October 4, 2011–The Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association is proud to announce the five finalists chosen out of a stellar field of nominees for the 2011 ?PRCA Veterinarian of the Year Award? presented by Purina.
The 2011 recipient will be announced in late October and will be honored at the PRCA Contract Personnel Banquet on Wednesday, Nov. 30 in Las Vegas, and during the 53rd Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, on Saturday Dec. 3, 2011 at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.
The award was created in 2010 to recognize dedication to the health and welfare of rodeo livestock by veterinarians across the country. The award is made possible by a partnership with Purina Mills to sponsor the award. ?Purina Mills is proud to sponsor the PRCA Veterinarian of the Year Award,? said Katherine Williamson, DVM, Manager of Veterinary Services for Purina Mills. ?The spirit of this award reflects Purina?s appreciation for veterinarians and all that they do to improve the lives of animals. It also gives us an opportunity to recognize and celebrate the invaluable contributions of rodeo veterinarians, most of whom volunteer their time and services to ensure the safety, health and well-being of rodeo stock and competitors.?
?Every nominee is absolutely deserving of this award, which makes the job of the selection committee very difficult,? said Doug Corey, DVM, Pro Rodeo Hall of Famer and Chairman of the PRCA Animal Welfare Committee ?It is an honor to be associated with such a distinguished group of veterinary professionals that advocate for the welfare of rodeo livestock.?
The original field of 16 nominees was narrowed to these five distinguished veterinarians:
Dr. Joseph Coli, Reno, Nev.; nominated by the Reno Rodeo and Bob Feist: Dr. Coli joined the Reno Rodeo Association in 1983 working not only as the veterinarian, but also volunteering his time in other areas, including serving as the Chair of the Animal Welfare Committee for 20 years. He purchased the Comstock Large Animal Hospital in 1992 and is still a partner. This year he worked closely not only with the Reno Rodeo, but with all of the events during that rodeo, including the Bob Feist Invitational Team Roping, to advise contestants and management alike on the EHV-1 outbreak. His calm guidance in this situation assisted in allowing the rodeo and related events to continue. Dr. Coli?s willingness to share his knowledge and expertise with the media in Reno has allowed the Reno Rodeo to thrive, with the community feeling confident about the care the livestock was receiving. PRCA Stock Contractor Cotton Rosser recommended Dr. Coli for the award saying, ?In our 55 years of producing PRCA rodeos we have worked with many large animal veterinarians and Dr. Joseph M. Coli has to be the best.?
Dr. Garth Lamb, Las Vegas, Nev.; nominated by Shawn Davis: Dr. Lamb has served as the Official Veterinarian for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo as a volunteer since the event moved to Las Vegas in 1985. Additionally, he serves as the rodeo veterinarian for the Helldorado Days in Las Vegas and in the past has been the veterinarian for the Senior Pro Rodeo in Las Vegas. He has been a veterinarian in Las Vegas for 40 years and founded the Desert Pines Equine Center. Dr. Lamb has been an integral part of the team in Las Vegas, working to develop the protocol for animal injuries and perfect the animal care unit used to transport injured livestock during the Wrangler NFR. He has hired a team of veterinarians to work in his practice that know rodeo and are dedicated to the welfare of rodeo livestock. Dr. Lamb has assisted the sport of rodeo and the Wrangler NFR by sharing with the media the facts about the health and welfare of rodeo animals. He is a former rodeo competitor and understands horses and what they are expected to do at the elite level of rodeo competition. Dr. Charles Graham, DVM, wrote in his letter of recommendation for Dr. Lamb, ?To my knowledge there is no other veterinarian that knows as much and has treated as many rodeo animals as Dr. Lamb.?
Dr. Norm Swanson, Cheyenne, Wyo.; nominated by Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo: Dr. Swanson has served as the arena veterinarian for the Cheyenne Frontier Days for 42 consecutive years. In this capacity, he has coordinated with the general committee, the contestants chairman, PRCA judges and stock contractors to oversee the health and care of all livestock on-site during the event. Cheyenne had nearly 1,700 competitors this year and the rodeo lasted twelve days with nine sections of slack and nine performances. The total number of livestock exceeded 4,000. Dr. Swanson has been an active member of the contestants committee in Cheyenne for more than 40 years, volunteering his time to ensure the contestants and hired personnel at Cheyenne are taken care of during their stay. His involvement with the committee has been focused on providing immediate medical attention to animals if needed. ?I have personally witnessed Dr. Norm Swanson?s dedication to the sport of rodeo. He is extremely qualified for this award,? said PRCA stock contractor Harry Vold.
Dr. Jake Wells, San Antonio, Tex.; nominated by the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo: Dr. Wells began volunteering his time as the official rodeo veterinarian for the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo (SALE) in 1976, became a life member in 1982 and a member of the Board of Directors in 1986. He was elected to the Executive Committee in 1995, eventually serving as President from 2002-2004. He was inducted into the SALE Hall of Fame in 2011. In addition to his work with the Stock Show, he has volunteered countless hours to local 4-H and FFA chapters as a volunteer leader and veterinary advisor. He saw the need for a permanent structure to serve as a clinic at the rodeo and that clinic is now open 24 hours a day during the show to serve the livestock. He developed the Veterinary School Scholarships and Externship Program and still oversees the program today. He spearheaded production of a video to educate about the care of the livestock at SALE and developed the injured animal protocol and San Antonio?s rodeo stock handling facilities. Keith Martin, Executive Director and CEO of SALE said, ?Dr. Wells continues to epitomize the heart of our volunteers. We continue to rely on his advice and counsel regarding animal care during our events, recognizing that his dedication in developing the animal care areas of our show is crucial to our present and future success.?
Dr. Wes Wittman, Sonora, Calif.; nominated by the Mother Lode Roundup Rodeo and Tuolumne County Sheriff?s Posse: Dr. Wittman has served as the on-site veterinarian for the Mother Lode Roundup Rodeo as a volunteer for more than 27 years. Dr. Wittman also volunteers his time and services at the Tuolumne County Fair each year supporting local FFA and 4-H activities. He served on the Tuolumne County Humane Society Board for four years as President and worked to dispel common myths about the care and treatment of rodeo animals by interacting with the media and community. He was a founding member of the Tuolumne County Veterinary Association and served on the board for 27 years. He has assisted contestants in need, been the veterinarian of record for the USDA for PRCA Specialty Act Bert Davis. ?Dr. Wittman has not only cared for the rodeo livestock supplied over the year by three different stock contractors, but has also cared for the contestant?s horses and our hired contract act?s animals totally without charge whenever the need arose,? said Ty Wivell, Chairman of the Mother Lode Round-Up Rodeo.