Veterinary Outreach Program

Why Veterinarians?

Late Co-Founder, Susan M. Roman

Susan found great solace in being with her dogs. Their unconditional love was enormously supportive. In addition, she believed that one of her wonderful dogs, Bacchus, may have been trying to tell her for months that she was sick, by lying his head on her abdomen while she was working out on the floor. Additionally, she judged her various levels of recovery based on whether or not she could hold her dogs’ leashes during a walk, and how easily she could keep pace her walks which were always better with the aid of one of her beloved canines, Foster and Bacchus.

History of the Veterinary Outreach Program

When Rick and Susan (aka The Goose) Roman, and their friend Vallie co-founded the nonprofit OCSA organization in April of 2010, they all agreed that dogs should be a huge part of the awareness mission. Dr. Kurt Klepitsch, DVM supported the group from the very beginning and facilitated discussions with key veterinary representatives.  Coincidentally, during his involvement his own family was affected by ovarian cancer and he has been an inspiration to all of us.

The first annual “Dog Walk for The Goose” in September of 2010 was followed by participation in the Wellness Center at the Illinois State Veterinary Medical Association Convention in Lombard in November 2010. The response from the veterinary community was incredibly positive. Consequently, the OCSA executive board supported expanding the awareness programming into veterinary outreach. The possibilities were fully realized when OCSA was introduced to Peter Weber, executive director of the Illinois State Veterinary Medical Association in January of 2012. He thoroughly understood what OCSA wanted to accomplish through the Veterinary Outreach Program (VOP) and a partnership with the ISVMA. Mr. Weber subsequently agreed to host an OCSA Luncheon Panel discussion at 130th Annual ISVMA Convention in November of 2012. He believes that through educating the veterinary community, we can together save lives.

Co-Founder and Executive Director, Vallie M. Szymanski

As the daughter of a veterinarian, Vallie grew up with a deep respect for animals, especially dogs. Her father, Dr. James H. McNamara, DVM, Colorado State University, was a large and small animal veterinarian. His mentor, Mark Morris, Sr., was founder of Hill’s Pet Nutrition and a visionary in the area of clinical nutrition for animals. Morris believed nutrition could be used to improve the lives of pets with certain health conditions.

As a lieutenant colonel in the United States Air Force and the head veterinarian in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War based at Clark Air Force Base, the Philippines, he directed the deployment of Guard Dogs in South Vietnam, Thailand and Taiwan. From that experience he went on to work with Dr. Mark Morris, Jr., who continued his father’s legacy in pet nutrition to develop Maximum Stress Diet (MSD) for the military working dog.

Reaching the Illinois Veterinary Community and Their Publics
  • There are approximately 3100 licensed, practicing veterinarian in Illinois
  • There are approximately 1200 veterinary clinics in Illinois.
  • A veterinarian sees approximately 16 patients a day/80 a week/320 a month/3840 a year.
  • There are approximately 1600 licensed and practicing veterinary technicians in Illinois.
  • There are approximately 500 veterinary students in Illinois.

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