Oklahoma State Graduate is First Recipient of HSVMA Veterinary Student Advocacy Award

August 10, 2009

At this year's Taking Action for Animals welcome reception, HSVMA founding member Debra Teachout, DVM, presented recent Oklahoma State University Center for Veterinary Health Sciences (OSU-CVHS) graduate Sarah Gordon with the first Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association (HSVMA) Veterinary Student Advocacy Award.

Dr. Teachout and Sarah Gordon
Dr. Debra Teachout presented the award to Sarah Gordon at TAFA.
Jennifer Fearing/The HSUS

HSVMA developed the award to honor veterinary students who have promoted humane and respectful treatment of all animals—and there was no better candidate for this year's award than Sarah.

Her work to advance more humane veterinary training during her four years at Oklahoma State successfully inspired a departure from traditional educational protocols that killed and otherwise harmed animals.

"Through compassion and perseverance, Sarah Gordon has spared the lives of animals and set an example for her fellow students that the humane treatment of animals is of paramount importance for veterinarians," said Susan Krebsbach, DVM, veterinary consultant for HSVMA. "This award acknowledges her noble contributions to the veterinary profession."

Small Changes Make a Big Difference

In her second year of veterinary school, Sarah developed an alternative curriculum that allowed her to avoid performing terminal procedures (i.e., those in which the animals are euthanized after surgery is performed) by using cadavers and taking additional rotations in anesthesia and surgery.

 Dr. Danoff, Holly Hazard, Sarah Gordon
Dr. Kim Danoff and Holly Hazard, both members of HSVMA's Leadership Council, helped congratulate Sarah on her accomplishment.
Jennifer Pepson/HSVMA

By her third year, OSU-CVHS had developed a program to offer an alternative to all students.

And then, just as Sarah was preparing to graduate this spring, the veterinary school announced it would eliminate terminal surgeries from all required courses beginning in the 2009-2010 academic year.

Instead, the students will perform spay and neuter procedures on dogs from shelters who will be returned for adoption after recovery.

Sarah's efforts received a boost from Madeleine Pickens, wife of OSU alumnus T. Boone Pickens. Earlier this year, Mrs. Pickens spoke to OSU leaders and urged them to move away from using terminal procedures.

In her short veterinary career, Sarah has demonstrated a strong commitment to a humane approach to animals and prompted OSU-CVHS to adopt the same outlook with these announced policy changes.

We are proud to recognize Dr. Sarah Gordon as the first recipient of the HSVMA Veterinary Student Advocacy Award.