Cheri Herschell — Veterinary Nurse

It is my pleasure to nominate Cheri Herschell, CVT, for the Hero Veterinary Nurse Award 2022. Cheri offers immeasurable contributions to Crisis Center North (CCN) and our PAWS for Empowerment Program.

My first exposure to Cheri was in 2010, at a Canine Good Citizen class. My dog, Penny, had made a connection with a counseling client at CCN, the domestic violence (DV) program where I have served as the Executive Director for 23 years. Penny and I graduated with our AKC Canine Good Citizen title after six weeks of training and went on to get our Therapy Dog International certification, as well. My goal was to integrate shelter dogs into our trauma informed services. My second goal was to ensure that Cheri joined our team.

Cheri is instrumental on the nationally recognized PAWS for Empowerment Program. She trains CCN staff on appropriate interactions with working dogs, as well as certifies our canine handler teams who work hands-on with clients in counseling and court work. Her medical expertise as a veterinary technician is invaluable in creating guidelines for our working dogs, ensuring they are both mentally and physically healthy.

In 2018, Cheri joined the team at CCN as a Canine Intervention Specialist. In this position, she has taken on two important roles, one of which is attending magisterial court two days per week as a legal advocate with our newest Canine Advocate, Rune. Her other role ties to her roots as a Veterinary Nurse. DV organizations are keenly aware of the connection between animal neglect/abuse and domestic violence: where animal neglect/abuse exists, it is likely that human abuse exists too. Veterinarians and their staff are at the forefront of recognizing animal neglect and abuse. Utilizing her extensive experience as a Veterinary Nurse, Cheri develops and offers presentations for veterinary staff and students about the intersectionality of human and animal abuse.

Cheri’s 15+ years working as a Veterinary Nurse allow her to make a connection with a community which plays an invaluable role in keeping victims and their companion animals safe. Cheri has reached over 600 veterinary professionals with a tiered curriculum designed to help vets recognize their role as advocates in the fight against family violence. The presentations not only inform veterinary staff of the correlation between animal abuse and DV, but also assist them in recognizing and reporting animal neglect and abuse; signs of human abuse; and how to assist victims to get help. Most recently, Cheri was invited to speak at the AVMA Convention 2022, in Philadelphia, with her presentation titled, “When Domestic Violence Arrives at the Clinic: Intersectionality of Animal Neglect/Abuse and Domestic Violence.” We are delighted that Cheri is taking her message to a national veterinary audience, which will encourage veterinarians to partner with their local DV organizations, be advocates in the prevention of family violence, and keep both ends of the leash safe.