Skip to main content

History of Veterinary Medicine in Oregon

History of Veterinary Medicine in Oregon


The Oregon Legislature created the Oregon Domestic Animal Commission and the position of a State Veterinarian, whose salary was not to exceed more than $1,000 per year. James Withycombe, a livestock breeder and not a veterinarian, was appointed to this position by the Governor. Withycombe later served as Oregon’s 15th governor.

  • Historical events: The Eiffel Tower opened to commemorate the French Revolution. Bayer introduced aspirin in powder form.


The Oregon Veterinary Medical Examining Board was established to test, license, monitor and regulate practitioners of veterinary medicine in the state.

  • Historical events: The U.S. Census Bureau became part of the new U.S. Department of Commerce and Labor. Orville and Wilbur Wright were the first to fly a controlled airplane at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.


The Animal Husbandry Department was established as part of the Oregon Agricultural College in Corvallis.

  • Historical events: Americans had a life expectancy of 45.6 years for men and 49.9 years for women. The first electric ball dropped in Times Square.


The State Veterinary Medical Society of Oregon, founded by 26 charter members, was the first professional veterinary organization in the state. Rose City Veterinary Hospital was established as one of the first full-service practices in Oregon. 

  • Historical events: Hiram Bingham discovered Machu Picchu, the Lost City of the Incas. IBM was incorporated.


The first known local veterinary group was formed in the mid-Willamette Valley, when 12 veterinarians met in the Marion County courthouse and founded the Willamette Valley Veterinary Medical Association. For many years the WVVMA overshadowed the state society and was the most active veterinary organization in Oregon.

The AVMA Convention was held for the first time in Portland, Oregon. It was only the third time the annual event had been scheduled for the West Coast.

  • Historical events: Nellie Taylor Ross was elected governor of Wyoming, becoming the first female governor in the United States. A film was shown on an airplane for the first time.


In the early part of the decade, a Division of Animal Industries was established at Oregon State University, encompassing programs in animal, poultry, and dairy husbandry, and veterinary medicine.

  • Historical events: The first red and green traffic lights were installed in Manhattan, New York. The planet Pluto was officially named by Venetia Burney, who was 11 years old.


Dr. George F. Reid founded Reid Veterinary Hospital in Albany, Oregon, which is now a fourth generation independently owned practice. In succession were sons Dr. George R. Reid and Dr. Richard Reid; grandson Dr. Tim Reid; and great grandsons Dr. Harrison Reid and Dr. Sawyer Reid. The companion animal practice is the longest-standing AAHA-accredited hospital in Oregon.

  • Historical events: Joseph Begun invented the tape recorder for broadcasting. Adolph Hitler designated himself Fuhrer of Germany.


It became evident that an association representing the broader state would be more effective politically. Thus, the WVVMA disbanded, and the state society reorganized as the Oregon State Veterinary Medical Association. Articles of Incorporation were again filed in 1960, when the organization assumed its present name: Oregon Veterinary Medical Association.

  • Historical events: The inaugural McDonald’s restaurant opened in San Bernadino, California. Walt Disney’s third film, Fantasia, was released.


Dr. Elizabeth “Betsy” Rider Kalkwarf, a graduate of the veterinary program at Washington State University, became the first woman to be licensed as a veterinarian in Oregon. Dr. Kalkwarf served as the Western Vice President for the Women’s Veterinary Medical Association between 1964 and 1969.

  • Historical events: The first photograph of genes was taken at the University of Southern California by Pease and Baker. Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman opened on Broadway.


Dr. Roy Peterson of Tillamook was elected president of the Oregon Veterinary Medical Association. He served as OVMA’s delegate to the AVMA’s House of Delegates for eight years and was a member of the AVMA Animal Welfare Committee. Dr. Peterson later served on the AVMA Board of Directors, representing District 11 (Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming).

  • Historical events: President Dwight Eisenhower signed the Civil Rights Act of 1960 into law. Alfred Hitchcock’s landmark thriller, Psycho, premiered.


The American Association of Small Ruminant Practitioners was started in the kitchen of Dr. Don and Betty Bailey’s house in Roseburg. Dr. Bailey has been considered by many to be the “father” of small ruminant veterinary medicine. He was OVMA president in 1975 and served as our delegate to the AVMA. He also was a member of the Oregon Veterinary Medical Examining Board for eight years.

  • Historical events: Martin Luther King Jr. and Bobby Kennedy were assassinated two months apart. Apollo 8 was the first manned spacecraft to orbit the moon.


Veterinary orthopedist Dr. Barclay Slocum was a founding member of the Association for Veterinary Orthopedic Research (AVORE). In 1993, he patented the TPLO. Dr. Slocum was active with his constituent group in Eugene and served on several OVMA committees. He was recognized for his distinguished service to the profession by the OVMA in 2001.

  • Historical events: The Watergate break-in occurred, which eventually led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon. Eleven Israeli athletes were taken hostage and later murdered by a Palestinian Black September group at the Olympics in Munich, Germany.


Along with A.B. Lewis, Dr. Richard Werner of Portland co-founded Dove Lewis Emergency Animal Hospital, which was the first emergency veterinary practice in the western United States. He also was the first veterinarian in Oregon to introduce specialists as part of clinical practice and served as OVMA president in 1991.

  • Historical events: The first portable cell phone call was made in New York. The first space station, Skylab, was launched.


Dr. E. Edward Wedman was appointed the first dean of Oregon State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. When the Oregon Legislature established the program, they did not allocate any funding, leaving it up to Dean Wedman to secure the necessary monies to build a program.

  • Historical events: The Vietnam War ended as Communist forces captured Saigon and South Vietnam surrendered unconditionally. Jaws, one of the very first blockbuster movies, was released.


The College of Veterinary Medicine at Oregon State University graduated its inaugural class. Also this year Articles of Incorporation were filed for the Oregon Veterinary Medical Foundation (now known as the Animal Health Foundation of Oregon). The Foundation is the charitable arm of the OVMA.

  • Historical events: Sally Ride became the first woman in space on the Space Shuttle Challenger. The average income per year was $21,000.


Dr. Scott Campbell of Portland purchased Banfield Pet Hospital from Dr. Warren Wegert. By 2003, Banfield would become the largest group of practices in the world.

  • Historical events: Halley’s Comet entered perihelion (the point in the orbit of a planet, asteroid, or comet at which it is closest to the sun) for the first time since 1910. The worst nuclear disaster in human history occurred at Chernobyl in present-day Ukraine.


Dr. Larry Sowa of Clackamas was the first veterinarian to serve in the Oregon House of Representatives. He served six two-year terms.

  • Historical events: Aretha Franklin became the first female artist inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; and the first lung-heart transplant was performed in Baltimore.


The OVMA established the Oregon Animal Hall of FameTM to recognize and honor animals that have contributed to the rich connection we know as the human-animal bond. Big Red, an Irish Setter, and Sam the cat were the initial inductees into the Hall of Fame, which next to the Texas VMA is the second longest running program in the country among veterinary organizations.

For the second time in its history, the AVMA held its annual convention in Portland, Oregon. 

  • Historical events: Margaret Thatcher became the first female Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. The oldest known insect fossils, dating back 390 million years, were discovered.


A grassroots effort led by the OVMA resoundingly defeated a tax on the gross sales of animal remedies, biologicals, and pharmaceuticals. Since 1989, the OVMA’s advocacy efforts have saved the state’s veterinary profession more than $60 million dollars.

  • Historical events: The resignation of Mikhail Gorbachev marked one of the final acts that led to the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The first ever website,, was created by Tim Berners-Lee.


Dr. Susan Loomis of Bend became the first female president of the Oregon Veterinary Medical Association. Dr. Loomis also served as a district representative and on various committees. In addition, she was a member of the Oregon Veterinary Medical Examining Board for eight years – the first female veterinarian to break that barrier, too.

  • Historical events: The recycling of trash began in Portland, Oregon. Bill Clinton captured the presidential election with 43% of the vote.


Led by Dr. Bob Franklin, the OVMA rescued the Class C felony bill for increasing penalties against people who commit aggravated animal abuse against animals from being shuttled. The legislation was signed into law by the governor, and Oregon became among the first states in the country to support such strong penalties against heinous animal cruelty.

  • Historical events: Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols set off a bomb that destroyed the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people, including 8 federal marshals and 19 children. A United Nations Tribunal charged Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic with genocide during the Bosnian War.


Dr. Merry Crimi, owner of Gladstone Veterinary Clinic in Milwaukie, was installed as president of the American Animal Hospital Association. Dr. Crimi was a member of the OVMA Animal Welfare Committee and the Issues Advisory Task Force. Following retirement from veterinary practice, she worked with Mercy Corps in Portland.

  • Historical events: The first successfully cloned mammal, Dolly the sheep, was born in Scotland. The initial clamshell flip mobile phone (Motorola) went on sale, eventually with 60 million sold.


In early October the OVMA Board of Directors issued a media release that called for an independent health evaluation of Keiko, the famous Orca whale in the movie Free Willy, and an end to the public dispute about his health between the Free Willy-Keiko Foundation that owned the whale and the Oregon Coast Aquarium where Keiko was housed. The OVMA’s public statement was picked up by national and international media outlets and led to an official assessment of Keiko’s health later in the year. After 20 years in captivity and 20 months at the Oregon Coast Aquarium, Keiko was transported to a bay in Iceland in preparation for the whale being released back into the wild. He died off the coast of Norway in 2002.

  • Historical events: Hong Kong, the largest remaining British colony, was returned to China. Princess Diana was killed in an automobile accident in Paris..


Kelvin Koong, PhD, an administrator with the College of Agriculture Sciences at Oregon State University, was appointed interim dean at the College of Veterinary Medicine. He was tasked with leading legislative efforts to bring a full four-year veterinary program to Oregon State. The OVMA was integral to this successful lobbying effort. 

  • Historical events: Tiger Woods won his first PGA Championship. Time magazine named Albert Einstein its “Person of the Century.”


Dr. Doug Whitsett was elected to serve in the Oregon State Senate, where he represented residents of Klamath, Lake, and Crook counties through 2017. Dr. Whitsett was president of OVMA in 1980 and practiced large animal medicine until running for the Oregon Senate.

  • Historical events: Facebook was launched by Mark Zuckerberg. Al-Qaeda bombed multiple trains in Madrid, Spain, killing 193 people.


Dr. Emilio DeBess, Oregon’s Public Health Veterinarian, and the OVMA coordinated efforts to inform and educate pet owners and veterinarians and veterinary teams about contaminated pet food that sickened and killed cats and dogs in Oregon and across the country. The OVMA was applauded for its efforts by U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) during a speech on the floor of the House of Representatives in Washington, DC.

  • Historical events: Nancy Pelosi was elected as the first female Speaker of the House of Representatives. Steve Jobs and Apple introduced the first iPhone.


Dr. Kurt Schrader, a past president of OVMA, was elected to Congress in Oregon’s 5th congressional district. A mixed animal veterinarian, Dr. Schrader had earlier served in both the Oregon House and Senate and was co-chair of Ways & Means while also president of the OVMA.

  • Historical event: The bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers triggered a global recession. Barack Obama was the first African American elected as President of the United States.


The OVMA raised concerns with the Oregon Board of Pharmacy about some retail pharmacies changing veterinary prescriptions without authorization of the attending veterinarian. The OVMA was the first veterinary organization—state or national—to conduct a practitioner survey on the issue and the first to address these concerns with a board of pharmacy. 

  • Historical events: Bombings during the Boston Marathon killed three people and injured more than 260 others. Edward Snowden, a former contractor for the National Security Agency, revealed that he was responsible for revealing the NSA’s top secret surveillance programs.


The OVMA developed and distributed a packet on veterinary prescriptions and pharmacies to the membership and received a national award for these efforts. Glenn Kolb, Executive Director, met with Federal Trade Commission attorneys to address consumer accessibility of pet medications and concerns about some pharmacists changing veterinary prescriptions without authorization.

  • Historical events: Ebola outbreaks were declared in Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone. Russia illegally annexed Crimea and threatened the rest of Ukraine.


Dr. Susan Tornquist was named Dean of the veterinary program at Oregon State University. On the faculty since 1996 as a clinical pathologist, she had served as interim dean for the previous two years, with prior service as associate dean of student and academic affairs. 

  • Historical events: The musical Hamilton premiered at the Public Theater in Lower Manhattan, New York. The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed same-sex marriage nationwide.


Under Dr. Connie White’s leadership as President of OVMA, the association worked closely with the Oregon Board of Pharmacy to carve out an allowance for veterinarians to dispense compounded medications from office stock. (The OBOP had discontinued this allowance for human medicine.)

  • Historical events: President Donald Trump became the first sitting US president to visit North Korea. The first human case of a new coronavirus was recorded in Wuhan, China.


As COVID arrived in Oregon, the OVMA coordinated efforts with Dr. Emilio DeBess, the state’s Public Health Veterinarian, to ensure that veterinary clinics were considered an essential business and remained open. Later in the year, OVMA helped to ensure that veterinarians and veterinary teams were among the first in Oregon to be eligible to receive a COVID vaccination.

  • Historical events: The respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, received an official name: COVID-19. The U.S. Senate acquitted President Donald Trump of impeachment charges.


The OVMA, under Dr. Jill Parker’s guidance as President, preserved the ability for veterinarians to have access to the drug xylazine—a critical and important drug for treating horses, cattle, and wildlife. (The Oregon Board of Pharmacy had considered designating xylazine as a Schedule I drug.)

  • Historical events: India passed China as the world’s most populous country, with 1.43 billion people. Artificial Intelligence offers promise and peril.