On July 10, 2021 Maddie's Fund® presented the 2021 Avanzino Leadership Award to Lila Miller, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) for her trailblazing leadership and purposeful dedication to the field of veterinary shelter medicine.
A proclamation of Dr. Lila Miller Shelter Medicine Day has been declared for July 10. Recognition of Dr. Miller, this day and the Avanzino Leadership Award was received from U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer, U.S. Representative Tom Reed, New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, New York State Assemblywoman Deborah Glick, New York City Mayor’s office, City of Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick, and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer.
Dr. Miller has long been a pioneer and leading voice in veterinary shelter medicine. She transformed the lives of countless pets, developing the first veterinarian-written guidelines for shelter animal care, which are now used in shelters across the country to ensure the humane treatment of shelter pets. An unassuming trailblazer, she’s educated a generation of students about issues shelters face and has paved the way for women of color in veterinary medicine. In 1977, Dr. Miller was one of the first two African American women to ever graduate from Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine.
"Dr. Miller is the mother of shelter medicine," said Dr. Laurie Peek, Maddie’s Fund Executive Leadership Team. "She has forged a path to achieve not only her childhood dreams of becoming a veterinarian, but also inspires generations of veterinarians along the way. Shelter medicine changes everything because of her. We owe Dr. Miller our deepest gratitude for her bold ideas and innovative work. We are so very fortunate to have a living legacy in the field of animal welfare and our world."
The Avanzino Leadership Award is presented with a $25,000 grant which Dr. Miller has designated to Animal Care Centers of New York City.
In 1999, Dr. Miller taught the first shelter medicine class in the U.S. at Cornell, and in 2003 taught the first shelter medicine course on Veterinary Information Network (VIN). She co-founded the Association of Shelter Veterinarians (ASV) and has also co-edited four shelter medicine textbooks, served as adjunct professor at both Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine and the University of Pennsylvania's School of Veterinary Medicine, and has lectured extensively both nationally and internationally.
She spent her entire groundbreaking veterinary career with the ASPCA as the Director of the ASPCA's Brooklyn Clinic, Veterinary Advisor, Vice President of Veterinary Outreach, and Vice President of Shelter Medicine, retiring in 2019. She currently serves as a member of the American Association of Veterinary State Boards advocating for animal shelters.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office presented a letter of commendation to Dr. Miller at the virtual awards ceremony. "The NYC Mayor's Office of Animal Welfare holds Dr. Miller in the highest regard," said Christine Kim, Director of the NYC Mayor's Office of Animal Welfare. "I congratulate Dr. Miller on the well-deserved recognition for her lifelong commitment to shelter medicine and for her trailblazing legacy that inspires people of color exploring pathways into an historically white profession."
The Avanzino Leadership Award is named after Rich Avanzino who is considered the father of the no-kill movement and was Maddie’s Fund President from 1999 - 2015. This award recognizes significant achievement and courage to look beyond the status quo and make bold decisions to improve the lives of pets and their people.
Help us in celebrating Dr. Lila Miller's impact on Shelter Medicine every July 10th!