Meet America’s Top 10 Veterinary Professionals And Vote For Your Favorites!


Voting now open for 2015 American Humane Association Hero Veterinarian and Hero Veterinary Technician Awards™, sponsored by Zoetis

WASHINGTON, April 29, 2015 — American Humane Association, the country’s first national humane organization, is pleased to announce that voting is now open in the second annual American Humane Association Hero Veterinarian and Hero Veterinary Technician Awards™, sponsored by Zoetis. Following the review of hundreds of nominations, a blue-ribbon judging panel of celebrities, veterinary professionals, and animal care professionals has selected 10 of the country’s top veterinarians and veterinary technicians as finalists. Pet owners and animal lovers alike are invited to visit every day between now and July 13 to vote for 2015’s top American Hero Veterinarian and American Hero Veterinary Technician.

The winners will be flown to Los Angeles to be honored on September 19 as part of the fifth annual American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards™, presented by the Lois Pope LIFE Foundation. The Hero Dog Awards will air nationwide as a two-hour special on Hallmark Channel this fall.

“Zoetis has an ongoing commitment to the veterinary profession, and the American Humane Association Hero Veterinarian and Veterinary Technician Awards™ are a perfect way to honor the work these remarkable professionals do every day to keep our best friends healthy and celebrate the human-animal bond,” said J. Michael McFarland, DVM, DABVP, group director of Companion Animal Veterinary Operations at Zoetis. “Each and every one of these finalists are pillars of the veterinary community and worthy of all the accolades they receive. We thank them and all those who work on behalf of the nation’s animals.”

“To us, all vets and vet techs are heroes,” said Dr. Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of American Humane Association. “It will be an honor to share the stage at the Hero Dog Awards with the hero vets and hero vet techs behind our hero pets. Good luck to every one of you! In our eyes you are all winners.”

To read each of the nominees’ stories as told by the people who nominated them, and to vote daily for one of the five finalists in each of the American Hero Veterinarian and American Hero Veterinary Technician categories, please visit

Meet the 10 heroic veterinarian and veterinary technician finalists!

American Hero Veterinarian

Dr. James Barr (College Station, Texas)
Dr. Barr is a small animal criticalist at Texas A&M University. He is known as a “go-to” person, a dedicated mentor, and a “Yes, let’s get it done” doctor. His nominator indicates that several cases stand out in Dr. Barr’s clinical portfolio that show his commitment to the human-animal bond. Dr. Barr led a team of doctors that rescued, resuscitated, and restored the life of a young pit bull that had been maliciously set on fire and left on the side of the road. Dr. Barr was also recently recognized for his role in saving the life of a two-time war veteran’s service dog following a near fatal car accident. In addition to leading the team caring for this special friend, Dr. Barr andTexas A&M University were also able to spearhead a new fund to aid veterans, their animals, and service dogs in general. These examples demonstrate Dr. Barr’s commitment to patient and owner care, to restoring the human-animal bond in times of crisis, and to building the morale and team environment at his small animal hospital.

Dr. Kimberly Downes (Garland, Texas)
Dr. Downes cares more for animals and their experience at the vet office than anyone her nominator ever met. She spends all her free time making the clinic safe, quiet, unique, and enriching for her patients. She volunteers for Pet Partners, is training her second Guide Dog for the Blind, and has weekly visits to the local retirement home with her dogs. She has clients who adore her and staff who strive to be like her, as she pushes them to exceed all best practices outlined by the American Animal Hospital Association. In an effort to help more kitties see a vet, she personally redesigned her clinic to meet “Cat Friendly Practice” standards and it became a gold-level practice last year. She is a mentor to younger veterinarians on her staff and is described as an “amazing owner, boss, and friend who gives tirelessly to the profession.”

Dr. Andrew Kaplan (New York, New York)
Dr. Kaplan’s life changed the day he rescued the Toby, a dog he found in a New York City shelter who was designated “unadoptable” with just a few hours left before he was scheduled to be put down. Because of Dr. Kaplan’s veterinary license, he was able to give Toby a second opinion, and soon, Toby was on his way to his new home. An exceptional dog in so many ways, Toby became the motivator for Dr. Kaplan to do something about other dogs and cats that were not as lucky. He started a nonprofit organization called The Toby Project whose mission is to end the euthanasia of thousands of adoptable dogs and cats each year in New York City’s animal shelters through a targeted, free and low-cost spay/neuter initiative. Since 2009 his organization has sterilized 20,500 dogs and cats cared for by people in low-income neighborhoods, usually at no cost to the pets’ owners. Dr. Kaplan also owns and runs City Veterinary Care, a practice that provides markedly discounted veterinary care for 35 non-profit rescue organizations.

Dr. Victoria Smith (Olympia, Washington)
Dr. Smith tirelessly works side by side with Olympia’s animal cruelty investigator on intense cases where the victims have no voice. Her experience has enabled her to determine the level of abuse or cruelty in order to prosecute hundreds of cases, which include meticulous examinations of the victims and thoroughly written reports. Even when facing a fully booked clinic, Dr. Smith always makes herself available to carry out a search warrant. Dr. Smith is passionate in her work and makes it her mission to aid each and every victim the investigator brings in to her. When Dr. Smith is involved with the case, her reports are described as so “flawless and extremely detailed” that many of the defendants will plead guilty and not take the chance on going to court. Because of her hours of excruciating work, constant willingness to help victims at any time of the night or day, she is a hero to so many people and animals alike.

Dr. Annette Sysel (Vero Beach, Florida)
Dr. Sysel works full time as the elected President of the Bauer Research Foundation, which is dedicated to strengthening the human-animal bond. She does this without taking a salary, answers thousands of emails from pet owners whose pets have cancer, directing them to oncologists and specialty pet clinics while identifying possible clinical trials tailored to each inquiry. Dr. Sysel has made a significant impact in fostering the human-animal bond by educating and working with pet owners to navigate the fearful process of treating pet cancers. In addition, she has been awarded several research grants and has conducted and published several studies to identify a novel cancer biomarker in both canine and feline cancer. This work helps aid in diagnosis, treatment decisions, and monitoring of disease. The results of her study evaluating biomarkers in feline and canine cancer were recently published in the journalOncotarget in the February 2015 issue. Dr. Sysel is currently working on a serum test to help distinguish between cancer and inflammation, which seeks to benefit pets by minimizing or eliminating invasive procedures.

American Hero Veterinary Technician

Emily Arndt (Shoreline, Washington)
Emily grew up on a dairy farm and worked as a veterinary technician at We Care Animal Hospital in Wisconsin for nine years. She left private practice in 2012 and has been serving in Uganda as a veterinary technician since 2013. She works alongside Ugandan and American veterinarians there to bring animal health care to the Karamojong tribe who are totally dependent upon their cattle, sheep, and goats for survival. Emily has a special focus on ethno-veterinary research with the tribe, identifying natural remedies available in the wild, which can be cultivated and grown in local nurseries set up by tribe members and provided free or at low cost to the tribe. Living simply with the locals and sharing her knowledge and skills with the tribe has allowed Emily to build friendships that lead to transformed lives as people move out of poverty and into self-sufficiency. Emily has exchanged her comfortable stateside life to make a difference in the lives of generations of Africans who will benefit from her work.

Ranee Baker (Frederick, Maryland)
Several years ago Ranee lost her own dogs in a house fire. Since that time, The Kylie and Cricket Memorial Fund was established in their memory and is used to help homeless animals throughout the community receive x-rays, dental work, food and toys in shelters, and much more. Ranee single-handedly raised money to ensure that all her local fire departments now carry animal-sized oxygen masks as part of their equipment, which will help ensure that other families will not have to experience the pain and grief she did. Ranee turned her own tragedy into something constructive and positive for other animals and people in the community. She is also known for her compassionate care to her patients at the end of their lives and has been known to make their last hours very comfortable, even providing special final meals.

Julie Carlson (Phoenix, Arizona)
In 2008, Julie met a homeless veteran who was living in his car with his German Shepherd. He saved every penny he was given so he could take his dog to the veterinarian for regular exams and arthritis medications. Julie realized that there were many others like this man and decided to start Vets for Vets’ Pets, an organization of volunteers representing more than a dozen local hospitals, clinics, and schools. She works with her partner, Dr. Connie Anderson of Animal House Veterinary Hospital, to solicit donations and sponsorships all year long. She trains, organizes, and runs a group of more than 100 volunteers to provide pet boarding, foster care resources, spay/neuter surgeries, vaccines, wound care, grooming, and more. Pet supplies including food, collars, leashes, toys, bowls, and beds are given away at the annual Arizona StandDown event for homeless and at-risk veterans. Julie organizes her volunteers and makes sure everything runs smoothly while at the same time meeting government leaders and policymakers. The 2015 event saw the disbursement of more three tons of pet food.

Linda Lasky (Oakland, California)
As the veterinary liaison for the Police and Working K-9 Foundation, Linda has organized her fellow professionals in the San Francisco Bay area and Northern California to help teach more than 500 law enforcement K-9 handlers how to care for their dogs in case of an emergency. Handlers from local police, sheriff’s offices, the TSA, FBI, FEMA, USAR, and Federal Protective Service have attended her comprehensive eight-hour “Cover Your K-9 Emergency Medicine” course, and received custom “Cover Your K-9” trauma kits. She started her career as a volunteer at The Marine Mammal Center and has been on the federal national veterinary disaster response team for 11 years, as well as the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Veterinary Medical Assistance Team. She serves with the local Medical Reserve Corps in Oakland and helped write the animal disaster preparedness plan for the City of Oakland. Linda has volunteered her time teaching CPR and first aid to private citizens, RVT students, Search and Rescue handlers, DMAT CA 6, FEMA dog handlers, and police K-9 handlers for the last 20 years.

Annie Moore (Woodbridge, Virginia)
Annie is known not only as a super star of Hayfield Animal Hospital’s team, but also holds the distinction shared by only a few in her industry as a Certified Veterinary Practice Manager. The former captain of her college basketball team, she uses her leadership skill to create a warm, positive environment at the practice. Annie and her team reach out to the community for the annual Fort Belvoir summer outing with wounded warriors and their families, and supportive events with the Alexandria Welfare League and numerous other rescue groups such as the Humane Society of Fairfax, Lost Dog, King Street Cats, Oldies But Goodies, and Animal Allies. Recently, Annie coordinated with the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria to provide spaying and neutering for several of the dogs who were being raised for their meat in South Korea and brought here.

About American Humane Association
American Humane Association is the country’s first national humane organization and the only one dedicated to protecting both children and animals. Since 1877, American Humane Association has been at the forefront of virtually every major advance in protecting our most vulnerable from cruelty, abuse and neglect. Today we’re also leading the way in understanding the human-animal bond and its role in therapy, medicine and society. American Humane Association reaches millions of people every day through groundbreaking research, education, training and services that span a wide network of organizations, agencies and businesses. You can help make a difference, too. Visit American Humane Association at today.

About Zoetis
Zoetis (zō-EH-tis) is the leading animal health company, dedicated to supporting its customers and their businesses. Building on more than 60 years of experience in animal health, Zoetis discovers, develops, manufactures and markets veterinary vaccines and medicines, complemented by diagnostic products and genetic tests and supported by a range of services. In 2014, the company generated annual revenues of $4.8 billion. With approximately 10,000 employees worldwide at the beginning of 2015, Zoetis serves veterinarians, livestock producers and people who raise and care for farm and companion animals in 120 countries. For more information, visit

About Lois Pope, The Lois Pope LIFE Foundation, Inc., and LIFE (Leaders in Furthering Education)
As one of America’s leading philanthropists, Lois Pope has positively impacted the lives of individuals at the local, national and international levels.  She has established three separate organizations dedicated to helping those in need.  These organizations are the Lois Pope LIFE Foundation, Inc., Leaders In Furthering Education (LIFE), and the Disabled Veterans’ Life Memorial Foundation.  For more than 20 years she has been the driving force behind the Lois Pope LIFE Center at the University of Miami School of Medicine, The American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial, and a groundbreaking new program with American Humane Association in Palm Beach County. Lois Pope has recently donated two Lois Pope Red Star Rescue Vehicles. Each rescue vehicle is a 50-foot long response unit, complete with a Ford F-350 truck and trailer, which is specifically designed and outfitted to provide an array of animal emergency services and cruelty responses within the region.

Mrs. Pope recently saw the completion of a decade’s long dream – the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial, which was dedicated by President Obama in Washington, DC on Sunday, October 5, 2014. The Memorial will forever stand as a reminder to the public and legislators of the courage and sacrifices of the four million living disabled veterans and all those who died before them for the need to be vigilant in assuring their support, as well as being aware of the human cost of war.

A mother and a grandmother, Lois has trained for and completed five New York City Marathons.

To learn more visit or call 561.582.8083.


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