Nova Scotia veterinarian wins AVC’s 2017 Award of Excellence

An inspiration to veterinarians, veterinary students, and the community!
Tuesday, May 1, 2018
Dr. Helene Van Doninck with her husband, Murdo Messer (left), and Dr. Greg Keefe, dean of AVC (right)

Nova Scotia veterinarian Helene Van Doninck is the winner of the Atlantic Veterinary College’s 2017 Award of Excellence in Veterinary Medicine and Animal Care.

Dr. Greg Keefe, dean of AVC, presented the award to Dr. Van Doninck at the Atlantic Provinces Veterinary Conference in Halifax on April 21.

“Dr. Van Doninck’s compassion and care for injured and sick wildlife exemplify what veterinary medicine is about,” said Dr. Keefe. “She is an inspiration to veterinarians, veterinary students, and others concerned about the health and welfare of wild animals.”

Dr. Van Doninck is an award-winning veterinarian, a member of AVC’s Class of 1991, and a lecturer at AVC and other educational institutions.

She dedicates her life to helping animals, particularly wildlife. She and her husband, Murdo Messer, established the Cobequid Wildlife Rehabilitation in 2001, where they provide care for approximately 300 animals each year. Their bald eagle flight recovery centre—a large oval-shaped cage that allows eagles to fly naturally—is the first of its kind in Canada.

In addition, she is leading the charge in educating hunters about the dangers of lead shot to animals—many are now switching to non-lead ammunition and fishing tackle, reducing the amount of lead poisoning in wildlife.

She also works as an oiled wildlife response and emergency preparedness consultant and trainer. She works part-time at several veterinary clinics in Nova Scotia and contributes her knowledge to non-profit organizations, including the Nova Scotia Bird Society, Clean Seas, and the Federation of Nova Scotia naturalists. She has been a contributor to Nature Canada and has made a documentary titled “Saving Birds of Prey.”

Dr. Van Doninck was nominated for the award by Dr. Jane Corkum, with support from Dr. Ernie Prowse and Dr. Jennifer McKay.


Anna MacDonald
AVC External Relations Officer
Atlantic Veterinary College
(902) 566-6786
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