Veterinary Heroes: General Practitioner winner CPT Kelly Willard, DVM
Veterinary professionals nominated and chosen by their peers exemplify leadership and achievement in improving patient outcomes.
dvm360®, the No. 1 multimedia platform in the veterinary industry, announced the 8 winners of its inaugural Veterinary Heroes™ recognition program on November 16, 2021, including CPT Kelly Willard, DVM. Inductees were honored during a celebratory gala at Fetch, a dvm360® conference, on December 1, 2021, at the San Diego Convention Center in California.
The Veterinary Heroes™ program honors individuals who have achieved landmark successes within veterinary medicine. Veterinary leaders are nominated by their peers for their remarkable achievements in improving patient outcomes. A panel of distinguished judges from the dvm360® Advisory Board chose 1 honoree in each category who has made a measurable difference.
The Veterinary HeroesTM program is sponsored by Nationwide, Merck, Zoetis, Clevor®, Blue Buffalo, NorthStar VETS, and MedVet.
The winners of the 2021 Veterinary Heroes™ program are being featured in an 8-part series. Part 4 focuses on General Practitioner winner CPT Kelly Willard, DVM.
As the owner of Hudson Veterinary Hospital, CPT. Kelly Willard, DVM, is known for serving her staff and clients with positivity, thoroughness, and compassion.
Willard is a captain in the US Army Reserve Veterinary Corps, which she joined 8 years ago to help service members and the military working dogs (MWDs). When her Army unit was deployed to Afghanistan, she was eager to make a difference. She treated MWDs, including special operations dogs, and she helped start a blood bank program for the MWDs. She currently partners with the nonprofit organization Paws of Honor to provide veterinary care for retired law enforcement dogs and MWDs.
Willard graduated from Ross University in 2007 and did her clinical year at Virginia Tech. During her junior year at Ross, she studied abroad in Kenya where she learned how important animals are to the survival of humans. She lived side by side with the Maasai tribe and saw how they treated their cattle as sacred, nurturing the animals that provided them with milk. During that time, she said gained a better understanding of how veterinary care was bigger than just caring for household pets.
“I have always wanted to become a veterinarian for as long as I can remember,” Willard said.
Willard grew up around animals— her father being a police officer in Baltimore, Maryland, in the K-9 unit. She always had a passion to help animals and is motivated every day to help as many animals and people as she can.
“Always remember why you became a veterinarian,” she said. “I believe that if this is truly your passion, others will be able to see that, and you will succeed because you will have a drive to always want to improve and constantly become better. Determination today leads to success tomorrow.”
Willard lives in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, with her husband, Ryan, and 2 young daughters, Olivia and Averi. She has 2 dogs—Scarlet, an English black Lab, and Theo, an American Staffordshire terrier. She also has 2 dwarf hamsters, Gus and Frank, and a gecko, Frankenstein.
Even with all her accomplishments and responsibilities, she still finds time to qualify for and run in the Boston Marathon every year.