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HSVMA Presents Long Island Veterinarian with ‘Best Friend to Feral Cats’ Award

  • From left, Barbara Levine, Veterinary Assistant; Lynne Carson, Licensed Veterinary Technician; Patrick Kwan, New York State Director, The Humane Society of the United States; Dr. Laura Gay Senk, DVM; The Honorable Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano; Joan Phillips, President, Animal Lovers League; and Jeanne Tiedemann, RN and Veterinary Assistant. Russell Lippai/Nassau County

The Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association (HSVMA) will present an award to Dr. Laura Gay Senk. Dr. Senk is among three outstanding veterinary professionals to receive the Best Friend to Feral Cats award for her significant contributions in helping feral cats on Long Island.

Patrick Kwan, New York state director for The Humane Society of the United States, will present the award during a special ceremony at the Nassau County Executive's Office on Tuesday. The ceremony will be hosted by Nassau County Executive Hon. Edward P. Mangano and attended by Joan Phillips, president of the Animal Lovers League and member of the Companion Animal Advisory Council of The HSUS, and veterinary assistants Barbara Levine and Lynn Carson.

"We are so fortunate to have Dr. Senk on Long Island helping feral cats," said Kwan. "She has truly gone above and beyond the call of duty in addressing feral cat overpopulation, as well as working to improve the quality of life for feral cats in her community."

Dr. Senk was selected as the winner in the private practitioner category for the inaugural HSVMA Best Friend to Feral Cats award from a nationwide pool of more than 100 nominees. The judging panel included HSVMA Leadership Council members Dr. Richard Bachman and Dr. Madeline Graham, HSVMA veterinary consultant Dr. Susan Krebsbach, and registered veterinary technician Nancy Peterson, Cat Programs manager with The HSUS.

There are an estimated 50 million feral cats in the United States living in groups known as colonies. Dedicated individuals and organizations practice a non-lethal strategy known as Trap-Neuter-Return to reduce their numbers and improve the health and safety of cats and communities. With this approach, cats no longer reproduce and nuisance behaviors are reduced or eliminated. Without it, the majority of feral kittens do not survive to adulthood, and almost 100 percent of the feral cats brought to shelters are euthanized because they cannot be adopted as pets. 

Dr. Senk has been helping feral cats on Long Island, New York, for approximately 20 years. She was one of the first veterinarians in the area to operate a clinic that advertised, "Ferals Welcomed." Today, she runs a clinic in Farmingdale, N.Y., which offers low-cost spay and neuter and medical care to feral and other rescue cats. Dr. Senk has volunteered for monthly feral cat clinics and mass Trap-Neuter-Return events on Long Island for many years. She also created the Long Island Cat Project, which provides resources and assistance to feral cat caretakers and veterinarians working with feral cats. She also has worked with several municipalities on Long Island to implement Trap-Neuter-Return programs.

The other award recipients are Dr. Sara White of Hartland, Vt., in the nonprofit category and licensed veterinary technician Mike Phillips of New York City in the veterinary technician category.

The HSVMA thanks all veterinary professionals who help feral cats and encourages their colleagues to assist in this important life-saving work. For more information, visit hsvma.org and humanesociety.org/feralcats.


The Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association was formed as a home for veterinary professionals who want to join together to speak out for animals, engage in direct care programs for animals in need, and educate the public and others in the profession about animal welfare issues. The HSVMA is an affiliate of The Humane Society of the United States. For more information, visit hsvma.org.

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. Follow The HSUS on Twitter.

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