On request of the WAHVM prof.dr. J. Schäffer (Hanover) undertook a worldwide investigation into the actual status of veterinary history teaching. In June 1997 he has sent out a questionnaire to the deans of 231 establishments of veterinary education. The seven questions asked were the same as those used by prof. J.B. Mulder, when he surveyed the U.S. and Canadian schools in 1990 (see: J.B. Mulder. A survey of veterinary medical history instruction in United States and Canada schools. Veterinary heritage, 13(2), 58-62, 1990). The deans of these schools were, therefore, not approached a second time.
The questions were answered by 88 deans; the 11 answers that were negative in case of all 7 questions are left out in the following overview.
1/2. Formal courses are offered in 19 European, 1 Near Eastern and 1 Japanese school. But only in Germany, Poland, Romania and Turkey the course is required. And only 11 schools have a post financed out of the veterinary faculty budget. In six cases this is a full-time position.
3/4. 9 European, 1 African, 6 Asian and 1 South-American school are providing history teaching in the framework of other courses.
5. The question “Does your veterinary school library have a collection of books or a section dedicated to veterinary history?” may have led to some ambiguity. Sometimes it seems to be interpreted as the availability of an old book collection and sometimes as a collection of historiographical materials. But in most cases where the answer is negative, fruitful history teaching can hardly be expected.
Counting all answers received, plus two answered by Schäffer from own knowledge (n=90), 39 European schools stated that they possess a library that can support a history teaching programme and nine had to report negatively. The reverse is found in the rest of the world (without the U.S. and Canada); here only 14 positive answers are given against 28 negative.
6/7. Worldwide 39 veterinary schools have interest in adding a history course, but only 8 deans are of the opinion that it has to be a required course. As many of them complain of a lack of funds or find great difficulty to make room for such a course in the overfilled curriculum, much external support and persuasion power will be needed to carry the good intentions into effect.