Jump to: navigation, search

Royal Army Veterinary Corps

Cap badge of the Royal Army Veterinary Corps incorporating Chiron

The Royal Army Veterinary Corps (RAVC) is an administrative and operational branch of the British Army responsible for the provision, training and care of animals. It is a small but technically competent corps forming part of the Army Medical Services. Unusually, although it is responsible for providing what might be termed materiel, it is under the control of the Adjutant-General, who is in charge of personnel.

The RAVC provides, trains and cares for mainly dogs and horses, but also tends to the various regimental mascots in the army.

The original Army Veterinary Service (Veterinary Corps) within the Army Medical Department was founded in 1796 after public outrage concerning the death of Army horses. John Shipp was the first veterinary surgeon to be commissioned into the British Army when he joined the 11th Light Dragoons on 25 June 1796. This date is recognised as RAVC's foundation day (aka John Shipp Day).

The main location for the RAVC is the Defence Animal Centre based at Melton Mowbray in Leicestershire although staff are spread throughout the Army. They are also responsible for explosives and drug sniffer dogs.

Some of its numbered units are:-

  • 101 Military Working Dog Support Unit RAVC, based at Buller Barracks, Aldershot; part of 101 Logistic Brigade.
  • 102 Military Working Dog Support Unit RAVC, based at Sennelager in Germany.
  • 103 Military Working Dog Support Unit RAVC, also at Sennelager and
  • 104 Military Working Dog Support Unit RAVC, based at St George's Barracks in North Luffenham, Rutland.
  • 105 Military Working Dog Support Unit RAVC is the newest addition (as of April 2009) and is also based at Sennelager.

Sadie, a black labrador retriever belonging to 102 MWDSU and cared for by handler Lance Corporal Karen Yardley, won the PDSA Dickin Medal ("the animal's VC") in 2007.

On 24 July 2008, Lance Corporal Kenneth Michael Rowe of the RAVC and attached to 2nd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment was killed along with his search dog Sasha, during a contact with the Taliban in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. He was the 112th British service member to lose their life in that country.

In February 2010, Treo, a black Labrador, was awarded the Dickin Medal for services in Afghanistan.

Order of precedence


  • Smith, Frederick, Major-General Sir (1927) [1927]. A History of the Royal Army Veterinary Corps, 1796-1919. By Major-General Sir Frederick Smith.. London: Baillière & Co.. xii. 268. 
  • Clabby, John, Brigadier (1963). The History of the Royal Army Veterinary Corps, 1919-1961. London: J. A. Allen & Co.. p. 244. 

External links


Premier Equine Classifieds


Subscribe to our newsletter and keep abreast of the latest news, articles and information delivered directly to your inbox.

Did You Know?

Modern horse breeds developed in response to a need for "form to function", the necessity to develop certain physical characteristics in order to perform a certain type of work... More...

The Gypsy Cob was originally bred to be a wagon horse and pulled wagons or caravans known as Vardos; a type of covered wagon that people lived in... More...

Archaeological evidence indicates that the Arabian horse bloodline dates back 4,500 years. Throughout history, Arabian horses spread around the world by both war and trade.... More...

That the term "Sporthorse" is a term used to describe a type of horse rather than any particular breed... More...