Champion for veterinary profession wins AVMA Award posthumously

The late Dr. George Bishop served at every level of organized veterinary medicine

Updated July 3, 2024

Dr. George Bishop
Dr. George Bishop

A detailed person when it came to veterinary practice or meetings, the late Dr. George Bishop familiarized himself with issues in depth, especially if they were financial or legislative.

Dr. Bishop (Ohio State ’65) is the former owner of The Animal Hospital at the Crossroads in Carmel, California. He started the clinic in 1969 and practiced there until he died earlier this year.

Dr. Bishop will be honored posthumously with The AVMA Award today during the keynote at AVMA Convention 2024 in Austin, Texas. The award recognizes contributions to the advancement of veterinary medicine in its organizational aspects.

He will be remembered by the clients he faithfully served over a career that spanned half a century as well as his participations in organized veterinary medicine at the local, state, and national levels for well over 40 years.

Nominating Dr. Bishop for the award were Dan Baxter, California VMA executive director, and Dr. Richard Sullivan, District X representative on the AVMA Board of Directors. They wrote of Dr. Bishop, “Dr. Bishop was a pillar in the veterinary community, and it is no stretch to say that just about anyone currently practicing veterinary medicine in the United States has been positively impacted by Dr. Bishop’s work to safeguard the legal and professional rights and privileges of those within it.”

Dr. Bishop grew up on a dairy and swine farm in Milford Center, Ohio, about 40 miles northwest of Columbus, Ohio. He was active in 4-H and FFA, showing livestock at the country fair and the Ohio State Fair.

He earned his veterinary degree in 1965 from The Ohio State University. After graduation, he joined the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps, serving in Aurora, Colorado, before entering private practice.

Dr. Bishop was the quintessential person of organized veterinary medicine, Dr. Sullivan wrote, which started when he was elected president of the student chapter of the AVMA at Ohio State.

In California, Dr. Bishop served as president of the Monterey Bay Area VMA for five years. He was a member of the California VMA board of governors for six years starting in 1990, including as president from 1994-95, and the CVMA’s treasurer from 1999-2023. Dr. Bishop was also one of the founding board members of the Veterinary Insurance Services Company (VISC)—the CVMA’s insurance committee—and served as its treasurer for many years.

Dr. Bishop served as California’s alternate delegate to the AVMA House of Delegates (HOD) from 1996-2003, and then delegate from 2003-15. He was elected to the House Advisory Committee during that time, serving as its vice chair and chair. Subsequently, Dr. Bishop was elected as the District X member of the AVMA Board of Directors. Following his term from 2015-21, he was appointed to the AVMA Political Action Committee (PAC) and was a member until his passing.

Dr. Sullivan said that Dr. Bishop knew his local representatives very well and loved visiting them on trips to Washington, D.C. He worked with his congressmen for over 45 years, including Leon Panetta, Sam Farr, and Jimmy Panetta, who all represented California’s 19th congressional district.

“When in Washington, D.C., he would make it a point to visit them discussing the bills that were on AVMA’s agenda,” Dr. Sullivan wrote. “By the time he would reach their office, the congressmen would already know the bills George was interested in and most likely would have already co-sponsored them. When that was finished, they would go to the cafeteria to have lunch and discuss more important issues, family, and life back in Carmel.”

For his nationally related service, Dr. Bishop was awarded the AVMA Political Action Committee’s Russell H. Anthony award and the AVMA’s Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian Award, as well as the American Animal Hospital Association’s Outstanding Practitioner Award. Dr. Bishop was the first and one of only two veterinarians to have won the AVMA Advocacy Award, which typically recognizes federal legislators for their work in support of the veterinary profession. This year’s AVMA congressional fellow program was named after him.

Dr. Sullivan said Dr. Chris Cowing, a past president of the CVMA, and his wife, Dr. Renee Cowing, accurately described Dr. Bishop as the “Gentleman Veterinarian.”

“‘He is always wearing a suit and tie, he is always respectful, and his knowledge of wines is evident at all dinner meetings,’” Dr. Sullivan quoted. “I would add that he touched many people in a quiet and positive way.”

Dr. Richard Sullivan gives tribute to his friend, the late Dr. George Bishop, during a recorded acceptance speech on his behalf for The AVMA Award, which was played at the AVMA Keynote on June 22 at AVMA Convention 2024 in Austin, Texas. (Video by Matt Zingale)