We are absolutely thrilled to announce that this year our beloved and dedicated Dr. Kathy Gervais is the proud recipient of the distinguished Outstanding Service Award presented by the California Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA). For almost three decades, Kathy has been an integral part of the veterinary community, not only through her work at the San Francisco SPCA, but through her unbelievable volunteer efforts outside of the organization.
She was a co-founding veterinarian of Pets Are Wonderful Support (PAWS), co-founder of San Francisco’s Disaster Animal Response Team, is an integral member of the volunteer team with Africa Matters (a non-profit group dedicated to conservation efforts through the use of art, education, and science), and has traveled to Namibia on two occasions to provide veterinary care and support staff training for cheetahs and painted dogs as part of the Cheetah Conservation Fund. She already has her tickets to return in 2021.
Kathy’s wholehearted concern for animal welfare began when she was a young child visiting Mexico, where she discovered an injured puppy. Preparing to come back to the United States, she realized she would not be able to bring it home with her for continued care. The impact of having to leave the puppy behind remained with her and as a teenager, Kathy began to learn the veterinary trade by helping in a local vet’s office. Her desire to help endangered species led her to become a mixed-animal practitioner, a background that allows her to lend expertise to volunteer endeavors today.
She came to San Francisco in the late 1980s to help launch PAWS in response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The program ensured that impacted pet guardians could provide medical care and food to their animals. Since then, PAWS has expanded and with Kathy’s help, the program developed the Safe Pet Guidelines adopted by the Center for Disease Control & Prevention. PAWS Director Katherine D’Amato describes Kathy as “a tireless ambassador” and notes that “the quality of care she provided was unparalleled.”
Kathy joined the SF SPCA at the Pacific Heights campus in 1991 and quickly realized the organization felt like home. “What I thought would be five years has ended being closer to 28 now,” she said.
At the heart of her work is her deep respect for the human-animal bond. When asked about her continued desire to contribute to animal welfare efforts she said, “Helping animals is paramount. People are much happier and healthier when a pet is involved. During the AIDS epidemic and now with the pandemic, animals give the most comfort.”
We are privileged to have Dr. Gervais as part of our staff and we applaud her well-deserved recognition by the CVMA.