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

Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association

WASHINGTON — Recent Oklahoma State University Center for Veterinary Health Sciences graduate Sarah Gordon received the first Humane Society Veterinary Veterinary Medical Association Veterinary Student Advocacy Award. Dr. Gordon received the award for her efforts to advance more humane veterinary training during her four years at Oklahoma State.

Dr. Debra Teachout, DVM, a founding member of HSVMA, presented the award at the 2009 Taking Action for Animals conference, which is hosted by The Humane Society of the United States.

HSVMA developed the Veterinary Student Award to honor veterinary students who have promoted humane and respectful treatment of all animals. Gordon 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 the HSVMA. "This award acknowledges her noble contributions to the veterinary profession."

In her third year of veterinary school, Gordon 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. By her fourth year, the veterinary school had developed a program to offer an alternative to all students. And then, just as Sarah was preparing to graduate this spring, the school announced that it would eliminate terminal surgeries from all required courses. Instead, the students will perform spay and neuter procedures on dogs from shelters who will be returned for adoption after recovery.

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

Gordon demonstrated her commitment to a humane approach to animals, and prompted the university to adopt the same outlook with these announced policy changes. The HSVMA is proud to recognize Dr. Sarah Gordon as the first recipient of the HSVMA Veterinary Student Advocacy Award.

Learn more about the HSVMA at hsvma.org.


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The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the web at humanesociety.org.