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Heroes to America’s Animals: Winners of 2016 American Humane Hero Veterinarian and Hero Veterinary Technician Awards™, Presented by Zoetis

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, September 11, 2016

Top dogs were not the only honorees last night at the sixth annual American Humane Hero Dog Awards®. America’s first national humane organization also honored a couple of people – the top veterinary professionals in the country, actually – with the American Humane Hero Veterinarian and Hero Veterinary Technician Awards™, presented by Zoetis. After a nationwide search and tens of thousands of public votes, Dr. Natalie Isaza, from Gainesville, Florida, who founded the Veterinary Community Outreach Program at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine, was named 2016’s American Hero Veterinarian, and Kim Knap from Urbana, Illinois, a certified canine rehabilitation practitioner at the University of Illinois Veterinary Teaching Hospital, was declared 2015’s American Hero Veterinary Technician. They received their awards during a special ceremony onstage at the Beverly Hilton during the Hero Dog Awards gala, which will be broadcast nationally October 28 on Hallmark Channel.

The American Humane Hero Veterinarian and Hero Veterinary Technician Awards were born out of the idea that behind almost every hero pet (and millions more animals) is a hero veterinarian or hero veterinary technician. 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. Hundreds of worthy nominees were considered by a special blue-ribbon panel of celebrities and renowned veterinary and animal care professionals. After winnowing down the field to the top five in each category, the American public was asked to make the final determination.

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

2016 American Hero Veterinarian: Dr. Natalie Isaza from Gainesville, Florida

hd2016-winner-natalieisazaDr. Isaza is the founder of the Veterinary Community Outreach Program at the University of Florida’s College of Veterinary Medicine. This program has helped countless animals that might have been euthanized at rural shelters in north Florida, as well as owned pets in a clinic for low income pet owners. The program works with local animal rescue groups and shelters, providing spay/neuter surgical services, heartworm treatments, general wellness care, and more specialized veterinary care for animals in need.

 In addition to her work with homeless animals, she is a co-founder of St. Francis Pet Care, a free vet clinic for pets of low-income and homeless members in her community. By providing care for these pets, the clinic has helped many animals stay in their homes. She implemented a program where shelter animals receive free veterinary care for treatable conditions. She and her students also visit animal shelters in rural counties surrounding Gainesville, providing veterinary care and transferring animals from these shelters to rescue groups so they can be adopted. Her dedication has inspired many veterinarians she has trained to become public servants, and helped them to be strong advocates for animal welfare. She is a hero to the voiceless animals she serves and to the families who otherwise might lose their beloved companions.

2016 American Hero Veterinary Technician: Kim Knap from Urbana, Illinois

(written by the grateful owner of dog helped by Ms. Knap)

 hd2016-winner-kimknapKim Knap BS, CVT, Certified Canine Rehabilitation Practitioner, does rehab at the University of Illinois Veterinary Teaching Hospital for pets that have mobility problems. My dog, Dexter, started seeing her for rehab on a chronic knee injury that occurred in 2014. It took him a long time to use that leg, so I took him to Vet Med to see if water treadmills and rehab exercises might help. Usually, Dexter HATES going to the vet. He needs a muzzle at my regular vet (he’s been through a lot). But from the beginning, he was smitten with Kim. He’d even try to sneak out to the garage on off days in hopes that I’d take him to see her. When we later discovered that he would need another surgery, I started a Go Fund Me page to pay for it, and Kim both donated and shared it with the rest of the vet staff and the humane society staff that I adopted him from.

We got so many donations between all of them and my friends that we had what we needed in 24 hours (about $1,800). Dexter walks great now, and is so strong that sometimes I really have to watch him because he can now counter surf. He wouldn’t be in such good shape if Kim hadn’t caught the problem he’d been having, and I felt totally comfortable leaving him there for two days because I knew she would be there with him. She went above and beyond for Dexter.

“To us, all vets and vet techs are heroes and this is why we want to honor the best of the best in their fields,” said Dr. Robin Ganzert, American Humane president and CEO. “Dr. Isaza and Ms. Knap are tremendous animal welfare advocates and we are so proud to learn of their laudable accomplishments aiding the animals in need in their communities and beyond. And our thanks go out to our friends at Zoetis for sponsoring this special national campaign because we know how committed they are to recognizing the achievements of the veterinary community.”

The American Humane Hero Dog Awards are presented by the Lois Pope LIFE Foundation and will be broadcast nationally on Hallmark Channel on October 28 at 8 pm ET/PT.

About American Humane

American Humane is the country’s first national humane organization, founded in 1877. For more information, please visit To inquire about Hero Dog sponsorship opportunities, please email Mari Harner at [email protected].

About Zoetis

Zoetis (zô-EH-tis) is the leading animal health company, dedicated to supporting its customers and their businesses. Building on more than 60 years of experience in animal health, Zoetis discovers, develops, manufactures and markets veterinary vaccines and medicines, complemented by diagnostic products and genetic tests and supported by a range of services. Zoetis serves veterinarians, livestock producers and people who raise and care for farm and companion animals with sales of its products in more than 100 countries. In 2015, the company generated annual revenue of $4.8 billion with approximately 9,000 employees. For more information, visit

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