DVM wellness, community efforts praised by OVMA

Drs. Debbie Stoewen and Bianca Ferenczy are among the recipients of Ontario Veterinary Medical Association’s awards

Four veterinarians in Canada’s Heartland Province have been honoured by the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association (OVMA).
Debbie Stoewen, DVM, MSW, RSW, PhD, is this year’s recipient of the OVMA Outstanding Veterinarian Award.
Photos courtesy OVMA

Four veterinarians in Canada’s Heartland Province have been honoured by the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association (OVMA).

Debbie Stoewen, DVM, MSW, RSW, PhD, is this year’s recipient of the OVMA Outstanding Veterinarian Award, recognizing a professional who has gone above and beyond in the name of animal medicine.

A renowned veterinary health and well-being educator with a PhD in veterinary medical communication, Dr. Stoewen has 25 years of practice experience, including as founder and sole proprietor of a companion animal hospital. From 2013 to 2020, she served as care and empathy officer, as well as director of veterinary services, for Pets Plus Us, where she provided a fully accredited veterinary continuing education (CE) program and a countrywide pet loss counselling service for pet owners. Stoewen also previously served as director of veterinary affairs at LifeLearn Animal Health, where she developed CE to help veterinarians and their teams address the challenges of veterinary practice.

Stoewen is the wellness columnist for the Canadian Veterinary Journal and has published a variety of articles in veterinary and social work journals.

“We, hopefully, all strive to make a difference in the lives of other people as we journey through life as veterinarians,” says her colleague, Chip Coombs, DVM. “Dr. Stoewen has accomplished that in spades and then some. By being the first in Canada (and likely North America) to bring mental health counselling directly to the individual practices… she has undoubtedly saved lives.”

Meanwhile, the OVMA Award of Merit went to Bianca Ferenczy, DVM, owner and operator of Park Avenue Veterinary Services in Guelph, Ont., in recognition of her dedication to veterinary medicine and public service. An alumnus of the Ontario Veterinary College (OVC), Dr. Ferenczy has provided accessible veterinary medicine in Guelph for more than 25 years. At her clinic, she offers compassionate care and holistic choices, along with traditional, diagnostic, and emergency medicine. Ferenczy completed advanced studies at the Pitcairn Institute of Veterinary Homeopathy (PIVH) in the United States before becoming an affiliate member of the Academy of Veterinary Homeopathy.

Bianca Ferenczy, DVM, received the OVMA Award of Merit.

“Many people seek out holistic care for their pets when they’ve already tried multiple treatment options,” says Brittany Tartaglia, RVT, of Park Avenue Veterinary Services. “These cases can often be difficult, but Dr. Bianca takes time to carefully analyze these cases and give them the best treatment options possible.”

Additionally, Ferenczy volunteers her time to work with high school and university students who have an interest in veterinary medicine. She also provides medical supplies to help animal rescue organizations overseas and has established a “pets in need” fund at her clinic where clients can donate to help other pet owners in their community.

Melissa Pinto, DVM, received the Rising Star Award, which is presented to an associate veterinarian who has demonstrated superior leadership in their place of employment and their community for the betterment of animal welfare. A 2018 graduate of OVC, Dr. Pinto is a veterinarian at Town and Country Animal Hospital in Stouffville, Ont., where she consistently goes above and beyond in delivering patient care and communicating with pet owners.

“Dr. Pinto takes the time to explain everything, and she makes you feel like your pet is her only patient,” says one of her clients. “She made sure I understood what everything meant in terms of procedures, medications, and test results and can explain everything in plain terms. You can tell this isn’t just a job to her but a passion.”

Finally, Dale Scott, DVM, received the OVMA Golden Life Membership Award, recognizing the extraordinary efforts of a veterinarian who has mostly retired from full-time career pursuits. Recipients receive an honorary lifetime OVMA membership.

Following his graduation from OVC in 1976, Dr. Scott opened a mixed-animal practice in Mindemoya, Ont., which is where he worked until he retired in 2016. In a career spanning 40 years, he held many leadership roles, including president of OVMA, president of the Designated Area Veterinary Association, president of the Northern Ontario Veterinary Association (NOVA), president of the Farley Foundation, chair of the College of Veterinarians of Ontario’s (CVO’s) Discipline and Registration Committee, and chair of OVMA’s Large Animal Issues Committee. He currently serves in municipal politics as a councillor for Central Manitoulin.

“Dale embodies what I have always felt was a special combination of traits that have made many veterinarians some of the most incredible individuals to encounter on this planet,” says his colleague, Sherri Rea, DVM. “He shows a desire to problem solve, search for answers to medical mysteries, aid in diagnosis and treatment of pets and food industry animals, and he can effortlessly blend these talents with a sincere, extremely empathetic kindness and interest in the lives of everyone he meets.”

Melissa Pinto, DVM, received the OVMA Rising Star Award, while Dale Scott, DVM, received the Golden Life Membership Award.
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