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Ontario Veterinary Medical Association

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Awards Program

OVMA award winners have demonstrated a wide range of outstanding work in their communities. Whether it’s volunteering for committees or associations, engaging in volunteer work at home or abroad, or working to improve animal welfare in the province, OVMA’s award winners are improving the veterinary profession for the better each and every day. Since the OVMA Awards Program was established in 1986, more than 100 individuals have been recognized with one of OVMA’s prestigious awards (see a list of past award winners). 

Read the OVMA Awards Brochure for award categories and more information, or read our FAQ.

Do you know an outstanding veterinarian? Nominate them for next year's OVMA Awards.

Meet the 2020 OVMA Award Winners!

Outstanding Veterinarian Award - Walt Ingwersen, DVM

WaltIngwersen-cropThe Outstanding Veterinarian Award is presented to a veterinarian for their outstanding contributions to the veterinary profession.

Dr. Walt Ingwersen is a graduate of the Ontario Veterinary College and the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine with almost 40 years of veterinary experience.

Since June 2002, Dr. Ingwersen has been a consultant for Boehringer Ingelheim Canada Ltd., a veterinary pharmaceutical company located in Burlington, Ont. In this role, Dr. Ingwersen provides internal medicine advice to veterinarians across Canada to help them make health-care decisions and recommendations for their patients.

From 1987 to 1998, he was chief of veterinary internal medicine at a Toronto veterinary clinic before becoming its hospital director in 1993. In 1998, he became the first Canadian to act as editor of the Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association. He’s also provided consulting services to the pet health industry, including the areas of microchipping, pet health insurance and clinical pathology laboratory medicine.

Dr. Ingwersen actively volunteers for provincial, national and international veterinary medical associations. He was a member of OVMA’s Board of Directors and served as the association’s president in 1994, and he was the first Canadian president of the World Small Animal Veterinary Association. He also received the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association’s President’s Award for his outstanding contributions to the veterinary profession.

“Without a doubt, Dr. Ingwersen has been an excellent role model, giving a great amount of his time and expertise to the veterinary profession,” says his colleague Dr. Doreen Houston. “He truly is an outstanding veterinarian.”

Award of Merit - Tammy Hornak, DVM

TammyHornak-cropThe OVMA Award of Merit recognizes individuals for their practice of, or help to, veterinary medicine. It is awarded for distinguished public service to the veterinary profession in any form.

Dr. Tammy Hornak pursued a career in veterinary medicine after working as a respiratory therapist for several years. Following her graduation from Mississippi State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Hornak practiced at clinics in Ontario and Alberta, eventually returning to Ontario in 2000, where she became co-owner of the Grand River Veterinary Hospital in Caledonia, Ont.

In 2008, Dr. Hornak helped to establish Canon’s Cause, a rescue program that helps homeless dogs in Southern Ontario. The program provides medical care, rehabilitation and fostering until an animal is ready for adoption. To date, more than 3,000 dogs have been rehomed through the program, and in 2014 Dr. Hornak was recognized with a Community Outreach Award.

For the past 10 years, she’s also held outreach clinics with colleagues and veterinary students to provide care for animals in First Nations communities. Originally running the clinics out of the back of her truck, she focused on the prevalent heartworm epidemic, while also providing other vital services. Dr. Hornak’s efforts have improved animal welfare and reduced heartworm disease in the dog population by over 30 per cent in these underserved areas.

Alison Bressette, founder of the Aboriginal Community and Animal Advocacy Connection, says, “Without her effort and the desire to help our communities, we would still be years behind in veterinary care.”

Golden Life Membership Award - Vern Chase, DVM

VernChase-cropThe OVMA Golden Life Membership Award recognizes OVMA members who are retired from full-time career pursuits of veterinary medicine or who have been a veterinarian for a minimum of 30 years and have served the profession in an extraordinary manner. Recipients receive an honorary lifetime OVMA membership.

After graduating from the Ontario Veterinary College in 1975, Dr. Vern Chase and his wife, Dr. Patricia Stapley Chase, purchased Pine Ridge Veterinary Clinic in Cobourg, Ont. Admired for his calm and compassionate disposition, Dr. Chase developed a long list of loyal clients during his 43-year career.

Dr. Chase is highly respected in both his community and the veterinary profession. He has served as a board member for several organizations, including the YMCA, the United Way and OVMA, including serving as the association’s president in 1995. He’s also contributed to many committees and has volunteered his veterinary skills to help animal rescues and the canine police unit.

Dedicated to paying it forward, Dr. Chase has helped fundraise for countless organizations, including the Farley Foundation and SafePet Ontario, the Canadian Cancer Society, the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada, and the Dallas Fund, which is Pine Ridge’s in-clinic fund for the emergency medical care of stray animals.

Dr. Chase is the recipient of the Kinsmen Club of Cobourg’s Life Membership Award, the United Way’s Civic Award, the Cobourg Mayor’s Business Achievement Award and the Town of Cobourg’s Volunteer Award for his work with Syrian refugees. His practice was also voted Favourite Veterinary Clinic for the community’s 2016 People’s Choice Awards.

In the words of his former colleague, Lisa Cowan, “Dr. Chase’s contributions to his family, the clinic and the community are immeasurable.”

Associate of the Year Award - Tracy Godfrey, DVM

TracyGodfreyThe OVMA Associate of the Year Award is presented to an associate veterinarian who has demonstrated superior customer service and has proven to be an asset to their practice, as well as their community.

Over the last decade, Dr. Tracy Godfrey has demonstrated her commitment to patient care, client service and clinic development. As an associate veterinarian at the Kemptville Animal Hospital, Dr. Godfrey consistently goes above and beyond for her clients by providing the highest level of care and client support.

Dr. Godfrey is described by her colleagues as having superior medical and clinical knowledge, and a compassionate and supportive demeanor. As an advocate for the pets in her care, Dr. Godfrey often researches alternative solutions for complex cases to provide her clients with detailed analyses and equip them with the information needed to make the best decisions for their pet. As one of her clients says, “Dr. Godfrey is extremely thorough in the care of our beloved pets and she makes us feel that we are a key part of this care.”

In addition to her clinical duties, she has volunteered for various management roles in the practice, including interviewing candidates for support staff positions, scheduling and preparing client education material. Dr. Godfrey has aided in the growth of the practice, enhanced patient care, improved client service and helped promote a healthy workplace environment.

Rising Star Award - Shauna O'Brien, DVM

ShaunaOBrienThe Rising Star Award is presented to an associate veterinarian who has demonstrated superior leadership in their place of employment and their community; for the betterment of animal welfare and/or their clients and/or their colleagues in the veterinary profession.

After graduating from University College Dublin in Ireland in 2017, Dr. Shauna O’Brien moved to Canada and started working as a mixed-animal associate veterinarian at North Simcoe Veterinary Services and Midland Veterinary Services. Her desire to provide the best veterinary care for “all creatures great and small” is reflected in her rapidly evolving skillset, focused on internal medicine but with a talent for surgeries of all kinds.

“Farmers and pet owners alike have benefited from her expertise and compassion for their companion, avian, exotic and farm animals,” says her colleague Dr. Ashley Mann.

Dr. O’Brien is also keen to share her love of her profession by working with veterinary students and mentoring new graduates in both medicine and surgery.

In addition to her regular clinical duties, Dr. O’Brien recently joined the Board of Directors for the Georgian Bay Veterinary Association, which provides continuing education for Simcoe County, and she participates in University College Dublin’s veterinary alumni ambassador program. She also volunteers as a first response veterinarian for the Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre and provides veterinary services for the Wye Marsh Wildlife Centre.

“No one has excelled in their first couple of years to the same degree as Shauna O’Brien,” says practice owner Dr. Joel Rumney.

Rising Star Award - Molly Robinson, DVM

MollyRobinson-cropThe Rising Star Award is presented to an associate veterinarian who has demonstrated superior leadership in their place of employment and their community; for the betterment of animal welfare and/or their clients and/or their colleagues in the veterinary profession.

Dr. Molly Robinson was working as a receptionist at a local veterinary clinic when she decided to pursue a career in veterinary medicine. In 2017 she graduated at the top of her class from Ross University and then joined Gravenhurst Animal Hospital as an associate veterinarian.

“Dr. Robinson's work ethic is second to none,” says her colleague, Dr. Patricia Anders. “She works tirelessly at our very busy, high-volume clinic to ensure each and every patient receives the best care possible—even if it requires her to work through lunch hours or stay late, she does so on her own accord, letting her passion for this profession shine through.”

When a dog was hit by a car last year, Dr. Robinson rallied the community to help. When the dog was eventually surrendered to the clinic, Dr. Robinson volunteered her time and personal funds to ensure the dog’s full recovery and rehabilitation before finding her a new home.

Dr. Robinson’s ability to truly invest in each patient has resulted in meaningful relationships with her clients, and she’s also a role model to many staff in clinic. She continues to shape the team culture and to promote a healthy lifestyle, she established staff  “Wellness Walks” during the lunch hour.

“Dr. Robinson is truly a rising star in this profession—it is a rare privilege to work with someone as kind, intelligent and hard working as she is,” says Dr. Anders.


420 Bronte Street South,
Suite 205,
Milton, Ontario L9T 0H9
Phone: 905.875.0756 / (toll free) 1.800.670.1702  



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