Mandy Wallace with Amitz and surgeons

National director of the American Bouvier Rescue League Marcia Proud, left, is shown with Mandy Wallace, John Braaten, Amitz and Dr. Matt Johnson at the UF Small Animal Hospital on Nov. 19. The league presented Wallace with its Veterinarian of the Year Award for her care of Amitz. (Photo by Sarah Carey)

Rescue group honors surgery resident as Veterinarian of the Year

Members of the American Bouvier Rescue League visited the UF Small Animal Hospital on Nov. 19 to present Dr. Mandy Wallace, a small animal surgery resident, with the group’s 2014 Veterinarian of the Year Award for her efforts to save the leg of a dog named Amitz.

The presentation was a complete surprise to Wallace, who had only minutes before been upstairs in the Banfield Room, giving a seminar. Unbeknownst to her, rescue league members had coordinated the visit with college administration and surgery faculty member Dr. Gary Ellison. The group had commissioned two separate award plaques – a large one and a smaller one – to present to Wallace, and had arranged for Amitz’ new owner, John Braaten, to be present, along with Amitz himself. Two representatives from the rescue league, including Anne Allen, the volunteer who fostered him, were on hand as well.

Wallace had not seen Amitz, whose injury to his paw is now not even obvious, since she had cared for him several months ago at UF, working with a team of surgeons to help Amitz fight infection, prepare him for surgery and getting him through the procedure and home to recuperate.

“He looks so good,” said Wallace, who was in tears and gave hugs all around to the rescue group entourage.

Terry Minda, the group’s Florida coordinator, nominated Wallace for the award. She also wrote an article about Amitz last year for the league’s newsletter.

“Amitz was surrendered to ABRL with a horrific injury to his leg,” Minda wrote in her nomination letter. “The young rural family who owned him had been told by a vet that amputation was necessary but the family did not have enough money to care for his injury. In hopes that the dog’s leg – and life – could be saved, the family turned him over to the rescue league. He was taken by volunteer Anne Allen to UF for second opinion.”

Wallace, who saw Amitz initially, did not make any promises or provide false hope that she and her team could save the leg, Minda said.

“But through the excellent care given to Amitz pre-operatively to fight his infection and through Dr. Wallace’s skillful surgery and the aftercare provided, UF was able to save Amitz’ leg,” she said. “Through Dr. Wallace’s effort, her team and all the caretakers that were involved in this special Bouvier’s care, Amitz is in a wonderful home where he is adored and cherished. He is living a full and healthy life like any other young Bouvier.”

Marcia Proud, the rescue league’s national director, took time off of her job and drove from High Springs to present Wallace with the award. Amitz’ name, which comes from Hebrew and means “brave and strong,” was actually given by Proud, who knew all about his plight and was involved from the beginning in his situation.

Although the event was low key, plenty of applause was provided from a “peanut gallery” consisting of members of the small animal surgery team who observed the presentation from a hospital stairwell.

More photos from the presentation can be found on the college’s Facebook page.


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