Caring for animals has never been just a part of Julie Nettifee’s life. It has always been her life.
Compassion has guided her, from when she helped her father in animal care and rescue as a child in her small hometown of Fairmont, Minnesota, to the comfort she brings today to the families of dogs with epilepsy who come to the NC State College of Veterinary Medicine for treatment.
In Nettifee’s hands, there is health and hope. It’s a lifetime mission woven into her DNA.
During the Hero Dog Awards special broadcast Monday on the Hallmark Channel, Nettifee was named the 2020 American Humane Veterinary Nurse Hero, a national competition sponsored by Zoetis Petcare honoring the dedication of veterinary workers and the lives they have changed. The show also honored the heroic veterinarian of the year and several heroic dogs in a variety of categories.
The nonprofit American Humane is dedicated to animal welfare and supporting the human-animal bond. Nettifee was one of five finalists for the honor culled from national nominations.
“To receive the honor has been such an incredible gift on so many levels. To share fully what this means to me could literally fill a novel,” says Nettifee. “With the support of so many veterinary professionals across my career, it has been so humbling to receive this award in a year that has seen so many challenges and opportunities.”
During the TV special, Nettifee’s award was announced by “Modern Family” actress Ariel Winter. Nettifee discussed her experience as a child tagging along with her father on animal control calls and assisting in animal rescue efforts following natural disasters.
A licensed veterinary nurse and technician with a specialty in neurology, Nettifee has worked at the CVM for more than 20 years in a variety of positions, including supporting clinical research and faculty-clinicians, and educating DVM students.
Currently, she is focused on research and clinical support for the CVM and the NC State Veterinary Hospital, including the neurology service’s companion animal epilepsy research program led by Karen Muñana and the nutrition service led by Korrin Saker.
Both Muñana and Saker appeared on the Hallmark special.
“People in veterinary medicine care about animals — that’s why we do it. But the degree to which she does that is remarkable,” Muñana said of Nettifee during the show.
“She makes things happen,” Saker added.
With the support of so many veterinary professionals across my career, it has been so humbling to receive this award in a year that has seen so many challenges and opportunities.
The award comes one day after the annual National Veterinary Technician Week which recognizes the incalculable daily contributions of vet techs and other support staff to the profession.
“This award and this program really provide a platform for the public to see the incredible gifts and talents that veterinary nurses, technicians and research specialists bring to our animal companions each and every day,” says Nettifee. “It has also been such a gift to have the recognition and support of the NC State College of Veterinary Medicine.”
In a year unlike any other, the American Humane awards takes on a deeper meaning, says Nettifee, recognizing the love and support companion animals have offered those in quarantine and those practicing social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
These days, pets are doing a lot of the healing and rescuing.
“I have truly been blessed through this path that I have chosen and been called to take part in,” says Nettifee. “In a year such as this, I am filled with such gratitude to all, including many of the animals that have filled my stories, allowed me to learn and have shared gifts and lessons I will never forget.”
~Jordan Bartel/NC State Veterinary Medicine