may have come across me mentioning an interest in history.  So when I received an email mentioning an article on a site that was entitled Veterinary Hall of Fame:10 Veterinarians Who Made History, I was intrigued.  I went there and found a few interesting things that I hadn't known, especially regarding Bernhard Bang (discovered brucellosis), Louis Camuti (the first feline-only practitioner), and Elmo Shropshire (wrote "Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer").

However, on this list of ten historically important vets, I noticed some glaring omissions.

James Herriot (James Alfred Wright):  British veterinarian who wrote of his experiences and has been a huge influence on many of us in practice.  How can you have a list of influential vets without him?
Sonny Purdue:  A former veterinarian who went into politics and became governor of Georgia.
Scott Campbell:  Whatever you think of corporate practices, he was certainly influential by creating and developing what is now known as Banfield Pet Hospital.  This is the largest veterinary practice in the world, with almost 800 locations across the US.
Marty Becker:  The list above includes several TV personalities in various countries, but doesn't include Dr. Becker?  He has written numerous books and has been on national TV and radio.
Peter Ostrum:  You may not know the name, but you know who he is.  Dr. Ostrum was Charlie in the original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (the Gene Wilder one).  He left entertainment and went on to be a currently practicing large animal vet.
Martin Fettman:  Again, not a well-known name, even among vets, but an important accomplishment.  He was the first veterinarian to participate in a mission on the space shuttle.

And these are just people I thought of off the top of my head (okay, I did have to Google Dr. Fettman, but I knew of veterinarian astronauts).  I'm sure others can think of other equally important people in veterinary medicine.

And yes, I did respond back to the site, suggesting the above additions.


  1. I love that Charlie (or shall I say, Peter) chose veterinary school over a career in entertainment. That's especially cool for me since I live in LA & am surrounded by entertainment (my husband is a director/actor/writer). Everyone here just assumes you want to be an actress.

    I usually get one of two responses when I say I am studying to work in vet medicine: 1) a weird sideways glance that screams "why, you idiot" or 2) expressions of jealousy.

  2. I got the first James H. novel when I was 15, paid for with my own hard earned pocket money, and enjoyed all of them in their turn. I had already decided to be a vet almost 10 years before, but I appreciated his humour... and sadness. He set the tone for many people about how vets should be - a hard, in fact impossible, act to follow!

  3. Yep Alf Wright (a classic) - James Herriot (a fictional character based on Alf Wright) and the tv series ALL CREATURES GREAT AND SMALL was a wonderful, quite hilarious and addictive tv programme. The actor who played Herriot was forever being taken for being a real vet - which he often tells his loyal fans - meant that he found it very, very hard to get an acting job when the series finished because people really believed he was a vet.

    No list of vets in history would be complete without a mention of Alf Wright so delighted you pointed this out (as well as the other omissions).

    Interesting post.


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