Celebrating the vision of Dr. Mark L. Morris Sr. during our history month
When Dr. Mark L. Morris Sr. began his veterinary career, little did he realize he was embarking on a journey that would lead not only to pioneering improvements in animal health, but ultimately result in the creation of one of the largest animal health foundations in the world.
Early in his career, Dr. Morris became interested in applying medical diagnostic and treatment practices used in human medicine to improve the care of his veterinary patients – a revolutionary concept at the time. His passion for small animals led to the construction of Raritan Hospital for Animals in New Jersey (one of the first exclusively small animal clinics in the United States), and the formation of the American Animal Hospital Association, a groundbreaking association committed to improving companion animal veterinary practice.
Dr. Morris also is credited with the creation of something most pet owners now take for granted – the use of specially formulated diets to treat disease. Dr. Morris developed the first prescription diet (Raritan Ration B) to address the needs of his canine patients with kidney disease, mixing the diet with the help of his wife, Louise, in their home kitchen.
Dr. Morris was soon overwhelmed with requests for the diet, and needed help to produce the diet on a larger scale. He found a willing partner in the Hill Packing Company of Topeka, Kansas. The diet became the basis for Hill’s canine k/d diet. Dr. Morris continued to create and test other diets designed to help both dogs and cats with a variety of diseases. The vast selection of prescription diets now available for dogs and cats owe their origins to this remarkable clinician.
It was this partnership between Dr. Morris and Hill’s that laid the groundwork for what would become the present-day Morris Animal Foundation, established in 1948. The Foundation was built from the royalties of one-half cent per can of food, money dedicated to science and research as a means to advance animal health.
Today, Morris Animal Foundation is one of the largest and most respected animal health organizations in the world. Since its creation, the Foundation has invested more than $103 million toward 2,500+ studies that have led to significant breakthroughs in diagnostics, treatments, preventions and cures to benefit companion animals, horses, and wildlife worldwide.