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The history of animal care traces back to early Mediterranean cultures that domesticated animals prior to 3,000 B.C.  The Babylonians were the first people to recognize the importance of isolating sick animals from the herd to limit the spread of disease.  The first veterinary hospitals were developed in India, and the Greeks were the first to keep detailed veterinary records.

After the fall of the Roman Empire, much of the information learned about both humans and animals was lost, but the Renaissance brought with it a revival in the interest of medicine.  Major advances were due, in part, to the invention of the microscope and the discovery of the circulation of the blood.  1762 saw the formation of the first veterinary college, Ecole Nationale Veterinaire, in Lyons, France.  Less than one hundred years later, the French scientist and physician Louis Pasteur brought much enlightenment to medicine for people and animals with his discovery of microorganisms and their relationship to disease.

puppy and kitten snuggling The humane treatment of animals was first addressed by the Puritans of the Massachusetts Bay Colony's directive entitled Liberties of Brute Animals, but it would be over two hundred years before the welfare of animals would be considered an important endeavor in the states.  On February 8, 1886, a wealthy New York diplomat named Henry Bergh established the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) in response to the overwork and mistreatment of thousands of horses in the city.  Bergh also helped pass the Animal Welfare Act of 1886, which helped spur animal cruelty legislation in other states and on a national level.

In 1862, Congress passed the Morrill Land Grant Act, which would provide federal funds and land for education in agriculture and veterinary science.  In 1863, the American Veterinary Medical Association was founded with the goal of combating diseases in livestock.  In 1844, the Hatch Act was passed, establishing the Bureau of Animal Industry within the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  In the first half of the 1900's, many state and federal wildlife agencies were established, including the Environmental Protection Agency and the President's Council on Environmental Quality.  Currently, environmental concerns have pushed wildlife preservation to the forefront, and it continues to be closely tied in with zoological study, veterinary medicine, and prevention of animal cruelty.

Find more information related to the animal services and pet care industry at the American Veterinary Medical Association and the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges.

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