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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 80 individuals have been recognized with one of OVMA’s prestigious awards (see a list of past award winners (PDF)). 

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


Meet the 2017 OVMA Award Winners!

2017 Outstanding Veterinarian Award - Irene Moore, DVM

The Outstanding Veterinarian Award is presented to a veterinarian for outstanding contributions to the veterinary profession. 

Dr._Irene_MooreAfter graduating from the Ontario Veterinary College (OVC) in 1986, Dr. Irene Moore worked as a mixed animal veterinarian for eight years. In 1994, she began working at the University of Guelph, Ridgetown Campus, with roles as Animal Colony Manager, Lecturer, and Coordinator of the Veterinary Technology Program. In 2007, Dr. Moore became the Associate Director (Academic), where she is responsible for overseeing all academic programs at the campus. Through this position, she is currently Chair of the Canadian Association of Diploma Programs in Agriculture.

Dr. Moore has served as a leader in the veterinary profession, having held volunteer positions with a number of industry organizations over the course of her thirty-year career. She represented Chatham-Kent on the OVMA Board of Directors from 1993-1997 and again from 2003-2014, serving as President in 2008. Dr. Moore also served as Chairperson of the OVMA Governance Committee, which oversaw the reorganization of the OVMA Board of Directors. 

In addition to her work with OVMA, Dr. Moore served as President of the Association of Veterinary Technician Educators from 2007-2009, and the Ontario Veterinary Technology Education Association from 2006-2008. She also served on a number of College of Veterinarians of Ontario Task Forces. Dr. Moore is currently the Chair-Elect of the Veterinary Technician National Examination Board Committee, a subcommittee of the American Association of Veterinary State Boards. She is also an active volunteer within her community, currently serving on the Board of Directors for the Chatham Kent Community Foundation.

Dr. Moore continues to further her education, completing a College Educator Development Program in 1996, Educational Leadership in Teaching Excellence I and II in 2016, and a Master of Science (Epidemiology) from the Ontario Veterinary College in 2013. In addition, Dr. Moore has published two peer-reviewed publications on veterinary team communication, and has spoken at conferences in Canada and the United States. Dr. Moore was honoured by the Ontario Association of Veterinary Technicians (OAVT) with the OAVT Veterinary Appreciation Award in 2002. 


2017 Outstanding Veterinarian Award - Jennifer Day, DVM

The Outstanding Veterinarian Award is presented to a veterinarian for outstanding contributions to the veterinary profession. 

Dr._Jennifer_DayDr. Jennifer Day graduated from the Ontario Veterinary College (OVC) in 1994 and was a small animal clinician, surgeon and emergency medicine practitioner before purchasing Cabbagetown Pet Clinic in Toronto in 2008.

In 1997, Dr. Day relocated to Toronto from her hometown of Kingston and was encouraged by a colleague to join the board of the Toronto Academy of Veterinary Medicine (TAVM) as the Toronto OVMA representative. Thus began 20 years of active involvement with both association and regulation aspects of veterinary medicine in Ontario.

Dr. Day was on the TAVM board from 1997 to 2013, and spent much of her time on the executive as well as acting as President in 2004 and 2007. Her involvement on the TAVM Board was an opportunity to be a voice on the content and delivery of Continuing Education in Toronto.

On the provincial level, Dr. Day served on the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association (OVMA) Board of Directors from 1998 through 2011 and as president in 2010. She was active on several committees such as the Professional Health Program (PHP) and the OVMA conference committee, of which she remains an active participant. Dr. Day enjoyed her tenure on the OVMA board participating in the enrichment of the veterinary profession in Ontario.

Most recently, in 2013 Dr. Day became a member of the Council of the College of Veterinarians of Ontario (CVO), joining the executive committee in 2014 and serving as president in 2015. She has witnessed and aided implementation of significant change at the CVO over her term by providing input on the modernization of college policy and governance, including the introduction of the concepts of College Legislative Reform to Ontario veterinarians and stakeholders.

Most importantly, through her active involvement within the veterinary community over the years, Dr. Day has met and engaged with colleagues that became, and continue to be, an integral part of her diverse veterinary network of professional colleagues and friends.

One of her nominators, Dr. Suzi Peters, said, “She is not only an outstanding veterinarian, but she is an outstanding mother, wife, practice owner and friend. With her active roles in many different key organizations of our profession, she has been a true leader for her colleagues over the past decade, and her contributions are worthy of recognition.”


Rising Star Award - Amy Bennett, DVM

The 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._Amy_BennettAfter graduating from the Ontario Veterinary College (OVC) in 2012, Dr. Amy Bennett completed an Internship in Equine Medicine and Surgery in San Diego, CA before joining Main Street Animal Hospital in Cambridge, ON in 2013. Dr. Bennett practices as an ambulatory equine practitioner, and has an extensive skill set in general equine medicine, surgery and lameness. Amy also recently completed a course in veterinary spinal manipulative therapy.

Dr. Bennett is passionate about providing quality, compassionate care to her many patients, including horses, zebras, donkeys and mules. She regularly goes above and beyond the call of duty for clients and colleagues, receiving praise for her outstanding communication skills and dedication to working around the clock to resolve difficult cases. She provides veterinary services to organizations such as the Donkey Sanctuary of Canada and Pride Stables Central Ontario Developmental Riding Program, who commend her for the commitment and dedication she shows to the many animals under their care. 

Dr. Bennett serves as a mentor to many students in veterinary and technician programs, going above and beyond in her efforts to help students feel confident and flourish in their new career field. Although she is a very in-demand mentor, Dr. Bennett is always willing to lend her time, experience and knowledge to eager students. According to one of her mentees, “Amy is always willing to lend her time, experience and knowledge to eager students. She has become known among my equine-focused veterinary peers as an excellent local resource for knowledge and experience, and for that reason I believe she is a leader in the student equine veterinary community. Her leadership and mentorship have helped me to build confidence and have guided me to start becoming the type of practitioner I have always wished to be.”

Dr. Bennett is also an active volunteer in the equine community including volunteering during the Pan American Games in 2015 and offering free talks for various pony clubs and local client education sessions. She has also presented ribbons and awards at hunter/jumper shows and regularly participates in continuing education to further her knowledge. Amy regularly volunteers for fundraising events, such as the Donkey Sanctuary of Canada’s annual Donkey Day fundraiser.

In the words of Dr. Scott Reid, one of her nominators, “I have been in practice for twenty-nine years and I have not met a more impressive, dynamic veterinarian who is truly a Rising Star.”


Award of Merit - Sandra Watzin, DVM

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. 

Dr._Sandra_Watzin1After graduating from the Ontario Veterinary College (OVC) in 1990, Dr. Sandra Watzin practiced at a small animal practice in Mississauga for six years. In 1996, Dr. Watzin established Watzin Veterinary Clinic in Waterdown, ON.

The practice has undergone significant growth over the past twenty years, undergoing multiple renovations and expanding from a small staff of only two to over twenty employees. Watzin Veterinary Clinic has established itself as an innovative and forward-thinking practice, becoming the first veterinary hospital in Ontario to offer CO2 laser surgery and the first clinic in Canada to offer digital radiography.

Dr. Watzin is certified as a Fear Free Practitioner, knowledge which she draws upon to help make the veterinary experience stress-free for all patients. She is dedicated to continuing her veterinary education, having completed courses in orthopedic surgery as well as nutrition. Dr. Watzin is always willing to implement these new ideas and concepts into her practice in order to provide the best service to her clients. According to one of her clients, “There is no question in our minds that Dr. Watzin provides the best care to our animals that we could ask for. She embodies all of the qualities that one could desire in a veterinarian and is truly an ambassador for the profession.”

Dr. Watzin is also passionate about giving back to her community. The hospital makes regular donations to the Ontario Veterinary College Pet Trust, and in 2015, hosted the 9th Annual Pet Pictures with Santa and the 8th Annual Charity Dog Wash. The dog wash raised over $2,000, which Dr. Watzin generously matched for a total donation of $4,110 to the Farley Foundation. The clinic has raised funds for the Hamilton-Burlington SPCA, co-hosts microchip clinics, assists with the socialization and adoption of feral kittens and acts as an SPCA Wish List donation drop-off center for the community. In an effort to assist with community education and public health, Watzin Veterinary Clinic also offers complimentary tick identification to the public.

Dr. Watzin also serves as a mentor, imparting her knowledge and guidance upon countless veterinary students, volunteers and co-op students. She is always willing to lend a helping hand, donating medications and supplies for volunteer animal welfare missions across the globe and in one case, helping to nurse a very sick dog from the Honduras back to health.

In the words of one of her nominators, Dr. Michelle DaCosta, “Dr. Watzin is more than just my mentor. She is the beloved and fearless leader of Watzin Veterinary Clinic, she is the strongest woman I know, and she is an inspiration for aspiring veterinarians. She is the voice in the back of my head, encouraging me to do better. She is my ‘work mom’ and my confidence, and she is the type of veterinarian that I strive to become.”


Award of Merit - Jeffrey Latimer, DVM

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. 

Dr_Jeffrey_LatimerDr. Jeff Latimer was recognized by his clients and colleagues for his outstanding commitment to his clients, patients and community.

After graduating from the Ontario Veterinary College (OVC) in 1992, Dr. Latimer worked for Drs Pat and Bill Schroeder, and Dr. Brian Overgaard before opening Princess Animal Hospital in Kingston, ON in 1995. In 2015, he opened a second practice in Kingston with the establishment of the Downtown Animal Hospital.

Dr. Latimer is active in the veterinary community, and along with several colleagues, was instrumental in the establishment of after-hours emergency hospitals in both Kingston and Belleville. He served as Treasurer on their Board of Directors for several years, and continues to be an active member. Dr. Latimer regularly hosts microchip clinics at his hospitals, donating all proceeds to the Kingston Humane Society or Kingston Animal Rescue. He has participated as a Reviewer for the College of Veterinarians of Ontario (CVO) and was a member of the St. Lawrence College Advisory Board for the Registered Veterinary Technician program. Each year, his practice hosts 2-4 St. Lawrence College students as they complete their work placement component for the veterinary technologist and veterinary assistant programs, providing students with valuable work experience as they begin their careers in the veterinary field. 

Dr. Latimer is also passionate about giving back to his community, and has donated to a number of charities, including the Kingston Humane Society, Canadian Cancer Society, Almost Home, Kingston Animal Rescue, ALS Society, Kingston Grandmother Connection, Sandy Pines Wildlife Centre. Kingston 4-Paws Service Dogs, the Farley Foundation, Heart & Stroke Foundation, Veterinarians without Borders, Kingston Toy Drive, Kingston Youth Shelter, Kingston Interval House and more. Dr. Latimer has spent the last 8 years being a proud coach and financial sponsor for the Princess Animal Hospital Predators, a Kingston Minor Hockey Association house league team. Dr. Latimer is proud of his team who does nail trims for donations, which then fund care for pets who would not receive care without financial assistance.

In 2005, Dr. Latimer was recognized as “Businessman of the Year” by the Kingston Whig-Standard and Kingston Canadian Tire for his commitment to providing outstanding veterinary care and entrepreneurial leadership in his community. In 2016, Princess Animal Hospital was voted the winner of the Got a Pet? Get a Vet! contest. The Canada-wide contest, which invited the general public to nominate their favourite veterinary hospital, was part of a public education campaign to promote the importance of regular veterinary care.

Dr. Latimer has been a member of Veterinary Study Groups Incorporated since 2008. As part of this organization, he spends two weeks each year working to identify and resolve the economic issues facing our industry.

In the words of one of his colleagues, “Dr. Jeff Latimer’s sincere and absolute dedication to the practice of veterinary medicine, his healthcare team and the community they serve represent the very pinnacle of professionalism to which we all might aspire.”


Honorary Membership Award - Ayala Sher

This award is presented to a person who is not a veterinarian, but who has contributed to animal welfare and/or the veterinary profession. 

AyalaSher3Since establishing SafePet Ottawa in 2014, Ms. Ayala Sher has worked tirelessly to ensure the safety and well-being of companion animals living in homes affected by domestic violence.

Ms. Sher was instrumental in the creation of SafePet Ottawa, a charitable organization that works closely with local veterinarians and Violence Against Women Shelters to arrange temporary foster care placements for the pets of victims of domestic violence. The service is an extension of OVMA’s SafePet Program, and enables victims to leave their abusive partners and seek safety in secure shelters without worrying about the safety of their pets.

Ms. Sher spearheaded the program in Ottawa, working alongside the local veterinary community as well as the VAW shelter community to establish a network of veterinarians, shelter workers and volunteers fosters and created protocols and procedures for the program. She is responsible for organizing an extensive network of resources that provide supplies and services for pets in the program, including the Ottawa Kennel Club, multiple members of the Ottawa Rescue Community, pet store owners and fundraising groups such as Empty for Paws and the Pet Resource Bank.  

Ms. Sher is passionate about educating the public on the plight of animals living in violent homes. She makes regular presentations at local high schools about the importance of ending violence against women and the effect this type of abuse has on animals. She represents SafePet Ottawa in community groups such as the Ottawa Coalition to End Violence Against Women and actively works to heighten awareness of the program through social media and the SafePet Ottawa website. Like all SafePet Ottawa Board members, Ms. Sher never hesitates to help an animal in need, welcoming pets into her own home when other foster homes were not available and using her own financial resources to secure supplies or medical treatment.

Ms. Sher is always willing to share her knowledge and experience with other groups seeking to establish a similar program in their own municipality, and it is one of SafePet Ottawa’s special concerns that assistance be offered to communities across the province who wish to develop similar programs for the placement of at-risk animals in other locations across Ontario.

In the words of Dr. Lea Button, one of her nominators, “Ayala has single handedly created this wonderful network of veterinarians, shelter workers and fosters to enable the protection and care of some of the most vulnerable animal companions. She is a strong advocate for animals and an excellent partner with all of the veterinarians involved in the program. I can’t imagine a more deserving person for this award.”



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