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Heroes to America’s Animals: Winners of 2017 American Humane Hero Veterinarian and Hero Veterinary Technician Awards™, Presented by Zoetis

Search for America’s top veterinary professionals featured hundreds of nominees and tens of thousands of votes from the American public; Top American Hero Veterinarian and Hero Veterinary Technician will be part of national TV broadcast on Hallmark Channel on October 26

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, September 17, 2017 — Top dogs were not the only honorees Saturday night at the seventh 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 – 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. Patricia Canchola from Pueblo, Colorado, who performs thousands of spay and neuter surgeries every year, helps abused and neglected animals, and runs a low-cost pet health clinic and a pet food bank, was named 2017’s American Hero Veterinarian. Jeni Hudson from Decatur, Illinois, who founded a rescue organization that takes in pups with cleft palates and other disabilities, was declared 2017’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 26 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.

“Behind all hero dogs there are hero veterinarians and veterinary technicians providing vital healthcare services, and Zoetis is again proud to sponsor these special awards recognizing outstanding veterinary professionals,” said Michael McFarland DVM, DABVP, Executive Director, U.S. Companion Animal Marketing at Zoetis. “Dr. Canchola and Jennifer are both dedicated to excellence and providing compassionate care to every animal they see in their clinics, helping cement the human-animal bond between owners and their pets.”

2017 American Hero Veterinarian: Dr. Patricia Canchola from Pueblo, Colorado

Dr. Patti, as she is known in our community, has worked as a shelter veterinarian for Pueblo Animal Services since 2009. She is the only veterinarian on staff and performs between 3,500 and 4,500 spay and neuter surgeries every year. In addition, she performs about 200 other surgeries, treating animals that have trauma-related injuries, masses, broken bones and other injuries. She is responsible for the care of approximately 5,000 animals at the shelter every year, and cares for all with compassion, sensitivity and professionalism. Last year, Dr. Patti took it upon herself to take veterinary forensics courses to be better trained when examining abused, neglected and mistreated animals that are part of criminal investigations. She regularly testifies in animal cruelty criminal trials, being the voice for the animal victims, so that they may be heard. On top of this very busy and difficult job, she operates her own non-profit pet food bank, helping hundreds of families every year to feed their pets. As if that was not enough for her to do, she also runs an independent, low-cost pet health clinic two Saturdays a month, offering affordable vaccines, preventative health care and treatment of common illnesses and minor injuries. The Pueblo community experiences high levels of poverty, which absolutely affects pets every day. Low-income pet owners are able to better care for their pets thanks to Dr. Patti’s Amazin’ Amos Pet Food Pantry and her St. Martin’s Well Pet Clinic.


2017 American Hero Veterinary Technician: Jeni Hudson from Decatur, Illinois


Jeni is a CVT. She is great at her job. I always tell people Jeni has nerves of steel and healing hands. Jeni founded a rescue five years ago that takes in pups with cleft palates and other disabilities. She never turns a pup away. Once she arranged a transport from New Mexico to Illinois to help save a pup with a cleft palate/hydrocephalus. She called him Pip. When he passed away, I thought she might stop rescuing all together; but she knew there were more who needed her. Jeni is always researching ways to help the pups receive the best outcome possible. She knows she cannot save them all; however, if they are willing to live she will fight to give them a chance. Jeni has cared for over 100 puppies in her career. She has spent hours tube-feeding pups who would otherwise die if not for her. She has helped the ones who were suffering to cross over even if it breaks her heart. She spares no expense to make sure they have the best of everything they need. Jeni is always advocating for the special needs pups, spreading awareness that they can survive if given a chance. She is changing the way medical professionals view these pups. Until Jeni worked at NGPC, pets with clefts were euthanized. Jeni was at a C-Section when a pup was born with a cleft palate. He was to be euthanized. Jeni knew he deserved a chance at life. She offered to take the pup even after everyone told her he would die. Funny how one puppy and one CVT could change the minds of so many.

“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. Canchola and Ms. Hudson 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 26 at 8 pm/7 Central.


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 or Hero Vet sponsorship opportunities, please email Mari Harner at [email protected].



About Zoetis

Zoetis 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, genetic tests, biodevices and 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 2016, the company generated annual revenue of $4.9 billion with approximately 9,000 employees. For more information, visit

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