Kansas State University veterinarian Hans Coetzee is this year’s AVMA Animal Welfare Award honoree.
Kansas State University veterinarian Hans Coetzee is this year’s AVMA Animal Welfare Award honoree.

During AVMA Convention 2017 this July in Indianapolis, the AVMA bestowed awards to recognize excellence in veterinary medicine.

Dr. L. Garry Adams received the AVMA Award, and the AVMA Meritorious Service Award went to Dr. Bruce Kaplan. Following are some key achievements of the other award recipients.

AVMA Animal Welfare Award

This award recognizes an AVMA member for accomplishments in the field of animal welfare involving leadership, public service, research, education, or advocacy.

Dr. Hans Coetzee
Dr. Coetzee heads the Department of Anatomy and Physiology at the Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine. His interests include the development of pain assessment techniques and practical analgesic drug regimens for food-producing animals.

After earning his veterinary degree from the University of Pretoria in South Africa in 1996, Dr. Coetzee worked in mixed animal practice in Northern Ireland and then in pharmaceutical research and development at Norbrook Laboratories Ltd. He received a certificate in Cattle Health and Production from the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons in 2000 and a doctorate in veterinary microbiology from Iowa State University in 2005. He is a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Clinical Pharmacology, American College of Animal Welfare, and European College of Animal Welfare and Behavioural Medicine. He has also published more than 110 peer-reviewed scientific papers and received more than $10 million in research funding.

AVMA Humane Award

This award recognizes a nonveterinarian for accomplishments in the field of animal welfare involving leadership, public service, research, education, or advocacy.

Joan Miller
Miller has been an advocate for the health and well-being of cats for more than 45 years. During the 1970s and l980s, she was known for her award-winning Abyssinian cats and became a Cat Fanciers' Association judge of all breeds, retiring with emeritus status in 2013. She also was a board member of the CFA for 25 years.

From 1980-1996, Miller served as president of the Winn Feline Foundation, which funds feline health research. She then focused on cat population problems, including shelter issues and free-roaming unowned cats. In 1996, she coordinated a national workshop on feral cats.

Miller has been engaged in legislative advocacy for pet ownership, education programs for the general public at cat shows and pet expos, and shelter presentations on handling difficult cats and has served as a lecturer at the University of California-Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.

AVMA Public Service Award

This award recognizes an AVMA member for outstanding public service while an employee of a government agency or for education of veterinarians in public service activities.

Dr. Valerie Ragan
Dr. Ragan (Georgia '83) is director of the Center for Public and Corporate Veterinary Medicine at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine. She focuses on veterinary public practice, including providing opportunities for student engagement in national and international veterinary and animal health organizations. She provides counseling and training for veterinarians wishing to make career changes. She also works around the world on the control and eradication of brucellosis and on projects related to building veterinary capacity.

Starting out as a small animal practitioner, Dr. Ragan transitioned to Veterinary Services with the Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. She rose to assistant deputy administrator of Veterinary Services, serving as the national coordinator of animal health surveillance and establishing the National Surveillance Unit at the USDA Center for Epidemiology and Animal Health. She then led a veterinary consulting company engaged in resolving animal health issues and building international veterinary capacity.

AVMA XIIth International Veterinary Congress Prize

This award recognizes an AVMA member who has contributed to international understanding of veterinary medicine.

Dr. Andrew Clark
After earning his veterinary degree from Michigan State University in 1964, Dr. Clark served a Peace Corps assignment in what is now Tanzania. The assignment led to a 26-year international career, primarily in eastern and southern Africa and also in North Africa and the Near East. His work in Africa involved disease control in large populations of animals. As a veterinary officer in Tanzania, Dr. Clark was responsible for the health concerns of approximately 1 million cattle and 1 million sheep and goats, along with thousands of donkeys. In the late 1960s, he was involved with the initial efforts to eradicate rinderpest.

Dr. Clark went on to a 22-year career with the Oregon Department of Agriculture that ended with the role of state veterinarian. After retirement, he worked with the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Egypt regarding highly pathogenic avian influenza and with the USDA and U.S. Agency for International Development in Nairobi.

AVMA President's Award

Dr. Tom Meyer, 2016-17 AVMA president, chose the recipients of this award, which is for individuals or groups that have made a positive impact on health, veterinary organizations, or the profession.

Dr. Robert Kit Flowers
Dr. Flowers (Colorado State '78), executive director of the Christian Veterinary Mission, started his career in private practice in Walla Walla, Washington, followed by service as a captain in the Air Force based at Tyndall Air Force Base in Panama City, Florida. He subsequently opened a mixed animal practice in Panama City. He and his wife, Jan, did a short-term service trip to Haiti with the Christian Veterinary Mission, an organization founded in 1976 in response to a need in the developing world for training in animal health.

Dr. Flowers and his family then committed to long-term service in veterinary relief and development work in Kenya with the mission, serving with the Maasai people from 1985-90. Dr. Flowers returned to join the mission staff in Seattle. He has been the organization's president and executive director for nearly 25 years.

Dr. Richard DeBowes
Dr. DeBowes (Illinois '79) is a professor of equine surgery and director of the Professional Life Skills program at the Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine. He oversees the curriculum in practice management and teaches courses on leadership and clinical communication. He helped fund, develop, promote, and host the Cougar Orientation and Leadership Experience at WSU and the Veterinary Leadership Experience, a leadership training program for veterinary students and others.

Previously, Dr. DeBowes served as associate dean for veterinary development and external relations at WSU and chairman of the departments of clinical sciences at the Kansas State University and WSU veterinary colleges. He is a diplomate and former regent of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons. He has presented more than 400 programs on leadership, teamwork, communication, and organizational culture in 28 countries.

Kathleen Ruby, PhD
Dr. Ruby is a licensed professional clinical counselor with more than 35 years of experience in the counseling and educational fields. For the past 20 years, she has been on the faculty at the WSU College of Veterinary Medicine, where she has served as the director of counseling and wellness. In this capacity, she has worked with students and faculty to improve the culture of veterinary training and to create programs that enhance professional and personal well-being and emotional competence within the veterinary profession. These programs include training veterinary students in the realm of end-of-life care and personal leadership training.

Dr. Ruby helped develop the Veterinary Leadership Experience, a leadership training program for veterinary students and others, to teach psychological flexibility and enhance self-awareness and mindfulness in veterinary professionals. She also was the founding editor-in-chief of Veterinary Team Brief.