Recognizing veterinary excellence and giving back

Nonprofit Canine Companions for Independence® thanks veterinarians with inaugural annual Health Services Award

two people wearing doctor gear

SANTA ROSA, California – As the first and largest provider of expertly-trained assistance dogs for people with disabilities, Canine Companions has worked extensively with veterinarians to support assistance dogs and puppies at six training centers. Recently, the nonprofit granted the Health Services Award to seven veterinarians across the country who help give a dog a job by providing veterinary services to some very special dogs.

Canine Companions is recognized worldwide for the quality of its matches and the longevity of its partnerships. This wouldn’t be possible without the village of veterinarians assisting with health evaluations, donated services and years of expertise. Each Canine Companions dog receives a variety of health evaluations to ensure they will be happy and healthy assistance dogs including joint assessments, eye and heart exams, and oral evaluations.

The national board of directors have awarded seven dedicated veterinarians with the Health Services Award to honor these experts who help make Canine Companions’ mission possible:

  • Dr. Milton Wyman –Veterinary Ophthalmologist, Powell, OH
  • Dr. Robin Jaeger – Emergency Medicine and Acupuncture, Riverhead, NY
  • Dr. Sylvia Neumann – Veterinary Ophthalmologist, Larkspur, CA
  • Drs. Chelly and Joe Quinn – Veterinary Medicine, Mesquite, TX
  • Dr. Becky Niedfeldt – Veterinary Medicine, Apopka, FL
  • Dr. Sunshine Riehl – Veterinary Medicine, San Marcos, CA
  • Dr. Paula Thomas – Veterinary Medicine, San Marcos, CA

“We are grateful for the gift of these veterinarians’ expertise, time and commitment to the dogs and puppies we train,” says Dr. Brenda Kennedy, national director of canine health and research at Canine Companions. “We share a common goal of having healthy puppies that become healthy assistance dogs in long and successful partnerships with a person with a disability.”

Founded in 1975, Canine Companions for Independence trains and places life-changing assistance dogs in more than 40 commands to enhance independence, including retrieving dropped items, pulling manual wheelchairs, alerting to important environmental sounds and more. Since its inception, the organization has provided over 6,100 assistance dogs and ongoing support entirely free of charge. Learn how you can give a dog a job. Visit