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2019 AzVMA Distinction of Professionalism & Hall of Fame Awards

Saturday, June 1, 2019  
Posted by: Mittie Williams
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Three veterinarians were presented with the 2019 Distinction of Professionalism awards and another was inducted into the Arizona Veterinary Hall of Fame during the AzVMA’s Inaugural/Awards Luncheon at the AzVMA Annual State Meeting held May 22 at the Embassy Suites by Hilton in Scottsdale.


Dr. Jim McDonald, of EIEIO Professional Service LLC, was named AzVMA’s Veterinarian of the Year. Dr. McDonald has dedicated much of his professional life in service to organized veterinary medicine. He served in every officer position on the AzVMA’s Board of Directors and as president in 2002. Upon the completion of his presidential year, he continued to be an active member of the profession, serving on several committees, including finance. He was elected by the AzVMA Board to serve as alternate delegate to the AVMA and subsequently moved up to the position of delegate where he displayed innovative leadership and was a strong voice for Arizona. He received AzVMA’s Distinguished Service Award in 2005 and was inducted into the Arizona Veterinary Hall of Fame in 2016. Dr. McDonald is also active in the community, serving on the board of directors of Soldier’s Best Friend, and completing the New York City Marathon to raise money for cancer.


Dr. John Burnham, of Acoma Animal Clinic in Glendale, is the recipient of AzVMA’s 2019 Distinguished Service Award. Dr. Burnham is an example of volunteer leadership at its best. After devoting himself to animals as a practicing veterinarian for many years, he decided he needed to do more in a charitable way. Dr. Burnham had several clients who were deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan and upon their return, he took note of how war had impacted them. That prompted him to do some research on the potential positive impact a service dog could have on a veteran living with a traumatic brain injury or PTSD. In the Spring of 2011 he founded Soldier’s Best Friend, an organization devoted to rescuing homeless dogs and pairing them with veterans. To date, 217 teams have graduated and more than 150 homeless dogs have been rescued.


Dr. Racheal McKinney, of Urban Veterinary Livestock & Equine Veterinary Services in Mesa is AzVMA’s 2019 Emerging Leader. Dr. McKinney has emerged as a shining example of the impact individuals can have on the future of the profession. She got her start very early in her educational journey. She joined the student AVMA and remained a member throughout her four years at Western University. During that time, she was also the student representative for the AVMA PLIT and served a term as secretary of the VBMA, a position she credits with helping her buy her own business right out of school. Dr. McKinney has been a member of AAEP and AASPR since entering veterinary school. She currently serves as the chair of AzVMA’s Young Leader’s Advisory Council and holds a seat on the AzVMA Board as the council’s representative. She also represented the association as AzVMA’s Emerging Leader at the AVMA Veterinary Leadership Conference in Chicago where she joined young veterinary leaders from throughout the country for an experience that will help them shape the future of our profession.


Dr. Reuben Merideth, of Eye Care for Animals in Scottsdale, was the 2019 inductee into the Arizona Veterinary Hall of Fame. Dr. Merideth is the founder of Eye Care for Animals, the world’s largest veterinary ophthalmology organization with 54 practices in 16 states. He graduated from the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine and is a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmology. He was also an NIH Fellow in Comparative Ophthalmology at the University of Florida from 1979-1981. Dr. Meredith is credited with starting a residency program which is the largest nonuniversity-based veterinary ophthalmology training program in the world and has authored more than 30 scientific articles and served as a contributing author to five veterinary textbooks. Dr. Merideth has been active with the AzVMA, serving as the president of the Academy of Veterinary Practice and as a speaker and educator. In February 2018, he received the Tucson Wildlife Center’s first “Person of the Year” honor and Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild proclaimed the day “Dr. Reuben Merideth Love for Wildlife Day”.