Press Release

Animal Wellness Announces Formation of a National Veterinary Council

Council will play a role in putting veterinarians in a stronger leadership role in national advocacy campaigns for animals

LOS ANGELES — The Animal Wellness Foundation (AWF) and Animal Wellness Action (AWA) announced the formation of their National Veterinary Council, with members bringing collective medical and advocacy experience for companion animals, farm animals, horses, and wildlife. The volunteer members of the Council will extend the reach of the organization’s programs and priorities and more meaningfully place veterinarians at the forefront of the animal protection movement. A wide range of public attitude surveys reveal that veterinarians are the most trusted sources on matters of animal care and animal welfare policy.

In addition to policy and advocacy work, veterinarians with the Council will, to the extent practicable, help with hands-on and advocacy programs for the Animal Wellness Foundation, putting their professional training and public credibility to advance animal protection goals.

“Veterinarians have the training and practical experience not only to help animals, but also to guide political leaders, corporations, and average citizens to do better when it comes to individual and institutional treatment of animals,” said Dr. Annie Harvilicz, the founder of the Animal Wellness Foundation and a practicing veterinarian in Los Angeles. “Our veterinarians have the experience and ability to push forward our campaigns to combat factory farming, puppy mills, horse abuse, and so many other problems.  They’ll also be on the frontlines in programs to help animals directly— both for regular care and in crisis circumstances.”

The members of the National Veterinary Council are described below.

Randall Cannon, D.V.M. — Orlando, FL
Since graduating from University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine with honors, Dr. Cannon has devoted over 22 years toward animal care in his private practice and almost a decade toward animal protection. He works to raise public awareness about animal issues in myriad ways and in 2012 founded Take Your Blinders Off, Inc., a non-profit that owns and operates a truck equipped with two video screens that educates the public about a wide range of animal welfare issues. He’s been featured in two documentaries exposing animal abuse and is the recipient the Pollination Project Lisa Shapiro award.

Pernilla Edstrom, D.V.M., Ph.D — Los Angeles, CA
Dr. Edstrom brings 12 years of veterinary care experience as Medical Director of the Animal Wellness Centers animal hospital in Los Angeles. After receiving her veterinary doctorate at Western University of Health Sciences, she accepted an internship at Animal Surgical and Emergency Center (ASEC) in West Los Angeles. There, she was exposed to a multitude of specialties, such as Emergency and Critical Care, Surgery, Cardiology, Radiology, and Internal Medicine. As a practicing veterinarian, she treats and rehabilitates pets and rescue animals while actively supporting animal protection policies.

Annie Harvilicz, D.V.M. — Los Angeles, CA
A graduate of the Virginia Tech School of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Harvilicz is the Chief Medical Officer of the veterinary hospital Animal Wellness Centers in Los Angeles. She is the recipient of the Sherrie Clark Compassion and Caring Award and the Tobey Award for helping lost, abandoned, or homeless dogs and has served on the national leadership council of the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association. Dr. Harvilicz founded the Animal Wellness Foundation to create a rescue organization that enables her veterinary practice to extend animal care more broadly into the community.

Elizabeth Hassinger, DVM — Exeter, Rhode Island
After graduating from Tufts Veterinary school in 1989, Dr. Hassinger completed an internship in small animal medicine and surgery. In 1997 she founded the Wolf Rock Animal Health Center, the first Integrative Veterinary Medicine practice in Rhode Island, providing lifelong health care, combining alternative therapies with conventional medicine, surgery and dentistry. She is trained in Acupuncture, Animal Chiropractic, Homeopathy, Chinese and Western herbal medicine, Flower Essence therapy and clinical nutrition.  Dr. Hassinger served as an elder in the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association, during which time she was among the first to lecture and write on the topic of veterinarian suicide and wellness education. She has an interest in the issues involved in management of wolves and wild horses in the American West.

Matt Holland, D.V.M. — Washington, DC
Dr. Holland graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign College of Veterinary Medicine and is currently an AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science) Science & Technology Policy Fellow at the USDA National Institute of Food & Agriculture. Dr. Holland completed an AAAS/AVMA Congressional Fellowship in the office of Illinois Congresswoman Cheri Bustos with his policy interests including One Health — issues that impact the intersection of human, animal, and environmental health (e.g. antimicrobial resistance, infectious disease, disaster preparedness & response, etc).

Dr. Jim Keen – D.V.M., Ph. D — Hastings, Nebraska
Graduating with his veterinary medicine degree and doctorate in epidemiology from the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Keen has 30 years of experience in veterinary and biomedical research, with a specialty in livestock infectious disease issues, public health and more recently, industrial farm animal protection and advocacy. Dr. Keen spoke publicly about abusive treatment of animals at the USDA Meat Research Center in central Nebraska in 2015 gaining worldwide attention. These revelations were instrumental in driving reforms toward better livestock welfare, better science and more accountability in dozens of federal farm animal research laboratories. He is currently a visiting fellow in Harvard Law School’s Animal Law and Policy Program, focusing on laws and policies that can reduce the use of livestock, dogs, cats and primates in federally funded in-house research programs.

Sarah LaMere, D.V.M., Ph.D — San Diego, CA
Having earned her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from the Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine and her Ph.D. from The Scripps Research Institute, Dr. LaMere is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of California San Diego. Dr. LaMere’s current research focus is on HIV, and her interests are specifically aligned with the concept of the One Health Initiative, which seeks to form collaborations between veterinarians and the human health professions with the purpose of furthering our understanding of both animal and human health and disease. In addition to her research career, Dr. LaMere has done both international volunteer work and disaster response

Dr. Armaiti May, D.V.M. — Los Angeles, CA
Dr. May obtained her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of California, Davis School of Veterinary Medicine in June 2005, before spending 20 months working at a 24-hour emergency dog and cat hospital. She is certified in veterinary acupuncture and animal chiropractic and has graduated from the Pitcairn Institute of Veterinary Homeopathy and operates her own vegan-friendly integrative veterinary practice and non-profit, Veterinary Association for Protection of Animals, that encourages and educates on animal advocacy.

Avenelle Turner, DVM, Dip ACVIM — Marina Del Rey, CA
Dr. Turner is a Colorado native and is a graduate of Colorado State University. She has 20 years of experience in the veterinary field and is a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (Oncology). She served as head of the oncology service at Fifth Avenue Veterinary Specialists, located in New York City. Currently, she is the senior oncologist and lead investigator of multiple clinical trials at Veterinary Cancer Group at the City of Angels Specialty Center in Los Angeles, CA. She supports a combination approach to cancer care, utilizing both eastern and western principles while working regularly with holistically trained doctors to meet the needs of her patients.

Louise Murray, D.V.M., DACVIM (SAIN) — Rye, New York
Dr. Murray is a graduate of Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine, completing her residency in veterinary internal medicine at the Animal Medical Center in NYC. She worked as Medical Director before becoming Vice President of ASPCA Animal Hospital in New York. Dr. Murray has been the recipient of multiple veterinary awards, including the American Association of Feline Practitioners Award for Outstanding Interest and Ability in Feline Medicine and Surgery. Currently, she is the Staff Internist at Katonah Bedford Veterinary Center.

She has authored the consumer guide to veterinary medicine “Vet Confidential: An Insider’s Guide to Protecting Your Pet’s Health” and has made television appearances including CNN American Morning, Anderson Cooper 360, and Good Morning America to help pet parents attain the information they need to be successful advocates for their animal companions.

Animal Wellness Action is a Washington, D.C.-based 501(c)(4) whose mission is to help animals by promoting laws and regulations at federal, state and local levels that forbid cruelty to all animals. The group also works to enforce existing anti-cruelty and wildlife protection laws. Animal Wellness Action believes helping animals helps us all. Twitter: @AWAction_News

Animal Wellness Foundation is a Los Angeles-based private charitable organization with a mission of helping animals by making veterinary care available to everyone with a pet, regardless of economic ability. We organize rescue efforts and medical services for dogs and cats in need and help homeless pets find a loving caregiver. We are advocates for getting veterinarians to the front lines of the animal welfare movement; promoting responsible pet ownership; and vaccinating animals against infectious diseases such as distemper. We also support policies that prevent animal cruelty and that alleviate suffering. We believe helping animals helps us all.