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History of the American Association of Small Ruminant Practitioners


Twenty-five Years with AASRP
By Don E. Bailey, DVM


This year (1993) the American Association of Small Ruminant Practitioners celebrates its twenty-fifth anniversary. We have come a long way from a small get-together at a “Sheep Health” meeting at the University of California at Davis in 1968 to a 1,260 member association with individuals in each of the fifty states, in most of the Canadian provinces and in countries from Bolivia to Israel, India and Australia.


Looking back, we recognize that we had wonderful help from sheep producers on the road to becoming a professional association. In 1967 the “American Sheep Producer’s Council” (now “American Sheep Industry”) formed the “Sheep Industry Development Program”. It set up educational programs with each centered around a theme.


The meeting on “Sheep Health” at UC Davis brought together producers, veterinarians and county agents. Some veterinarians on the program were Blaine McGowan, George Crenshaw and Cliff Beck. At a get-together at the Crenshaw home after the meeting, there was talk about having an organization for sheep veterinarians like other AVMA groups being organized around horses, swine or cattle. We decided to meet again in a more planned way at the next Intermountain Veterinary Meeting at Las Vegas, Nevada.


Dr. Charles Campbell of Healdsburg, California got us a small side room at what is now called the Western Veterinary Conference. Two of us were practitioners (Charles Campbell and myself) and two were working for the Federal Government (Ralph Knowles and Jim Hourrigan). Dr. Hourrigan was running the Texas Scrapie Project which did a lot to convince sheep producers that scrapie is an infectious disease. At Las Vegas we got down to business. We named ourselves the American Association of Sheep and Goat Practitioners and we elected Dr. Campbell as our first president. We also decided to ask the American Sheep Council for help.


The Council supplied a Mr. Byron Taylor to help the AASGP get going. By July 1969, we found ourselves meeting at the AVMA Convention in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Some present were Charles Campbell, Byron Taylor, Cliff Beck and Don Bailey. The big decision made there was to create the Constitution and By-laws and to put in them a provision for Associate members. From the early days we realized that we needed producers and their organizations to be in on the promotion of veterinary medicine for sheep and goats.


Our biggest promoter soon turned out to be one of those Associate members, Mr. George McConnell, vice president of H. C. Burns Company. He was trying to get veterinarians and producers interested in his new selenium products and he was enthusiastic about the Intermountain Veterinary Meeting at Las Vegas. He got the idea for our association to have a luncheon with a speaker during the Intermountain Meeting.


At first our annual luncheons were for AASGP members and speakers at the sheep and goat section of the program. Among our luncheon speakers were such outstanding individuals as AVMA presidents and head of national sheep groups. Before we knew it, George McConnell’s generosity and his flamboyant personality had widened the luncheons to the Intermountain Board of Directors and then to everybody’s friends. They certainly made the AASGP known, but when they grew to over 250 guests, the Intermountain Board of Directors called them off. George’s AASGP lamb feasts were getting too big.


This same generous non-veterinarian also came through when our finances were low in 1975. He printed news and notices for our members and let us put them in his company’s mailing to eleven western states, saving AASGP money. My wife, Betty, and I folded all the material, sorted according to zip and mailed it out. In fact, the Bailey’s with help from Sherry Princen, a local client, put Wool & Wattles out from our home all through the 1970’s. By the way, it was one of the founders, and our sixth president, Dr. Cliff Beck, who suggested the name for the newsletter when we were focused on only sheep and goats.


The mid-1970’s saw a positive turning point for AASRP. In October 1976, Drs. Robert Pierson and R. Teegarden organized the first AASGP regional symposium. It was held at Fort Collins, Colorado, and speakers were Drs. Rue Jensen, Robert Pierson, Ken Monfert, Dewey Brown, Gary Bragdon and more. Dr. Cliff Beck had been the chief promoter of that first symposium. Many have followed. Some, like this year, have been in conjunction with state veterinary or producer meetings. The Ohio VMA still considers that its excellent small ruminant section is in conjunction with AASRP.


As the years rolled along, we continued to have our annual meetings and elections at the Intermountain (Western States) Meeting in February and also get together wherever the AVMA was meeting in July. Eventually the annual meeting was changed to coincide with the AVMA Meeting, where we now arrange the program for the Small Ruminant Section. The AASRP Board of Directors still meets during the Western Veterinary Conference in February and welcomes visitors.


Getting approval as an allied group of the AVMA was a long process. In 1972 we began jumping through hoops, from approved Bylaws to the requirement that we have a certain percentage of AVMA members in our total membership. We “came of age” in 1977, and we have had a representative and an alternate in the AVMA House of Delegates since 1978.


In 1981, the-President Norm Gates got his AASGP student members at Washington State to produce the Newsletter. That’s when we began using the new sheep and goat logo. Dr. Mary Smith of Cornell took over as editor in 1984. Now Wool & Wattles doesn’t have as many jokes as I used to put in it years ago, but it has a lot of abstracts to give us some backup when, as usual, we have no approved drug or vaccine.


Fortunately, AASGP wasn’t afraid to meet changes that happened over the years. For example, when no other veterinary group paid attention to herds of llamas, we began including them. By 1988 we had changed the name in the Constitution to read “American Association of Small Ruminant Practitioners” to make room for more species. In 1989 we added a llama body to the logo and crowded two more legs onto it to demonstrate the wider scope of the AASRP. Now we are giving increasing attention to the growing deer farming industry. Maybe we can fit one more head in and maybe even another let, but after that we’ll just have to use our imaginations.


The Association has been fortunate to have had a number of dedicated members willing to work hard to get research done on small ruminants and to spread the word to the members. The thirteen who have served as President are: Charles Campbell, Don Bailey, G. Dewey Brown, Robert E. Pierson, Robert Simmons, Cliff Beck, Sam Guss, Norm Gates, Christine Williams, Russell Rasmussen, Robert Corwin, R. Ashley Robinson and Cleon Kimberling. Now we have David McCrystle as President. He is another practitioner from the same northern California town as Charles Campbell, the veterinarian who arranged our first formal meeting at Las Vegas and who became the first AASGP/AASRP President.


Don E. Bailey, DVM Executive Director, AASRP