Merriam Honored with AAEP President's Award for Working Equids Efforts

Jay Merriam, DVM, a pioneer in Equitarian outreach on behalf of the world's estimated 100 million working equids, received the President's Award during the Dec. 4 President's Luncheon at the American Association of Equine Practitioners' (AAEP) 58th Annual Convention in Anaheim, Calif.

The President's Award, selected by the sitting AAEP president, honors an AAEP member who has demonstrated a dedication to the association during the past year by contributing a significant portion of time and expertise to benefit the health and welfare of the horse.

In presenting the award, 2012 AAEP President John Mitchell, DVM, cited Merriam's vision, passion, and dedication to thousands of working equids and their families: "Dr. Merriam has championed a new outreach of AAEP members that has touched many of our members personally and has enhanced the image of veterinarians around the world."

Merriam is a founding member of a group of Massachusetts veterinarians that has taken about 25 veterinarians, students and technicians to the Samana area of the Dominican Republic, twice a year for the last 20 years. However, he wanted to expand the outreach effort by visiting other countries, speaking with more third-world equid doctors and starting a movement to inform veterinarians about the plight of the world's working equids, most of which work under terrible conditions but are vital to the family's survival in these countries.

Merriam coined the term "Equitarian" for his cause, built grassroots support for the effort and then brought the Equitarian idea to the AAEP, which in 2010 formed the Equitarian Task Force to improve the health and welfare of working equids worldwide through promotion of education, direct aid, and organizational leadership and collaboration.

An AAEP member since 1970, Merriam is a private practitioner in Uxbridge, Mass., who chairs the AAEP's Equitarian Task Force and previously chaired the AAEP's Equine Welfare and Membership committees. He received his veterinary degree from Kansas State University.

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