Meet the 2016 OVMA Award Winners!
See a list of past award winners
Outstanding Veterinarian Award - Tim Zaharchuk, DVM
Dr. Tim Zaharchuk graduated from the Ontario Veterinary College (OVC) in 1981. After practicing as an associate, locum and emergency veterinarian, he established Derrydale Animal Hospital in Brampton in 1986.
Dr. Zaharchuk, affectionately known as “Dr. Zee” by his clients, has been active on behalf of his profession and in advocating for animal welfare issues throughout his career. He has volunteered for veterinary associations on the local, provincial and national levels. In 1994, he organized the inception of the local veterinary association in his community, the Brampton Veterinary Association (BVA). Dr. Zaharchuk served as the group’s President in its first two years, and has been actively involved with the association ever since.
On the provincial level, he served on the OVMA Board of Directors for 21 years. He served a term as President of the association in 2004 and was Chairperson of the Economics Committee from 1999-2015. Dr. Zaharchuk has made himself available on numerous occasions to represent the profession as a media spokesperson on a number of important and sometimes difficult topics, including breed specific legislation and the cost of veterinary care. His interviews have been covered in major media outlets, and he has done an exemplary job of representing Ontario veterinarians in each instance. Dr. Zaharchuk has participated in SafePet, a program that assists women at risk of abuse by providing temporary housing and care for their pets while they enter a shelter. While volunteering for this program, Dr. Zaharchuk adopted one of the pets at the request of its owner, and was featured in a Toronto Star article educating the public on the connection between pets and women at risk of abuse.
Dr. Zaharchuk served as the veterinarian for the Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides from 2001-2003. Dr. Zaharchuk has also volunteered for the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association’s (CVMA) Animal Welfare Committee, and represents OVMA on the Investigations and Resolutions Working Group as part of CVO’s review of the Veterinarians Act. In addition, he has also served as a Director of Veterinary Purchasing Co. Ltd. for the last five years.
Most recently, he worked closely with the City of Mississauga as it redeveloped its animal welfare bylaws, appearing at several city council meetings as an expert on animal welfare issues. Dr. Zaharchuk’s input was instrumental in crafting the city’s new bylaws, which passed in 2014.
Golden Life Membership Award - Susan Cochrane, BSc, MSc, DVM, DVSc , Diplomate ACVIM (Neurology)
Dr. Susan Cochrane graduated from the Ontario Veterinary College (OVC) in 1982. After two years in private practice in King City, she returned to OVC where she completed an internship in small animal medicine and surgery, followed by the DVSc program in neurology.
In 1990, Dr. Cochrane became a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (Neurology). She then worked as a staff veterinarian in neurology at OVC from 1988 to 1992. Dr. Cochrane then joined the staff of Morningside Animal Clinic where she practiced for nine years. In 2002, Dr. Cochrane moved to the Veterinary Emergency Clinic/Referral Centre, where she currently practices as a clinical neurologist.
Dr. Cochrane is described by her nominators as an extraordinary veterinarian who is dedicated to her patients and clients, as well as veterinarians who refer cases to her. Dr. Cochrane goes above and beyond to be available for her patients, many of whom suffer from complex neurological conditions, and is patient and empathetic in the care that she provides. Dr. Cochrane utilizes her expert knowledge to teach others, mentoring interns and residents and giving CE lectures to veterinarians in general practice.
Although health outcomes can be unpredictable in the field of neurology, clients and veterinarians alike consistently praise Dr. Cochrane’s bedside manner, dedication, compassion and knowledge.
Rising Star Award - Kasia Sulima, DVM
Recognized for her exceptional volunteerism, leadership and client and patient service, Dr. Kasia Sulima has impressed her peers and clients with her dedication to veterinary medicine after just three years in practice.
Raised in rural Ontario, Dr. Sulima aspired to be a veterinarian from a young age. While in school, she earned valuable knowledge and skills in animal care by working and volunteering as a kennel worker, animal care attendant, receptionist and veterinarian’s assistant. After receiving her Honour’s Degree in Animal Biology, she enrolled at the Ontario Veterinary College, where she developed a keen interest in animal welfare, pain management, dentistry and animal behaviour modification.
During her time at OVC, Dr. Sulima volunteered for a variety of animal welfare and charitable causes. She has participated in Dog Shows, the CIBC Run for the Cure, the Terry Fox Run and the OVC Pet Trust Fund, and served as President of the OVC Animal Welfare Club from 2008-2009. Dr. Sulima’s charitable work has continued at Innisfil Veterinary Hospital, where she regularly organizes staff participation in charity walks and Christmas Cheer fundraisers. She is also an active volunteer at her church, and regularly participates in their charity events.
Dr. Sulima is a natural teacher and leader, serving as a mentor to many high school and veterinary technician co-op students. She inspires and motivates students through her passion for veterinary medicine, always taking the time to explain things thoroughly, answer questions and enhance their knowledge and skills. She also regularly volunteers her time to travel to co-op fairs at local high schools.
Dr. Sulima is very dedicated to her patients and clients, and can often be found in the clinic after hours or on her days off, checking in on patients or researching complex cases. She is always willing to lend a helping hand to colleagues, whether she is assisting with other veterinarian’s cases, answering the phone or restraining an animal. She has a natural talent for handling patients with behavioural challenges, and provides valuable tips to staff and clients for behaviour modification in their patients. Clients recognize Dr. Sulima for her compassion, empathy and gentle demeanor in addition to her outstanding technical skills.
In the words of Dr. Amritpal Saini, owner of Innisfil Veterinary Hospital, “Dr. Kasia Sulima is a wonderful human being, a dedicated veterinarian and an enthusiastic animal welfare spokesperson. She has a bright career ahead of her…she truly is a rising star.”
Award of Merit - Suzi Peters, DVM
After graduating from OVC in 1994, Dr. Suzi Peters began practicing in a mixed animal practice in Dundas, Ontario. In 1996 she moved to Grimsby, and has been a partner at the Grimsby Animal Hospital since 2002.
Dr. Peters is a very active member of her local veterinary community and has served as President of the Niagara Peninsula Veterinary Association (NPVA) for the past 19 years. As president, she brings together veterinarians from around the region for informative presentations on a number of topics, and is also responsible for arranging speakers, sponsorship, and venues for these meetings. A role she handles tirelessly and with great enthusiasm, Dr. Peters also represents veterinarians in the Niagara region as an OVMA Director, a position she has held since 2006.
In 2013, Dr. Peters and her bulldog Bridgitte began volunteering as part of the St. John Ambulance Therapy Dog Program in Niagara. Her dedication to the program resulted in her being recruited as Head Coordinator of the program soon after, and the program has flourished under her leadership, becoming one of the largest branches in Ontario with over 80 active handler/dog teams. Her passion for this program is evident and in 2014 alone, she dedicated over 1,500 volunteer hours to the program.
Dr. Peters is involved with the College of Veterinarians of Ontario (CVO), where she actively participates in the CVO Peer Review Committee. She is an advocate for the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program at the Ontario Veterinary College (OVC), and has served as a mentor to aspiring veterinarians for many years. Dr. Peters also regularly highlights the veterinary profession to high school students on Career Days, and visits elementary schools and daycare centers to teach young children about responsible pet care.
In the words of one of her nominators, “Her love of medicine, animals and people is very obvious by her noteworthy public service. She is an exceptional example of a veterinarian and community member, and is a very deserving nominee for this prestigious award.”
Award of Merit - Jerome Billett, DVM & Janice Harrower, DVM
Partners in life as well as in practice, Drs. Jerome Billett and Janice Harrower have worked as a team ever since graduating from the Ontario Veterinary College (OVC) in 1976. Their careers began in the rural community of Prescott, Ontario where they purchased a single veterinarian practice. Over the years, they transformed the practice into a highly successful multi-veterinarian, multi-clinic corporation with three different locations – Prescott Animal Hospital, Rideau-St. Lawrence Veterinary Services and the Brockville Animal Hospital. Their success can in part be attributed to their willingness to embrace the constant advances in veterinary medicine and technology while recognizing the importance of providing exemplary patient care and client service.
The result of their leadership is a team of veterinarians and staff who truly love working with them and who feel deeply invested in the success of their practice on the medical, financial and personal level. Staff, some of whom have been with Prescott Animal Hospital since the beginning of their own careers, praise Dr. Billett and Dr. Harrower for their guidance, mentorship and support; and for creating an inspiring workplace that serves as an extension of their own family.
Drs. Harrower and Billett have been active supporters of their local community since settling in the Prescott area nearly 40 years ago. Their community involvement has been extensive over the years, and includes sponsorship and participation in the Spencerville Fair, local parades, Paws for a Cause, annual hospital drives for both local food banks, the St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival, the expansion of the Prescott Library and providing information nights and open house events for the public. They have been supporters of their local Christian community as well. In addition, Dr. Harrower volunteered her services at the local branch of the Humane Society and the Children’s Aid Society, while Dr. Billett served as a Beaver Scout leader, Sunday school superintendent and board member and chairman of the board for Camp Iawah, a non-denominational Christian children’s summer camp and retreat centre.
In 2012, Prescott Animal Hospital received an Employer Champion Award from the government of Ontario for their efforts in helping students gain hands-on learning opportunities for their future careers. The clinic has provided more than 75 students with valuable work experience for over 25 years through co-op placements, career talks and classroom visits, where students are taught about the different aspects of working in the veterinary field.
The Prescott Animal Hospital has provided training for countless veterinary and externship students as well as veterinary technician and veterinary assistant students over the years. Many of these students were hosted in their family home
Described by their peers as “the dream team of veterinary medicine”, they have left a lasting and far-reaching impact on their hospital, their community, and their employees. In the words of their nominators, “Their careers are not simply about veterinary medicine. Yes, they taught us how to give injections and take x-rays but they also taught us to how to be better people, better employees, friends, sons and daughters, husbands and wives, fathers and mothers. The legacy that you two leave behind is not just about veterinary medicine or the Prescott Animal Hospital. It is all of the people that you have touched, taught, helped, fed, watered, laughed with and loved over the past 38 years.”