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Annual Awards Recognize CVMA Members for Outstanding Contributions to Veterinary Medicine

July 21, 2021

The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) has proudly recognized its members’ exceptional contributions to the veterinary profession and animal health and welfare for over 35 years. This year is no exception, despite the unique situation we find ourselves in collectively. Even though we were unable to honor award recipients in person again this year due to the ongoing pandemic, the CVMA Awards Gala commemorated recipients during the CVMA’s first virtual Convention in July. The CVMA also featured recipients and highlighted their outstanding achievements through our social media channels, eNewsletters, and web news. We invite you to read more about these exceptional recipients below.

The Small Animal Practitioner Award, sponsored by Petsecure Pet Health Insurance, is presented to a CVMA member whose work in small animal practice, clinical research, or basic sciences has significantly contributed to the advancement of small animal medicine, surgery, or the management of a small animal practice. The 2021 recipient graduated from the Atlantic Veterinary College and completed his surgical residency at the Ontario Veterinary College where he is now a Professor of Small Animal Surgery. His clinical and research interests include minimally invasive surgery and surgical site infections. In addition, he is currently the President of the Veterinary Endoscopy Society, is an American College of Veterinary Surgeons Founding Fellow of Minimally Invasive Surgery, has published over 100 journal articles, and taught numerous workshops and surgical courses internationally. Congratulations to the recipient of the 2021 Small Animal Practitioner Award, Dr. Ameet Singh!

The CVMA President’s Award, selected by the CVMA President and Executive Committee, recognizes an individual for their exceptional contributions and devotion to the association. The 2021 recipient was selected for his long and dedicated service to the veterinary profession. After graduating from the Ontario Veterinary College (OVC) in 1964, he earned his PhD in 1968 and conducted postdoctoral studies in the United Kingdom and Denmark before returning to the OVC as a faculty member in 1969. For the next 36 years, he taught DVM and graduate students, conducted research, and held administrative positions, including Department Chair, Dean of Graduate Studies, and Interim Dean of OVC. He represented veterinary medicine as a founding Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences in 2005, serving on its board for several years; has assisted the University of the West Indies’ School of Veterinary Medicine in Trinidad since 1990; and was Editor-in- Chief of The Canadian Veterinary Journal from 2008 to 2020. He considers this award very special because the recipient is selected by CVMA Presidents and has previously been awarded to many outstanding leaders in the Canadian veterinary profession. The CVMA is pleased to award Dr. Carlton Gyles the 2021 CVMA President’s Award!

The CVMA Industry Award was instituted in 1996 to acknowledge and celebrate industry’s role in veterinary medicine and recognize a CVMA member for their contributions to the advancement of veterinary medicine. This year’s recipient graduated from the Ontario Veterinary College in 1982 before returning to complete a small animal internal medicine internship and residency resulting in his post-graduate Doctor of Veterinary Science degree and his veterinary internal medicine specialist certification from the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine. From 1987 to 1998, he was chief of veterinary internal medicine at a multi-person, general and specialty veterinary clinic on the east side of Toronto, becoming its hospital director in 1993. In 1998, he changed career directions by becoming the first Canadian Editor of the Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association. He also provides consulting services to the pet health industry, in the areas of microchipping, pet health insurance, and clinical pathology laboratory medicine. Since June 2002, he has been a consultant to the Boehringer Ingelheim Canada Ltd. Vetmedica Companion Animal team, joining them full-time in January 2004. He continues to provide internal medicine consultative advice and assist veterinarians across Canada in making healthcare decisions and patient treatment recommendations. As an active volunteer for provincial, national, and international veterinary medical associations, he is a Past-president of the World Small Animal Veterinary Association, and recently joined the advisory group of Pawzy, focusing on connecting pet parents to the best advice and services. He was honored to receive the CVMA President’s Award in 2000 and the 2020 Ontario Veterinary Medical Association’s Outstanding Veterinarian Award. Congratulations to the 2021 CVMA Industry Award recipient, Dr. Walt Ingwersen!

CVMA Life Membership is presented to a CVMA member for long and outstanding service on CVMA Council, Executive, Boards, and Committees or for outstanding contributions to the veterinary profession. This year’s recipient received his DVM from the Ontario Veterinary College (OVC) in 1965, and after a year in private practice was hired by the OVC as a junior faculty member to establish anesthesia as a specialization — the first in a Canadian veterinary school. His veterinary discipline training was largely “self-taught,” but he did participate in the University of Toronto medical residency program. He completed a Master of Science (MSc) in 1969 from the University of Guelph, and a PhD in 1974 from the University of Cambridge. He was a Charter Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Anesthesia in 1976, later serving as the Exam Committee Chair and President. During his academic career at the University of Guelph, he served as the Departmental Graduate Coordinator, as Area Coordinator for the small animal, and then the large animal clinic, a 3-year term as Hospital Director, and as the College Assistant Dean for Research and Graduate Affairs for the final 7 years of his career. While serving as Hospital Director, he was instrumental in establishing the Pet Trust companion animal research fund, the most successful fund of its kind in North America. Later, while serving as the Assistant Dean for Research and Graduate Affairs, he helped develop and implement a successful Canadian Foundation for Innovation research proposal devoted to comparative medicine. His passion has always been research and graduate training and he has supervised or co-supervised 7 veterinary anesthesia interns, 6 residents, 10 residents/clinical doctorates, 5 MSc students, and 3 research doctorate students. He has also published, or co-published, 120 referenced scientific articles and 13 chapters in monographs and textbooks. He retired in 2004 after 38 years as an OVC faculty member and was granted University Professor Emeritus status. After retirement, he helped establish the Canadian international veterinary charity organization, Vets Without Borders — Canada in 2005, serving as board member for years. He has been a CVMA member since his DVM graduation and has served as an Associate Editor for The Canadian Veterinary Journal for the past 6 years. The CVMA is proud to award Dr. Wayne McDonell with CVMA Life Membership!

The CVMA Practice of the Year Award, sponsored by Scotiabank, was established in 2013 to recognize a veterinary practice team for outstanding achievement within their local community. This year’s recipient is a full service, Certified Fear Free veterinary practice serving the British Columbia communities of Langley, Surrey, White Rock, and the Fraser Valley. Established in 2013, it recently opened a new, expanded location featuring the latest veterinary technology and Fear Free principles. The hospital’s real strength, however, is its experienced, fun, and highly qualified team dedicated to providing excellent pet care and creating a supportive work environment. In addition to helping clients and pets, this recipient works with several rescue organizations, such as TinyKittens, to create new care standards for rescued and feral animals including researching rare and complicated cases to create new treatment solutions, establishing new protocols to increase efficiencies and decrease costs, and regularly donating their time and hospital for “Trap, Neuter/Spay, and Release Days.” Using TinyKittens global reach, this recipient livestreams educational procedure webcasts, Q&A sessions, and feral spay/neuter events. Since opening, they have provided over $350 000 in free animal rescue care for the Langley Animal Protection Society (LAPS), which they also partner with to provide free animal care clinics for homeless and low-income people and support through annual fundraisers. They have an ongoing donation program providing pet oxygen mask kits to local fire departments, which has inspired others to organize their own campaigns. This recipient also has an “Angel Fund” providing pet care for families in financial need and animal rescue organizations affected by natural disasters. Since 2013, they have donated over $92 000 in services and products and have given $1300 to the BC SPCA Emergency Appeal for the 2017 wildfires, and $1200 to the Fort McMurray SPCA in aid of the 2016 wildfires. They run a campaign increasing awareness by providing free “Save Our Pets” window clings and “Emergency Preparedness for Pets Checklists” to the public as part of Canada’s annual Emergency Preparedness Week. Their “Keep Pets Cool” campaign runs every summer, providing free window clings to local businesses, informing customers they are welcome to bring their pets inside and not leave them in hot cars. This recipient has also hosted 2 mental health wellness sessions, has had a physiotherapist develop a training/stretching program for their team, and has a dedicated exercise and wellness area. Each team member is actively encouraged to pursue their professional passions through paid continuing education, and volunteer initiatives, within and outside the veterinary profession. Every year, members of this team mentors RVTs and students through school practicums and paid work experiences, and currently employs 3 former students and 2 aspiring veterinarians. They have created a respectful, inclusive, and diverse workplace through their hiring practices, clearly articulated anti-racism/bullying policies, and conflict resolution mentoring. Their staff diversity is a business strength, with team members from several ethnic groups, the LGBTQ21 community, and living with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Over the last 7 years, they have earned several awards including: 2020 Employer of the Year from the Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Awards; 2019 Readers Choice from the Langley Times Newspaper; 2017 and 2018 “Got a Pet, Get a Vet” Award; 2017 and 2018 Best of Langley Award from the Langley Advance Newspaper; and 2017 Small Business of the Year from the Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Awards. In addition, the owner was nominated for her work keeping staff and clients safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. The CVMA extends heartfelt congratulations to Dr. Renée Ferguson and her veterinary care team at Mountain View Veterinary Hospital for being awarded the 2021 CVMA Practice of the Year Award! Their work and commitment to the veterinary profession and well-being is an inspiration for all.

The R.V.L. Walker Award has 2 recipients; a plaque is presented annually to the Students of the CVMA (SCVMA) President in recognition of his/her contributions to promoting student interest in the CVMA, and a monetary award is presented to a student in financial need who attends the same college as the current SCVMA President. The 2020–2021 SCVMA President gained an appreciation for agriculture while growing up on her family’s grain and potato farm in St. Eustache, Manitoba and developed a passion for animal production while pursuing an Animal Systems degree at the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Agriculture. While in university, she worked at veterinary clinics and volunteered on various livestock operations where she gained experience and broadened her knowledge of animals and veterinary medicine. In 2018, she realized her childhood dream of pursuing veterinary medicine when she was accepted to the Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM). She is the current VetPrep Representative for her DVM class and participates in a variety of clubs, including the equine club and her class merchandise committee. She is also a student member of the American Association of Swine Veterinarians and the Canadian Association of Swine Veterinarians. In her free time, she enjoys playing the flute, is a piccolo player in the WCVM Chamber Orchestra, and enjoys spending time with horses, barrel racing, and trail riding over her summer breaks. She gained valuable experience over the last 2 summers working for an all-swine veterinary practice and more recently, a mixed-animal practice. After graduation, she plans to return to Manitoba to work in mixed-animal practice, providing access to veterinary care for rural communities. She was honored to be the SCVMA President, representing veterinary students on the CVMA Council for the 2020–2021 school year. The CVMA congratulates the 2021 R.V.L. Walker Award recipient, Ms. Svetlana Ponsin, and thanks her for her service to the veterinary profession and her national veterinary association.

The Merck Veterinary Award, established in 1985 and sponsored by Merck Animal Health, is presented to a CVMA member whose work in food animal production practice, clinical research, or basic sciences is judged to have contributed significantly to the advancement of food animal medicine and surgery, including herd health management. The 2021 recipient attended the University of Guelph where she completed her BSc in Animal Biology followed by her DVM degree at the Ontario Veterinary College (OVC). After graduation, she went into rural mixed practice in southern Alberta. She then returned to OVC for a DVSc in Ruminant Health Management, with a focus on bovine respiratory disease in dairy heifer calves. The recipient joined the Department of Production Animal Health at the University of Calgary Faculty of Veterinary Medicine (UCVM) in 2011. Her research focuses on cow-calf health management, including perinatal care of the newborn calf, pre-weaning management practices, epidemiology of infectious diseases of the pre-weaned calf, and pain and animal welfare. She teaches epidemiology, health management, outbreak investigation, and production animal medicine in UCVM’s DVM program, as well as advanced beef health management in the graduate program. She lives on a small acreage near Dogpound, Alberta, with her husband Bruce, their 5 horses, 8 chickens, 2 dogs, and too many cats. Congratulations to the 2021 recipient of the Merck Veterinary Award, Dr. Claire Windeyer!

The CVMA Humane Award, sponsored by Merck Animal Health, was established in 1986 and recognizes leadership in the care and well-being of animals. This award is presented to a CVMA member whose work is judged to have contributed significantlyto the welfare and well-being of  animals. This year’s recipient serves as the Senior Manager, Animal Health for the British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals providing animal health support, training, and oversight to 36 sheltering branches province wide. She also teaches veterinary students, participates in community partnerships and outreach, and volunteers with several animal welfare, One Health, diversity, equity, and inclusion in veterinary medicine groups, including the CVMA-SBCV Chapter Animal Welfare Committee. Her clinical interests include infectious disease, community medicine, internal medicine, and behavior. She has co-authored several publications on shelter infectious disease, and was the lead veterinarian investigating a multi-facility feline gastroenteritis outbreak in 2018 that led to the discovery of a novel feline virus, feline chaphamaparvovirus. Her other research interests and areas of active collaboration include animal welfare epidemiology, particularly factors leading to animal relinquishment and their relationship with human social vulnerability, andshelter  feline behavior and welfare. Originally from the United States, she holds veterinary licenses in California and British Columbia and in 2020, became the first veterinarian in Canada to become Board-certified in Shelter Medicine Practice through the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners. For the past 20 years, she has volunteered with organizations supporting people experiencing homelessness and their companion animals. She believes that cross-sector collaboration with a One Health emphasis is essential to the shared goals of the animal welfare, veterinary, and human health professions. These goals include the provision of accessible, culturally competent, community-based care that meets human-animal families’ needs. The CVMA is pleased to present the 2021 CVMA Humane Award to Dr. Emilia Wong Gordon!