As a young woman, growing up in the United States, I was always fascinated by beauty pageants, although I preferred spending time with rescued or orphaned animals, and usually had some extra pet hair as a part of my “attire.” As the 2020 American Humane Hero Veterinary Nurse, when asked what this meant to me, it was as if I had finally won one of these so-called “pageants” but with a greater purpose, passion and chosen path than those that had walked other runways. As I reached for words to describe how I have felt winning this award, honored and humbled are two of the main descriptors, however there are so many levels to this honor that are not linear, but have developed over a lifetime.
I have always loved nature of all kinds and the visual that comes to mind are the rings on a tree base. You can see how many years this tree has lived, you can see years that brought challenge, years that brought growth, years that were uncertain. As a young child, I worked with my father in animal control/humane education from the time I was very young. During that time, I learned how to “read” an animal – many dogs and cats that were rescues, strays, fearful or injured. I learned how to nurse young orphan animals – domestic and wild – to adulthood. I learned from so many animals too – from a forgotten pony named Sugar, to a disabled pup named Buttons, to a kitten caught in a leg-hold trap. Every animal, every human had a lesson for me. As I grew, developed and sought a career in Veterinary Medicine, the foundation of where I had come from never left. I wanted to make a difference in the lives of animals and those that cared for them too.
When the opportunity to serve families and their pets impacted by one of the major Hurricanes on the East Coast opened-up, I signed up, showed up and stepped up too. When I had the opportunity to expand this to a special family that had one of their dogs, “Lil Bit” escape during transport, I knew that the foundation I had as a child and the training I had in the field, would help us locate her. Missing and in an unknown territory for five days, she could be anywhere. There were many “signs,” that this was a divine appointment though. She was adopted from a shelter in Fairmont, NC. I was from Fairmont, MN. She was to many, a “Lil Bit” of Hope if we could find her safely. After many hours of searching, calling and praying, we did.
What does it mean to be the 2020 American Humane Hero Veterinary Nurse? It does not mean that I am any more of a HERO than hundreds of veterinary professionals serving others daily. It does mean however that the recognition, support and awareness of what we all do is making a difference each and every day. Thank you American Humane and Zoetis Petcare for all that you are doing to support this program!