Built on the Shoulders of Veterinary Giants
A Brief History of the Kansas City Veterinary Medical Association
by Steve Joseph, DVM, KCVMA Historian
The beginnings of veterinary medical associations in Kansas City can be traced to the late 19th century. During the following decades, associations merged to form what is today known as the Kansas City Veterinary Medical Association (KCVMA).
Most of the over 400 members in the Association are graduates of Kansas State University and University of Missouri Colleges of Veterinary Medicine. However, several of the other 26 colleges and schools of veterinary medicine are also represented.
Over 70 Association members are seniors and are our Life Members. These are veterinarians who are over 65 years of age. Some retired members graduated in the 1940’s and early 1950’s. They have successfully mentored their younger counterparts and are considered to have shoulders of giants where younger veterinarians stand.
The influence of Kansas City veterinarians has spread to state associations in Kansas and Missouri and well as nationally. Veterinarians have served as presidents, officers and on committees of those parent associations. Seven veterinarians have served as Presidents of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) during the nearly 150 year history of the national association. They are: Sesco Stewart (1902-1903); Albert Kinsley (1921-1922); Joseph Flynn (1935-1936); Abner Quin (1954-1955); Joseph Knappenberger (1968-1969) and Gerald Johnson (1991-1992); Greg Hammer (2007-2008). Current members who have chaired the AVMA Executive Board include Drs. Richard Webber and Robert “Bud” Hertzog. Kansas City veterinarians have hosted the AVMA Annual Conference four times since 1907.
Kansas City was home for three private veterinary institutions between 1891 and 1918. The most well known and longest lasting school was the Kansas City Veterinary College (1891-1918) graduating nearly 1,900 students during its 27 year history. Western Veterinary College (1897-1908) and University Veterinary College (1902-1906) graduated 231 students during the few years they were open.
Dr. Joseph Flynn, a former AVMA President, opened one of the first veterinary clinics dedicated exclusively to dogs and cats in the US in 1910. He is known as the Father of the Pet Animal Practice.
Veterinary care has changed significantly over the last century, but the mission and objectives of the KCVMA remain constant. Veterinarians continue to strive to enhance the quality of veterinary care as well as community health and welfare. These objectives set forth by pioneering veterinarians continue to be accomplished by providing quality continuing education, demanding strong ethical and professional behavior and promoting public awareness.