In April 1863, Professor John Gamgee (1831-1894) from the college of Edinburgh, UK took the initiative to invite professors of veterinary medicine and veterinarians from all over Europe to a general meeting in Hamburg, Germany 14-18 July 1863.. This meeting became the first International Veterinary Congress later known as The World Veterinary Congress (WVC) and it was attended by 103 veterinarians from 10 countries. The aim of the meeting was mainly to discuss a system to combat epizootic diseases and to devise common rules for the trade of cattle and to recommend adoption of the rules by all European countries. The main topic was Rinderpest, a devastating disease that has been eradicated worldwide throughout targeted veterinary action.
At the 8th WVC in Budapest, Hungary in 1906, a Permanent Committee was formed to be the organizational link between congresses. At the 15th WVC in Stockholm, Sweden in 1953, it was decided to form an international association.
The Permanent Committee worked with a Constitution of the World Veterinary Association until the 16th WVC in Madrid, Spain in 1959, where the World Veterinary Association was founded as a continuation of the Permanent Committee for the International Veterinary Congresses.
In 1963, the 17th WVC took place in Hanover, Germany from 14-21 August 1963. On that occasion, the WVC celebrated 100 years of Veterinary Congresses and in the honour of Prof. John Gamgee, a gold medal was designed to serve as an award to selected veterinarians in recognition of their outstanding and exemplary services to the veterinary science and to the veterinary profession.
On 17-20 September 2013, the 31st World Veterinary Congress will be held in Prague, Czech Republic, where the WVA will celebrate its own 150th anniversary.