2023 El Blanco Award Honors the Casey Family

Valerie and Larry Casey accepting the El Blanco Award.

2023 El Blanco Award Honors the Casey Family

During the 75th anniversary celebration launch, Dean Mark Stetter honored Valerie, Kristen and Larry Casey with the 2023 El Blanco Award, one of the school’s highest honors that annually recognizes significant contributions that animal owners and other benefactors have made to advance animal health and well-being. 

They were honored in recognition of establishing the Fred Casey Fund that supports research in respiratory diseases of animals. As long-term clients and supporters of our veterinary hospital, they have also helped support programs making veterinary care more affordable for other pet parents.

Fred was their beloved Chihuahua. He had been a “prickly, unhealthy little guy” they found at an adoption event who quickly made a special place in their hearts and home. Unfortunately, he developed idiopathic lung disease and after months of unsuccessful treatments in Orange County, a UC Davis graduate at a local specialty hospital took them aside and suggested they contact Dr. Lynelle Johnson at the UC Davis veterinary hospital. Johnson answered their email and became Fred’s doctor.

“The small animal clinic became a place of hope for us,” Valerie said as they accepted the El Blanco Award. “Dr. Johnson never lost interest in Fred’s case, even when answers couldn’t be found. When our hearts were breaking, she was there for us. A great doctor combines kindness and caring with excellent clinical and diagnostic skills. I think what makes Davis great is that the members of your community pursue the larger goals while still seeing each little friend as the special soul that they are. Thank you for this honor.”

The El Blanco Award is named after a beloved feline companion El Blanco. Owner Cyndi Olson Glassauer was the first El Blanco Award recipient in 1994. Thanks to Olson Glassauer’s support, researchers discovered the link between feline dilated cardiomyopathy, a grave heart ailment, and a dietary deficiency of the amino acid taurine. Adding taurine to commercial cat foods reverses the problem and saves thousands of pets' lives.

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