Sedalia Veterinarian Center co-owner Dr. Dana Gillig, DVM, is the first woman to receive the coveted Missouri Veterinary Medical Association’s Veterinarian of the Year Award since 1955.
Gillig, a 1998 graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia College of Veterinary Medicine, received the award during the MVMA’s 122nd Annual Convention held Feb. 1 at Tan-Tar-A Resort, Lake of the Ozarks.
In what was once a predominately male profession, Gillig, a large animal vet, said she is seeing more women moving into the field of veterinary medicine.
“When I was in vet school we probably had 40 percent women and 60 percent men at that time,” she said. “It’s totally flip-flopped now, but a lot women are going into small animal (practice). Very rarely do you get women going into large animal practice. The thing about it is, you go out and prove yourself and you’re done.”
A past president of MVMA in 2011, Gillig said the award is not only based on veterinary involvement, but also on community and church involvement. She is a member of the First United Methodist in Sedalia, where she plays accessory percussion on Sunday mornings. She’s also a speaker for the local 4-H Veterinary Science group, a speaker for both the Pettis and Benton County Cattlemen’s meetings, a board member of the Boys and Girls Club of West Central Missouri and the Dream Therapeutic Riding Center, and has taught classes for the National Cruelty Investigations School.
Receiving the award was a surprise, she said, but being a veterinarian runs in the family.
“My uncle was a small animal vet in Raytown, and I graduated 30 years after he did, and then we got the Veterinary of the Year 30 years apart,” she said.
Her uncle, Larry Gillig, has since retired. At one time he wanted her to go into business with him, but Gillig said she decided to go into large animal practice because she enjoyed working with cattle and grew up on a farm.
“I told my uncle when he asked, I said ‘no you don’t have any cattle,’” she said. “The idea of doing the cattle side of it was a lot more exciting than being in town and doing small animals,” she said. “Predominately cattle is where the love is, and beef. And I love my clients, the guys I work with are phenomenal. Being in a rural area, you become so close to them, you know, and you become part of their family.”
At the MVMA convention, Gillig said she was expecting another veterinarian to receive the award; colleagues helped to keep it a surprise.
“They had it all worked out to get me down there,” she said. “They actually told me somebody else was getting it. So I was sitting there and had no clue.”
Dr. Rodney Chapman DVM, of Versailles, was instrumental in getting her to come to the convention, she said, and he also presented the award to her.
Her parents Ron and Jean Gillig, of Odessa, were able to sneak in before the presentation.
“They had it all planned out, I had no idea they were there,” she said. “It was a lot of fun, I was totally very, very surprised.
“But it’s really neat to have your peers vote on something like that,” she added. “Just to be able to be honored with this, it’s just unbelievable. There’s a lot, a lot of camaraderie amongst the veterinarians in this area, in West Central District. It’s really close-knit, it’s a small town. It’s like a family.”