Created in 2000 by the World Veterinary Association (WVA), World Veterinary Day falls on the last Saturday in April, which is April 30 this year. This day has been set aside to honor the hard-working individuals who devote their lives to saving animals and protecting the public from dangerous diseases. Our team at Columbia Pike Animal Hospital wants to offer information about World Veterinary Day, and explain why this commemoration is so important. 

The history of World Veterinary Day

In 1863, veterinarians from all over Europe attended the first International Veterinary Congress to discuss epizootic diseases and possible preventive measures. This organization became the World Veterinary Congress, which established the World Veterinary Association at their 15th meeting in Madrid in 1959. The WVA’s mission is to focus on animal health and welfare, preserve public health, and protect the environment. They collaborate with organizations, such as the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), to carry out these duties. In 2000, the WVA established the last Saturday in April as World Veterinary Day to promote the veterinary profession, improve animal welfare, and bring awareness to issues such as the environment, food safety, and animal transport and quarantine safety measures. In 2008, the WVA and OIE teamed up to award a prize for the veterinarian or veterinary association who best contributes to the veterinary profession.

World Veterinary Day themes

In 2008, the WVA started establishing World Veterinary Day themes, which have included:

  • 2008 — The first theme selected for World Veterinary Day was “Celebrate our diversity.”
  • 2009 — The WVA recognizes the strong link between public health and livestock farmers, so chose “Veterinarians and livestock farmers, a winning partnership.”
  • 2010 — Aiming to raise awareness between animal and public health, the theme, “One world, one health: More cooperation between veterinarians and physicians,” was chosen.
  • 2011 — “Rabies prevention” was the choice, to bring awareness to this deadly disease’s zoonotic potential.
  • 2012 — Antibiotic overuse has led to bacterial resistance, leading the WVA to choose the theme “Antimicrobial resistance.”
  • 2013 —  “Vaccination” was chosen to encourage pet owners to vaccinate their pets on a regular basis.
  • 2014 —  “Animal welfare” was chosen to bring awareness to animal neglect and abuse.
  • 2015 — Vector-borne zoonotic diseases are a major public concern in all world regions, leading the WVA to choose “Vector borne diseases with zoonotic potential.”
  • 2016 — “Continuing education with a One Health focus” was chosen to encourage veterinarians to seek continuing education in topics such as food safety, zoonotic diseases, and antimicrobial resistance.
  • 2017 — The WVA chose to focus on antimicrobial resistance again, and picked “Antimicrobial resistance—from awareness to action” as the theme.
  • 2018 — The world’s growing population led to the WVA’s choice of “The role of the veterinary professional in sustainable development to improve livelihoods, food security, and safety.”
  • 2019 — Vaccinations play a crucial role in disease prevention, and the WVA chose “The value of vaccination.”
  • 2020 — Protecting the environment is closely linked to animal health and welfare, and the WVA chose “Environmental protection for improving animal and human health.”
  • 2021 — The pandemic wreaked havoc in the veterinary industry, and the 2021 theme was “Veterinarian response to the COVID-19 crisis.”
  • 2022 — This year’s theme is “Strengthening veterinary resilience,” to encourage veterinarians to take care of their mental and emotional health.

Roles celebrated by World Veterinary Day

When you think about a veterinarian’s role, you may envision your veterinarian administering a vaccine or discussing heartworm prevention, but the profession has many different aspects.

  • Pet care — Veterinarians are responsible for providing vaccines, preventive medications, and care for injured and sick pets. 
  • Public health — Veterinarians investigate animal and human disease outbreaks to protect public health. They are responsible for evaluating the safety and efficacy of medicines, medical products, foods, and food additives, and they also study the effects of pesticides, industrial pollutants, and other contaminants on animals and people. 
  • Regulatory medicine — Veterinarians work for state and federal regulatory agencies to quarantine and inspect animals brought into the country. They test for diseases that could threaten animal or human health, or affect our food supply. They also ensure meat, dairy, poultry, and egg products are safe for consumption.
  • Research — Veterinarians perform valuable research, to discover new diagnostics and treatments for animals and humans.

Support for World Veterinary Day

If you would like to support your family veterinarian by celebrating World Veterinary Day, some ideas include:

  • Donate to your local shelter — Pet homelessness is at crisis levels, and pet shelters are struggling to provide for the pets in their care. A donation to your local shelter will help a stray pet find a forever home, which will please any veterinary professional.
  • Be understanding — Veterinary professionals work long hours to provide care for as many pets as possible, but they can’t always guarantee they will be able to see your pet as quickly as you would like. We ask for your understanding when communicating with team members, and recognize that they are doing their best to ensure every pet gets the attention they deserve.
  • Express your thanks — Veterinarians are regular people, and a smile and a thank you can make a big difference to their day. 

On April 30, give your pet a big hug for us to commemorate World Veterinary Day. If your pet is due for a wellness visit or vaccines, contact our team at Columbia Pike Animal Hospital to schedule an appointment.