America's Favorite Veterinarian, Any Ideas?


What has your veterinarian done for you lately? Perhaps through early diagnosis, the vet saved your pet’s life. Perhaps your veterinarian made herself available after hours to do emergency surgery after your pet was hit by a car.

The American Veterinary Medical Foundation (AVMF) is searching for America’s Favorite Veterinarian. Submit your story and nominate your veterinarian through an app on the AVMF Facebook page in 250 words or less by June 1.

Submissions will initially be reviewed by a panel of expert judges, including Dr. Bernadine Cruz, a past member of the American Veterinary Medical Association Council on Public Relations. “Veterinarians have an impact on pets obviously, but also on families,” Cruz says.

Cruz, of Laguna Woods, CA, recalls, “One day, a Labrador, a real chunky monkey, came in. I reviewed all the reasons why it was so important for the dog to lose weight. Well, (the owners) loved their dog, and didn’t want the dog to suffer. Not only did they put the dog on a weight-loss program, but because the dog now went for long walks, the family also got into better shape. They began to watch their weight, too. They thanked me for helping their entire family to get healthy.”

Cruz’s practice is near a retirement community. “A pet may be the only reason some people have to get up in the morning,” she says. “They have no family, or at least no family nearby, and may have few friends. Their pet is all they have. More than once, I’ve suggested some of these people should see a doctor. The response is, “nah,” until I suggest their pet needs them to be healthy. The human/animal bond is something to behold.”

It’s that intense bond makes it very difficult when the end comes. When Kathy Pulley’s 15-year-old pit bull was diagnosed with bladder cancer, her veterinarian, Dr. Christina Lehner, kept careful tabs on the dog’s quality of life, “She’d e-mail us or call, and would come by the house,” says Pulley, of Greenville, WI. “She’s just so generous with her time. On one visit, Lehner suggested it might be best to euthanize Tori. This was the most difficult thing I ever had to do, but Dr. Lehner made it so much easier, and also understood how to include our 3-year-old girl, Claire,” said Pulley. “She later drove over 80 miles to take Tori to a crematory so she could guarantee that family photos would be placed with (the ashes). Two days later, she delivered Tori’s ashes (back to the house) along with a fur clipping and a book for Claire about doggy heaven. And she made a donation to an animal charity in Tori’s name.”

Cruz says she sometimes receives flowers from owners after their pet has passed away. “I’m thinking it should be the other way around, but people want to express their appreciation,” she says.

Dr. Meredith Beard, of Show Low, AZ, rescues animals and adopts them out. Tanya Kuritz, of Oak Ridge, TN, tells how Beard, her friend, once rescued a burned cat, whom Beard named Toast. She nursed the cat back to health, which was no easy task, then managed to find the perfect home for the pet with two seniors.

Of course, veterinarians went to veterinary school in the first place because of their love for animals. Louise Basgall, of Rolling Meadows, IL, has four dogs and two cats, and volunteers fostering pets with groups like Chicago’s Dog Saving Network. She says Dr. James Riordan, of Palatine, IL, is her hero. “He cares about me, as well as my pets,” Basgall says. “He tries to save me money, knowing that with all I do, I can only afford so much. He treats some rescued animals pro bono. He’s personally made financial contributions to groups I’ve been involved with. He’s wonderful!”

Submissions for the contest can feature any veterinarian doing any job, from those who primarily work on farms to veterinarians in academia, to those who treat military working dogs oversees in war zones. The list  of possibilities continues  including veterinarians working at zoos, even those employed with the U.S. government protecting our food supply.

At panel of expert judges will choose a dozen finalists. From there, the public will vote for America’s Favorite Veterinarian.

The person who nominated the winning veterinarian will receive a $250 cash prize, and a trip to Chicago to attend the AVMA breakfast, where America’s Favorite Veterinarian will be honored at the American Veterinary Medical Association Convention July 21. Also, a donation to the non-profit AVMF will be made in the winning veterinarian’s name.

©Steve Dale, Tribune Media Services