NZVA media release: ANZACs and Veterinarians worldwide share special day

Thursday, 23 April 2020   

The New Zealand Veterinary Corps was formed in 1907 during WW1 and despite being overwhelmed by a large number of animals they had to treat including horses, dogs and carrier pigeons, delivered outstanding service with only 2 per cent of animals succumbing to illness or disease.  

It is great to remember their contribution, as this year April 25 is also World Veterinarian’s Day.

“We can only imagine the hardships these colourful characters endured as well as their adaptability and knowledge” says Grant McCullough National President at the New Zealand Veterinary Association (NZVA). 

The Veterinary Corps comprised a small number of veterinarians as commissioned officers and along with blacksmiths, farriers, groomers, teamsters and wagoners were essential for military operations.

In 1914 two veterinary sections were formed. There were two 115 men hospital units one for the infantry men and one for the mounted rifles. 

Two twenty eight man mobile veterinary sections were also formed in New Zealand and these units were sent to Egypt to join the rest of the forces and served as part of the forces at Gallipoli. 

In 2018, a plaque dedicated to the officers and soldiers of the New Zealand Veterinary Corps was unveiled. It was donated by the Australian War Animal Memorial organisation and was presented on purple poppy day, February 24, which commemorates the service the army of animals gave during war.

The plaque is housed at Massey University’s School of Veterinary Science in Palmerston North where it continues to inspire new generations of trainee veterinarians. 
Animals played a huge role in New Zealand wars especially during WWI with bullocks, horses, mules and donkeys used for logistical purposes.

New Zealand sent 8000 horses to the war in South Africa and 10,000 horses to WWI.
On this day, the NZVA pays tribute to the service provided by all the ANZACs and especially our Veterinary Corps, and the service animals they tended.