In March of 2020, in the wake of the statewide lockdown resulting from the coronavirus pandemic, the Sacramento Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ (SSPCA) CEO Kenn Altine created the Paw Pantry Project. It quickly became apparent to Mr. Altine that many pet owners were struggling to afford to feed their pets, particularly isolated seniors and those who lost a job as a result of the pandemic. Through tireless fundraising efforts, the Paw Pantry Project provided approximately 219,000 meals for 31,200 animals. Because of his quick response and leadership, Mr. Altine managed to keep pets with their families, thus preventing the increasingly important human-animal bond in recent times of isolation.
Mr. Altine is also commended for his creation of the Spay and Neuter Enhancement Program with the SSPCA. Through Mr. Altine’s leadership and fundraising skills, the Program enabled the renovation of an existing administrative building into a 6,400 square foot spay and neuter clinic, increasing capacity by 38 percent. It is estimated that the new facility will result in 5,000 additional spay and neuters, thus significantly reducing the number of unwanted and abandoned animals entering area shelters.
Dr. Carrie Jurney serves as the President of Not One More Vet (NOMV), a non-profit organization established to address the mental health and suicide crisis faced by the veterinary community. In 2014, NOMV was created as a Facebook page where veterinary professionals could discuss mental health challenges they faced. Dr. Jurney first joined found Dr. Nicole McArthur as a moderator of the Facebook page. She served as Board secretary before becoming president in 2019. Under her leadership, NOMV has grown from a Facebook group with 20 members into a charity organization that provides financial and professional mental health support to veterinary professionals in need, with other 26,000 members worldwide. NOMV has become a strong non-profit entity, offering an educational program focused on wellness, a growing support grant program providing financial support for struggling veterinary professionals, and a partnership with BetterHelp, providing one month of free psychotherapy for those in need. In addition, Dr. Jurney has worked to forge a partnership with the University of Tennessee and Auburn University to develop an online crisis support system designed for veterinary professionals and is advancing research into wellness, mental health, and the reduction of suicide in veterinary professionals.
Nominating Organization: The Little Angels Project
As a result of her tireless work in the veterinary field, and her experience with sanctuaries and rescue groups, Darlene Geekie founded the Little Angels Project. Her goal was to rescue animals with medical needs that other shelters and rescue facilities were unable to provide care for. She also sought to address the emotional and financial issues veterinary professionals and others who care for animals in these facilities face when the cost for appropriate care is prohibitive. The mission of the Little Angels Project is “to assist animals living in sanctuaries and rescue facilities, and to reduce euthanasia rates of domestic and exotic animals with advanced medical needs throughout Los Angeles County and surrounding areas”. The organization rescues mostly dogs and cats but also provides care to a variety of animals including birds, rabbits, turtles, pigs, goats and even exotic animals needing specialized care at local zoos and wildlife parks.
In addition to helping countless rescued animals, Ms. Geekie and The Little Angels Project were integral saving hundreds of animals injured in the Woolsey fire that took place in Southern California in 2018. There, they set up a makeshift hospital and worked with animal control and the Red Cross to provide care and support for animals and their owners. At one point, it became necessary for the Little Angels’ triage center to evacuate and it was relocated as a triage tent at the evacuation center. Not only did Ms. Geekie’s organization provide medical care to numerous animals affected by the fire, but also worked to re-unite pet owners with their pets.
Ms. Geekie’s extensive work with the community and organizations, as well as her commitment to help animals in need, makes her a very deserving recipient of the CVMA’s Meritorious Service Award.
For a complete list of past winners, contact the CVMA at firstname.lastname@example.org.