Suzanne Saueressig, DVM, worked 55 years for the Humane Society of Missouri
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, March 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
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
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.
Saueressig retired from the chief veterinary role in 1997, but
continued to practice veterinary medicine at the Humane Society of
Missouri until 2010.