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E P V M Ann1 9 5 6nn2 0 1 6

Presented by Guy Johnsen, DVM, at the EPVMA 2016 Community Awards Banquet


An association is a collective—a group of people dedicated to a common purpose. The veterinarian in the community is the nucleus of animal health and welfare, therefore, as veterinarians gather for common goals—they become in essence the voice for the voiceless.

In 1956 the population of El Paso numbered 219,000. There were eight veterinary hospitals—two clinics were on North Loop, three on Texas Street, one on Alameda, one on Hawkins, and one on North Copia. Eleven veterinarians practiced in these clinics: Joe Adams, Bob Butchofsky, Duane Cady, John Howard, Doyle Kern, Harry Koll, Robert Lowe, Robert Morrison, Warren Nickerson and Claude Willey. (As far as I know, only one of the original eleven members of the first El Paso Veterinary Medical Association is living—Dr. Bob Butchofsky.)

So what was the common purpose that organized the veterinarians in 1956? PUBLIC HEALTH—protecting the general public and domestic animal population from the dreaded disease called RABIES. Nothing like a 100% fatal disease to turn the heads of a frightened public to an industry that had the expertise to ward off the offending terror.

Few in this venue have experienced the fear that Rabies brings when you have been exposed. Many here tonight may have never witnessed an actual case of rabies. I personally was exposed to three rabid animals in my practice career and I cannot explain the terrorizing thoughts that go through your brain. You wonder—will that rabies vaccination I received really do the job? I get chill bumps just thinking back to those days.

The El Paso Veterinary Medical Association was born out of a purpose—joining other local health agencies in the battle against a public danger involving the animal kingdom. To give you a little feel for the problem in the 1950s and early 1960s:
mmmrIn 1953 there were 1000 cases of dog rabies reported in Texas—28 in El Paso
mmm•rthat’s 2.8% of those inTexas
mmmrIn 1956 there were 430 cases of dog rabies in Texas—56 in El Paso / 13%
mmmrIn 1957 there were 286 cases of dog rabies in Texas—91 in El Paso / 31.8%
mmmrIn 1964 there were 69 cases of dog rabies in Texas—34 in El Paso / 49.3%

Rabies continued to be a dominant problem until 1982 when the first Parvo virus epidemic occurred in the dog population in El Paso. The El Paso Veterinary Medical Association continues its vigilance in the prevention of Rabies.

The El Paso Veterinary Medical Association continues to be on the front lines in public awareness and disease surveillance, eradication and prevention in our region. Specific disease involvement include: Rabies, Foot and Mouth Disease, Venezuelan Equine Encephalitis, Pssiticosis, Avian Influenza, West Nile Virus and Equine Influenza.

Fast forward to the present day—the El Paso Veterinary Medical Association remains strong and an important lobby for animal health and welfare and public health. The 90 veterinarians in 35 hospitals and 3 mobile clinics now serve a population encroaching 1 million inhabitants. Our goals have stretched from the platform of public health where Rabies took precedence, to a plethora of animal welfare projects including 1) Animal Rescue and Foster groups; 2) Feline Trap, Neuter, Return (TNR); 3) Animal Health & Welfare Legislation, both locally and statewide; 4) Pet Health Promotions; and 5) Responsible Pet Ownership Guidelines.

Our annual banquet was developed out of the concept of OUTREACH with a three-fold purpose:
mm1)nTo establish good fellowship with professionals throughout the animal industry
mm2)nTo recognize a group or individual who has significantly contributed to
mm2)nanimal/public welfare in the city/county of El Paso
mm3)nTo have a “rockin” good time!

The El Paso Veterinary Medical Association has gained notoriety statewide and nationally—identified as a model association. WHY?
mmrWe Get Along
mmrWe Strive to Help
mmrWe Make it Happen

Let me finish with this small poem written by Ella Wheeler Wilcox:
mmI am the voice of the voiceless;
mmThrough me the dumb shall speak,
mmTill the deaf world’s ear be made to hear
mmThe wrongs of the wordless weak.


60 presidents: 11 female / 49 male
AVMA: 2 women founded in 1863
TVMA: 5 women founded in 1903
EPVMA: 11 women founded in 1956

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