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updated: 6/18/2013 12:42 PM

Veterinary association in Schaumburg celebrates 150 years

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  • The American Veterinary Medical Association has been based in Schaumburg for 38 of its 150-year existence. This building at 1931 N. Meacham Road has been the group's headquarters since 1991.

       The American Veterinary Medical Association has been based in Schaumburg for 38 of its 150-year existence. This building at 1931 N. Meacham Road has been the group's headquarters since 1991.
    Reema Amin | Staff Photographer

By Reema Amin

The American Veterinary Medical Association celebrates its 150th anniversary this month, with 38 of those years spent at two headquarters in Schaumburg.

The group spent years in other cities before moving to the Illinois suburbs, said Doug Aspros, association president.

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The association was founded in New York in 1863 but moved in 1923 to create a central office in Detroit.

But just eight years later, association officials decided to move the headquarters to Chicago, which they deemed a more central location to its members.

The group jumped around office spaces in the city until 1970, when board members recognized a growing membership and wanted to construct their own facility, said Diane Fagen, the association's librarian, in an email.

Oak Brook was almost a done deal because of its proximity to hotels and O'Hare International Airport, perfect for traveling members, according to past board meeting minutes.

But when a zoning change was required to construct the headquarters on that site, the board considered three other suburban plots that would offer the same accessibility that Oak Brook did -- one of those sites being Schaumburg.

Schaumburg was chosen, and the group officially moved in at 930 N. Meacham Road in late February of 1975.

But membership continued to grow, so in 1991, the group purchased a larger, five-story building at 1931 N. Meacham Road and has been there since. Currently, about 140 employees work out of the building.

Growth has been a constant for the group. Aspros said 100 years ago, the group had 1,650 members, a small slice of the 84,000 members it has now.

He said the profession, too, continues to change.

"One hundred and fifty years ago, veterinarians were just horse doctors because that was the business," Aspros said.

But when horses were no longer used for transportation in the early part of the 20th century, Aspros said veterinarians began caring more for agricultural animals. But even that field changes regularly with more farming technology.

Veterinarians rely on the group to set standards for practice, Aspros said, something that changes with technical advancements.

AVMA is also responsible for accrediting veterinary schools across the country. Right now, there's a total 29 such schools in the United States, Aspros said, a number he hopes will grow.

Illinois has one: the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Despite the ever-changing profession, Aspros said AVMA's mission has always stayed the same: "To ensure animal and human health and advance the veterinary profession."

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