In thinking about vets, we often think about treating household pets. However, many outstanding veterinarians go above and beyond to treat as many diverse animals as possible. Their work includes the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of various animal-based diseases and injuries. This amazing group of doctors treats specialized groups of animals be they “fur babies,” working animals, or wild animals.
Pulling this list together is no easy task. Because there are so many amazing, heart-warming stories about veterinarians who change the lives of animals and their families, the goal of this list is to identify those who are recognized within the medical community for their outstanding careers. Plus, their specializations are unique and go beyond treating puppies and kittens!
Outstanding Veterinarian for Working Dogs: Dr. Cynthia “Cindy” Otto
Cindy Otto founded the University of Pennsylvania Vet Working Dog Center. There, she and her team work to improve “working dog” health. Otto's primary interest as an outstanding veterinarian is emergency treatment for this group of animals.
Otto holds to graduate degrees. Her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine is from The Ohio State University, and her Ph.D. in veterinary psychology is from the University of Georgia. She also holds board certifications in veterinary emergency and critical care. As such, she is often the first vet animals are taken to in high-risk accidents in her region.
In addition to serving as director of the Working Dog Center since 2007, Otto is a professor at the university's School of Veterinary Medicine. She had become interested specifically in working with urban search and rescue canines while completing her Ph.D., and her research has expanded to incorporate working with dogs from all types of work. These animals serve in terror prevention fields, drug and explosive detection, emergency rescues, and even medical care.
Otto served with the Pennsylvania Urban Search and Rescue Task Force in addition to working as a vet. She is also a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care. Otto also serves with the American College of Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation.
Beyond her immediate body of work with dogs, Otto has been published and recognized for her talents. Thus far in her career, she published more than 60 journal articles and wrote or co-authored several book chapter. She is also a frequent lecturer on veterinary emergency medicine and the state of dogs in the workforce. Additionally, she is the 2002 Pennsylvania Veterinarian of the Year and holds the 2008 Ohio State University Distinguished Alumnus Award.
Read more about outstanding veterinarian Cindy Otto.
Motivational Speaker and Animal Activist: Dr. Debbye Turner Bell
A household name for animal science and veterinary medicine, Debbye Turner Bell is an outstanding veterinarian and pet care specialist. Her knowledge about animals is broad, and she is amazing at conveying it to all people; hence, she is also a successful media figure.
Turner Bell started her educational career in animal science. She received her B.S. in Agriculture from Arkansas State University. Soon after, she completed her DVM at the University of Missouri-Columbia. Amidst all of her academic interests, she was also crowned Miss America in 1990, providing her a profound platform to improve social knowledge about pet care.
As a vet, she garnered attention from news stations. Turner Bell served as the lead veterinary consultant for several programs, hosted her own news broadcast (“Arise America”), and occasionally served as a CBS News correspondent. She is now also an expert contributor fo Animal Planet for shows like “DOGS 101.”
Much of Turner Bell's work in the world of veterinarians is public relations based. She teaches people about responsible pet ownership, demonstrating best practices and discussing proper medical care for these animals. Turner Bell can often be found doing Public Service Announcements on behalf of this community.
Additionally, she serves as a motivational speaker. Schools and youth organizations are her most frequent audiences, allowing her to discuss the significance of a good education for a good career, such as one in veterinary medicine.
Moreover, Turner Bell serves on the boards of many local, state and national groups. These include the Children's Miracle Network, Missouri Division of Youth Services and Mathews-Dickey Boys and Girls Club, National Council on Youth Leadership, and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.
Read more about outstanding veterinarian Debbye Turner Bell.
Exotic Animal Veterinarian and Astronaut: Dr. Richard M. Linnehan
Richard Linnehan has an astounding career history. Though he started as a veterinarian and served in the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps, he went on to be an astronaut with NASA. Moreover, he holds several academic degrees in a wide array of subjects. While his space-based career is amazing, his time as a veterinarian was also outstanding.
Linnehan earned his B.S. in Animal Sciences for the University of New Hampshire. He quickly went on to complete this DVM at The Ohio State University. After finishing his doctorate, he worked in an exotic animal medicine internship through Johns Hopkins University at the Baltimore Zoo. A few decades later, he received his MPA degree from Harvard University. Linnehan also has Honorary Ph.D. degrees from Ball State University, Suffolk University, and the University of New Hampshire.
His first immediate position after completing his internship, he was commissioned in the Army as a Captain. Linnehan served at the Naval Ocean Systems Center in San Diego. There, he was the chief clinical vet overseeing the Navy's Marine Mammal Program. During his tenure, he directed research efforts for marine mammal veterinary practices. These include anesthesia, drug pharmacokinetics, orthopedics, and reproduction.
For his work in both the field of veterinary medicine and of space flight, Linnehan holds several awards. He holds Navy recognitions, including the 1991 Navy Group Achievement Award and 1992 Navy Commendation Medal. Linnehan also holds an American Veterinary Medical Associations President's Award. From NASA, he has several Space Flight Medals, an Outstanding Leadership Medal, an Exceptional Service Medal, and a Distinguished Service Medal. He is also a Distinguished Alumni at both the University of New Hampshire and The Ohio State.
Read more about outstanding veterinarian Richard M. Linnehan.
Outstanding Veterinary Educator: Dr. R. Timothy Bentley
R. Timothy Bentley currently serves as an assistant professor at Purdue University in the Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences. He teaches neurology and neurosurgery for animals. His work in this field makes him an outstanding veterinarian.
Bentley holds a Bachelor of Veterinary Science in Veterinary Medicine from the University of Liverpool. He later completed his residency for veterinary medicine at Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine. Additionally, he holds an American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine certificate of training in neurosurgery.
In addition to his work at Purdue, Bentley directs a team at Indiana University School of Medicine of researchers and surgeons. Additionally, he is the director of the Canine Brain Tumor Research program. His work identifies various aspects of the canine brain, including the diagnosis of tumors and other diseases, the treatment of those ailments through surgery, and the use of chemotherapy. Ultimately, the work this team accomplishes aims to discover better methods for diagnosis and treatment for all animals, including humans.
Of note, his work with dogs, in particular, is helping move the field forward. Prior to the immersion of new technology in disease diagnosis in canines, many diseases, like cancer, were untreatable. As such, companion animals were often lost. Work like Bentley's research is producing new therapies and treatments for animals. Moreover, he researches other areas like biomarkers, strokes, and treatments for seizure and epilepsy.
Bentley is a published author, too. His professional publications reflect his work in animal neurology. Moreover, he is a Member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. Bentley is also a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine.
Read more about outstanding veterinarian R. Timothy Bentley.
Outstanding Aquatic Animal Veterinarian: Dr. Tim Miller-Morgan
With more than 30 years of experience in the field, Tim Miller-Morgan specializes in aquatic animal health and research. The last two decades of work focused on aquatic invertebrates and fish. Of note, he directs several animal science and health programs. These include the Aquatic Animal Health Program at Oregon State University and the Oregon Sea Grant.
Miller-Morgan holds a B.S. in Wildlife Biology and his DVM from Washington State University. Additionally, he is certified by the World Aquatic Veterinary Medical Association as an aquatics specialist. He was also a fellow with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
As an outstanding veterinarian, he has served the community in several capacities. He works with the Hatfield Marine Service Center and the Aquatic Species/Laboratory Animal Resource Center. Both of these centers are affiliated with Oregon State University. Additionally, he co-created the Aquarium Science Program at Oregon Coast Community College and is now one of their instructors.
Furthermore, Miller-Morgan provides clinical and educational services to the ornamental fish industry throughout the US, Europe, Southeast Asia and Australia. His lectures and teachings aim to increase the health and vitality of these species.
In addition to his educational work, he serves on the Executive Board of Ornamental Fish International. Miller-Moregaon is also a founding member of the American Association of Fish Veterinarians. He was also a member and vice-chair for several other organizations: the American Veterinary Medical Association, the Aquatic Veterinary Medicine Committee, and the World Aquatic Veterinary Medical Association. Lastly, he held membership with the World Aquaculture Society and the Asia-Pacific Chapter of the World Aquaculture Society.
Read more about outstanding veterinarian Tim Miller-Morgan.
SeaWorld's First Veterinarian: Dr. David Kenney
Known as the first SeaWorld veterinarian, David Kenney served with the institution early in its inception. Moreover, he was responsible for the original Shamu's air transport from the Pacific Northwest to San Diego.
Having grown up on farms and ranches, moving into veterinary medicine was an obvious transition for a young Kenney. He earned his baccalaureate degree from San Diego State College and his DVM from UC Davis.
Prior to beginning his work with the marine-inspired organization, Kenney had a private practice. He brought in any animal in need of help from reptiles to wild cats to birds and more. His home was also frequently filled with animals to care for, including a beer-loving anteater.
In addition to his work with Shamu at SeaWorld, Kenney worked with numerous other marine species. His work led to significant improvements in the lives of animals in captivity. For example, he personally cared for Gigi, the first gray whale in captivity, nursing her to help. His wife also helped with his caretaking of animals, including being nursemaid to SeaWorld's first chimpanzee, Chester.
Along with his veterinary research for the park, he traveled around the world to study animals and bring rare species to San Diego to be studied. The primary mammal he helped collect were river dolphins from South America, Mexico, and the southern US. Ultimately, his excursions led to him being a highly adept caretaker for marine animals in captivity, including the treatment of vitamin deficiency, hydrocarbon poisoning, and environmental acclimation. Because of his work, zoos and aquariums around the world are better able to care for animals in their care as well as ensure their safe transport both to man-based facilities and back into the wild.
Read more about outstanding veterinarian David Kenney.
Wildlife Conservationist and Outstanding Veterinarian: Dr. Michael Stoskopf
A professor of wildlife and aquatic medicine and biomedical toxicology at North Carolina State University, Michael Stoskopf is an expert in his field. Plus, he not only has his DVM, but he also has a Ph.D. His research as an outstanding veterinarian works toward the health management of wildlife, particularly those in aquatic environments.
Stoskopf earned his DVM from Colorado State University and his Ph.D. in Environmental and Biochemical Toxicology from Johns Hopkins University. Beyond his education, he has extensive clinical experience, including tenures as a zoo veterinarian. Prior to his teaching and research work, he served with the Baltimore Zoo and the Overton Park Zoo and Aquarium. Additionally, he was the first Chief of Medicine at the National Aquarium in Baltimore.
Beyond his clinical work, Stoskopf has consistently shown a dedication to educating future veterinarians. He helped establish the American College of Zoological Medicine, including passing the first examination the institute offered and serving in as a president of the organization.
Currently, he is also the Director of the Environmental Medicine Consortium at NC State. In his lab, he and his team use advanced medical techniques to study ecological metabolomics and global climate change. Elements like ocean acidification and temperature changes are studied in the context of species' physiology. This, in turn, allows them to assess habitat health and risk.
Ultimately, Stoskopf works toward conservation. Stoskopf's current projects include developing a coastal marine MRI facility in North Carolina, which would facilitate more research. He is also working to reintroduce endangered species to their natural habitats. Two species with which he working on these efforts are the red wolf and the Wyoming toad.
Read more about outstanding veterinarian Michael Stoskopf.
Pioneer of Alternative Veterinary Medicine: Dr. Allen Schoen
Although Allen Schoen holds a contemporary DVM, his methods as an outstanding veterinarian are holistic, going beyond the standard curriculum. Considered a pioneer of veterinary acupuncture, his practice, Holistic Integrative Veterinary Healthcare, uses natural therapies to treat animals.
Schoen holds an M.S. in Animal Behavior and Ethology from the University of Illinois. His DVM is from Cornell University. Additionally, he is a Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist with the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society. and has advanced training in homeopathy, including botanical, mind and body, and integrative medicines. He was also honored with an honorary Ph.D. from Becker College.
In addition to his clinical practice, he serves with academic institutions. Schoen founded the Department of Acupuncture at The Animal Medical Center in New York City. Moreover, he teaches and lecturers at an array of veterinary schools and conferences. Previously in his career, he was a Clinical Assistant Professor at both Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine and Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine.
Beyond his hands-on work in the field, Schoen is part of the movement toward holistic care for animals. He served on an original committee with the American Veterinary Medical Association that developed Complementary and Alternative Veterinary Medicine guidelines. He also edited two major textbooks that are used in the field: Veterinary Acupuncture: Ancient Art to Modern Medicine and Complementary & Alternative Veterinary Medicine: Principles and Practice. Moreover, he wrote his own books intended to be consumed the average animal enthusiasts, including Love, Miracles, Animal Healing.
Ultimately, Schoen has more than 40 years of experience in the field. His work is instrumental in changing approaches used by veterinarians around the world to caring for pets and working animals alike.
Read more about outstanding veterinarian Allen Schoen.
Outstanding Veterinarian and Humanitarian: Dr. Annie Harvilicz
An outstanding veterinarian, Annie Harvilicz is the Founder and Chief Medical Officer of Animal Wellness Centers. The non-profit side, Animal Wellness Foundation, and its affiliated animal hospitals and centers work to provide stellar animal care as well as to find homes for all pets. In this position, she unifies her love for helping animals not only through their care and treatment but also through finding all animals good, safe homes.
Harvilicz holds her DVM from the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine. Additionally, she is the recipient of several awards. Her collection includes the Tobey Award for helping lost, abandoned, or homeless dogs. and the Sherrie Clark Compassion and Caring Award, reflecting her commitment to great care for all pets.
In addition to her work with the Animal Wellness Foundation, Harvilicz has a private practice. She works with high-profile pet parents throughout the US. Additionally, she worked at the ASPCA’s Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital in New York City. While there, she had the opportunity to appear on Animal Precinct, a Discovery Channel program.
Ultimately, Harvilicz's work aims to rescue animals. During veterinary school, she worked to rescue dogs. Now, her foundation hosts many initiatives aimed to place rescued animals with good families. Their program includes fundraising for animal companions going to low-income homes, rescuing animals for bad situations, fostering animals, and funding medical programs for spaying, neutering, and vaccinating rescues.
Of note, her clinical approach uses integrated medicine. Classically trained in Western approaches, Harvilicz incorporates elements of Eastern medicine to treat causes of diseases rather than just quickly fixing a problem.
Read more about outstanding veterinarian Annie Harvilicz.
The Rocky Mountain Veterinarian: Dr. Jeff Young
Known for his television series on Animal Planet, DR. JEFF: ROCKY MOUNTAIN VET, Jeff Young is an outstanding veterinarian making strides in his community. Located in Denver, his team works with any animal house pets to wild rescues.
Young studied veterinary medicine at Colorado State University. His love for animals, however, began while in elementary school. His work in the industry is varied and filled with ups and downs; in the end, though, he founded his clinic, Planned Pethood Plus.
He and his team are committed to treating all animals for the sake of helping them. One of the biggest issues he aims to tackle in his practice is keeping costs low. The clinic's mission is to provide “low-cost animal care for all,” and with additional support from Animal Planet, Young's missions have been successful.
As a veterinarian, Young treats a variety of diseases and injuries. Of note, he is a surgeon. His skills allow him to work with all cases and levels of severity, which, in the mountains, is an essential skill that helps many families and animal-based communities. In addition to his wild cases, he also works to spay and neuter house-bound animals to avoid filling local shelters and improve the overall health of these pets. Amazingly, he has performed more than 165,00 surgeries, making him one of the most effective doctors in his field.
Of note, Young is known for his charisma and will-do attitude. On this show, instances of true grit are showcased time and time again. His passion for animal care and dedication to their welfare leads to some difficult interactions, including removing pets from abusive environments. In the end, though, he is able to help these animals recover and find better forever homes.
Read more about outstanding veterinarian Jeff Young.