FIND A VETERINARIAN
The Maryland Veterinary
Medical Association plays a leading role in the advancement of the
science and art of veterinary medicine in the Old Line State. From
the mountains of Garrett County to the beaches of the Delmarva,
veterinary professionals unite to further their professional and
Founded in 1886, the MVMA combines a century-old commitment to
quality veterinary care with state-of-the-art processes to deliver
the information you need to be effective.
MVMA members include veterinarians and technicians; small animal,
equine and food animal practitioners; and private, government and
A Brief History of
veterinary medicine in Maryland
Before 1802, few
Americans were concerned about the health and welfare of domestic
animals. The Colonists were so concerned with survival they had
little time to care for their horses and the livestock they needed
for food and clothing. Without any educated veterinarians in
Colonial Maryland, farmers had to rely on farriers, cow doctors and
Native American healers for treatment of their animals. Often the
remedies they prescribed were worse than the diseases:
Burn sick cattle on
the forehead with a branding iron.
Feed a cow a stolen
dishrag to cure indigestion.
Tie a live hop toad
to the withers of a horse to cure sweeney.
Dr. Haslam Arrives
Dr. John Haslam’s arrival in Baltimore in 1802 signaled the
beginning of the end of this disregard of animals and their
diseases. He was the first college-educated veterinarian to come to
America and there was much to do and many to serve. He applied his
scientific knowledge to combat years of superstition and barbaric
and absurd treatments and cures. He, along with a handful of other
graduate veterinarians, pioneered veterinary medicine not only in
Maryland, but also for America.
Still, by the late 1800s, Maryland’s livestock population was
nearing one million, and there were not enough veterinarians
available to treat illnesses, control diseases, research causes and
cures, and educate the public on proper animal health care.
The need to advance veterinary medicine and to form a professional
alliance grew steadily and on September 28, 1885, eight
veterinarians met in Baltimore to establish the Maryland State
Veterinary Medical Society of Baltimore City, known today as the
Maryland Veterinary Medical Association.
Maryland, like her sister states, had much to overcome. In 1888,
nearly one out of eight persons died from tuberculosis, or
consumption, and tuberculosis dairy cows were a major source of that
At the urging of the veterinarians and others, Maryland passed laws
providing for the inspection of dairies and dairy farms, and set
minimum standards for sanitation. Even so, tuberculosis continued as
a threat. Beginning in 1892, veterinarians conducted tuberculin
tests on herds of cattle and state authorities ordered the slaughter
of infected animals. These measures helped remove tuberculosis from
the list of the commonest causes of human disease by 1939.
In 1896, there were 160 veterinarians licensed to legally practice
in the state. Of these, 48 were graduates of veterinary colleges.
The others were not graduates, but were qualified to practice under
special provisions of the law that today are not longer in
existence. Those practitioners responded to farm calls at any
moment, often staying through the night if necessary to break a
fever or deliver a foal. They often reduced their fees or “forgot to
bill” when they knew the farmer or horse owner was not doing well.
As such, veterinarians soon became knows as “the good doctors.”
Today, the good doctors are farm from limited to the care of farm
animals. There are over 2,000 veterinarians in Maryland, most of
whom provide care for companion, food producing and exotic animals,
while others work in special areas of public health, food
inspection, research, development of vaccines and other medicines,
education and other specialties.
The practice of veterinary medicine has changed dramatically in the
past two centuries. However, from the earliest time to today,
veterinarians have served society by providing the best protection
and care possible for animals.
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