AVMA presents Excellence Awards

Individuals, groups recognized for contributions in wide variety of areas
Published on August 29, 2018

During AVMA Convention 2018 this July in Denver, a number of individuals received AVMA Excellence Awards for contributions in areas such as the human-animal bond, animal welfare, public service, and international veterinary medicine.

Dr. Michael Topper, 2017-18 AVMA president, recognized three groups: veterinarians and nonveterinarians working in constituent allied and principal veterinary organizations; veterinary technicians, medical technologists, and all support personnel; and families of veterinarians.

Dr. R. Wayne Randolph received the AVMA Award (see JAVMA, Sept. 1, 2018), and the AVMA Meritorious Service Award went to Dr. Glen F. Hoffsis (see JAVMA, Sept. 1, 2018). Following are some key achievements of the other award recipients.

Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year Award

This award recognizes the outstanding work of an AVMA member in preserving and protecting the human-animal bond.

Dr. OttoDr. Cynthia Otto
Dr. Otto (Ohio State '86) is founder and executive director of the Penn Vet Working Dog Center at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine and an associate professor of critical care at the school. She has a doctoral degree in veterinary physiology and is board-certified in veterinary emergency and critical care and in veterinary sports medicine and rehabilitation.

With the Penn Vet Working Dog Center, Dr. Otto has made contributions to fundamental and clinical research on working and performance dogs. She founded the center after being inspired by her work monitoring the health and behavior of search and rescue dogs while serving as a first responder for the 9/11 terrorist attacks. She provides rehabilitation, fitness, and conditioning training to working dogs, including those involved in law enforcement and in search and rescue, and dogs that participate in sporting events.

Dr. Otto also has been the faculty adviser for Penn Vet's pet visitation program, VetPets, for 15 years.

AVMA Animal Welfare Award

This award recognizes an AVMA member for achievement in advancing the welfare of animals via leadership, public service, education, research, product development, or advocacy.

Dr. BasharaDr. T. Robert Bashara
Dr. Bashara (Iowa State '63) served two years in the Army Veterinary Corps before going to work at the Loveland Animal Hospital in Omaha, Nebraska, managing a satellite clinic. After a year, he bought the satellite clinic and incorporated it as the Mapleview Animal Clinic. He opened a second clinic in 1985 and a third in 1997, renaming the three facilities as Gentle Doctor Animal Hospitals. He co-founded the Greater Omaha VMA, now the Nebraska Academy of Veterinary Medicine.

After a long friendship with actress and singer Doris Day, Dr. Bashara became her business manager and the chief financial officer of the Doris Day Animal Foundation. Under his direction as CFO, the Doris Day Animal Foundation has raised millions of dollars to improve the lives of all animals by issuing grants to animal rescue organizations across the United States. Under his leadership, the Doris Day Animal League's Spay Day USA grew to become World Spay Day.

AVMA Humane Award

This award recognizes a nonveterinarian for achievement in advancing the welfare of animals via leadership, public service, education, research, product development, or advocacy.

Dr. ArringtonAmanda Arrington
Amanda Arrington is founder and director of the Pets for Life program at the Humane Society of the United States. She began developing the program in 2010 to raise awareness of and address the needs of pets in poverty, with the premise that all community members love their pets and all pets deserve access to veterinary care. She previously served as the North Carolina state director for HSUS, lobbying for state legislation regarding animal welfare.

In her current role, Arrington guides a program to create access to pet services and information for people and pets in underserved communities. Under her leadership, teams in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and 35 "mentorship" markets across the country are serving people and pets.

Arrington is also the founder and executive director of Beyond Fences in Durham, North Carolina. The organization provides underserved communities with free spay and neuter, fences, pet supplies, and veterinary care.

AVMA Public Service Award

The AVMA Public Service Award recognizes an AVMA member for long-term, outstanding public service or unusual contributions to the practice or science of public health and regulatory veterinary medicine.

Dr. JacobsDr. Candace A. Jacobs
Dr. Jacobs (Oklahoma State '78) is a food safety consultant with Kulshan Services. She recently retired after 15 years with the Washington State Department of Agriculture. She previously was state toxicologist for the Nebraska Department of Health. She retired from the Air Force Reserve as a colonel after serving as an active-duty veterinarian with the Naval Ocean Systems Center.

Her work experience includes 15 years with the human food and beverage industries. She also worked as a part-time relief and emergency small animal veterinarian in San Diego County and in mixed practice in Laramie, Wyoming.

She has served on the board of the American College of Veterinary Preventive Medicine and on the AVMA Council on Public Health and Regulatory Veterinary Medicine. She currently serves on the AVMA Food Safety Advisory Committee representing the American Association of Food Safety and Public Health Veterinarians.

AVMA XIIth International Veterinary Congress Prize

This award recognizes an AVMA member who has contributed to international understanding of veterinary medicine.

Dr. SwayneDr. David E. Swayne
Dr. Swayne (Missouri '84) has since 1994 been the director of the Southeast Poultry Research Laboratory in Athens, Georgia—the U.S. Department of Agriculture's high-biocontainment laboratory that conducts research on avian influenza and Newcastle disease. From 1987-94, he was a faculty member at The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine, where he was an avian pathologist. He is a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Pathologists and American College of Poultry Veterinarians.

Dr. Swayne's research and his missions to 44 countries have contributed to national and international control of avian influenza in wild birds and poultry. He has served on World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) committees to update the chapters on avian influenza in the Terrestrial Animal Health Code. He has published more than 315 peer-reviewed papers and 114 book and proceedings chapters, and he has given 307 invited presentations on poultry health issues.

AVMA President's Award

Dr. Michael Topper, 2017-18 AVMA president, chose the recipients of this award, which is for individuals or groups that have made a positive impact on health, veterinary organizations, or the profession.

Charlene Wandzilak
Charlene Wandzilak, executive director of the Pennsylvania VMA
Kara Burns
Kara Burns, president of the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America
Kimberly Topper
Kimberly Topper, past president of the Auxiliary to the AVMA

Veterinarians and nonveterinarians working in constituent allied and principal veterinary organizations
Charlene Wandzilak, executive director of the Pennsylvania VMA, accepted the award on behalf of veterinarians and nonveterinarians working in constituent allied and principal veterinary organizations to support and promote the veterinary profession through expertise in advocacy, marketing, communication, continuing education, and strategic planning and organization. The principal veterinary organizations in the AVMA House of Delegates are the state VMAs, District of Columbia VMA, and Puerto Rico VMA. The constituent allied veterinary organizations in the HOD are organizations of veterinarians with specific vocational interests allied to the interests of the AVMA.

Veterinary technicians, medical technologists, and all support personnel
Kara Burns, president of the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America, accepted the President's Award on behalf of veterinary technicians, office managers, receptionists, kennel workers, and all other support personnel. The award recognizes the tireless efforts of support personnel who work side by side with veterinarians on a day-to-day basis, not only to enhance opportunities for success but also to ensure the health and welfare of animals and people around the globe.

Families of veterinarians
Kimberly Topper, wife of Dr. Topper and a past president of the Auxiliary to the AVMA, accepted the President's Award on behalf of the families of veterinarians. The award is in recognition of, gratitude for, and love of the spouses, significant others, parents, children, and countless other family members and friends who have stood by and shown love and support for the special veterinarian in their lives. According to the award description, they have had a profound positive influence in strengthening the wellness of the veterinary profession.