UF faculty member named 2016 “Hero Veterinarian”

Dr. Natalie Isaza

Dr. Natalie Isaza is shown with a patient inside the Grevior Shelter Medicine Suite. The dog was adopted soon after this photo was taken. (File photo)

A University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine faculty member, Dr. Natalie Isaza, has received the American Humane Association’s 2016 American Hero Veterinarian Award.

Isaza was named the winner on Sept. 11 in Los Angeles during the group’s annual Humane Hero Dog Awards ceremony. The global animal health company Zoetis presented the American Humane Hero Veterinarian and Hero Veterinary Technician awards, which will be broadcast nationally on the Hallmark Channel on Oct. 28.

A UF faculty member since 2003, Isaza is the Grevior Shelter Medicine Community Outreach clinical associate professor and leads the UF Veterinary Community Outreach Program. UF veterinary medical students who participate in the program gain experience in spay/neuter surgery, physical examination, medical management of disease and community veterinary medicine.

She also co-founded the St. Francis Pet Care Clinic, which serves the pets of low-income and homeless members of the local community and in which UF students also participate.

“I am humbled and honored to have been chosen as the recipient of this award by the American Humane Association and by the many people who voted for me online,” Isaza said. “To me, this award recognizes and honors all of the outstanding shelter veterinarians in our country that strive every day to improve the lives of homeless animals.”

The American Humane Hero Veterinarian and Hero Veterinary Technician Awards came from the idea that behind almost every hero pet, and millions more animals, is a hero veterinarian or hero veterinary technician, according to an AHA press release announcing the award winners.

“These often little-known benefactors save and improve the lives of our two- and four-legged best friends in many ways, and it is time to honor their achievements,” the release states, adding that a panel of celebrities and renowned veterinary and animal care professionals considered hundreds of nominees.

The AHA named five finalists in each category in May, and the public made the final determination through a process of online voting. Kim Knap of Urbana, Illinois, was chosen as the Hero Veterinary Technician.

“Compassionate dedication to the health and welfare of animals is a hallmark of both Dr. Isaza and Ms. Knap,” said Dr. J. Michael McFarland, group director of companion animal marketing at Zoetis in the AHA release. “We are proud to join in honoring these exceptional individuals who are making a difference in animals’ lives through delivery of outstanding veterinary care.”

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