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Project stories 39. For the Welfare of People and Animals - Lviv Veterinary School Reveals its Secrets

29 / 12 / 2023
Category: Project News


The projects implemented under the Cross-border Cooperation Programme Poland-Belarus-Ukraine 2014-2020 are not just indicators, budgets, reports and payments. Although these are inseparable elements, above all each project hides the specific ideas, values and dreams of people implementing it, as well as the stories of those who benefited from their implementation.

We want to bring some of them closer to you by the "Project stories" – the cycle which presents their more human (but also animal – as in the 1st, 13th and 14th episodes) dimension of our selected projects. We invite you to read!

Everyone who lives in Lviv, at least once has passed by this University campus surrounded by a beautiful park. A majestic building with columns, a sculpture of a man and a horse, an inscription in Latin "Hominus animalumque saluti" ("For the welfare of people and animals") on the wall – this place is certain to capture your attention. Those who live nearby usually have the opportunity to explore the area better. Here you can watch wild ducks swimming in a small pond, walk through the shady alleys of the park, stopping by a mysterious Gothic building, listen to the peaceful buzzing of bees around the beehives. In the southern part of the campus one can find some more interesting things - you can see cows and horses in a barn, and chickens walking peacefully. Quite a strange sight for the city downtown, and priceless experience for children! And there is also a unique Horseshoe Museum here. The campus of the Lviv National University of Veterinary Medicine and Biotechnology is like a whole country, however, its history is little known to Lviv residents and tourists.

Professor Anton Hamota, who connected his life with this educational institution in the 40s of the last century, can still remember much from its past, starting from his student years. He has also explored its earlier history.  Alla Vyniarska shares his passion, being fascinated by the past. Zbigniew Wróblewski, a doctor of veterinary medicine from Poland thinks that Lviv Veterinary School is a cradle of Polish veterinary science and its history deserves thought study. The team of like-minded people from Ukraine and Poland decided that it would be interesting to explore the past of the institution and reveal its fascinating history to others.

It began in 1881 with the creation of the Imperial Royal Veterinary School and the School of Horse Shoeing together with the inpatient clinic for animals in Lviv. In those days, human life was connected with animals to a much greater extent than now: all rural families kept livestock, while chickens, or even pigs and cows, were not unusual for big cities. Horses were used in many areas of human life, from industry to military service. Therefore, the issue of creating an educational institution that would train specialists capable of fighting animal diseases and conducting scientific research in this field had been discussed for many years. Thanks to the efforts of the proponents, in particular, Alfred Besiadecki, the chief sanitary doctor of Galicia and a professor at the Jagiellonian University, a Veterinary School was finally open in Lviv and Piotr Seifman being appointed its first director. Therefore, for many years it was the only veterinary school of this kind in this part of the then Austrian Empire, thousands of future specialists began their career here, the history of veterinary medicine in both Poland and Ukraine is connected with it.

That is why the research and popularization of this history was so important for the project partners on both sides of the border. The project VetHeritage "Innovative approach to historical heritage: the scientific heritage of veterinary medicine on the Ukrainian-Polish border" was a joint initiative of the Lviv National University of Veterinary Medicine and Biotechnology named after S. Z. Hzhytskyi and two veterinary chambers from Poland – Lublin and Podkarpacka.

Alla Vyniarska tells about her experience of studying the archive documents:

I was deeply impressed by what read about the harsh conditions of veterinary school in the 19th century. In the beginning, the clinic was literary a barn with no heating or light… The people who worked there were true heroes as they not only managed to cope with all the difficulties but also to take the institution to such a high level. They deserve to be remembered and they can inspire others with their example.

Incredible amount of work has been carried out within the project, i.e. the study and digitization of archives, during which more than a thousand documents and photographs were systematized and organized, moreover,   descriptions of the most important aspects of the University's history were prepared. The findings were used for museum presentation stands, publications and a tourist route. Don’t forget, that four buildings that originally housed the Veterinary School grew into a huge complex! The tour of the University with a visit to the most important places lasts almost three hours. And such exciting stories are to be revealed to you! Professor Anton Hamota is eager to share his own memories and what he once heard from others and found in the archives. Thanks to him, these stories come to life, filled with emotions and vivid details. He is a great storyteller and has phenomenal memory.

He tells about his University, which has gone through the stormy years of wars, repressions, post-war calamities, and several changes of political power. He speaks with admiration about the professors, among whom there are many outstanding scientists, highly intelligent, sometimes eccentric personalities, devoted to their work. Like, for example, Professor Stanisław Królikowski, who developed a pioneering method of endotracheal inhalation anesthesia for horses at a time when general intravenous anesthesia was not yet used in animals. Kazimierz Szczudłowski, a founder of Lviv School of Orthopedics who developed a method of blocking the nerves of horse's limbs, which is still used today. Stanisław Michalski was the first person in Europe to apply and describe intravenous anesthesia of dogs and cats with barbiturate-pernoctone, using intravenous evipan. Józef Szpilman and Henryk Kadyj initiated the reform of veterinary medicine and veterinary education in Austria. Józef Szpilman, as a member of the Veterinary Council at the Ministry of Agriculture in Vienna, was even sent by the Austrian government to Bulgaria in 1914 with the mission of diagnosing and overcoming rinderpest. The academy presented its achievements at international exhibitions, and world scientists papers wrote about it. Textbooks and periodicals were published here, in particular, the first ever veterinary magazine in the Polish language "Przegląd Weterynarski».  And, most importantly, it helped to decrease the occurance of animal diseases in the region.

The territory of the University itself has also undergone impressive changes. Today, its main part is located in a grandiose building in socialist classicism style. Over time, surrounding buildings, such as the premises of the former monastery of the Sacraments, were also included in the complex. It's hard to believe that the University fish pond was once much larger and was used as a public swimming pool, and the neighboring Szumanowski pond (non-existent now) also was turned into ice rink in winter, which was managed by local skating association. Student life was not just studying  –  in the 20s of the last century, students founded the Lviv Choir of Veterinary Doctors, which gave concerts, went on tour and was broadcasted on the radio.

Every time I read historical works, biographies, archival materials, memories of professors, I think back to those times and live all these moments with these people. I put myself in their place: would I be able to work in such conditions, would I have enough passion... I am proud to have studied and worked at the Lviv Veterinary School... – says Anton Hamota.

We may never know the fate of those young men and women looking at us from old photographs. In 140 years, the world has become different, technology came to the next level, and people’s lifestyle has changed. But something has remained unchanged - the need for interaction between humans and living nature for sake of the common good. People whose destinies are intertwined with the history of this University have devoted themselves to serving a noble cause, the essence of which is briefly conveyed by the phrase carved on the facade of the University wall.

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