Suzanne , DVM, worked 55 years for the Humane Society of Missouri

From ANIMAL PEOPLE Jan/Feb 2013:

Suzanne Saueressig,  DVM,  89,  died on February 8,  2013 in Richmond Heights,  Missouri.  Born in Nuremberg, Germany,  Saueressig “grew up with cats and dogs,”  remembered St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter Michael Sorkin.   

“One day a cat went missing.  Suzanne,  then 10,  suspected the family’s maid,  who hated cats.  Suzanne caught a collection of mice and put them in the maid’s drawer.  After that,  the cat returned.  Saueressig’s great-grandfather founded a construction business and behind it built the family home.  Suzanne, the eldest of four siblings,  was educated at a Catholic cloister.

She rebelled at having to wear a school uniform.  At 17,  she attended one session of a typing school.  That evening, the Allies bombed the school.  When she saw the wounded without medical aid,  she decided to enroll in nursing school instead.  After her first semester in nurse training, she and her classmates were drafted into the army.  During another bombing, she was hit on the head by a falling door and suffered a concussion. From the spring of 1945 through the spring of 1946,  she said, she was held as a prisoner-of-war at a camp overseen by Americans,”  helping to provide medical care to German prisoners.

Admitted to veterinary school in 1949,  Saueressig “graduated from the University of Munich Veterinary College in 1953 and completed her doctoral dissertation magna cum laude in 1954,”  her Humane Society of Missouri obituary added.  Then focused on the public health side of veterinary work,  Saueressig wrote her dissertation about salmonella in mollusks.  In 1955,  however,  Saueressig accepted a one-year internship to learn veterinary surgery at the Humane Society of Missouri.  Her first operations were sterilizations of the pets of other staff members.

The first female practicing veterinarian in the state of Missouri,  Saueressig “brought with her a host of progressive ideas.  She insisted that veterinary surgeons use sterile instruments and wear gloves and gowns.  She wanted modern X-ray machines to diagnose injuries.  When she was turned down,  she took her fight to the board of directors,”  wrote Sorkin of St. Louis Post-Dispatch,  citing oral history collected by Animal Medical Center of Mid America director of veterinary services Steven Schwartz,  DVM.

When push came to shove,  the former meat inspector who was then the Humane Society of Missouri chief veterinarian departed.  Promoted into his position,  Sauressig soon found herself training other interns,  including Richard Riegel,  DVM.  They were married in 1956.  He survives her.

Sauressig was named Humane Society of Missouri chief of staff in 1965,  and was nationally honored as “Woman Veterinarian of the Year” in 1972 by the Women’s Veterinary Medical Association.  From 1979 to 1985 she wrote a weekly “Ask the Pet Doctor” column for the St. Louis Globe-Democrat.

Saueressig retired from the chief veterinary role in 1997,  but continued to practice veterinary medicine at the Humane Society of Missouri until 2010.

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