Iditarod veterinarian’s devotion to sled dog well-being wins honor

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Dr. Stuart Nelson Jr. (Missouri ’76), chief veterinarian for the Iditarod, received the AVMA Meritorious Service Award during the AVMA Annual Convention’s Keynote Luncheon July 11. The award is given to those who have contributed to the profession through activities outside organized veterinary medicine and research.

Dr. Nelson
Dr. Stuart Nelson Jr. (Photo by R. Scott Nolen)

Animal athletes have always been Dr. Nelson’s greatest interest. He spent a number of years in an equine practice focusing on Standardbred racehorses. In 1986, he had the opportunity to volunteer as a trail veterinarian for the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. His love for the Northern wilderness and the excitement of working with enthusiastic sled dogs resulted in him devoting his career to the sport of mushing.

Dr. Nelson has been the Iditarod’s chief veterinarian since 1996. He promotes research and protocols to enhance the well-being of racing sled dogs. He is on the board of directors of the International Sled Dog VMA and organizes the annual ISDVMA Sled Dog Veterinarian Training Seminar in Alaska. He is also a relief veterinarian in Alaska, Idaho, and Washington.