Maryland Veterinary Medical Association

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About MVMA

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 personal development.

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 academic practitioners.

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.

Tuberculosis Eradication

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 infection.

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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Maryland Veterinary Medical Association l PO Box 5407 l Annapolis, MD 21403
phone: 410-268-1311 l fax: 410-268-1322