Horses were an essential element in the early development of what was to become Saskatchewan. The first veterinarian, W.G. Boswell, was a member of the Boundary Commission that mapped the Canada-USA boundary in 1872–76; the second was J.L. Poett, with the North-West Mounted Police on its “march west” in 1874. Subsequently NWMP veterinarians not only cared for horses but acted as “game guardians” and assisted in domestic animal disease control. John G. Rutherford served in the North-West Resistance of 1885, and went on to become Canada’s first Veterinary Director General in the Canada Department of Agriculture.
When the Saskatchewan Veterinary Medical Association was established in 1909, fifty-six veterinarians signed the register. The health of Saskatchewan’s livestock has been well served by its veterinary profession. The prompt detection in 1950–51 of foot-and-mouth disease in cattle near Regina by Harold Hunter contained a potentially catastrophic situation with a minimum of cost and disruption.
The provincial Department of Agriculture has played an active role in maintaining livestock health by instituting disease control programs, providing veterinary diagnostic laboratory services, supporting local veterinary practices, and developing policies and regulations for disease control.