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Women’s History Month: The Story of Dr. Suzanne “Chief” Saueressig

Posted In: News Updates

In honor of National Women’s History Month, we wanted to do a spotlight on Dr. Suzanne Saueressig- affectionately known as “Chief”- a woman who played a major role in developing our practice into a top-notch veterinary clinic, and who inspired a countless number of women to pursue a career in veterinary medicine. 

Dr. Saueressig was born in Nuremburg, Germany in 1925, and graduated from the University of Munich Veterinary College in 1953, where she was the only woman in her class. She moved to St. Louis, Missouri and was hired by the Humane Society of Missouri in 1955, becoming the first female practicing veterinarian in the state. Chief would often recount that her intentions were only to stay in St. Louis for one year.  However, after seeing the need with neglected pets, she decided to stay and we are proud to continue to honor her legacy of 55 years of veterinary practice and service to the community. 

She insisted on raising the standards at our clinic, ensuring surgical instruments were sanitized properly, insisting on modern x-ray equipment, and increasing cleanliness standards for the animals. One famous anecdote is that she would hide small newspaper comics on the bottom of animals' cages overnight and check to make sure they were removed the next morning as a way to ensure the staff was properly cleaning the cages.

Dr. Saueressig was named our Chief of Staff ten years later in 1965. She was very involved in improving her community. She was an advocate for the spaying and neutering of pets and had a campaign to raise public awareness for the project. She served on veterinary and community organizations and mentored many successful veterinarians. She had a column in the newspaper St. Louis Globe-Democrat titled Ask the Pet Doctor, which ran weekly from 1979-1985. She answered many community member's questions about their pet's care and helped spread awareness this way. In 1972, she even claimed the award of "Woman Veterinarian of the Year" by the national organization American Veterinary Medical Association.

Under Chief’s leadership, the Humane Society’s veterinary clinic grew both in physical size, capability, and reputation- elevating the standard for area animal welfare organizations. Dr. Saueressig sadly passed away in 2013 at the age of 88. She was a mentor to many veterinarians and an inspiration to her supporters, and it is believed that she directly helped over 1 million animals during her career. Her story continues to be an inspiration to women, veterinary professionals, and all who care for animals as she did.

The Animal Medical Center of Mid-America has veterinarians at three locations that can answer questions about your pet’s health. Call 314-951-1534 or click here to request an appointment online.