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Mark L. Morris, Sr.

Dr. Mark Morris is known for his vision in clinical pet nutrition. After beginning his career in New Jersey, he became an expert in quality pet food. He moved to Topeka, Kansas, where he joined with the Hill Packing Company, which became Hill’s Pet Nutrition.

Mark Loren Morris was born November 18, 1900, in Adams County, Colorado, the son of Mark M. and Pruda Mary (Gilpin) Morris. He earned a veterinary degree from Cornell University in 1926. He married Louise M. Weber on December 21, 1928.

Morris opened the Raritan Hospital for Animals in Edison, New Jersey, in 1928. It was the only the second animal hospital of its kind; he began to focus his veterinary practice on the care of companion animals.

At a time when veterinary science was dedicated to livestock and farm animals, Morris decided to conduct his own research on pet nutrition. He believed that he could better treat his patients by using proper nutrition from a balanced diet. He worked with Rutgers University and tested his hypotheses. He had developed his first pet food formula by 1939.

That same year he met Morris Frank, who was the national ambassador for the Seeing Eye guide dog program. Frank’s guide dog, Buddy, was dying of kidney disease and he was desperate to find a cure. After Morris treated Buddy with the new pet food, his health improved and the formula was in greater demand than he and his wife could supply. Morris developed a production agreement with the Hill Packing Company in Topeka, Kansas. He continued to create the formulas and Hill’s produced, packaged, and marketed them. That agreement became a successful business. Morris is credited with being the founder of Hill’s Pet Nutrition.

Morris established a foundation in his name that provides funding for small animal research, wildlife research, and veterinary student scholarships. He was active in industry organizations, he served as the first president of the American Animal Hospital Association, was president of the American Veterinary Medical Association, and led efforts to establish nutritional standards for pet foods.

Mark L. Morris, Sr., died July 8, 1993, at the age of 92. His son, Mark Morris, Jr., followed in his father’s footsteps in veterinary medicine and education about clinical pet nutrition.

Entry: Mark L. Morris, Sr.

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: January 2018

Date Modified: January 2018

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.