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The Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association (PVMA) is the only statewide professional membership association dedicated exclusively to the profession of veterinary medicine and the interests of the veterinary team. The focus of our association is professional development, advocacy, and practice vitality to ensure the continued success of our members.


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2017 Hall of Fame Awards

Posted By Jaime Markle, Friday, August 25, 2017
Updated: Monday, January 22, 2018

The Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association and the Pennsylvania Veterinary Foundation proudly present the 2017 Hall of Fame Awards

Awards were presented on Thursday, August 10, 2017 at the Hershey Lodge, Hershey, PA


President’s Awards are given to honor and recognize an achievement or activity of any individual or company that deserves more than a letter of commendation but does not qualify for an existing PVMA award.

Todd Stephens

The Honorable Todd Stephens

The first President’s Award is given to The Honorable Todd Stephens in recognition of his instrumental leadership on the monumental passing of House Bill 1238 and his outstanding facilitation of a comprehensive, bipartisan measure to help protect Pennsylvania’s animals and those individuals who serve and care for them.

The passage of HB 1238, which was signed into law as Act 10 of 2017 by Governor Tom Wolf, is an incredible victory for animals in Pennsylvania and the veterinary profession.

HB 1238, introduced by Representative Todd Stephens and 30 co-sponsors, is a significant positive change in Title 18, Section 5511; Pennsylvania’s animal cruelty statute. It not only provides needed updates to Pennsylvania’s law, but adds many provisions of various cruelty bills that have been introduced this session including Senator Richard Alloway’s and Representative Ryan Bizzaro’s “Libre’s Law” strengthens penalties, adds anti-tethering language, equine protections and civil immunity for humane
society police officers and veterinary professionals who report suspected animal cruelty.

After graduating from Widener University with his law degree and being admitted to the bar in 2000, Todd began his legal career as an Assistant District Attorney in the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office in January 2001. When Todd was promoted to the Trials Division he was assigned to the Sex Crimes Unit, where he immediately developed a passion for prosecuting crimes committed against children via the internet.

Throughout his career in the District Attorney’s Office Todd spent considerable time in the community educating children and parents of the potential dangers they face while online. He also taught “Sex Crimes and the Law” at Temple University Ambler’s Campus, as well as a course for Pennsylvania’s Magisterial District Judges concerning the prosecution of internet sex cases. In 2004, Representative Stephens was appointed as a Special Assistant United States Attorney with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Philadelphia. There, he was assigned to the Firearms Unit and focused on prosecuting Montgomery County’s most violent gun offenders in federal court, where the penalties for these crimes are substantially higher. During his tenure as a prosecutor, Representative Stephens served as the Captain of the Sex Crimes,
Firearms and Major Crimes Unit. In almost 10 years as a prosecutor, he achieved a 99 percent conviction rate, over 1,500 convictions, and 18 homicide convictions.

Representative Stephens was elected to his fourth term in the Pennsylvania House in 2016 representing the 151st District in Montgomery County.

Congratulations Representative Stephens!

David Zimmerman

The Honorable David Zimmerman

The second President’s Award is given to Representative David Zimmerman in recognition of his dedicated efforts as a friend of Pennsylvania’s veterinary and agricultural communities, his recognition of and promotion of the critical role veterinary medicine plays in animal and human health, and his leadership as Secretary of the House Agricultural and Rural Affairs Committee.

During this legislative session, Representative Zimmerman introduced a resolution in the House of Representatives recognizing World Veterinary Day for the many contributions that veterinary professionals make in animal and public health. On April 25, during our annual Legislative Day, Representative Zimmerman formally recognized some of Lancaster County’s veterinarians on the floor of the House while he read the resolution and it was adopted unanimously. He was also supportive of the funding for the University of Pennsylvania, School of Veterinary Medicine, and our critically important Pennsylvania Animal Diagnostic Laboratory System and is a friend to our profession as a member of the House Agricultural and Rural Affairs Committee.

Elected to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in 2014, Representative Zimmerman represents the 99th Legislative District in Lancaster County. Born and raised on a dairy farm in his home district, Representative Zimmerman was instilled with the traditional Lancaster County values of hard work, thrift and community service.

Agriculture is the backbone of the 99th District’s economy, and Representative Zimmerman has a long history of working in agri-business. Working for an international company of 1,100 employees, he served as a sales manager for Lancaster County, the sales manager for all of Pennsylvania, and was ultimately promoted to sales manager of seven eastern states, including Pennsylvania. He has also served on the Lancaster County Agricultural Preservation Board for the past five years.

Congratulations Representative Zimmerman!

 Mark Keller

The Honorable Mark Keller

The third recipient of the 2017 President’s Award is longtime friend and supporter of PVMA, The Honorable Mark Keller in recognition of his dedicated efforts as the champion of civil immunity for veterinary professionals and the steward of ensuring its passage into law, his instrumental role in the advancement of animal health and welfare as Vice-Chair of the House Agricultural and Rural Affairs Committee, and a longstanding and committed friend of Pennsylvania’s veterinary and agricultural communities.

In the last two legislative sessions, Representative Keller has worked diligently with PVMA toward the passage of civil immunity for veterinary professionals that report suspected animal cruelty to the authorities by introducing legislation. Last session, the bill passed in the House of Representatives and moved into the Senate for consideration but unfortunately did not see passage into law because the session ended. Representative Keller reintroduced the bill early in this session and when Representative Stephens created his comprehensive animal cruelty bill, Representative Keller made sure his bill was part of House Bill 1238. House Bill 1238 was signed into law on June 28, 2017, and veterinary professionals are now safeguarded against civil lawsuits for reporting cruelty which is a milestone for our profession. As a long-standing friend of the veterinary profession, Representative Keller has supported funding for the University of Pennsylvania, School of Veterinary Medicine and the Pennsylvania Animal Diagnostic Laboratory System because of his sincere appreciation and understanding of the critical role these resources play in protecting and serving Pennsylvania’s agricultural community and the Commonwealth’s citizens.

Now in his seventh term representing the 86th Legislative District in Perry and Cumberland counties, Representative Keller brings a wealth of experience in both state and local government to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. During the 2017-18 legislative session, he has been appointed to serve as Chairman of the Urban Affairs Committee. The committee works on issues specific to Pennsylvania cities, including blight, affordable housing, code enforcement, redevelopment and growth management. He is also a member of the House Agricultural and Rural Affairs Committee, on which he serves as Vice-Chairman for a second consecutive term. Among Representative Keller’s goals is to unite some of the committees’ work on issues common to both urban and agricultural communities, such as improving the food supply from local growers to restaurants and supermarkets.

Representative Keller is Chairman of the Legislative Audit Advisory Commission, which examines the standards of audits performed under the provisions of Section 10 of Article VIII of the Constitution of Pennsylvania, and recommends measures for the improvement of pre-auditing of the financial affairs of the Commonwealth. In addition, he serves as the Governor’s representative to the State Farm Products Show Commission.

Before his election to the House in 2005, Representative Keller served as a Perry County Commissioner for nine years, with eight of those years as Board Chairman. He was also elected President of the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania in 2004.

In 2015, Keller received the Distinguished Service Award from the Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association and University of Pennsylvania, School of Veterinary Medicine.

Congratulations Representative Keller!


 Karen Martin

Karen F. Martin, VMD

The PVMA Lifetime Achievement Award is given to a member of the Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association who has demonstrated a lifetime of selfless dedication to veterinary medicine, the health and welfare of animals, and the betterment of the profession. The first recipient of this award is Dr. Karen Martin in recognition of her unwavering commitment to Pennsylvania’s veterinary profession as a compassion veterinarian, committed leader, encouraging mentor, knowledgeable advisor, and tireless champion of veterinary medicine.

Dr. Martin has been a dedicated supporter of veterinary medicine and public health throughout her career since graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, School of Veterinary Medicine in 1990. In 2015, she retired from her position as the Region 1 Veterinarian for the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture; a career in state government that she worked in for over two decades. Dr. Martin was a foreign animal disease diagnostician with training from Plum Island Animal Disease Center. Her job was to connect farmers with their veterinarians and the right resources within the government when needed.

Dr. Martin worked tirelessly throughout her career to educate both veterinarians and the public on the link between animal and human health. She was the go-to person for veterinarians in northwestern Pennsylvania for public health questions. Though Dr. Martin has retired from her state position, she still practices as a relief veterinarian for several local clinics. During her career, Dr. Martin served as an officer in local veterinary medical associations across the state, most recently, serving as the “lifetime” Secretary-Treasurer for the Northwestern Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association. Dr. Martin also mentored pre-veterinary students for years through work with Allegheny College and other local colleges and continues to mentor recent graduates working in the northwestern Pennsylvania area.

Dr. Martin is a 2005 PVMA President’s Award recipient for her work, particularly in developing a County Animal Response Team in northwestern Pennsylvania.

Congratulations Dr. Martin!

 Thomas Landis

Thomas Landis, VMD

The second Lifetime Achievement Award recipient is Dr. Thomas Landis. Dr. Landis was selected for this award in recognition of his lifetime of dedicated work and selfless service to Cumberland County’s residents, animals, and agricultural community as a veterinarian and practice owner for nearly six decades.

Following his commendable service in the Navy at the end of World War II, Dr. Landis came home and attended Dickinson College in Carlisle. At that time, he knew he needed to decide what he wanted to do for a career. Because of his love of animals and being outdoors, he asked if he could ride with Dr. Guy Shultz of Boiling Springs as he made farm calls. He liked it so much he decided to go to Kansas State University for graduate school in zoology and then continued on there for veterinary school graduating in 1958.

Following veterinary school, he went back to work for Dr. Shultz where he did mostly production animal medicine due to the many dairy farms in the area. At the time, they served over 400 herds in Cumberland County. Over time, the landscape changed and many of those farms went away forcing the practice to transition more toward companion animal medicine. 

After working for Dr. Shultz, he became the owner of Northside Veterinary Clinic in Carlisle and only recently retired from working part-time for Dr. Eugene Hoefert, his associate who bought his practice when Dr. Landis was 65 years old.

When asked what has changed the most in the 60 years he practiced veterinary medicine, he says that the large animal business has changed the most. There were many herds and farms when he first started practice and now there are fewer and fewer farms with farmers milking cows and those that do have modernized the process and equipment that allows farming to be less taxing on the farmers. He credits the hard, physical work he did for so many years with the good health he has now as a 90-year old. Happy and well-deserved retirement Dr. Landis!

Congratulations Dr. Landis!


Thomas Haas 

Thomas Haas, DVM

The Public Service Award of Merit is presented annually to a member of the Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association for an outstanding act of public service. This year’s award recipient is Dr. Thomas Haas in recognition of his kind and generous service and passionate dedication to helping countless animal rescues and clients for the betterment of the local community’s animals and people.

According to his team at Animal Emergency Center in Watsontown, Dr. Haas has a selfless nature; always giving to others whenever he can. He is always supportive of each and every one of his employees at the clinic and always strives to help them learn something new each and every day.

In addition to being kind-hearted and inspiring as an employer, Dr. Haas supports veterans in his community. He is very appreciative to any veterans who come into his clinic, as he is a veteran himself having served in Desert Storm and will do what he can to ensure their animals get the care they need regardless of cost. He knows all too well the sacrifice they make for us and our country each and every day. He also works hand in hand with many shelters/animal rescues in the Watsontown area, one of them being Haven to Home Rescue. Through his leadership, Animal Emergency Center provides services to these shelters and helps them through donations in many ways throughout the year.

Dr. Haas is a 2000 graduate of Iowa State University. In addition to being a PVMA member for 10 years, he is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association, the Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Society, and the American Animal Hospital Association. 

Congratulations Dr. Haas!


 Gene Witiak

Gene Witiak, VMD

The Distinguished Veterinary Service Award is presented annually to a member of the Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association for an outstanding act or achievement to the veterinary profession over a period of years. Dr. Witiak was selected for this award in recognition of his unwavering commitment to the veterinary profession as compassionate veterinarian, respected author, dedicated and conscientious public servant, and generous contributor to his local community.

Dr. Eugene (Gene) Witiak has been practicing veterinary medicine in the Lehigh Valley for 54 years and in that time has made a significant impact on the local community and Pennsylvania through his many contributions.

A 1963 graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, School of Veterinary Medicine, he founded Lehigh Valley Animal Hospital in 1969 and then sold the practice in 1997 and continued to work part-time. He decided he had not had enough of veterinary medicine and returned in 2016 when he founded HanoverView Animal Hospital with an associate.

In addition to practicing veterinary medicine and being a business owner, Dr. Witiak served on the Pennsylvania State Board of Veterinary Medicine for 9 years; two years as Chairman. He was also a Charter Member and Board Member of a Lehigh Valley Veterinary Emergency facility which started in 1992 and a has been a Board member of Veterinary Technician Program for Lehigh and Northampton Community Colleges since inception in 1998. Because of his commitment to the program, he created a scholarship for a CVT student in memory of the first head of the veterinary technology program. Dr. Witiak has also been involved with the Lehigh Valley Veterinary Medical Association and is a Past President.

He contributed further to the profession by authoring two books of veterinary office vignettes, “True Confessions of a Veterinarian: An Unconditional Love Story” and The Hug: A Veterinarian’s Secret Potion,” as well as four articles in professional journals. 

Dr. Witiak is devoted to his local community. He and his wife Joan established a charitable fund with the Lehigh Valley Community Foundation supporting the environment and sustainability. In addition, he visits elementary school classrooms, teaching pet care and what it’s like to be a veterinarian. He also periodically holds a “Saturday for Kids Learning Program” in his animal hospital for children and their parents, teaching about veterinary medicine. He also delivers food weekly for a local food bank and meals center.

Congratulations Dr. Witiak!


 Karen Phillips

Karen Phillips, VMD

The Animal Welfare Advocacy Award recognizes a PVMA member who has demonstrated outstanding compassion and/or developed programs for the welfare of animals. Dr. Karen Phillips was selected for this year’s award in recognition of her generosity of spirit, outstanding compassion, and dedicated commitment to ensuring the animals at Hope Haven Farm Sanctuary have a second chance on life and for her devotion to her local shelter community.

On a daily basis, Dr. Karen Phillips demonstrates a profound commitment to animals. She founded Hope Haven Farm Sanctuary in 2011 as a one-of-a-kind farm animal rescue in the Pittsburgh area. Employed as a spay/neuter surgeon at local shelters, she became aware that rescue facilities were designed to handle dogs, cats and rabbits but not farm animals such as geese and sheep. Pot belly pigs were a recent fad but often become less cute as they grow into adults and are given away. Holiday chicks or seized roosters from cock-fighting rings also need a sanctuary to survive. Abused farm animals are commonly seized by humane agents with limited options for placement.

Hope Haven Farm Sanctuary is a nonprofit organization that opened its barn doors in 2013. Once unwanted, animals now share seven beautiful acres with cozy barns and sturdy fencing to keep them safe. Dr. Phillips provides the veterinary care herself and offers them nutritious food and companionship with others of their own kind. 

As a veterinarian, Dr. Phillips hopes to raise awareness for a cruelty-free society. By providing shelter and care to unwanted animals, she hopes to change attitudes about the need of animals to live a life free of fear. The animals themselves are the teachers. They showcase their own individuality and personality. She hopes to raise the public awareness on the care and protection animals deserve. The goal is for the public to make up its own mind to respect life and adopt a cruelty-free lifestyle. Tours are available from May to October, and more information is on its website,, or on Facebook. Hope Haven Farm Sanctuary is a perfect example of animal as ambassadors to a better world. The commitment of this one veterinarian to the animal world is truly extraordinary.

Excerpted from nominating veterinarian, Dr. Larry Gerson from his article, The Altruistic Side of Veterinarians, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, October 22, 2016.

Congratulations Dr. Phillips!


 Sherrill Davison

Sherrill Davison, VMD, MS, MBA, ACPV

The George B. Wolff Legislative Leadership Award is given to a PVMA member who has shown dedicated leadership in legislative advocacy at the state or federal level. This year’s Legislative Leadership Award is given to Dr. Sherrill Davison in recognition for her dedicated leadership as a fervent advocate for Pennsylvania’s veterinary profession as a long-standing and active member of the Legislative and Regulatory Affairs Committee and as a passionate champion for the Pennsylvania Animal Diagnostic Laboratory System, the University of Pennsylvania, School of Veterinary Medicine, and the Commonwealth’s agricultural and veterinary communities and animals.

Dr. Davison is a member of the PVMA Legislative and Regulatory Affairs Committee. As an active member of this Committee, Dr. Davison has regularly participated in legislative visits working to educate the legislature about the interrelationship between human and animal health and the importance of funding the University of Pennsylvania, School of Veterinary Medicine (Penn Vet) and the Pennsylvania Animal Diagnostic Laboratory System (PADLS). She has been an invaluable resource in helping to advocate for the critical role that PADLS plays in controlling disease outbreaks which would result in a significant loss of animal lives, a catastrophic loss to Pennsylvania’s economy, and in many cases, a threat to human lives. She has served as an expert witness for the Senate and House Agricultural and Rural Affairs Committees on Avian Influenza, testified for PVMA on the role of veterinary medicine in public health, served as a media spokesperson for Penn Vet, and helped co-author the Humane Society Police Officers legislation. Over the course of her career, Dr. Davison has established herself as a consummate professional and expert that can be relied on when legislators and their staff have questions or need expertise on poultry health.

Dr. Davison received a Bachelor of Arts in Biology from the University of Pennsylvania in 1979, a veterinary degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1983, a Master of Science degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1988, and a Master of Business Administration from the Wharton School in 2004. She is currently Director of the Laboratory of Avian Medicine and Pathology, and an Associate Professor of Avian Medicine and Pathology, University of Pennsylvania. Prior to her Associate Professorship, she held the positions of Assistant Professor, Lecturer and Resident at the Veterinary School’s Laboratory of Avian Medicine and Pathology.

Dr. Davison also holds a specialty certificate as a Diplomate of the American College of Poultry Veterinarians. She is active in the American Association of Avian Pathologists and is on the Editorial Board of the American Association of Avian Pathologists Avian Diseases Journal. She has also served the American College of Poultry Veterinarians, the Pennsylvania Poultry Federation and PennAg Industries in the numerous capacities.

She currently is PVMA Secretary-Treasurer and was President in 2014. In this capacity, she also serves as the Secretary-Treasurer of the pvmaAssure Insurance Agency, Inc.

Congratulations Dr. Davison!


 Kari Herchelroth

Kari Herchelroth, CVT

The Certified Veterinary Technician of the Year Award is presented annually to a PVMA member for an outstanding achievement in veterinary technology. The 2017 recipient of the Veterinary Technician of the Year Award is Kari Herchelroth, CVT in recognition of her dedicated leadership in the field of veterinary technology as the Director of the veterinary technology program at York Technical Institute and as an enthusiastic mentor, patient teacher, and outstanding example of excellence as a certified veterinary technician.

Kari Herchelroth, CVT, started working in the veterinary field as an assistant in 2000. After working as an assistant while attending Millersville University, Kari transferred to Wilson College in 2001 for Veterinary Medical Technology. During school, Kari worked in a mixed animal practice. In 2003, Kari graduated from Wilson College with a BS in Veterinary Medical Technology and became a CVT. Kari worked as a CVT at Donegal Animal Hospital in Mount Joy PA from 2003 – 2012.

In 2011, Kari began consulting on the development of a Veterinary Technician Program at YTI Career Institute in York PA. In 2012, Kari left Donegal Animal Hospital and accepted the position of Program Director at YTI Career Institute for the Veterinary Technician Program. During her time at YTI, Kari has also served as Director of Animal Care, a member of the Emergency Response Team, a member of the Social Committee, and as the Chairperson for the IACUC Committee. Kari led the Veterinary Technician Program through their AVMA Accreditation in 2014 with a position outcome. During her time at YTI Career Institute, Kari has won both Employee of the Term and Staff Member of the Term. She has also served as an instructor for numerous classes in the veterinary technology program. 

Kari is currently still serving in her role as Program Director and Instructor in the Veterinary Technician Program. She oversees a staff of 11 and a student body of over 150 students. She is also a member of the PVMA, NAVTA and AVTE. She looks forward to many more years aiding the growth of the veterinary profession by training qualified students to enter the veterinary technician field.

Congratulations Kari!


 Tiffany Consalvo

Tiffany Consalvo, CVPM

The Practice Manager of the Year Award honors a PVMA member practice manager who has shown excellence and leadership in the field of practice management in the last year. Tiffany Consalvo, CVPM, was selected for this year’s award in recognition of her dedicated leadership in the field of practice management across Pennsylvania and beyond as an inspiring mentor, passionate volunteer, and shining example of excellence.

Tiffany is a consummate professional bringing integrity and leadership to Gilbertsville Veterinary Hospital in her role as Practice Manager. She earned her Bachelor of Science from Purdue University and later her Certification in Veterinary Practice Management. She is a member of AAHA, PVMA, and VHMA. Tiffany founded the Pennsylvania Veterinary Managers group to start a support forum for area managers. Tiffany has been published in AAHA Trends and FirstLine Magazines. She is continually aware of what is happening in our industry and uses what is appropriate for her team.

Tiffany’s leadership style of coaching and mentoring others, recognizes the strength of building/teaching individual members of the team so that the overall team is stronger for it. Tiffany enjoys challenging the team and utilizing their own skills to enhance the hospital. Together, the leadership of Gilbertsville Veterinary Hospital (consisting of Dr. Mark Hanlon and his wife, Diane Hanlon, along with Tiffany) have formed a highly successful owner-manager relationship. Tiffany excels at fiscal management, creating highly effective teams, and utilizing media platforms to enhance the hospital’s productivity. She constantly demonstrates high standards of ethics, conduct and integrity in all aspects of practice management.

Her friends at Gilbertsville are so proud that Tiffany is being recognized with the PVMA Practice Manager of the Year Award, and feel it couldn’t go to a more professional or deserving individual.

Congratulations Tiffany!


 Staci Welsh

Staci Welsh, CVT, LVT, Petplan Pet Insurance

The Veterinary Industry Partner Award is presented to a Veterinary Industry Partner member to recognize his or her steadfast commitment to ensuring the vitality of the Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association and the veterinary profession. The 2017 recipient of the Veterinary Industry Partner Award is Staci Welsh, CVT, LVT, of Petplan Pet Insurance for her dedicated commitment to the PVMA, the Pennsylvania Veterinary Foundation, and the Commonwealth’s veterinary community.

Staci has been a tremendous resource to PVMA, the Pennsylvania Veterinary Foundation (PVF), and the pvmaAssure Insurance Agency over the last 5 years. She is truly committed to the profession and firmly believes in the capacity of pet insurance to bridge the gap between cost and care. As a partner, Staci is always willing to help educate our members about how pet insurance can help increase compliance with veterinary recommendations, allow owners to choose care options they might not otherwise be able to afford, and alleviate stress in the practice by making financial conversations less difficult. In addition, Staci is always generating ideas on how to promote our partnership better which results in more people accessing Petplan through our program and more donations to the PVF’s The Last Chance Fund (TLC). (For every policy sold in Pennsylvania practices with our specially coded brochures, Petplan donates $10 to the TLC Fund.) She is always passionate and enthusiastic to work with and a consummate professional.

Staci has been integrally involved in veterinary medicine for over 25 years; getting her start in shelter medicine and then progressing to a long career as a veterinary technician and practice manager in general practices (or just about any role that was needed at the time!). Looking for new opportunities within the veterinary profession, Staci first joined Petplan in 2009 as a licensed claims adjuster and now currently manages the veterinary outreach team; notably through conferences, in-clinic consultations, and live staff training webinars. Staci understands the unique customer service and practice management needs of veterinary practices and is passionate about advancing the veterinary profession, reducing compassion fatigue and ending economic euthanasia. She is an active member of NAVTA, NJVTA, PVMA and volunteers at her local animal shelter. 

Congratulations Staci!


The Wodan Animal Hero Award was created in 2001 to recognize the courageous and heroic acts of Pennsylvania animals in the preservation and protection of animal or human life. The award was named after its inaugural recipient, Wodan, a Harrisburg City police dog who was injured in the line of duty. The Wodan Animal Hero Award includes a commemorative plaque and a $200 donation in the animal’s honor to an animal-related charity.

There are two Wodan Animal Hero Award recipients for 2017.


Sissy, Courtroom Therapy Dog

The first Wodan Animal Hero Award is presented to Sissy in recognition of he acts of unconditional love as a loyal friend, nurturing steward, and guardian angel to people in need of love and encouragement.

Sissy, a 12-year old Shetland Sheepdog, is Caring Hearts Pet Therapy’s first Courtroom Therapy Dog. In the Fall 2016, Caring Hearts Pet Therapy worked with Dauphin County Victim/Witness Assistance Program and the Dauphin County District Attorney’s Office to develop Dauphin County’s
first Courtroom Pet Therapy program. This new program provides pet therapy for young victims of crime through the legal process prior to and during a criminal trial.

Sissy, owned by Caring Hearts Pet Therapy volunteer, Marilyn Wagner, was adopted in October 2014 at the age of 9 from Animal House Rescue of Mechanicsburg, PA. Marilyn has been involved in pet therapy and training service dogs since the early 1980’s. When she met Sissy at a local pet adoption event she knew instinctively that Sissy had the potential, even at the age of 9, to be a therapy dog. 

In April 2015, Sissy completed the pet therapy evaluation process for Caring Hearts Pet Therapy and began her new job of providing pet therapy by visiting local schools and libraries where children improve their literacy skills by reading stories to Sissy, special needs adults and children in various programs and camps, patients in nursing homes and rehabilitation hospitals, colleges to help students during finals; and the children and their families at Ronald McDonald House in Hershey.

When Caring Hearts Pet Therapy started developing a courtroom pet therapy program, Sissy was chosen as the first dog due to her calm and sweet personality and previous experience at multiple locations. She is used to meeting new people at new locations. After completing training in the Dauphin County Courthouse she was ready for her first trial. This year, Sissy helped a young victim of crime by attending many pre-trial meetings with the victim, spending 4 days at the courthouse by the side of the victim during the trial, being with the young victim during testimony on the witness stand, and was with the victim when the verdict was read and later returned to be with the victim at the sentencing hearing.

Congratulations Sissy!

The second Wodan Animal Hero Award is presented to Blue in recognition of his act of fearless courage and heroism protecting his family.


Blue, Hero Dog

On a cold February morning this year, Nina Teller and Leroy Buchanan of West Philadelphia were at home when Ms. Teller answered a knock at the door. As she spoke with the man at the door, another man pushed past them into the house. Thankfully, they had Blue, their loyal eight-year old Pitbull to defend them. Mr. Buchanan was in the kitchen making breakfast when the invasion happened. Upon being given the command to go after the man, Blue grabbed the man’s leg. At that point, the man shot Blue and then both men ran off from the house. Brave Blue suffered a shoulder wound that went through his sternum.

Luckily, Blue was taken to the University of Pennsylvania’s Matthew J. Ryan Veterinary Hospital where the emergency veterinary team went to work stabilizing his injuries. After several procedures, they realized that although Blue’s wounds were on his left side, there was a continuous leak to his right side through the mediastinum, which connects both sides of the chest. In order to remove the air from his chest and allow the lungs to expand more normally, a chest tube was placed and Blue was connected to continuous suction. Once in surgery, the surgeons found that the left cranial lung lobe was punctured by the bullet. That damage had caused air to leak into the chest, so the lobe was removed. Although major, the surgery was a success and Blue did extremely well.

Blue’s owners visited him every day and were delighted to take him home just four days after being shot and having this life-saving surgery. Blue was shot trying to protect his family from a home invasion. This surgery performed at Penn helped ensure that this hero dog was returned to a family that loves him dearly and is forever grateful for his protection. 

Excerpted from Penn Vet Extra – March 2017: Hero Dog, written by John Donges, March 9, 2017.

Congratulations Blue!


Each year, the Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association presents the Dr. A. Wayne Mountan Memorial Media Award to the news media of Pennsylvania for excellence in communicating veterinary medical contributions to animal and public health to the public. As many as four awards may be presented each year.
Nancy Tolino 

Ms. Nancy (Nan) Tolino

The first Dr. A. Wayne Mountan Memorial Media Award is given to Ms. Nancy (Nan) Tolino for excellence in communicating veterinary contributions to animal health and welfare and canine behavior, and educating the public through her informative Pet Reports on KYW News Radio 1060.

Nancy’s reports ran weekly for 9 years on Philadelphia’s top rated news station, KYW NewsRadio1060, where she is still currently their resident canine expert. She was recently interviewed by Dr. Michael Tokiwa on Your Pet Matters at 107.7 WRRC the Bronc and also on A Paws for Your Pet on WOND 1400. You can hear the interviews on the Shows and Broadcasts page. You can also listen to past shows where she hosted and recorded half hour internet shows on canine behavior on the popular and highly rated, “Teachers Pet” and

As creator and founder of Peace in the Pack and extremely successful “Peace in the Pack” program, Nancy (Nan) Tolino, ABCDT, is a graduate of Animal Behavior College and a member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT) and the International Association of Canine Professionals (IACP). She is also a certified Canine Behavior Specialists, Behaviorist and Professional Dog Trainer. She has been rescuing and rehabilitating dogs for the past twenty years.

Congratulations Nancy!

 Mary Pickels

Ms. Mary Pickels

The second recipient of the Dr. A. Wayne Mountan Memorial Media Award is Ms. Mary Pickels. Mary was selected for this award for excellence in communicating veterinary contributions to animal health and welfare and educating the public through her article, “Canine Medics on Front Lines to Offer Aid” in the Tribune-Review.

The article she wrote on highlighted PVMA member and Past President Dr. Harvey Bendix’s work to help educate K9 handlers and first responders on how to handle animals which are injured to stabilize them and potentially save their lives. Dr. Harvey R. Bendix, operator of Norwin Veterinary Hospital, has taught a canine medic course at Westmoreland County Community College for several years. The four-hour class covers basic first aid, including CPR techniques, IV insertion and treatment of poisoning.

Mary has been a staff writer for the Tribune-Review for 24 years. She is currently a daily assignment reporter specialized in education and health reporting in early part of career, now focus on human interest, historical, tourism and government writing.

Congratulations Mary!

Pennsylvania Veterinary Foundation's


 Larry Gerson

Larry Gerson, VMD

Established in 2011 and named after one of its founding members, the Richard H. Detwiler Cornerstone Service Award was created by the Pennsylvania Veterinary Foundation (PVF) to provide the opportunity to honor an individual or organization which has shown outstanding support and dedicated commitment to PVF and its goals. The 2017 Richard H. Detwiler Cornerstone Service Award is presented to Dr. Larry Gerson in recognition of his generous and outstanding service and dedicated and long-standing leadership as a member of Board of Trustees of the Pennsylvania Veterinary Foundation, tireless champion for veterinary students in need as a long-standing member of the Scholarship Committee, and innovative founder and caring steward of The Last Chance Fund. Since 2004, Dr. Larry Gerson served on the PVF Board of Trustees in a number of capacities including Secretary-Treasurer, Chair, and most recently, Trustee. He retired from the Board this year but continues to be involved with the Scholarship Committee and The Last Chance Fund Oversight Committee.

For over a decade, Dr. Gerson has been dedicated to growing the scholarship fund for the Foundation to alleviate the burdensome debt of veterinary students. He also was instrumental in the development of The Last Chance Fund in 2009 and used his extensive experience from his work with development and coordination of the Allegheny Abused Animal Relief Fund (AAARF) to help the Foundation develop The Last Chance Fund’s criteria. In 2012, as the PVF Chair, he demonstrated innovative leadership in moving PVF into a new strategic direction and a development expert was hired.

Throughout his years of service, he worked tirelessly on the Foundation’s initiatives and demonstrated outstanding leadership which helped the organization grow to where it is today. 

In 1976, Dr. Gerson founded the Point Breeze Veterinary Clinic as a family veterinary practice, providing care primarily for cats and dogs. He is a 1975 graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, School of Veterinary Medicine, and a Past President of its Alumni Society, which has also awarded Dr. Gerson their Award of Merit. After serving as President of the Western Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association, he became the Trustee from Western Pennsylvania to the Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association for 12 years. At the state level, he has served on the Executive Committee of the Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association, even serving as President. He has been awarded PVMA’s Veterinarian of the Year in 1985, as well as the Distinguished Veterinary Service Award and the Special Merit Award.

Additionally, from 2005 to 2014, Dr. Gerson served on the Pennsylvania State Veterinary Licensing Board, which included a position as Vice Chairman. He also has been a frequent guest on both radio and television pet talk shows, and has been frequently quoted in both newspaper and magazine articles.

Congratulations Dr. Gerson!

Tags:  animals  award  Awards  distinguished  Hero  Legislation  media  merit  Power of 10  Representative  service  veterinarian  Wodan 

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