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The first school of veterinary medicine was opened in 1762 in Lyons, France. Nearly 100 years later, a French physician and veterinarian named Alexandre Francois Liautard emigrated to the United States and became a leader in the movement to establish veterinary medicine as a science. Through his efforts, an organization was started in 1863 that later became the American Veterinary Medical Association. By the late 1800s, veterinarians started to focus their attention on the study and control of animal diseases that affected human health and food supplies. For example, cattle were first tested for tuberculosis in the 1890s.

Initially, veterinary medicine was concerned with the health of horses and farm animals, particularly because agriculture was a major factor in the economy. Pet ownership has grown in the years since and concern for other animals such as dogs, cats, birds, guinea pigs, etc., has expanded veterinary practice. Veterinary medicine has made great strides since its introduction in this country, one advance being the significant reduction in animal diseases contracted by humans.