The AHT’s Top 50 Milestones and Achievements
1942- Reginald Wooldridge, president of the National Veterinary Medical Association (now the British Veterinary Association) forms the Veterinary Educational Trust. The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons and the National Veterinary Medical Association make founding donations.
1943- Messrs Tattersalls launch the Bloodstock Industry Fund of the Veterinary Educational Trust.
1944- 15 stallion nominations are sold by Tattersalls at their September Sales and owners have given the proceeds to the Trust.
1946- Dr Wooldridge becomes the first Director of the Trust; Balaton Lodge, the AHT’s home in Newmarket , becomes the UK’s first Equine Research Station and Lanwades Park, the current home of the AHT, is sold on favourable terms to the AHT by major Durham Matthews.
1948- The Veterinary Educational Trust becomes the Animal Health Trust.
1959- Her Majesty The Queen becomes Patron of the AHT.
1963- Our Forensic Laboratory is opened, primarily to detect doping among racehorses. It is the first of its kind in the UK and is headed by ex-Scotland Yard scientist, Michael Moss.
1963- The AHT celebrates its 21st anniversary and is incorporated by Royal Charter.
1965- 160 foals are protected from an outbreak of equine flu with serum produced by the AHT’s Equine Research Station.
1969- HRH Princess Anne opens the original Small Animals Centre which is now the AHT’s Centre for Preventive Medicine; the home of our infectious and inherited disease work.
1972- Champion racehorse, Mill Reef, is saved for stallion duties after operations carried out on his shattered cannon bone and fetlock by AHT surgeons.
1978- The AHT plays a valuable part in the team formulating ‘The TNM classification of tumours in domestic animals’ - this becomes a valuable system for recording cancer cases and planning research programmes.
1979- Equine influenza and herpes epidemics affect Newmarket studs. The AHT plays a lead role in monitoring and controlling the outbreaks of the viruses.
1981- Her Majesty The Queen opens the Equine Virology Unit.
1986- Blood typing as a condition of entry into the General Stud Book becomes compulsory for Thoroughbred horses – the AHT performs the tests and maintains a computer register of breeding stock and blood groupings. We still maintain this register at current.
1991- HRH The Princess Royal becomes President of the Animal Health Trust.
1992- Small animal orthopaedics and neurosurgery specialties are introduced to the Small Animal Centre. The AHT opens an MRI scanner unit and pioneers its use in veterinary medicine, especially in the diagnosis and management of cancer and the investigation of brain tumours in dogs and cats.
1994- Researchers want to apply recent advances in the study of human cancers for the benefit of animals, so the AHT establishes the Cytogenetics Group. This Group studies the role genes play in cancer in dogs and cats - a vital addition to the AHT as many canine tumours contain chromosomes with defects.
1996- The AHT’s Centre for Small Animal Studies is opened. Since its opening tens of thousands of animals have been helped.
1997- The AHT’s Centre for Equine Studies is opened leading the way in the diagnosis and treatment of horses with complex orthopaedic problems.
2000- We open a new state-of-the-art MRI facility, equipped with a high grade MRI scanner which enables us to gather detailed images of animals, assisting with accurate and efficient diagnosis and helping many animals on the road to recovery.
2001- We help DEFRA (Department for the Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs) analyse 40,000 sheep serum samples per week in order to deal with the Foot and Mouth crisis.
2002- In collaboration with groups in the USA and France, the AHT publishes the most comprehensive genetic map of the dog currently available.
2002- The Trust plays an important role in analysing outbreaks of West Nile Fever in horses. It is a virus which can cause paralysis and death.
2003- We successfully handle two major equine infectious disease outbreaks - equine herpesvirus and equine flu - by controlling the spread of infection through offering tests to all yards with horses which had been in contact with affected horses. This ensures they arecleared of infection before moving from the premises
2003- Our vets see more referral cases than ever before in our clinics for horses, dogs and cats. More than 5,000 dogs, 400 cats and 750 horses are treated.
2004- After a successful appeal, the AHT purchases a digital radiography machine for use in the Equine Centre. With this new technology we are able to radically improve the diagnosis, and therefore treatment, of our equine patients.
2004- We install a new hydrotherapy pool, an important part of the recuperation process after surgery or injury for small animals.
2005- Scientists at the AHT identify the genetic mutations responsible for Hereditary Cataract in Staffordshire Bull Terriers and juvenile cataract in Boston Terriers. From this, we develop DNA diagnostic tests that are now available to distinguish carrier, clear and affected dogs.
2006- The AHT embarks on a new project to study the genetics of Hereditary Cataract and Progressive Retinal Atrophy in the Golden Retriever (see 2010), the American Cocker Spaniel and the Tibetan Spaniel.
2006- A programme in Equine Genetics Research entitled ‘A study of inherited musculoskeletal diseases in the Thoroughbred’ to be conducted by the AHT in collaboration with the Royal Veterinary College begins.
2007- We join forces with the British Horse Society in an effort to beat the equine disease, Strangles.
2007- The AHT becomes a European pioneer in using an endoscopic cyclophotocoagulation (ECP) laser to treat canine glaucoma.
2007- The AHT acquires a ceiling mounted microscope to further push the boundaries of veterinary ophthalmology.
2007- The Equine Centre starts offering radiotherapy using Iridium-192 wires for the treatment of sarcoids, the most common form of cancer in horses.
2008- The AHT, thanks to funding from the Strangles campaign, launches a new diagnostic test for Strangles which clearly identifies carriers and is ideal for screening horses prior to movement. The test proves very popular and the number of samples submitted soon runs to hundreds per month.
2008- DNA screening tests for cerebella ataxia in the Italian Spinone and hereditary cataracts in the Australian Shepherd are developed by the AHT and made available to the public.
2009- Ophthalmologists from the AHT are asked by the Animals Asia Foundation to save the sight of Moon Bears saved from bear bile farms in China. They do so using new portable eye surgery equipment. Their work is a great success and gains international recognition.
2009- The Suffolk Horse Society ask equine geneticists at the AHT to assess the genetic diversity of the Suffolk Horse, an iconic local breed but now listed as critically endangered. Our work will enable breeders to minimise the risk of health problems associated with a lack of genetic diversity.
2009- The AHT develops DNA tests to identify carriers of Primary Lens Luxation (PLL), a painful and blinding condition, affecting over 18 breeds of terrier. Within months more than 6,000 samples from 36 countries are received for testing.
2010- After ten years of painstaking research the AHT launches a DNA test for the fatal condition Foal Immunodeficiency Syndrome (FIS) which affects two native UK breeds, the Fell Pony and the Dale Pony. In time this test could eradicate the condition.
2010- A DNA test is developed and launched which identifies Golden Retrievers who carry the genetic mutation causing progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), a disease which causes blindness.
2010- The AHT is asked by the Sandringham Estate to investigate a mystery illness causing dogs, walked in woodland, to become very ill and, in some cases, die. The illness is given the name seasonal canine illness (SCI). Three additional sites are identified, two in Norfolk and one in Nottingham.
2011- With The Kennel Club, we launch Mate Select. This online tool allows dog breeders to make well-informed breeding decisions in order to reduce health problems across all breeds of dog.
2011- The AHT launches a survey designed to eradicate hip and elbow dysplasia in Labrador Retrievers. We hope to receive 2,000 completed surveys but in fact many more are submitted.
2012 – Drawing on the findings from our long-standing equine clinical research programme, we advise the London Organising Committee on the design and maintenance of the Olympic equestrian arenas, ensuring the risk of injury to any horses competing is as minimal as possible.
2012- Our brand new state-of-the-art cancer treatment and research facility for animals, known as the Kennel Club Cancer Centre, is opened by our President, HRH The Princess Royal. The facility has been purpose-built to offer radiotherapy to horses, dogs and cats with cancer. It will also help to further understanding of the disease in animals.
2012- Scientists from our Kennel Club Genetics Centre successfully identify a genetic mutation which causes a severe progressive disease in Parson Russell Terriers (PRTs). A new DNA test is developed and made available to dog breeders.
2013 – The AHT’s expert scientists assist the Badminton Horse Trials team to control an outbreak of Equine HerpesVirus at the competition stables, ensuring the world-renowned Horse Trials are able to go ahead as planned
2013 – We celebrate 50 years of our Royal Charter and look forward, with optimism, to the next 50!