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CVMA Member Honoured with a 2019 World Veterinary Association Animal Welfare Award

May 29, 2019

The CVMA congratulates Dr. Jonas Watson who was honoured with a World Veterinary Association (WVA) Animal Welfare Award at the 2019 WVA Congress on April 29 in Costa Rica.

Dr. Watson, President of the Manitoba Veterinary Medical Association (MVMA), is a veterinarian and visionary who aspires toward universal access to veterinary care, which he believes all veterinarians should be working towards.

“It’s easy for cynics to say, ‘Well, if you can’t afford a pet, you shouldn’t have one,’ but it’s not at all reflective of how things work in the world we live in,” explains Dr. Watson. “I’m not expecting to achieve universal access to care by the end of my career, but it’s certainly gratifying to work towards it.”

The CVMA Council nominated Dr. Watson for the WVA Animal Welfare Award because of his help spearheading mobile pet clinics to reach some of Manitoba’s remote locations and underserved populations.

“Dr. Watson’s dedication to his patients’ care and recognition of the impact that care has on the human-animal bond, regardless of socioeconomical factors, is an inspiration to all in our profession,” states Dr. Chris Bell, CVMA Manitoba Council representative.

In 2017, Dr. Watson and a team hosted Manitoba’s first Community Veterinary Outreach (CVO) One Health Clinic at Resource Assistance for Youth in Winnipeg. The concept, originating in Ontario, involves providing medicine for vulnerable humans and their pets. At this CVO clinic, the animals received medical exams and vaccinations and their humans received dental checkups and referrals for other health services. The event was very well-received and they have since hosted several more.

“Within homeless and marginally housed populations, people’s pets are a ‘lifeline’ and occasionally their entire reason for existing,” he reveals. “They often put their pet’s health above their own. But they struggle to obtain veterinary care, which is why I aspire toward universal access. Animal welfare and human wellness are intimately linked, in so many ways, and ensuring the well-being of our patients, also helps the people who love and depend on them. The notion of One Welfare really resonates with me, and elevates veterinary medicine to a vital social service.”

In 2015, Dr. Watson, along with a team of veterinary technologists, assistants and students, in partnership with The Mad Dog Initiative, flew to Madagascar where wildlife biologists were concerned about highly endangered wildlife being affected by domesticated animals and helped neuter dogs and cats in tents and wooden shacks.

“It is rewarding to see what you can actually do with very few resources,” he says. “You can accomplish a lot. The conditions may not be perfect, but you don’t actually need perfect conditions to make meaningful change in situations where veterinary care may be lacking.” 

“I worked alongside Dr. Watson on the MVMA Council and have seen his passion come alive whenever the discussion has turned to topics related to animal welfare,” expresses Dr. Roxane Neufeld, past President of the MVMA and partner at Dauphin Veterinary Clinic. “It seems as though Dr. Watson works simply to fund his endeavours all over the world, bringing vet care to areas with little or no access to veterinary care.”

“In the same way we are stewards of this planet, we are stewards of the animals who live at our mercy, regardless of species,” voices Dr. Watson. “Hopefully the World Veterinary Association Animal Welfare Award will continue to highlight this important work and raise awareness.”