WASHINGTON, DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, May 26, 2017 — American Humane, the country’s first national humane organization, is pleased to announce that voting is now open in the fourth annual American Humane Hero Veterinarian and Hero Veterinary Technician Awards™, sponsored by Zoetis. Following the review of nearly 200 nominations from animal lovers across the country, a blue-ribbon judging panel of veterinary professionals and animal care experts has selected 10 of the country’s top veterinarians and veterinary technicians as finalists. Pet owners and animal lovers alike are invited to visit www.herovetawards.org every day between now and July 27 to vote for 2017’s top American Hero Veterinarian and American Hero Veterinary Technician.
The winners will be flown to Los Angeles to be honored on September 16 as part of the seventh annual American Humane Hero Dog Awards®, sponsored by the Lois Pope LIFE Foundation. The Hero Dog Awards will air nationwide as a two-hour special on Hallmark Channel this fall.
“Our 181 nominated Hero Veterinarians and Hero Veterinary Technicians are outstanding examples of the veterinary community,” said J. Michael McFarland, DVM, DABVP, group director, Companion Animal Marketing at Zoetis. “The American Humane Hero Veterinarian and Veterinary Technician Awards are Zoetis’ way of giving back to those who keep our best friends healthy and strengthen the life-enhancing, even life-saving human-animal bond. Congratulations to our 10 extraordinary finalists!”
“Veterinarians and veterinary technicians are heroes to our animals, and to us,” said Dr. Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of American Humane. “These dedicated professionals work behind the scenes and without fanfare to keep these family members happy and healthy. We and the nation want to thank them, one and all!”
To read each of the nominees’ stories, as told by the people who nominated them, and to vote daily for one of the five finalists in each of the American Hero Veterinarian and American Hero Veterinary Technician categories, please visit www.herovetawards.org.
Meet the 10 heroic veterinarian and veterinary technician finalists!
Here are the nomination essays written by their supporters:
American Hero Veterinarian
Dr. Nicole McArthur (Granite Bay, CA)
Veterinarians are at a risk for suicide several times greater than the national average and in 2014 the tragic death by her own hand of Dr. Sophia Yin shocked the profession. This was the catalyst for Dr. McArthur, having dealt with depression and burn out herself, to start a peer-to-peer veterinary mental health support group. Initially it was just a few veterinarian Facebook friends. Then other veterinarians learned of it and wanted to join. And still more joined, until it went both viral and global. As of this writing more than 11,000 veterinarians are part of the Not One More Vet family. Lives have been changed and saved because many veterinarians have found they now have a safe place to turn to talk about their problems and receive loving, non-judgmental support. Not One More Vet is now Not One More Vet, Inc. and not-for-profit status is pending. The corporation will raise money for mental health education to help fulfill Dr. McArthur’s initial goal: that not one more vet would see suicide as an alternative. Dr. McArthur is my hero veterinarian because she saw a need and addressed it. What’s more, her vision touches thousands of veterinarians, who in turn touch thousands of clients and patients and better their lives. That’s a true hero.
Dr. Patricia Canchola (Pueblo, CO)
Dr. Patti, as she is known in our community, has worked as a shelter veterinarian for Pueblo Animal Services since 2009. She is the only veterinarian on staff and performs between 3,500 and 4,500 spay and neuter surgeries every year. In addition, she performs about 200 other surgeries, treating animals that have trauma-related injuries, masses, broken bones and other injuries. She is responsible for the care of approximately 5,000 animals at the shelter every year, and cares for all with compassion, sensitivity and professionalism. Last year, Dr. Patti took it upon herself to take veterinary forensics courses to be better trained when examining abused, neglected and mistreated animals that are part of criminal investigations. She regularly testifies in animal cruelty criminal trials, being the voice for the animal victims, so that they may be heard. On top of this very busy and difficult job, she operates her own non-profit pet food bank, helping hundreds of families every year to feed their pets. As if that was not enough for her to do, she also runs an independent, low-cost pet health clinic two Saturdays a month, offering affordable vaccines, preventative health care and treatment of common illnesses and minor injuries. The Pueblo community experiences high levels of poverty, which absolutely affects pets every day. Low-income pet owners are able to better care for their pets thanks to her Amazin’ Amos Pet Food Pantry and her St. Martin’s Well Pet Clinic.
David Crouch (Ashevile, NC)
Dr. Crouch is an amazing man and veterinarian! I rescued a dog, Blue, from a cruelty case who needed special orthopedic surgery. I reached out to Dr. Crouch, who agreed to perform the surgery. While many miles and states separated us, his love for animals and desire to provide the best care proved that miles do not matter. Dr. Crouch, at his own expense, flew to us, picked up the broken baby and returned him to us on the road to healing. Aside from the giving of his time and money to retrieve and return Blue, Dr. Crouch discounted the surgery greatly, more than one can imagine. It doesn’t stop there! Dr. Crouch is also a volunteer pilot with Pilots N Paws. He provides his service of flying homeless animals from state to state to begin a new life at no charge. The animals he flies to new homes are destined for euthanasia. When transports are problematic logistically, Dr. Crouch steps up! And if that isn’t enough, he guided a personal friend to a surgeon who saved her dog from what was a death sentence. If Dr. Crouch can’t save them, he finds those that can. His work is paramount in not only saving broken bodies, but saving lives as well. Dr. Crouch is a true hero!
Dr. Karter Neal (Tucson, AZ)
Dr. Neal was born and raised in Tucson. She received her undergraduate degree from University of Arizona, and in 2000, she received her DVM from Colorado State University. Dr. Neal’s experience is in equine medicine, general practice, and shelter medicine. She is truly an inspiration and has been recognized by the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce as one of the 40 under 40. She has also been recognized for her service to many other veterinary organizations during her career. After working for the Humane Society of Southern Arizona for seven years, Dr. Neal purchased Santa Cruz Vet Clinic in 2013. In 2014, she formed Asavet Charities, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that offers subsidized care to pet owners in need at her clinic and in under-served areas of the Southwest, including several Native American Reservations. A recent donation has allowed the purchase of a mobile clinic by Asavet Charities in 2016. The mobile unit is now actively performing clinics across the Southwest. Dr. Neal’s passion involves offering spay and neuter services and promoting access to basic wellness care for pets. She estimates that she has performed approximately 50,000 spay and neuter surgeries to date for dogs and cats as well as pigs, rabbits, horses and others. She volunteers at high-volume spay and neuter clinics on the Navajo Reservation and at the Hopkins Belize Humane Society. Dr. Neal, her husband, and two children share their home with eight shelter cats and two shelter dogs.
Dr. Heather Wilson-Robles (College Station, TX)
Dr. Heather Wilson-Robles is a “rock star” because she is an amazing teacher, clinician, oncologist and researcher as associate professor of oncology and Palmer Chair at Texas A&M University. As a cutting-edge oncologist who cares for animals with cancer, Heather has grit, an innovative spirit, compassion, and impact on cancer research for the betterment of both animals and people. Heather started in the Veterinary Small Animal Clinical Sciences Department in 2007 with her husband JC and a dream to develop new ways to treat pets with cancer. Almost immediately, she formed collaborations with scientists at MD Anderson Cancer Center to develop T-cell transplantation strategies for dogs with cancer. She has also investigated the interplay between tumor progression and treatment. While all of this work has significant impact, Heather is also devoted to the care of veterinary cancer patients. She understands how to discuss treatment and the emotional struggle that ensues towards the end of life. Much of her skills and compassion comes from her own family experience and personal journey. In 2014, Heather’s husband, JC, was diagnosed with colon cancer, and Heather cared for him and supported him until he passed away April 2015. If we can cure cancer in dogs, we can cure cancer in people. Through Heather’s strength, determination and grace, she is working even harder to find a cure through leadership of clinical trials, oncology research and mentoring of students.
American Hero Veterinary Technician
Jeni Hudson (Decatur, IL)
Jeni is a CVT. She is great at her job. I always tell people Jeni has nerves of steel and healing hands. Jeni founded a rescue five years ago that takes in pups with cleft palates and other disabilities. She NEVER turns a pup away. Once she arranged a transport from New Mexico to Illinois to help save a pup with a cleft palate/hydrocephalus. She called him Pip. When he passed away, I thought she might stop rescuing all together; but she knew there were more who needed her. Jeni is always researching ways to help the pups receive the best outcome possible. She knows she cannot save them all; however, if they are willing to live she will fight to give them a chance. Jeni has cared for over 100 puppies in her career. She has spent hours tube-feeding pups who would otherwise die if not for her. She has helped the ones who were suffering to cross over even if it breaks her heart. She spares no expense to make sure they have the best of everything they need. Jeni is always advocating for the special needs pups, spreading awareness that they can survive if given a chance. She is changing the way medical professionals view these pups. Until Jeni worked at NGPC, pets with clefts were euthanized. Jeni was at a C-Section when a pup was born with a cleft palate. He was to be euthanized. Jeni knew he deserved a CHANCE at life. She offered to take the pup even after EVERYONE told her he would die. Funny how one puppy and one CVT could change the minds of so many.
Suzanne Nunes (Moorpark, CA)
Suzanne Nunes, RVT is the embodiment of compassion and patient advocacy. Suzanne is an exceptional technician with an emphasis in behavioral studies who constantly puts patient safety and well-being at the forefront of her job tasks. When she is not working in the hospital, she dedicates her spare time to volunteerism and canine rescue. In conjunction with Spark of Santa Barbara, Suzanne regularly helps to rescue dogs from a few Los Angeles county shelters with immense challenges and a kill rate of 80 percent. She has fostered several dogs for whom she has personally taken financial responsibility. She goes above and beyond for her foster pets including caring for their extensive surgical needs. You can also find Suzanne volunteering each week at Ventura County Animal Services (VCAS). She helps our local shelter community thrive by assisting in a Canine Confidence Program designed to mentally and physically stimulate dogs while building their overall confidence. Suzanne is not just a hero for pets, she is an incredible advocate for the welfare of other veterinary professionals and individuals in care-giving fields that are no stranger to depression and suicide. Suzanne is no stranger to immense personal loss. She utilizes her awe-inspiring strength, compassion, love, and experience to revitalize and unite those around her. Without a doubt, she is our American Hero Veterinary Technician and we think anyone who gets to know her would think so, too.
Robin Post (Albany, CA)
I first met Robin Post in 2008. She was a volunteer assistant on a Rural Area Veterinary Services field clinic in Covelo, CA. She was earnest, engaged and afraid she wasn’t going to be able to handle our needs. Fast forward to 2017: Robin is a masterful RVT and exceptionally proficient and forward-thinking mentor. While her technical skills and knowledge base are truly exceptional, it is her commitment to the forgotten animals in our world that truly sets her apart as an inspiring Hero Veterinary Technician. Robin proactively seeks professional opportunities to help animals where others will not. She has worked in exceptionally emotionally and physically challenging situations to bring care to animals in extreme poverty, hoarding cases, and wildfires, as well as those on native nation reservations. She has been brave and has initiated programs that save lives where others have not. She developed a student veterinary technician training program in HQHVSN so that Stockton Animal Services could develop an ambitious spay-neuter program. As a result, the Live Release rate increased from 32 percent in 2012 to 83 percent in 2016, translating into an extra 6,000 lives saved each year. Robin’s current professional magic is developing a community cat program for an expanded area of the East Bay. She is a quiet force who goes about her work without fanfare. Her life’s calling to enhance the human-animal bond and help animals in need is palpable. Her efforts are pure. Robin Post is your 2017 hero.
Taylor Short (Chesapeake, VA)
One example that comes to mind is when she was caring for a retired Old Guard horse that was now in a veteran equestrian program. She spent the nights sleeping in the barn and all day caring for the horse. Even when veterinarians were conceding, she refused to give up on this American hero. After a couple weeks of care and sleepless nights, the horse was strong enough and went back to work as a veteran therapeutic horse. She has stepped away from her own life and gone to Pacific islands as well as South America. There she spent months teaching basic veterinarian skills to the locals to help care for their animals, as well as performing surgeries in the field to save animals’ lives. Each time she takes more suitcases with treats and toys to share with the local kids and their animals than she does with her own belongings. While working in a local animal ER close to the military base, she is frequently requested by name when a service member brings in a working dog. She is known for going above and beyond to make sure the patient is given the best possible care and shown respect. She constantly shows her compassion for the animals. And now, she has two additional dogs in the family to show for it. The first is a paralyzed dachshund who she took home. After amazing rehabilitation, she is running and playing as she should. The other is a bulldog that was terminal and stopped eating. She now, too, is full of life and is healthy.
Jessica Smith (Grand Prairie, TX)
Jessica is a highly trained and dedicated individual and is essential to our animal shelter. Previously coming in from a private practice, Jessica had to overcome some obstacles and adjust to a slight learning curve with shelter medicine. She has done an amazing job learning and growing in this position and is our very own here when it comes to helping to keep our animals healthy in a shelter environment! Under the supervision of our licensed veterinarian, Jessica monitors and cares for 100-200 animals every day and has been the backbone of maintaining protocols that have helped us to treat and care for animals that previously would have had to have been euthanized. That is a lot of responsibility and pressure, and she has done it superbly since she came to our shelter as our Lead Technician (our only full-time technician!). She not only supports our veterinarian in diagnosing disease, making accurate prognoses, prescribing medications, and performing surgeries, she has had to maintain other duties, such as keeping inventories, developing SOPs, and working on “herd management” for our shelter among other nonveterinary related tasks. Jessica is great to work with and truly has been a hero to our animals here in Grand Prairie. We could not be more proud to have her on our team.
About American Humane
American Humane is the country’s first national humane organization, founded in 1877. For more information, please visit www.americanhumane.org.
Zoetis (zô-EH-tis) is the leading animal health company, dedicated to supporting its customers and their businesses. Building on more than 60 years of experience in animal health, Zoetis discovers, develops, manufactures and markets veterinary vaccines and medicines, complemented by diagnostic products, genetic tests, biodevices and a range of services. Zoetis serves veterinarians, livestock producers and people who raise and care for farm and companion animals with sales of its products in more than 100 countries. In 2016, the company generated annual revenue of $4.9 billion with approximately 9,000 employees. For more information, visit www.zoetis.com.
About Hallmark Channel
Hallmark Channel is Crown Media Family Networks’ flagship 24-hour cable television network, distributed nationwide in high definition (HD) and standard definition (SD) to 89 million homes. As the country’s leading destination for quality family entertainment, Hallmark Channel delivers on the 100-year legacy of the Hallmark brand. In addition to its signature new, original movies, the network features an ambitious lineup of other new, original content, including scripted primetime series, such as “Good Witch,” “When Calls the Heart” and “Chesapeake Shores”; annual specials including “Kitten Bowl” and “Hero Dog Awards”; and a daily, two-hour lifestyle show, “Home & Family.” Additionally, Hallmark Channel is the exclusive home to world premiere presentations of the acclaimed Hallmark Hall of Fame franchise. Dedicated to helping viewers celebrate life’s special moments, Hallmark Channel also offers annual holiday programming franchises, including “Countdown to Christmas,” “Countdown to Valentine’s Day,” “Summer Nights,” “Fall Harvest” and “Winterfest.” Rounding out the network’s diverse slate are some of television’s most beloved comedies and series, including “The Golden Girls,” “The Middle,” “Last Man Standing,” and “Frasier.”
Hallmark Cards, Inc. owns and operates Crown Media Family Networks.
For more information, please visit www.crownmediapress.com