AO VET at 50

AO VET celebrates 50th anniversary

11 February 2019

AOVET 50 years

Formally established in 1969, just ten years after the AO Foundation was itself formed, in 2019 AO VET celebrates its 50th anniversary. AO VET's history goes back further, to 1943, when an injured dog was treated for its fracture. The dog, named Kai, was owned by the wife of AO founder Hans Willenegger.

Right from the outset, the ethos of AO VET was fundamentally the same as that of the AO Foundation: it was rooted in the absolute dedication to improving patient care and outcomes in the treatment of trauma and musculoskeletal disorders.

The surgeons that founded AO VET made a powerful statement that animals should also benefit from advances made in the treatment of fractures in humans. AO surgeons taught their colleagues in veterinary medicine the new AO approaches, and developed ways to apply AO principles to both small and large animals. This collaboration between human and veterinary specialists deepened as the AO developed and grew, responding to the changing environment with new approaches and innovative treatments.

The courses AO VET offered immediately found an audience of veterinary surgeons eager to learn. The first AO VET course was held in Bettlach (CH) in January 1970 . Since then AO VET has offered more than 360 courses in 58 countries, training over 8,000 veterinary surgeons.

The AO VET Center was established in Waldenburg (CH) in 1975, under direction of a German small-animal specialist Dieter Prieur. The rapid growth of the organization which followed stands as testament to the real need for AO approaches in veterinary surgery. In the years since its establishment, AO VET has expanded the breadth and depth of its expertise and has become a truly global presence advocating for excellence in veterinary surgery.

Members of the AO VET global community relish the opportunity to come together at AO VET courses and share their experiences in a friendly environment. AO VET is the natural home for veterinary surgeons – anywhere in the world—who share a passion for innovation and excellence in education and who are looking for a place to share their expertise, learn from the best in their fields, and benefit from state-of-the-art educational materials.

The results of AO VET's devotion to the highest standards in veterinary surgery are there for all to see. AO VET has a solid track record in delivering world firsts. When Dr Rico Vannini, who is based in Switzerland, first met his unique patient, a 10-month-old Alaskan Malamute named Chuganaai ("little sunshine"), who was suffering from lameness, it was to the AO VET global network that he turned. He knew this would give him the best chance of getting the optimum outcome for the powerful sled dog. He consulted AO VET's Professor Dr Mike Kowaleski, who is based in North America. They worked together on the case and carried out the first ever total hip replacement on a sled dog—giving "little sunshine" greater post-operative mobility and a more active life following his recovery than other more traditional forms of treatment would have offered. 

This is just one of the success stories that AO VET surgeons have been able to achieve by working together. Throughout this anniversary year, we will be celebrating AO VET's journey to its position today as the world's preeminent community for veterinary surgeons specializing in trauma and musculoskeletal disorders.

Read more about AO VET history here.

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