The State of Florida has only one College of Veterinary Medicine, and that is located at the University of Florida in Gainesville. In fact, 9 of AMC’s 15 veterinarians are graduates of the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM). The teaching hospital in Gainesville also trains veterinarians to become specialists in various areas of veterinary medicine, such as surgery, and the professors and graduate students are constantly researching newer and better ways to provide medical care to our pets.
While a new, $58 million Small Animal Hospital opened in 2010, providing additional operating rooms and other badly needed clinical space, the research and training laboratory facilities dedicated to small animal surgery remained, until recently, much the same as they were when the college opened in 1976.
This situation perplexed Dan Lewis, D.V.M., an eminent scholar and longtime professor of small animal surgery at UF, who know that the college did not have sufficient funds to initiate a major renovation he know was needed to bring the existing laboratory up to the high standards he and his colleagues have set for training. So in conjunction with the college’s development team, Lewis launched a fundraising campaign to solicit those he knew had benefited in some way from the UF small animal surgery program.
Those efforts generated over $100,000 in donations, a major portion of which was provided by AMC’s Dr. Jeff Godwin. In recognition of his support, the laboratory was named at its recent dedication in his honor.
“My wife Jo and I were talking last year about how blessed we have been, and how we wanted to find some way to give back to the CVM in a bigger way than what we had done previously. About a week later, the email came from Dr. Lewis, and we knew this is what we wanted to do.”
Godwin said he has loved orthopedic surgery ever since his days as a veterinary student at UF. Even though he spends most of his time managing AMC’s three practice locations, he still reserves one day a week to do surgery. “I get a satisfaction in ‘fixing’ things, and when I look at postoperative x-rays, it gives me immediate positive feedback…well, most of the time,” Godwin laughed. Because of my interest in orthopedics, I joined the Veterinary Orthopedic Society in 1995 and have attended the VOS Conference every year since then. That is where I met Dan Lewis and some of the other UF orthopedic surgeons who came along after I left veterinary school.”
Godwin said that he and Lewis served on the VOS board together and both are past presidents of the organization. He added that at the VOS Conferences, he became more familiar with the surgical research performed by Lewis and others, and was “very impressed.”
“Their work has helped a lot of surgeons, clients and patients. Jo and I decided that we would give them what they needed to make this project happen. We challenge other UF CVM alumni and clients to look for a way they might be able to make a difference, showing their gratitude as well as helping future generations of students and animals.”