History of Veterinary Medicine in Washington
| The college of Veterinary Medicine at
Washington State University was founded in 1899 beginning with a single $60
shed. It is the fifth oldest veterinary college in the United States and sixth
oldest among the veterinary colleges in the U.S. and Canada. |
From these modest beginnings, the Washington State University College of
Veterinary Medicine has developed into a multi-million dollar state-of-the-art
complex serving the entire Pacific Northwest.
The Life and Times of
the Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine by
Ghery D. Pettit,
DVM Professor Emeritus, Veterinary Surgery (1926-2009). Speech presented in 1999
to the WSU Retired Faculty Association
Milestones in the History of Veterinary Medicine in Washington
1853 - 1889
Washington territorial days--there is no regulated control of veterinary
Nov. 11, 1889
Washington is granted statehood.
Mar. 28, 1890
House Bill No. 90 is signed into law creating the State Agricultural College and
School of Science located at Pullman.
Dec. 1, 1891
The Board of Regents creates the position of Chair of Veterinary Science.
Jan. 13, 1892
The State Agricultural College, Experiment Station and School of Science located
in Pullman opens its doors to students. The original Land Grant legislation
(Morrill Act) specifies that one of the major subjects to be taught is,
"veterinary art." Charles E. Munn, a veterinarian, is among the first six
Munn leaves in the wake of political turmoil. The position of Chair of
Veterinary Science is abolished.
Sept. 3, 1895
The Washington Legislature creates the office of State Veterinarian specifying
that they also be the Professor of Veterinary Science at the college and a
member of the State Board of Health. Sofus Bertelson Nelson, a native of
Denmark, an Iowa State College graduate, and Spokane practitioner, is appointed
to the post by the Board of Regents. Veterinary activities begin immediately at
the college. The original curriculum is not a professional program but is a
series of courses intended to supplement agriculture courses or provide
preliminary training for students wishing to transfer to another school to
complete veterinary degrees. Tuition and room fees are free for Washington
Nov. 19, 1895
The Board of Regents authorizes President Enoch A. Bryan to have a, "shed
constructed at the south end of the armory for the veterinary department, the
cost not to exceed $60.00."
The "School of Veterinary Science" is made a major division of the college
admitting its first class of three students to the new three-year professional
curriculum. This date is considered to be the official birth of today's College
of Veterinary Medicine at Washington State University. Classes, laboratories,
and the animal hospital are relocated to the newly completed Science Hall, later
to be called Arts Hall, and today known as Murrow East. The clinic begins as a
free service on one day a week only. Ailing animals are often temporarily
pastured on the lawns of campus.
Two of the first three veterinary students graduate.
A four-year curriculum leading to a B.S. is introduced alongside the
three-year curriculum. The curricula are conducted simultaneously until 1917
when the three-year program is abolished. Also this year, Wyatt E. Ralston, an
Ohio State graduate, is added to the faculty as, "house surgeon." His salary is
$900 per year.
Mar. 11, 1907
The first state Veterinary Practice Act is signed into law granting the governor
the power to appoint an examining board composed of three graduate
veterinarians, one to be the state veterinarian. All graduate veterinarians in
the state are required to show proof of graduation by July 1. Non-graduate
veterinarians who've practiced in the state for not less than two years are
grandfathered in. Interestingly, graduates of human medical schools can become
licensed veterinarians in Washington simply by showing proof of graduation.
The first annual Vet-Pharmic football game is played. The event becomes a major
campus attraction until 1957 when the advent of modern protective gear and
concerns for student safety saw the contest fade away. The Pharmics are said to
have won only three to four games over the years. For a time basketball games
take the place of the football game but they lack the same appeal and they too,
disappear in the 1960s. The annual football game is followed each year by the
Hobo Dance. For the dance, male students and faculty grow their beards out in
honor of the vagrant namesake of the dance. Dancing, drink, and merriment often
flow into the following morning. It too, is done away with in 1957 after a
particularly raucous occasion also raises concerns for student safety.
A new three story, brick veterinary science building is erected on the Pullman
campus. A two-story brick building is constructed at 225 Indiana Ave. in Spokane
and established as a satellite teaching hospital.
Jan. 13, 190
The first official meeting of veterinarians in the state of Washington for the
purpose of forming an association takes place in Seattle. J. Hilton is elected
the first president of the new Washington State Veterinary Medical Association.
Apr. 6, 1911
Dean Nelson recommends a schedule of fees to the Board of Regents: "For the
hospital at Pullman, 60 cents per day for feed and care. For floating horses
teeth, 50 cents. All other treatment in the hospital, free." The first dog
ambulance is purchased for $300.
Washington's legislature creates the state's Department of Agriculture. Harry T.
Graves (WSU '10) a veterinarian is named Acting Commissioner of Agriculture.
Nov. 13, 1914
Two cars of cattle enroute from Wisconsin to Roy, Wash. arrive in Spokane.
Animal health officials have previously been warned that the animals had been
exposed to foot-and-mouth disease in a St. Paul, Minn. stockyard. Quick action
on the part of veterinarians, state agricultural officials, and a cooperative
owner, stops a potential outbreak before it can happen. The positive diagnosis
was made on Nov. 16 and by Nov. 21 all the cattle had been destroyed and
cremated and all temporary holding pens, litter, etc. had been burned.
The first Tri-State or Pacific Northwest Meeting of veterinarians is held in
Bellingham. As a region, the meetings continue until 1955 when Washington
withdraws to concentrate on in-state efforts.
The School of Veterinary Science becomes the College of Veterinary Science,
complete with deanship.
The first continuing education program for veterinarians is held in Pullman. It
is sponsored by the college and assisted by the fledgling state association and
Oct. 1, 1919
Nelson resigns as Dean of Veterinary Science to assume the post of Director of
Agricultural Extension. In 18 years of service, records show he personally
examined 149,182 animals. Cost of the services rendered is $45,000 total.
The college's first African-American student, Winfred A. Jordan, graduates.
Jordan is a transfer student from the soon-too-close San Francisco Veterinary
The Department of Licenses is created. Emerson Anton Ehmer (WSU '18) establishes
the first small animal hospital in Seattle. He goes on to a distinguished career
in the development and advancement of veterinary orthopedics. Today his original
hospital is known as the Seattle Emergency Hospital.
The Spokane hospital is closed and all teaching is transferred back to Pullman.
Ehmer reports the first successful treatment of a femoral head fracture in a dog
utilizing a plaster cast encircling the pelvis.
The College of Veterinary Science becomes the College of Veterinary Medicine.
The first roads are pushed into Ilwaco, Washington. Prior to this, all
transportation to the area was by boat, hindering veterinary care among the
Skagit County becomes the first county in Washington to begin a bovine
tuberculosis eradication program.
Washington appropriates extra funds to begin tuberculosis testing King County's
40,000 head of cattle. At the first testing, over 8,000 head are identified as
positive reactors. Herds of up to 150 head are often found 100 percent reactive.
It will take until 1988 before Washington is declared TB free.
Myron Thom (WSU '29) begins pioneering radiology as a science and therapeutic
modality in veterinary medicine.
AVMA accreditation of veterinary colleges begins. WSC's College of Veterinary
Medicine is immediately accredited and has maintained uninterrupted
accreditation ever since.
Washington State College graduates its first female veterinarian, Catherine
Elizabeth Roberts. She goes on to be the first licensed female veterinarian in
California and is among only twelve in the nation at the time.
Washington begins a statewide brucellosis eradication program. It will not be
until 1988 that the state is declared brucellosis free.
The curriculum is increased from four to five years with one year outside the
The State Department of Agriculture and the State Board of Health initiate the
first ever meat inspection regulations in Washington. C. L. Norris is appointed
to head up the service by Marvin Hales, supervisor of Dairy and Livestock. Also
this year, the five year veterinary curriculum at WSC is discontinued. Freshman
enrollment is limited to 40 students.
Dean Wegner spends six months touring Europe examining veterinary facilities for
ideas to be used in expanding the college's facilities.
Washington's bovine brucellosis program is changed from a "cattle reduction"
program to a "disease eradication" program. This signals a major shift in
thinking in herd health management.
Following a series of discussions between J. E. Schillinger, superintendent of
disease control for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Dean E. E. Wegner of
the College of Veterinary Medicine at WSC, a cooperative agreement is signed
whereby the U.S. Bureau of Biological Survey and the college embark on research
work into the diseases of fur bearing animals. Frank McKenney is the first
veterinarian employed to start the work. The strong and productive relationship
now under the administration of the USDA continues today.
Ehmer begins working with the Kirschner Manufacturing Company of Vashon,
Washington to develop the Kirschner-Ehmer half-pin splint. The device and
modifications are used by more veterinarians than any other form of external
Only Virginia leads Washington among all 50 states in brucellosis eradication.
It has been a monumental veterinary effort recognized nationwide and especially
in Washington due to its rugged geography and harsh winter weather. Also,
faculty member E. C. McCulloch publishes,
Disinfection and Sterilization
. It is the first book ever written by an
active member of the WSC College of Veterinary Medicine faculty.
The Washington State Veterinary Medical Association is incorporated. Federal
authorities request that eligible veterinary students apply for commission as
1st Lieutenants in the Medical Administration Corps so that they can continue
their education without interruption by their local draft boards. And, what will
become McCoy Hall in 1952 is completed in September.
The majority of veterinary students resign their commissions in the Medical
Administration Corps to join the Enlisted Reserve Corps and are assigned duty in
the Army Specialized Training Program, also known as the notorious, ASTP.
Specifically, the group's name is Company C AST Unit No. 3923. In July, the
company is activated and sent to Ft. Lewis for induction. Five days later, they
are sent back to Pullman to complete their education. Freshmen and sophomores
are quartered in the Lambda Chi house, juniors and seniors in the Theta Chi
house. Reportedly, the Army has a difficult time enforcing a curfew among the
veterinary students since they are virtually the only men on a campus full of
women. What will become Wegner Hall in 1952 is completed and occupied.
The ASTP is broken up. Juniors are discharged in the summer and the new senior
class moves into the Sigma Phi Epsilon house and Ferry Hall. Following discharge
from ASTP, most apply for ranking as a 1st Lieutenant in the Veterinary Corps.
Eventually most are commissioned and see active duty, some even into the Korean
The first Borden Award is given in the college marking the beginning of annual
awards programs. Today the event, held each spring, awards over $110,000 to WSU
Fur bearing animal research at WSC is placed under the auspices of the U.S.
Bureau of Animal Industry. Later it will change again to the Animal Disease and
Parasite Research Branch of the Agricultural Research Service, USDA.
The first graduate degree ever awarded by the college is earned by one of its
alumni. John Gorham (WSU '46) earns his Masters of Science Degree in pathology
under D. R. Cordy. Later the pair go on to discover a rickettsia that is the
cause of salmon disease in dogs and foxes.
The first Junior Review is presented to the veterinary faculty and students. It
is a lighthearted series of skits and musical presentations which lampoon the
authority figures connected with veterinary education in Washington.
The South Puget Sound Veterinary Medical Association is started. Puyallup's
William F. Harris (WSU '43) is elected the first president.
The recently completed animal clinic and classroom-laboratory buildings are
named after J. E. McCoy and E. E. Wegner respectively. Long time colleagues and
rivals, McCoy was a clinical instructor and friend of the students, while Wegner
was the intellectual and administrator. Both separately served as dean of the
college during their careers. In April, the Iota chapter of Phi Zeta is
officially chartered at WSC. Although the Kappa Chapter of Alpha Psi precedes
Phi Zeta, and for a time they co-exist, Alpha Psi is no longer represented at
Radiology facilities at WSC are expanded into a new room measuring 37 by 23
feet. The main x-ray room is 23 by 21 feet and a laboratory lecture room fills
out the remainder. Modern, powerful equipment is installed including a GE
Maximar 250 III with medical x-ray head, mounted on an electrically operated jib
crane. A diagnostic unit manufactured by Standard X-ray Co. is mounted from the
ceiling. Upon completion, the WSC veterinary x-ray facility is the best in the
country and perhaps the world. Also this year, the leptospirosis barn capable of
housing 50 animals is completed.
Under the direction of George Stabenfeldt (WSC '55, '56, & '62), the junior
class of veterinary students enters the annual campus songfest. The presentation
of an original score, "Dystocia," is enough to win and marks the beginning of a
tradition of dominance of the event.
Distinguished veterinary pathologists, H. A. Smith and T. C. Jones (WSU '34)
publish the first edition of their landmark text, Veterinary Pathology
D. C. Blood and J. A. Henderson publish the first edition of Veterinary
. The book goes on to become the authoritative text on large animal
medicine for a generation of veterinary students. Henderson is dean of the WSU
College of Veterinary Medicine from 1963 to 1973.
Veterinary students are disqualified from competing in the annual campus
songfest after dominating the competition since 1955
committee rules that the contest is only for campus living groups and that the
veterinary students don't qualify.
The Equine Disease Laboratory is completed located on Airport Road on the
eastern fringe of campus
. Mar. 18, 1967
A five-person Education Committee is appointed by the WSVMA. It marks the first
direct administrative role the group plays in continuing education and
curriculum development at WSU.
The old mink farm is demolished and new facilities are occupied on Airport Road.
Over 5,140 pets are vaccinated against rabies in the South Puget Sound
Veterinary Medical Association Rabies Clinic Program.
Mar. 15, 1972
The WSVMA establishes the Foundation for Veterinary Medical Research, Inc. as a
A two-story addition is built on McCoy Hall. The space is used primarily for
faculty offices and research.
The Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory is officially created with
new funds from the legislature and existing resources. Today it is a fully
accredited facility and one of only a handful fully integrated with veterinary
Apr. 12, 1976
The WSVMA votes to authorize the hiring of Mel Gaumer, the group's first
Sept. 29, 1977
The Arthur H. Caine Veterinary Medical Center is dedicated in Caldwell, Idaho.
The center serves as the WOI program as the primary focus in production medicine
education for WSU WOI veterinary students.
A modern veterinary science building is completed and dedicated on the WSU
campus. Also, this is the year hog cholera is officially declared eliminated
The Washington-Oregon-Idaho Regional Program in Veterinary Medical Education is
formed after over seven years of discussion and preliminary agreements. Known as
WOI, the program also serves Alaska, Arizona, Hawaii, Montana, Nevada, New
Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming students through the Western Interstate Commission for
Higher Education (WICHE) compact. Since its creation the WOI program has served
as model for other cooperative veterinary education programs nationwide. This
year the AVMA holds its 116th annual meeting in Seattle.
June 22, 1979
The Tri-County Veterinary Medical Association is divided to form the constituent
local associations; the Snohomish County VMA and the Tri-County VMA.
Oct. 4, 1980
The Hitchcock Research Track is dedicated on the WSU campus. It is the only
horseracing facility of its type built for research purposes on a university
campus in the U.S.
For the first time in the college's history, more female than male students
apply and are admitted into the DVM program. The trend continues today with
female enrollment representing about 60 percent of all veterinary students. Also
this year, a major $12 million remodeling of Wegner Hall is completed.
A $3 million multi-purpose animal holding and care facility is completed
adjoining existing animal care facilities in the Bustad Veterinary Science
The veterinary science building is officially named for dean emeritus, Leo K.
Sept. 13, 1985
Greg Hanon is voted by the WSVMA to succeed Gaumer as the second legislative
The WSVMA establishes the Chemically Impaired Veterinarians' Program.
WSU introduced the first elective alternative laboratory
course on basic surgical techniques which uses cadavers of animals euthanized
for humane reasons to avoid use of surplus animals for than purpose.
The American Association for Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care grants
WSU's College of Veterinary Medicine full accreditation on the college's first
attempt. WSU is one of only a few such veterinary schools with full AAALAC
accreditation in North America.
Sept. 29, 1990
The Caring Call statue is dedicated on the WSU campus. It is the only bronze in
the country which depicts a human administering medical care to an animal. The
piece also represents the combined fundraising abilities of WSU alumni, faculty,
staff, students, and friends.
Governor Booth Gardner signs a state budget allocating nearly $30 million in
funds for construction of a new veterinary teaching hospital at WSU. Also, the
federal government provides nearly $1.2 million for detailed planning of an
animal disease biotechnology facility to be built near the new hospital. The
total federal building project exceeds $21.3 million.
The 128th Annual American Veterinary Medical Association meeting is held in
The Center for the Study of Animal Well-Being at Washington State
University is a cooperative effort between the College of Veterinary Medicine
and the Department of Animal Sciences in the College of Agriculture and Home
Economics. Its goal is to produce and distribute the best possible information
on what factors of animal care and use controlled by humans are truly in the
animals' best interest. The approximately $3 million privately funded center is
approved by the University Senate.
Dr. John Gorham was the 28th recipient of the WSU Regents'
Distinguished Alumnus Award.
Groundbreaking took place for the Animal Disease Biotechnology
The new Veterinary Teaching Hospital is opened.
The Center for Reproductive Biology is established, an
interdepartmental program involving 12 departments and 5 colleges at WSU.
The CL Davis Foundation for the Advancement of Veterinary and
Comparative Pathology honor Dr. John Gorham, Dr. Thomas Jones, class of 1935 and
Dr. Floris M. Garner, Class of 1950, former chairman of veterinary pathology at
the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in Washington D.C. by naming them
Legends in Veterinary Pathology.
Microbiologist Katherine O'Rourke, immunologist Timothy Baszler,
large animal clinician Steven Parish, class of 1973 and USDA Animal Disease
Research Unit Leader Donald Knowles announce the first practical preclinical
test for scrapie in sheep.
Dr. Leo Bustad, died of pneumonia at the age of 78.
The Animal Disease Biotechnology Facility (ADBF) opens.
The Veterinary College publishes a
Centennial History Book.
The Class of 2003 is formally welcomed to the Veterinary
Profession during the first White Coat Ceremony. The White Coat Ceremony creates
an important focus for students entering veterinary school. In the presence of
family, friends, and faculty members, student-veterinarians are welcomed into
the veterinary community and are “cloaked” with their first white coats.
Washington State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine
establishes a program to help people grieving the loss of a pet. The Pet Loss
Hotline acts as an outlet for people to share their feelings.
March 18 - 20, 1999
The Veterinary Students at WSU hosted the SAVMA
symposium which attracted ~900 Veterinary Students from across the country.
of this historic event.
Washington State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine
establishes a program to help people grieving the loss of a pet. The
Pet Loss Hotline
acts as an outlet for people to share their feelings.
Class of 2004
is formally welcomed to the Veterinary Profession during the
White Coat Ceremony.
Professor Warwick M. Bayly is named
permanent dean of Washington State University's College of Veterinary Medicine
Dr. Bayly has been at WSU for more than 20 years and was named the first,
four-year Robert B. McEachern Distinguished Professor in Equine Medicine in
1995. He has also served as the college's associate dean for continuing
education and interim chair of the Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences.
Class of 2005
is formally welcomed to the Veterinary Profession during the
White Coat Ceremony.
Reseacher Discovers Cause of Ivermectin Sensitivity in Collies
Class of 2006
is formally welcomed to the Veterinary Profession during the
White Coat Ceremony.
As part of the orientation program for the WSU Class of
2006, students were invited to participate in a two day off-campus experience at
Camp Twin Low outside of Rathdrum, Idaho. Over half of the class, in addition to
several students from the Classes of 2005 and 2004, administrators, and faculty,
took advantage of this opportunity to get to know each other prior to the
beginning of classes.
Dedication of the
Dr. Richard Ott
Small Animal Medicine and Research Center
May 2003 WSU veterinary college
landmark heart surgery
attracts national media attention
Accreditation with Honors from AAHA
Freshman Camp for Class 2007
White Coat Ceremony Class 2007
National Institutes of Health Awards
$10 Million for
to WSU Faculty