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WSAVA Global Meritorious Service Award

Bojan Zorko, a Specialist in Canine and Feline Medicine, is Professor of Veterinary Radiology at the University of Ljubljana and a Director of the International Veterinary Radiology Association for Central and Eastern Europe.

During a distinguished career in small animal medicine, he served as President of the Slovenian Small Animal Veterinary Association for six years and has been Regional Director of FECAVA for Slovenia for more than 20 years.  He lectures veterinary students and post-graduates on a range of topics in small animal medicine; has authored numerous papers and is active in research.  His current interest is the use of stem cells in the treatment of dogs with chronic arthritis.

Professor Zorko has made an outstanding contribution to the development of veterinary medicine in Slovenia through his long service to voluntary veterinary organizations and his commitment to teaching and his research.  His dedication to life-long learning has been matched by his willingness to support the next generation of veterinarians in his country and to raise standards of veterinary education, both in Slovenia and elsewhere in Eastern Europe.

WSAVA Global One Health Award (OHC)

The Blue Dog Programme is an educational initiative to help children to interact safely with dogs. The award will be accepted by Professor Tiny de Keuster, a European Veterinary Specialist in Behavioural Medicine (Companion Animals) and founder of the programme.  

Through her work as a behaviourist, Professor de Keuster, a visiting professor at the University of Ghent in Belgium, was involved with a number of studies which highlighted that injuries from dog bites were a significant problem in Belgium.  Most of the injuries occurred in young children in their own homes and were inflicted by a familiar dog. Concluding that current bite prevention programmes were ineffective, she was inspired to create Blue Dog with the support of the Federation of European Companion Animal Veterinary Association (FECAVA); the Board of the European Society of Veterinary Clinical Ethology (ESVCE); the British Veterinary Behaviour Association and Dogs Trust.

The Blue Dog Trust was created November 2005 as a non-profit organisation and was launched at the joint WSAVA/FECAVA Congress held in Prague in 2006.  Since then, Blue Dog has evolved to offer a range of educational resources for children, parents and school teachers, including an engaging website, fact sheets and a DVD and accompanying booklet for parents. In addition to offering advice to help reduce the risk of dog bites, Blue Dog also provides information on selecting the right dog; the benefits to a family of owning a dog and offers guidance on where to get a dog and on responsible dog ownership.  Its work has spread around the world with more than 80,000 copies of its DVD distributed to 21 different countries and the accompanying Blue Dog booklet translated into 17 languages.

While it is the brainchild of Dr de Keuster, Blue Dog was created by a team of veterinarians, behaviourists, child psychologists, school teachers and teachers from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Ghent.  Its scientific input is based on feedback from a team of international behavioural specialists and the efficacy of selected scenes from the DVD as a learning tool was assessed by Dr Kerstin Meints from the Lincoln Infant Laboratory, University of Lincoln, UK, and supported by the Dutch Veterinary Association. 

WSAVA International Award for Scientific Achievement  

Jens Häggström is Professor of Small Animal Medicine at the University of Uppsala in Sweden. His studies into myxomatous mitral valve disease (MMVD) in dogs confirmed its status as an inherited condition and led to the development of breeding program aimed at reducing the prevalence of the disease in affected breeds, including Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.  He also played a key role in an EU-funded project, LUPA, aimed at unravelling the genetic background to disease in dogs.

One of his most important achievements is in the area of clinical trials.  Ten years ago, his clinical study into angiotensin-converting-enzyme inhibitors in pre-clinical MMVD in Cavalier Kings Charles Spaniels led to a significant change in clinical practice.  He has since led trials examining a variety of drugs to treat canine heart disease.  These have increased the profession’s understanding of the condition and have enhanced standards of veterinary practice around the world.

Jens Häggström is also a co-founder of a breed screening program for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) in cats.  Called the PawPeds Screening Program, it is the largest database of pedigree and feline health information in the world with data from approximately 30,000 unique cats and results from 60,000 heart screens.  It has been successful in reducing the prevalence of HCM in affected breeds by excluding affected cats from breeding.

WSAVA Hill’s Next Generation Award

Dr Luba Gancheva, is a Bulgarian veterinarian who now lives and works in Romania. She graduated from the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of the University of Forestry in Sofia, Bulgaria, in 2010, and began working in a small animal practice in the city. She demonstrated her commitment to continuing education and received a Master of Science in Infectious Diseases from Triaka University in Bulgaria.  She now lives in Bucharest, Romania, and works at the Cabinet Filip Veterinarul animal hospital.

Her PhD thesis, entitled ‘Clinical Manifestation of Brucellosis in Dogs, caused by Brucella Canis,’ was based on a study she conducted on the incidence of this disease in the Balkans.  As a result of her thesis, Dr. Gancheva was invited to speak at two congresses in the Balkans, where she realized how enthusiastic her colleagues in the region were to continue their professional development.  

In 2015, she launched an online veterinary journal called ‘Vets on the Balkans,’ with the goal of helping regional veterinarians work more collaboratively and share their experience and knowledge.  The journal has presented more than 90 cases and has developed a strong readership. It has also built partnerships with many of the key companion animal veterinary associations in the region.

Building on this success, Dr. Gancheva in 2016 launched an initiative called ‘Learn and Travel with Vets in The Balkans’.  The program enables veterinarians to increase their knowledge and experience by working in clinics in nearby countries. The first placements were made earlier this year, and they were supported through sponsorships and donations from 12 participating practices in Bulgaria, Turkey, Romania, Belgium, Italy and Croatia.

WSAVA President's Award

Dr Jolle Kirpensteijn was awarded the WSAVA President’s Award in recognition of his service to the association. A past president of the WSAVA and long-standing advocate of its work, Dr Kirpensteijn first became involved with the WSAVA as a Member Representative for the Netherlands in 2005. He joined its Executive board in 2006 and served as WSAVA President from 2010 to 2012.  

During his presidency, Dr Kirpensteijn worked to enhance the effectiveness of the WSAVA’s operations. He focused particularly on strengthening continuing education (CE) initiatives, improving communications and helping create a clear strategy to ensure the WSAVA became a truly global community.