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Chico Receives American Humane Hero Veterinarian Award
New York Ag Connection - 11/09/2018

State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball Thursday congratulated Dr. David M. Chico, VMD, M.P.H., on receiving the 2018 American Humane Hero Veterinarian Award. This prestigious national honor is awarded to a veterinary professional who is dedicated to the betterment of the health and welfare of animals and the promotion of the human-animal bond. Dr. Chico, who has worked with the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets' Division of Animal Industry for 14 years, received the Hero Award -- after getting tens of thousands of votes -- at an event aired on the Hallmark Channel.

"It's tremendous to see a national organization like American Humane recognize a member of our Division of Animal Industry as a leader and an inspiration to others," Commissioner Ball said. "We are so proud of the work that Dr. Chico does for the State and of his dedicated volunteer work. His commitment to helping animals and their owners is extraordinary. We congratulate him on this award."

"When I started to be a veterinarian, I thought it was all about the animals," Dr. Chico said. "As I progressed in my career, I realized it was really about the people as well as the animals, and I think what I like the most is interacting with the people and helping solve problems, helping get a pet healthy and back in their home."

In addition to his work as the Division of Animal Industry's Field Staff Supervisor and Emergency Preparedness Manager, Dr. Chico works in private practice and volunteers for many groups, including the International Fund for Animal Welfare and the ASPCA.

Dr. Chico earned the national "Hero" award by going above and beyond his duties, providing free pet wellness clinics through another volunteer organization, Pets Are Wonderful Support, also known as PAWS. PAWS is an Upstate program that helps low-income people with HIV and AIDS take care of their pets.

Albany Damien Center PAWS Coordinator Diane Metz said, "The reason I nominated Dr. Chico for this award is that his heart is enormous and kind. He exemplifies the spirit of the Hero Veterinarian award's criteria of commitment to the betterment of the health and well-being of animals and fostering the human-animal bond in his community, nationally, and internationally. His caring goes far beyond the basic prevention and wellness he provides to PAWS member pets. He knows, in a population where stigma and prejudice are still alive and well, a member's pet may be both their family and best friend. Regardless of the challenges that our human members face, the care of their pet is everything to them. He knows that, as one PAWS member said, 'What you do for them, you do for me.'"

Albany Damien Center Executive Director Perry Junjulas said, "PAWS is a very special program that is helping so many in our community who are living in poverty and struggling with HIV and AIDS and going through some very difficult times -- and also their beloved pets. The program helps improve the lives of people who are living with AIDS, but it also helps pets, who do not get surrendered to shelters and have a better lifespan because of Dr. Chico's involvement. Dr. Chico's many years of volunteer service has helped us serve more people and pets than we could have ever have done without him. This is a national award and this work is being done locally. It's really inspiring to everyone here."

Dr. Chico launched the Damien Center's volunteer pet clinic 10 years ago and remains dedicated to it today, making emergency house calls at all hours and recruiting others to assist with veterinary care and donated medicine.

Dr. Chico also provides critical care to abused and neglected animals overseas through Animals Lebanon in Beirut, a U.N. non-governmental organization. After his first visit there, he transported 13 cats back to the United States for adoption. He adopted a disabled dog from Lebanon named Habibi, which means beloved. He also works as a private practice veterinarian.

President and CEO of American Humane Dr. Robin Ganzert said, "Veterinarians and veterinary nurses are heroes to our animals, and to us. These dedicated professionals work behind the scenes and without fanfare to keep these family members happy and healthy. We and the nation thank them, one and all!"

Dr. Chico has a degree in toxicology from the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science, a degree in Veterinary Medicine from the University of Pennsylvania, and a Master of Public Health from the University at Albany.

He has been recognized as a national veterinary leader and has served as the President of the National Alliance of State Animal Agriculture and Emergency Programs, a nationwide alliance that plans, prepares for, and responds to disasters involving animals. He is the Secretary of the National Animal Rescue and Shelter Coalition.

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