Julie Carlson was named winner of the 2015 American Humane Association Hero Veterinary Technician Award because of her extraordinary work on behalf of animals and military veterans. Her story began in 2008 when she met a homeless veteran living in his car with his dog. Though this man lacked the bare necessities for himself, he saved every penny to pay for veterinarian visits and medications for his German shepherd. Julie realized many veterans go without the resources to care for their pets, so she founded Vets for Vets’ Pets.

Taking care of veterans’ pets

Today, Vets for Vets’ Pets is a group of over 150 veterinary professionals from the Phoenix, Arizona area who work year-round to gather donations and train volunteers. Every year, Vets for Vets’ Pets participates in Arizona StandDown, a two-day event held at the state fairgrounds to provide veterans with needed services.

Stand down is a military term for a break during battle. The Arizona StandDown is meant to give homeless and at-risk veterans a break from their everyday struggles in civilian life. 1,850 veterans attended this year’s event on January 28-29. They were given medical, dental, vision, and mental health care, job services and housing information, as well as veterinary care for their pets.

Ms. Carlson said, “Veterans’ lives can change dramatically when they return from their military service. Many of them are facing physical or mental health issues that can lead to the loss of employment and, as a result, their home. For many of these veterans, their pet is the only thing they have left. That’s what led me to start Vets for Vets’ Pets. We are here to serve the pets of those who have served us all.”

Vets for Vets’ Pets provides the animals with physical exams, vaccines, wound care, ear cleaning, nail trims, and education. Ms. Carlson works with local authorities to offer spay and neutering surgery on-site. She also recruits mobile pet groomers to volunteer their services. She brings in groups to provide information about where to get pet food throughout the year and how to foster a pet during a military deployment.

Vets for Vets’ Pets served a record number of veterans at this year’s event. They served 429 veterans with 608 animals, distributed over 5,000 pounds of dog food, and examined and vaccinated 197 pets.

Zoetis lends a helping hand

Zoetis did its part by donating an array of vaccines and medicines for dogs and cats. Dr. Mike McFarland, Group Director, Zoetis U.S. Companion Animal Marketing, worked with Vets for Vets’ Pets to make sure they had the medications and tests they most needed.

Dr. McFarland said, “I first met Julie when I had the honor of presenting her with the 2015 American Hero Veterinary Technician Award. Her work to help veterans and their pets is inspiring, especially given the importance of the human-animal bond to physical and mental wellbeing. All of us at Zoetis applaud her work.”

Zoetis sponsors the American Humane Association’s Hero Dog Awards® as well as the Hero Veterinary Technician Award. This annual award is given to the veterinary technician most dedicated to the betterment of the health and welfare of animals and the promotion of the human-animal bond.

Julie with volunteer veterinarian with cat
Julie with volunteer, Joan Maberry Veterinarian with cat
Pet supplies Veteran with pet
Pet supplies Veteran with pet

Photos provided by Vets for Vets' Pets