Congratulations to the 2020 Award Winners!


The CVMA honors individuals and organizations that make significant contributions to organized veterinary medicine through participation in CVMA activities and through the human-animal bond.  The latest inductee into the California Animal Hall of Fame is also recognized.

Congratulations to the 2020 CVMA award recipients!  They represent the very best of the veterinary profession in California and the human-animal bond.


Leslie Peek, RVT

Even after 27 years, Ms. Peek does not think of her work as an RVT as simply a job. In addition to her position as head RVT at Sierra Oaks Veterinary Service, she trains and mentors RVTs, assistants, and students, sharing her knowledge and wisdom. She has also strived to continue learning several different aspects of veterinary medicine herself including animal behavior, low stress handling, dentistry, radiography, and surgical procedures.

For the past five years, Ms. Peek has worked as an instructor with the Veterinary Allied Staff Education (aka VASE) organization. She is known for being able to relate her personal with her current practice experiences which her students find very beneficial. “Teaching these classes has enabled me to help more people reach their goal of becoming an RVT. I feel good knowing that in our little hospital alone I have helped three individuals reach their dream. They are now practicing RVTs. Soon we will have a fourth, she starts school this January,” said Ms. Peek.

Ms. Peek became involved with the CVMA CVA Committee in 2006 and was the first RVT to co-chair the committee. She also served on the CVMA’s RVT Committee. She is an advocate of the veterinary profession and “is knowledgable about the CVMA and has inspired others to join,” says fellow RVT, Jodie May. It is no wonder why several of her colleagues believe that she is a perfect example and recipient of the Outstanding RVT of the Year – Private Practice Award.


Darlene Geekie, RVT | The Little Angels Project

Nominating Organization: The Little Angels Project

As a result of her tireless work in the veterinary field, and her experience with sanctuaries and rescue groups, Darlene Geekie founded the Little Angels Project. Her goal was to rescue animals with medical needs that other shelters and rescue facilities were unable to provide care for. She also sought to address the emotional and financial issues veterinary professionals and others who care for animals in these facilities face when the cost for appropriate care is prohibitive. The mission of the Little Angels Project is “to assist animals living in sanctuaries and rescue facilities, and to reduce euthanasia rates of domestic and exotic animals with advanced medical needs throughout Los Angeles County and surrounding areas”. The organization rescues mostly dogs and cats but also provides care to a variety of animals including birds, rabbits, turtles, pigs, goats and even exotic animals needing specialized care at local zoos and wildlife parks.

In addition to helping countless rescued animals, Ms. Geekie and The Little Angels Project were integral saving hundreds of animals injured in the Woolsey fire that took place in Southern California in 2018. There, they set up a makeshift hospital and worked with animal control and the Red Cross to provide care and support for animals and their owners. At one point, it became necessary for the Little Angels’ triage center to evacuate and it was relocated as a triage tent at the evacuation center. Not only did Ms. Geekie’s organization provide medical care to numerous animals affected by the fire, but also worked to re-unite pet owners with their pets.

Ms. Geekie’s extensive work with the community and organizations, as well as her commitment to help animals in need, makes her a very deserving recipient of the CVMA’s Meritorious Service Award.


The CVMA’s California Animal Hall of Fame, created in 1990, celebrates the companion and working animals of California and the veterinarians who care for them.  The winning animal’s care provider is recognized at the Pacific Veterinary Conference as well.

2020 Inductee:  MacGyver

Owner:  Rick Stein

Veterinary Sponsor: San Roque Pet Hospital

Just like the ingenious television character who shares his name. MacGyver is no ordinary dog. As part of the Santa Barbara County’s Search & Rescue team. Australian shepherd MacGyver and his owner. Rick Stein, have helped to locate the lost and the deceased following accidents and natural disasters in some of the most tragic conditions. MacGyver is very adept with search techniques and can generally do so without a scent article. and is able to search in high altitudes and difficult terrain.

In 2018. MacGyver and Mr. Stein were honored with a special Pup Harris Fellow (aka Paul Harris Fellow) from the Santa Barbara Sunrise Rotary Club for their critical efforts during the Montecito debris flow incident. Joanne Schoenfeld, a past club president said, “MacGyver and his partner, Rick Stein, are only one of the many Santa Barbara Search and Rescue teams in our county. While I chose to honor them for their difficult work during the debris flow. they are hard at work all year long locating the missing in our area.”

MacGyver and Mr. Stein have also shared their knowledge by training other  handler/dog teams. They have spent countless hours teaching by example and their friendly and professional approach has proved invaluable to many teams.

MacGyver’s dedication to locate the missing especially under difficult circumstances as well as his training contributions under the guidance of his owner, are clear examples of how his actions exemplify the human­ animal bond.


Kathy Gervais, DVM

Over the past 29 years, Dr. Kathy Gervais has been involved with many aspects of the veterinary profession. She has a passion for animal conservation; is a frequent volunteer for various organizations; a public educator of animal care issues; mentor to veterinary technicians, students, and others; a fundraiser, and an advocate. She is a supporter of the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) and is also active in various other conservation organizations including the Wild Cat Education and Conservation Fund, Snow Leopard Conservancy, and the Small Wild Cat Conservation Foundation, to name a few. Dr. Gervais remains active and generous with her time and experience, and is clearly a wonderful example of an Outstanding Service Award recipient.

Pauline White | San Diego County Veterinary Medical Association (SDCVMA)

As a 36-year member of the SDCVMA, Pauline White has done and seen it all. She has worked tirelessly on issues affecting the veterinary profession, animals, and animal owners in the San Diego County area for years and has provided an invaluable historical perspective to the SDCVMA board. Ms. White has kept up on current legislation and has reached out to the CVMA for clarification in order to pass on the correct information to the local community. She also ensured the SDCVMA organized quality CE for its members and helped make sure everything ran smoothly. Upon her retirement, her VMA would like to share her efforts with other veterinary professionals and recognize her outstanding service.

Nominate Someone for a 2021 CVMA Award

It is the CVMA’s honor and pleasure to recognize significant contributions to the veterinary profession! The announcement of the award recipients is the highlight of the Pacific Veterinary Conference. We invite all readers to take a moment and ask, “Who has stood out in the crowd?”  Who has made a difference?”  Then, send your nomination packet to the CVMA by the deadline of January 10, 2021.  In June 2021 you can join your colleagues in Long Beach in applauding the recipients of these prestigious awards!

Awards & Nomination Criteria Timeline

© 2021 California Veterinary Medical Association

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