Meritorious Service Winners

2019 Inductees

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.

2018 Inductee

Lori Weise | Downtown Dog Rescue

Ms. Lori Weise founded Downtown Dog Rescue in Los Angeles, CA after her daily frustration of seeing homeless, sick, and injured animals on her drives to work made her take action. She began talking with the residents in the area about their pets and eventually established a rapport and trust with them. Ms. Weise started providing them with pet supplies, spay and neuter services, and even financial aid. That was 20 years ago.
Since then, Lori and her team of volunteers have expanded their services and their reach to include some of the poorest and most intimidating neighborhoods in Los Angeles. Monthly clinics, including spay and neuter services, microchipping, vaccinations, deworming, and veterinary consultation are provided.

The Downtown Dog Rescue has a facility where they house animals to prevent them from going into the municipal shelter system. Ms. Weise also fosters animals at home and at work. She does all this while continuing to manage a furniture warehouse.

Ms. Weise’s tireless efforts to help those struggling to keep their pets are truly commendable and certainly exemplifies the CVMA’s description of meritorious service.

2017 Inductee

Marin Humane’s In-Home Pet Care Assistance Program

The Marin Humane’s In-home Pet Care Assistance Program helps low-income seniors and those with life-threatening illnesses to continue to care for their pets at home. The program serves approximately 250 households which currently translates to approximately 125 dogs, 179 cats, and eight birds. For more than 20 years, a staff made up of almost exclusively volunteers, assists their clients (at no charge) with things such as pet food and supply deliveries; light pet grooming and cleaning; dog walking; transportation to the veterinarian; and within limits, veterinary care.

The In-home Pet Care Assistance Program not only improves the health of the pets, but the health and happiness of their owners as well because it fosters and strengthens the human-animal bond. Pets receive the medical attention and care they need and can remain at home with their owners who look to them for companionship and support.

Recipients of this program have nothing but great things to say about it. As one client explained, “Yes, my dog is a very important part of my life. He deserves the best care I can find. He should not be punished because of my financial situation.…I was in the hospital and would have had to give him up if not for [their] help.”

© 2021 California Veterinary Medical Association

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