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Dr. Benjamin Rush, the famous American medical doctor, was the first person to call for the establishment of a veterinary school, as he believed that many of the diseases animals suffered from were similar to those of humans. In 1848 George H. Dadd produced a series of Veterinary books and also edited the American Veterinary Journal. According to him, there were only 15 graduates of veterinary medicine practicing in the United States in 1847. By 1850, the practice of veterinary medicine was becoming widespread. Some of the practitioners were graduates of European programs, but most were those who just advertised their skills with animals. The first instruction in veterinary medicine was offered at the University of Missouri in 1872. Then, in 1884, Paul Paquin, trained in Quebec, brought a much-improved education over what was offered in the U.S.

It wasn’t until the close of WWII that veterinary medicine entered the modern era. In early 1914, the idea of a Missouri School of veterinary medicine was discussed, but dropped, due to lack of funding. By the end of WWII there were only 10 schools of veterinary medicine in the United States.

The Kansas City Veterinary College operated from 1881 to 1917 and graduated 1,789 students. The earliest graduates received a degree after 6 months of instruction, in comparison to the four years required today, and there were no admission standards. The school of Veterinary Medicine in Columbia Missouri opened its doors in 1946.

The people who have practiced veterinary medicine in Cooper County history and lived here permanently are:

Charles F. Moore – farmer, stock raiser, trader, and self-taught veterinary surgeon. 1826 – 1888.

Dr. Ace Overton Donahew – He studied for three years at the Kansas City Veterinary College to become a veterinarian. He practiced in several counties and settled in Boonville. He was known to be an expert with horses and dogs.
1865 – 1928.

Charles Doerric – was a veterinarian as well as the manufacturer of a very successful facial cream manufacturing company. He also was a farmer and
coal miner who later studied veterinary surgery at the New York Veterinary College. As a veterinarian located in Cooper County, he also practiced in five nearby counties. He was also very active in Boonville community affairs. 1862 – ?

Dr. Jonathan Paris Miller II – He became a veterinarian like his older brother Boyd, who practiced in California MO. He practiced for a while, then became the livestock inspector for the Western Wing Railroad. He attended St. Joseph Veterinary College, graduating in 1920 as President of his class. In 1930 he returned to his veterinary practice for 21 years. His was a family business. His wife answered the phone and his children helped with surgeries and helped on Saturdays. 1891 – 1958.

Dr. Floyd E. Coley – Dr. Coley graduated in 1950 in the first class of the newly opened Missouri School of Veterinary medicine and practiced in Boonville. Doctor Coley spent his entire career in Boonville. In talking about his years treating animals, he commented that he was starting to treat more small companion animals and fewer large animals, and noted that more preventive medicine and better drugs were needed to treat those animals. 1916 – 2003

Dr. James K. Farrell – Dr. Farrell arrived in Boonville in 1950 and practiced there for many years. He has been very active in community and professional organizations. In 1969 he was honored by his peers as “Veterinarian of the Year.” In discussing changes seen in veterinary medicine, Dr. Farrell notes the rise of the pet practice and no dairies in the area. -1920 – 2001

Dr. Floyd Truman Swanstone – Dr. Floyd Truman Swanstone determined to become a veterinarian after going on calls with Dr. J.P. Miller. After WWII, he used the G.I. Bill to return to Missouri where he received his Bachelor of Science in Agriculture, majoring in animal husbandry, then his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine in 1954. He practiced with Doctors Coley and Ferrel for a year, then built a new clinic on Highway 87. He had a hard time getting a loan for his new building. In that time period veterinarians treated only farm animals, not family pets. But, within a year after the building was finished, 50% of his practice was pets. In 1975 he sold his business to Dr. William D. Hope.

Dr. Swanstone also worked for a local sales barn, became a real-estate agent, graduated from auction school, and was president of a local land corporation. 1925 – 1999

Dr. William Doniphan Hope – Dr. William Doniphan Hope graduated from the University of Missouri with a degree in Animal Husbandry in 1968, and after a tour of duty in South Vietnam he received his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Missouri in 1975. His family moved to Boonville and he began to work for Dr. Floyd Swanstone. Shortly thereafter the Hope purchased the building on Route 87 from Dr. Sandstone.

Dr. Hope has also noticed the change in his practice from large animals to pets. In 1985 he sold his practice and returned to college earning a Ph.D. Then he became an equine specialist at the Purdue University of Veterinary Medicine. Now retired, he lives in Colorado. 1945 – alive.

Dr. Wiley Ray McVicker  Dr. McVicker and his family moved to Boonville in 1979 from Fayette, Missouri where he had been employed as a veterinarian for 1-1/2 years following his graduation from the University of Missouri School of Veterinary Medicine. He received his Associates of Arts Degree in 1970 from Fort Scott Community College, his Bachelor of Science Degree in Agriculture in 1972, his Master of Science Degree in Agriculture in 1975 and his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine in 1977 from the University of Missouri. 1950 – alive.

Dr. Debra Lee Stottlemeyer Upham – Dr. Debra Lee Stottlemeyer Upham joined Dr. McVicker at Boonslick Animal Hospital in 1998 upon her graduation from the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine. At the young age of 40 she died of cancer leaving behind a husband and two children. 1968 – 2008

Source: Dr. Maryellen McVicker


In the past 100 years, Cooper County has gradually changed from a very rural county with many herds of large animals to one that is more urban. Dairy herds are gone, but some cattle are still raised. Some horses still dot the countryside, as do a few farms with chickens, hogs and sheep. 

But Dr. James Farrell was correct, each year there seem to be more companion animals needing care, and fewer vets caring for large animals.


Veterinary Medicine in Cooper County

There are currently two Animal Hospitals in Cooper County, Missouri, serving a population of 17,620 people in an area of 565 square miles. There is one animal hospital per 8,810 people, and one animal hospital per 282 square miles.

In Missouri, Cooper County is ranked 6th of 115 counties in Animal Hospitals per capita, and 20th of 115 counties in Animal Hospitals per square mile.

In the past 100 years, Cooper County has gradually changed from a very rural county to one that is more urban. Dairy herds are gone, but some cattle are still raised. Some horses still dot the countryside, as do a few farms with chickens, hogs and sheep. But Dr. James Farrell was correct, each year there seem to be more companion animals needing care, and fewer vets caring for large animals.


History of Cooper County Animal Hospital

Greg Lenz DVM, son of Richard and Ann Lenz (Cooper County Dairy Producers) opened Cooper County Animal Hospital in spring/summer of 1987 immediately after graduating from University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine. He opened it with the goal of eventually doing Bovine Embryo Transfer full time, but knew that in the beginning, he would need general practice until the ET business grew. He had several different veterinarians working for him during his ownership.


After 7 years, the ET business had grown enough that Dr. Lenz put the business up for sale so he could move to the Springfield Missouri area (a higher dairy cattle concentration) and focus on his ET business I (Scott Fray) grew up in northeast Missouri (Monroe City), graduated from MU Vet School in 1991 and got my first job in Auburn, Nebraska.

In 1993 I was passing through Boonville on my way to Monroe City, where we stopped to have lunch with a college friend of my wife's, Susan Lenz and my wife worked as interior designers in Columbia, MO while I was in Veterinary School. Susan mentioned in passing that her brother-in-law Greg Lenz was trying to sell his practice and that I should give him a call. After several phone calls, a couple more of visits to Boonville (even during the great flood of 93), and some creative financing from a bank that was willing to take a chance on a "broke" young veterinarian, we purchased Cooper County Animal Hospital on January 3, 1994.

It is ironic that I knew nothing about Boonville, but my Mother's parents and her siblings, therefore, all of my cousins all grew up in the Smithton/Otterville area, and after we had been in Boonville for several years, my mother moved back to her home place near Otterville, and therefore much closer to us.

When we purchased Cooper County Animal Hospital, it was a small, rural-mixed practice that could support one doctor and 2-3 employees. It was approximately 50:50 large/farm animal: companion animal, with a fair amount of equine, swine, sheep and goats, etc. Over the 30 years that we have owned the business, it has evolved into a 2 1/2 doctor practice with around 13 employees. It has also changed from 50:50 to approximately 80% companion animal (almost exclusively dog and cat) and 20% large animal (almost exclusively beef cattle) with more sheep and goats, but virtually no swine and very minimal equine.

I think the growth and change in our practice follows closely the change in veterinary medicine as a whole. Boonville and Cooper county have grown and have become more urban, with more influence from Columbia, MO than in the past. Society has also evolved into viewing their pets much differently than in the past. They not only view them as much more of an integral part of the family and therefore place much more emotional value on them, but they also are much more willing in general to pursue treatment and prevention in a way that more resembles our human medical counterparts. As an example, in 1994, we answered the phone 24/7 and would see many of the emergencies ourselves. Currently, we still have a doctor on call, but we very seldom see small animal emergencies ourselves.

There are 2 emergency veterinary hospitals in Columbia and people as a whole are in agreement that emergencies/urgencies should be seen in a setting where they are fully equipped and staffed. It's much like modern human medicine, where you wouldn't call your primary care physician for an emergency, you would go to the ER or Urgent care.

As for the future of veterinary medicine, we see some signs of what might come. I would imagine that we will continue to progress and follow closely the model of human medicine as far as advanced treatments. This, however, also increases the cost of treating our pets. I suspect that the pet insurance industry will become more of an important method of helping owners' care for their pets. There are continuing advances and development of new, better prevention and treatment options becoming available almost daily. I suspect this will continue. There is much interest in the concept of "One Health", which is an interest in integrating animal and human medicine more closely. Science is evolving to understand how integral animal, both domestic and no-domestic animals, and human health are intertwined. Collaboration between the animal, human, environmental, and ecological sciences are becoming more common.

In the Food animal veterinary world, there is a shortage of veterinarians nationwide. There is as lot of discussion of how to attract young veterinarians to rural areas and how to encourage their interest in food-animal medicine. This is especially seen in the beef cattle industry, not as much in the swine and dairy fields. Student loan debt is one reason for this, and that is being looked at, with loan forgiveness programs present at the federal level and at several states' levels (Missouri was one of the first states to have such a program).

By:  Scott A Fray, DVM


In the past 100 years, Cooper County has gradually changed from a very rural county with many herds of large animals to one that is more urban. Dairy herds are gone, but some cattle are still raised. Some horses still dot the countryside, as do a few farms with chickens, hogs and sheep. 

But Dr. James Farrell was correct, each year there seem to be more companion animals needing care, and fewer vets caring for large animals. 

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