OVMA 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 about the award categories. For more information view the award FAQ.
Do you know a veterinarian who's gone above and beyond? Nominate them for an OVMA Award!
How to submit a nomination
- Choose an award category that best suits your proposed candidate.
- Compile your supporting materials (biography, supporting letters, newspaper articles, etc.*).
- Complete the online nomination form and attach your supporting materials.
- The deadline to submit a nomination for the 2024 OVMA Awards is Oct. 1, 2023. If you have questions about the awards, contact Sabrina Silveira at firstname.lastname@example.org.
* Be sure to include biographical information about your nominee, as this will serve as the basis of the award nomination and presentation.
OUTSTANDING VETERINARIAN AWARD
This award is presented to a veterinarian for outstanding contributions to the veterinary profession. Eligibility/Requirements: All veterinarians who are members of OVMA are eligible. Nominees should demonstrate a suitable background of leadership in professional associations at the regional, provincial and/or national levels, plus involvement in the community leading to an enhanced image of veterinarians and/or the profession. A minimum of two letters of recommendation from two veterinarians – one of whom is an OVMA member – must accompany each nomination.
AWARD OF MERIT
This award 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. Eligibility/Requirements: All veterinarians who are members of OVMA are eligible for nomination. Candidates may be nominated by the general public or by members of the veterinary profession. Supporting letters from members of the animal health sector, veterinarians or the general public must accompany each nomination.
ASSOCIATE OF THE YEAR AWARD
This 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. Eligibility/Requirements: All associate veterinarians who are OVMA members and who graduated more than five years ago are eligible for nomination. Nominees should demonstrate a suitable background of demonstrated client and patient service and should be recognized as a leader in their clinic, community, or in organizations at local or provincial levels. A minimum of two supporting letters are required: one from a staff member and one from an OVMA clinic owner at their place of employment. The nomination should also include one letter from a client that can be requested by the clinic staff in support of the nomination.
RISING STAR AWARD
This 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. Eligibility/Requirements: All associate veterinarians who are OVMA members and who graduated five years ago or less are eligible for nomination. Nominees should demonstrate a suitable background of client and patient service, and should be recognized as a leader in their clinic, community, or in organizations at the local or provincial level. Their exceptional conduct should reflect an overall positive image of the veterinary profession. A minimum of two supporting letters are required: one from a staff member and one from an OVMA clinic member at their place of employment. The nomination should also include one letter from a client that can be requested by the clinic staff in support of the nomination.
GOLDEN LIFE MEMBERSHIP AWARD
This 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. Eligibility/Requirements: OVMA member veterinarians who are either retired or have been a veterinarian for a minimum of 30 years. A minimum of two supporting letters, both from OVMA member veterinarians, must accompany each nomination.
HONORARY MEMBERSHIP AWARD
This award is presented to someone who is not a veterinarian but has contributed to animal welfare and/or the veterinary profession. Eligibility/Requirements: Any person, other than a veterinarian, who has served the interests of the veterinary profession through various endeavours. A minimum of two supporting letters, both from OVMA member veterinarians, must accompany each nomination.
Awards nomination FAQ
How do I acquire supporting letters and documentation?
Approach colleagues, clinic staff or clients to see if they would be willing to write a letter in support of your nominee. Look for newspaper or magazine clippings etc. that demonstrates the work the veterinarian does for the local community. The more information that you provide about your nominee, the better.
What do award recipients receive?
Award winners receive an engraved OVMA Award, free registration to the OVMA Conference and Trade Show, accommodation for one night (if needed) at the conference venue, and travel expenses to/from the conference.
When are awards presented?
Awards are presented during the annual OVMA Conference and Trade Show. Awards are not automatically awarded on an annual basis, but are awarded when at least one nominee meets the award criteria as determined by the OVMA Awards Committee and Board of Directors.
When is the deadline for nominations?
All nominations must be received at the OVMA office by Oct. 1 of each year. Nominations will be accepted after Oct. 1, but may not be considered until the following year’s awards program.
Meet the 2023 OVMA Award Winners!
Outstanding Veterinarian Award –
Dr. Debbie Stoewen
The OVMA Outstanding Veterinarian Award is presented to a veterinarian for outstanding contributions to the veterinary profession.
Dr. Debbie Stoewen is a licensed veterinarian and registered social worker with a PhD in the field of veterinary medical communication. She has 25 years of practice experience, including as founder and sole proprietor of a companion animal hospital.
Dr. Stoewen is a renowned veterinary health and wellbeing speaker and educator. She was the care and empathy officer and director of veterinary services at Pets Plus Us from 2013 to 2020, where she provided a fully accredited veterinary continuing education program called The Social Side of Practice for veterinarians and their teams across Canada, as well as a nationwide pet loss counselling service for pet owners. She also served as the director of veterinary affairs at LifeLearn Animal Health, where she developed innovative continuing education to help veterinarians and their teams address the challenges of veterinary practice. Dr. Stoewen was also a member of the Farley Foundation’s board of directors for nine years.
Dr. Stoewen is involved with several veterinary and social work associations, nationally and internationally. She is the wellness columnist for the Canadian Veterinary Journal and has published a variety of articles in veterinary and social work journals. She’s given hundreds of presentations internationally about veterinary wellness, veterinary-client-patient communication, teamwork, organizational culture and leadership.
“We, hopefully, all strive to make a difference in the lives of other people as we journey through life as veterinarians,” says her colleague, Dr. Chip Coombs. “Dr. Stoewen has accomplished that in spades and then some. By being the first in Canada (and likely North America) to bring mental health counselling directly to the individual practices …she has undoubtedly saved lives.”
Award of Merit – Dr. Bianca Ferenczy
The 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.
For more than 25 years, Dr. Bianca Ferenczy has provided accessible veterinary medicine in Guelph, Ont. Dr. Ferenczy owns and operates Park Avenue Veterinary Services, providing compassionate care and holistic choices for the community, along with traditional, diagnostic and emergency medicine.
Dr. Ferenczy’s practice began as a mobile clinic to provide in-home services for clients, later expanding to a medical office where more comprehensive care could be provided. Clients and patients who have difficulty coming to a clinic have benefited from her mobile services.
Dr. Ferenczy’s journey into complementary holistic and integrative medicine began because of patients who required treatment outside the realm of traditional medicine. She took advanced studies at the Institute of Veterinary Homeopathy in the United States and then became an affiliate member of the Academy of Veterinary Homeopathy.
“Many people seek out holistic care for their pets when they’ve already tried multiple treatment options,” says Brittany Tartaglia, a registered veterinary technician on her team. “These cases can often be difficult, but Dr. Bianca takes time to carefully analyze these cases and give them the best treatment options possible.”
Dr. Ferenczy volunteers her time to work with high school and university students who have an interest in veterinary medicine. She also provides medical supplies to help animal rescue organizations overseas and has established a “pets in need” fund at her clinic where clients can donate to help other pet owners in their community.
Rising Star Award – Dr. Melissa Pinto
The OVMA 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. Melissa Pinto graduated from Ontario Veterinary College in 2018 and is currently a veterinarian at Town and Country Animal Hospital in Stouffville, Ont. She has a strong interest in medical and surgical oncology and is known among her team as a natural teacher and leader.
Dr. Pinto consistently exemplifies dedication, going above and beyond to check in on her patients and by thoroughly detailing treatment options and answering all questions her clients have. Due to her expertise and compassion, she’s already developed a large and passionate client following.
“Dr. Pinto takes the time to explain everything, and she makes you feel like your pet is her only patient,” says one of her clients. “She made sure I understood what everything meant in terms of procedures, medications and test results and can explain everything in plain terms. You can tell this isn’t just a job to her but a passion.”
Dr. Pinto is an advocate for the profession. She practices collaborative medicine and is fully committed to the betterment of her colleagues. She’s always looking for ways to better the practice, prioritizes mentorship and strives to educate prospective veterinary staff.
Golden Life Membership Award –
Dr. Dale Scott
The 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.
Dr. Dale Scott graduated from the Ontario Veterinary College in 1976, and started his mixed animal practice in Mindemoya, Ont., which is where he worked until 2016 when he retired.
Over his 40-year career Dr. Scott held many leadership roles, including president of OVMA, president of the Designated Area Veterinary Association, president of the Northern Ontario Veterinary Association (NOVA), president of the Farley Foundation, chair of the College of Veterinarians of Ontario’s Discipline and Registration Committee and chair of OVMA’s Large Animal Issues Committee. He’s currently serving in municipal politics as a councillor for Central Manitoulin.
His commitment to the Ride for Farley is one of the highlights of his contributions to the veterinary profession. He began the charity bike ride as a fundraiser for different animal causes many years ago, when he initially developed his passion for cycling. He would leave his home in Mindemoya every September on route to the NOVA conference, wherever the location was in the north, hundreds of kilometres away. When the Farley Foundation was established in 2002, Dr. Scott dedicated his ride to raise funds for the foundation, and the Ride for Farley was born. Since then, the event has raised more than $1 million to help low-income pet owners in Ontario by subsidizing the cost of non-elective veterinary care for their pets. Dr. Scott is still a devoted participant and fundraiser.
As his colleague, Dr. Sherri Rea, says, “Dale embodies what I have always felt was a special combination of traits that have made many veterinarians some of the most incredible individuals to encounter on this planet. He shows a desire to problem solve, search for answers to medical mysteries, aid in diagnosis and treatment of pets and food industry animals and he can effortlessly blend these talents with a sincere, extremely empathetic kindness and interest in the lives of everyone he meets.”