2019 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 2019 CVMA award recipients!  They represent the very best of the veterinary profession in California and the human-animal bond.  Each honoree was recognized during the Gala Awards Ceremony on June 22, 2019 at the Pacific Veterinary Conference in Long Beach.



Dr. Ruth Daniels | Canine Companions for Independence

Nominating Organization: Canine Companions for Independence

Dr. Ruth Daniels joined Canine Companions for Independence, a non-profit assistance dog organization for people with disabilities, in 1982. During her 36 years of service to the organization, Dr. Daniels developed its breeding program and because of her efforts, Canine Companions has placed over 6,000 assistance dogs across the country.

Dr. Daniels also supports Canine Companions’ volunteer breeder caretakers. Volunteers care for the organization’s female breeders and whelp and socialize the puppies in their homes. The breeding program has produced more than 20,000 puppies to date. Dr. Daniels provides 24-hour on-call support for each litter and their caretaker. Due to her efforts, guidance, and availability to the breeder caretakers, the litter mortality rate for Canine Companions’ litters is only nine to 10 percent.

Dr. Daniels’ commitment to Canine Companions’ mission of providing quality assistance dogs for people with disabilities is demonstrated daily through the success of the organization’s breeding and caretaker programs, and the kindness and compassion she gives to others.

VCA Valley Oak Veterinary Center, Chico, CA

Nominating Organization: VCA Animal Hospitals

On November 8, 2019, the Camp Fire started in Paradise, CA, 17 miles from VCA Valley Oak Veterinary Center. Valley Oak is the only 24-hour emergency hospital in the area and from the fire’s start, its staff responded quickly to care for the numerous injured and burned animals affected and it never closed its door during this disaster. Companion animals, wildlife, and even small livestock were treated and provided aid and shelter.

The field next to Valley Oak was turned into a staging center for federal disaster workers. Teams brought in animals and when the pain of seeing the injured animals took its toll on them, Valley Oak’s staff allowed them to visit with healthy, found animals to lift their spirits and provide much needed animal therapy.

Valley Oak’s own staff was greatly affected by the fire and despite some losing their homes, they remained committed to helping the animals and came to work. “Their resiliency, drive, and compassion matches any of the very best disaster responders,” said Christine Crick, RVT, VTS.

Valley Oak’s dedication to serve the Chino area community during the Camp Fire is a great example of professional veterinary care during a disaster.



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.

2019 Inductee:  Max, Search and Rescue Dog

Owner:  Martin Wendels

Nominating Organization: Central California Veterinary Medical Association

Eight-year-old Belgian Malinois Max loves to help people. More specifically, he and his owner Martin Wendels love to help find missing people. As a search and rescue (SAR) dog, Max has participated in numerous rescues in the Central Valley including the Camp Fire in Northern California where he worked under extreme circumstances for seven days until his foot was lacerated from the debris.

Max is a trained trailing and cadaver dog. He and Martin are the only civilian search and rescue team the Fresno Police Department uses. They routinely volunteer their time to assist with numerous missing person cases.

Max and Martin are also part of Yosemite Park’s dedicated team of SAR handlers and dogs, nicknamed YODOGS. They help with not only incidents but also with the park’s preventative SAR program. In 2017 during the Thanksgiving holiday, Max successfully tracked a potentially suicidal person to the edge of a viewpoint in the area.

During a winter storm in Yosemite in February 2018, Max worked in very cold and snowy conditions to help with the search for a backpacker leading to a successful rescue.
Max has helped numerous agencies and groups find loved ones, and even under extreme conditions, he continues his efforts. He is an outstanding example of the human-animal bond and a very welcome inductee into the California Animal Hall of Fame.



Fred Frye, DVM

The Outstanding Service Award honors those who are excellent representatives of the veterinary profession as shown through active community involvement and/or veterinary service. Dr. Fred Frye is a stellar example of the qualities that exemplify this award. He has produced valuable, original research and publications specializing in the care of reptiles and amphibians that have served as the guide for many veterinary professionals over the years. He continues to share his knowledge as a visiting professor of comparative medicine and pathobiology at numerous colleges and universities in North America, the United Kingdom, Italy, and Japan. He has authored several publications including 23 textbooks, seven non-scientific books, professional papers, programs, and chapters.

The Outstanding Service Award will be presented at the local VMA level.


Nominate Someone for a 2020 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, 2019.  In June 2020 you can join your colleagues in San Francisco in applauding the recipients of these prestigious awards!

Awards Nomination criteria and timeline

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