The BC SPCA’s senior manager of animal health, Dr. Emilia Gordon, was honoured with an Outstanding Contribution Award at the society’s annual awards ceremony in Richmond on May 4. Dr. Gordon was honoured for her work in addressing a highly contagious and deadly virus that spread through the rabbit population this spring.
“Emilia’s role in establishing protocols and offering her expertise for all aspects of animal health and biosecurity in our shelters and facilities across the province is an all-consuming job on its own,” says BC SPCA chief operations officer Mark Takhar. “But when we learned in February that there was an outbreak of the deadly Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease that began on Vancouver Island, she immediately set about developing resources and protocols for our own shelters and that could be used by other rescue groups to prevent the disease from spreading. She also developed online information and resources for guardians with pet bunnies to help keep their rabbits safe from the disease.” RHD is caused by a highly contagious virus in the calicivirus family and is almost always fatal. The disease does not affect humans or other species including dogs and cats.
“Emilia was also instrumental in helping to ensure that rabbits in the BC SPCA’s care were promptly vaccinated against the disease and in liaising with government officials to address the issue more widely,” says Takhar. “Her expertise and extraordinary efforts made a significant difference in ensuring that this terrible disease was contained as much as possible.”