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UF veterinary cardiologist named one of country's best vets

Dr. Colin Burrows, chairman of the University of Florida college of Veterinary Medicine’s department of small animal clinical sciences, is shown with Dr. Amara Estrada, Southeast Winner of the Morris Animal Foundation-sponsored “Ask Your Vet for a Healthy Pet” contest during the Jan. 16 award ceremony held during the North American Veterinary Conference in Orlando.

Amara Estrada, D.V.M., an assistant professor of cardiology at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine, is the Southeast Regional winner of the nationwide "Thank Your Vet for a Healthy Pet" contest.

Sponsored by Morris Animal Foundation, Hills Pet Nutrition Inc. and BowTie Inc. the essay-based contest allows clients to honor outstanding veterinarians for their dedication to helping animals and strengthening the human-animal bond.

Nominating Estrada for the award was Gary Anthon of South Jordan, Utah. Anthon and his family members wrote about how their dog, Scooby, came to be a participant in Estrada's pacemaker study. The Anthons learned in early 2007 that Scooby, a black Lab, had a heart condition known as third-degree heart block. The family was told Scooby needed a pacemaker and that without one, he would die within weeks.

"We were devastated," Anthon said. "We didn't even think they put pacemakers in dogs."

The Anthons came across Estrada's name and contacted her immediately after learning about her Morris Animal Foundation-sponsored study.

"She wrote back immediately, but there was an obvious problem. She was in Florida and we were 2000 miles away," Anthon said. "All the other dogs in the study were local, but she was willing to try."

Despite many challenges, Scooby was enrolled in the program. Estrada, along with volunteers at UF, even provided housing for Scooby for three months so the Anthons would not have to travel as much with Scooby back and forth from Utah.

When he returned home for good in June of 2007, Anthon said Scooby was full of health and energy and acting like his normal self. Thanks to Estrada, a devastating experience turned into a great experience, he said.

"Dr. Estrada saved our dog's life," Anthon said. "We now consider Amara our friend and we could never repay her for what she has done for us. We know she is deserving of this award, not just for what she did for Scooby, but for what she does every day. She is our hero."

Sadly, Scooby passed away because of unrelated causes in September 2009. Still, the Anthons said they would always be grateful to Estrada for prolonging the time they had left with their beloved dog.

"It's a great honor to be recognized with this award, and it makes me realize that my passion for veterinary medicine, in particular veterinary cardiology, is recognized and appreciated by my clients," said Estrada, who also serves as chief of the UF Veterinary Medical Center's cardiology service.

Hundreds of pet owners throughout the country submitted nominations, and stories about the award winners already have appeared in Dog Fancy, Cat Fancy and Veterinary Practice news, all of which are owned by one of the contest sponsors, Bowtie Inc.

A complete list of nominees and the winners' profiles are posted at

About the author

Sarah Carey
Public Relations Director, College of Veterinary Medicine

For the media

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Matt Walker
Media Relations Coordinator (352) 265-8395