Toronto Veterinarian Recognized for Enhancing Veterinary Access to Indigenous Communities

June 27, 2024

Calgary, Alta. – Dr. Karen Ward was presented with the 2024 Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) Humane Award for her dedication to animal welfare in Canada during the Annual CVMA Awards Gala on June 26. 

Dr. Ward, a 1990 graduate of the Ontario Veterinary College, is an esteemed alumna of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, University of Wisconsin and the University of California Davis (UCD) Shelter Medicine, where she continues to act as a mentor in the Fellowship. The UCD Fellowship Program was created to build a learning community that provides training and support for veterinarians to make a positive life-saving impact in their shelters and communities. 

She is currently the Chief Veterinary Officer of the Toronto Humane Society and generously volunteers her time as a peer advisor and contributes to the Community Veterinary Reference Panel alongside the College of Veterinarians of Ontario.

“Dr. Ward has tirelessly advocated for shelter animals and animal welfare for more than three decades. More recently, she has contributed important and innovative research in shelter and community medicine. She has built strong, collaborative, and culturally sensitive preventive health programs in community settings, particularly Indigenous communities,” says Dr. Phil Nichols, Chief Executive Officer of the Toronto Humane Society. 

Dr. Ward’s clinical work includes community-based wellness and surgical clinics, bringing accessible veterinary care to underserved First Nations and urban communities in collaboration with community partners. 

“Dr. Ward has been instrumental in setting up and maintaining relations between animal services on First Nations Communities and the Toronto Humane Society. Highly adoptable pets continue to be placed in their forever homes rather than being euthanized. Pets that would have been euthanized due to medical conditions like heartworm disease, now receive treatment and are adopted,” explains Dr. Tammy Hornak, Grand River Veterinary Hospital. 

Dr. Ward’s fieldwork led directly to publishing and presenting at the American Heartworm Society Triennial Symposium. By identifying heartworm as a socio-economic disease and publishing alternative accessible, safe, and effective treatment protocols, her work helps overcome barriers to access to veterinary care, and keep people and pets happy, healthy, and together. 

Her participation as a member of the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association Sustainability Committee demonstrates her foresight and commitment to environmental stewardship within the veterinary profession. Her efforts in promoting sustainable practices are crucial, especially in the context of growing environmental concerns. This role showcases her understanding of the importance of sustainability in veterinary practices, ensuring their longevity and reducing their environmental impact.

Dr. Ward is dedicated to improving the lives of animals and is proud to be an Elite Fear Free Certified Professional, a Fear Free Shelter Graduate, and Low-Stress Handling Certified – Silver. She believes shelter and community medicine are the world’s best jobs, and she is privileged to work at the Toronto Humane Society. 

The CVMA Humane Award, sponsored by Merck Animal Health, recognizes leadership in the care and well-being of animals. This award is presented to a veterinarian whose work is judged to have contributed significantly to the welfare and well-being of animals.

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The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) is the national and international voice for Canada’s veterinarians, providing leadership and advocacy for veterinary medicine. Each year, the CVMA proudly recognizes individuals and groups for their outstanding contribution to veterinary medicine. Visit to learn more about the CVMA.


Ashley Dupont
Communications Officer
Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA)
613-236-1162 ext. 125