American Hero Veterinarian Winner

Dr. Natalie Isaza

Gainesville, Florida

Dr. Isaza is the founder of the Veterinary Community Outreach Program at the University of Florida’s College of Veterinary Medicine. This program has helped countless animals that might have been euthanized at rural shelters in north Florida, as well as owned pets in a clinic for low income pet owners. The program works with local animal rescue groups and shelters, providing spay/neuter surgical services, heartworm treatments, general wellness care, and more specialized veterinary care for animals in need.

In addition to her work with homeless animals, she is a co-founder of St. Francis Pet Care, a free vet clinic for pets of low-income and homeless members in her community. By providing care for these pets, the clinic has helped many animals stay in their homes. She implemented a program where shelter animals receive free veterinary care for treatable conditions. She and her students also visit animal shelters in rural counties surrounding Gainesville, providing veterinary care and transferring animals from these shelters to rescue groups so they can be adopted. Her dedication has inspired many veterinarians she has trained to become public servants, and helped them to be strong advocates for animal welfare. She is a hero to the voiceless animals she serves and to the families who otherwise might lose their beloved companions.

American Hero Veterinary Technician Winner

Kim Knap

Urbana, Illinois

Kim Knap BS, CVT, Certified Canine Rehabilitation Practitioner, does rehab at the University of Illinois Veterinary Teaching Hospital for pets that have mobility problems. My dog, Dexter, started seeing her for rehab on a chronic knee injury that occurred in 2014. It took him a long time to use that leg, so I took him to Vet Med to see if water treadmills and rehab exercises might help. Usually, Dexter HATES going to the vet. He needs a muzzle at my regular vet (he’s been through a lot). But from the beginning, he was smitten with Kim. He’d even try to sneak out to the garage on off days in hopes that I’d take him to see her. When we later discovered that he would need another surgery, I started a Go Fund Me page to pay for it, and Kim both donated and shared it with the rest of the vet staff and the humane society staff that I adopted him from.

We got so many donations between all of them and my friends that we had what we needed in 24 hours (about $1,800). Dexter walks great now, and is so strong that sometimes I really have to watch him because he can now counter surf. He wouldn’t be in such good shape if Kim hadn’t caught the problem he’d been having, and I felt totally comfortable leaving him there for two days because I knew she would be there with him. She went above and beyond for Dexter.

(written by the grateful owner of dog helped by Ms. Knap)