A Brief History
On August 4th, 1761, the first veterinary school of medicine was founded by Claude Bourgelat in Lyon, France.
Claude Bourgelat did not study veterinary medicine himself; he had studied law but later directed an academy for horseback riding. He soon became an authority figure on horse management, and he wrote books on the morphology and anatomy of horses. His reputation brought him to the king’s attention, and the royal horse breeding program in the French province of Lyonnais was put under his supervision.
In addition to founding the first veterinary school of medicine in Lyon, Claude Bourgelat also founded another school in Alfort near Paris. Some of his students spread the concept across Europe and founded schools in Vienna, Austria and in Göttingen, Hannover, Berlin and Munich in Germany.
Today there are approximately 450 veterinary schools of medicine across the entire world. It was from the Free University of Berlin in Germany that Dr. Michael Meyer, co-founder of the Tourey and Meyer Veterinary Clinic in the Gambia, Africa, received his degree.
The Gambia is small country in Western Africa and former British colony. It has a high level of poverty, and there many stray animals roaming the streets.
After having vacationed in the Gambia and noticing that there was not a single veterinary clinic for small animals and pets, Dr. Michael Meyer decided to take a risk and loaded up his van with used equipment and drove to the Gambia where he and local veterinarian Dr. Bakary Touray co-founded their clinic in 2009.
Parallel to providing services to the local population, the clinic offers free spaying and neutering of stray dogs and cats in an effort to reduce their numbers. Hurt, sickly and mistreated animals receive additional care and are often placed into foster homes until they are well. Many efforts are made to stop the spread of disease.
To raise awareness for the clinic’s efforts, Dr. Michael Meyer, known affectionately as “Micha” records videos of his patients, the procedures and of life in the Gambia. These videos can be viewed on the Youtube channels, Vetclinicgambia and Cordylobia Anthropophaga. The most popular videos involve the removal of ticks and Cordylobia Anthropophaga, referred to more commonly as mango worms.
Micha’s two assistants who both go by the name of “Fatou” are also popular with the audience.
The clinic has many supporters, both locally and abroad. One avid supporter is Marta Gil-Vaz, an artist who also has a connection with Africa; she was born in Angola, then moved with her family to Zimbabwe, before settling in England.
Inspired by her dying father who taught her to value, appreciate and respect animals, she started painting in her late 30s, and today she gladly paints animal portraits as a thank you for larger donations made to the clinic.
The author of this article donated some money to the clinic via Paypal and received a wonderful portrait of her cat in return. This, however, must be coordinated with Marta. She can be contacted at email@example.com.
For more information on Micha, his clinic and team and how to donate, please go to http://www.vetclinicgambia.com/.
Question for students (and subscribers): What is your favorite vet clinic? Please let us know in the comments section below this article.
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Some interesting reads include:
Briggs, Philip. The Gambia (Bradt Travel Guides). Bradt Travel Guides, 2014.
Dunlop, Robert H and David J. Williams AA BA MA. Veterinary Medicine: An Illustrated History. Mosby, 1996.
Flood, Anne. Realistic Pet Portraits in Colored Pencil. Anne Flood, 2004.
Wright, Donald R. The World and a Very Small Place in Africa: A History of Globalization in Niumi, the Gambia (Sources and Studies in World History). Routledge, 2010.