Association of Shelter Veterinarians honors 2 veterinarians

Press Release

The professional organization named the 2024 Veterinarian of the Year and the Meritorious Service Award recipient

Kitten up for adoption

Photo: Kristina Blokhin/Adobe Stock

The Association of Shelter Veterinarians (ASV) has announced the recipients for two of its most prestigious awards. Rebecca Fellman, DVM, was named the 2024 ASV Veterinarian of the Year, and Karla Brestle, DVM, is receiving the 2024 ASV Meritorious Service Award.1

The ASV is a professional organization for veterinarians working in all aspects of animal sheltering. Since its founding in 2001, the association has provided a voice for veterinary shelter medicine, providing access to comprehensive, evidence-based resources and education for its members and shelters. The association’s awards aim to recognize “remarkable members of the ASV” who have made significant contributions to the field of shelter veterinary medicine and embody the ASV's mission to advance the health and welfare of animals in sheltering environments.

The Veterinarian of the Year Award was established in 2018. It recognizes individuals who have been outstanding in their role as a veterinarian to improve community animal health and wellbeing, according to the association. Established in 2010, the ASV Meritorious Service Award recognizes association members who have sustained contributions to the advancement of shelter veterinary medicine through leadership, public service, research, education, advocacy and/or clinical practice.

2024 ASV Veterinarian of the Year Award
Rebecca Fellman, DVM

Photos courtesy of the Association of Shelter Veterinarians

Rebecca Fellman, DVM

Rebecca Fellman, DVM, is being recognized for exceptional contributions and leadership in shelter medicine. “Her dedication to improving animal health and welfare, particularly in underserved areas, epitomizes the essence of this prestigious accolade,” according to the ASV.

A graduate of Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, Fellman has a background in small animal medicine and surgery. She has also played a pivotal role at the MSPCA-Angell in Boston, Massachusetts, “leading transformative initiatives, that have significantly enhanced access to essential veterinary services and positively impacted the lives of over 10,000 animals annually,” according to ASV.

Addressing medical barriers to adoption and establishing robust community outreach programs, she has used “visionary strategies” to evoke significant changes in shelter medicine practices. Notable, Fellman established a high-volume program in collaboration with Berkeley County Animal Center in Moncks Corner, South Carolina, to trap, spay/neuter and vaccinate felines before returning healthy cats to their found locations.1,2

2024 ASV Meritorious Service Award

Karla Brestle, DVM

Karla Brestle, DVM

Award recipient Karla Brestle, DVM, is the senior director of training and programs for the ASPCA Spay/Neuter Alliance in Ashville, North Carolina, where she has practiced for more than 25 years. Brestle “is a distinguished veterinarian whose unwavering commitment and pioneering efforts in advancing high-quality, high-volume spay/neuter initiatives (HQHVSN) have left an indelible mark on shelter medicine globally,” according to the ASV.1

A graduate of North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine, the ASV has credited Brestle with “innovative leadership in formulating and implementing HQHVSN protocols has transformed spay/neuter practices, ensuring both effectiveness and evidence-based methodologies.” Additionally, Brestle has coauthored many publications and has led educational campaigns with the goal of empowering veterinarians and students in shelter medicine, fostering a culture of mentorship and inspiring countless individuals to enact change within their communities.


  1. Association of Shelter Veterinarians celebrates 2024 award winners. News release. Association of Shelter Veterinarians. April 30, 2024. [email]
  2. BerkeleyCountyAnimalCenter TNVR Community Cat Program. BerkeleyCountyAnimalCenter. Accessed May 1, 2024.

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