Alaska Vet Wins My Vet’s the Best Contest

Sarah Coburn, MS, DVM, practices at North Slope Borough Veterinary Clinic in Barrow, Alaska.

Contest winner Dr. Sarah Coburn with Pets Best executives Dr. Jack Stephens, left, and Chris Middleton, right.

An Alaska veterinarian who serves an area larger than the entire state of Minnesota was named the grand-prize winner of Pets Best Insurance Services’ annual My Vet’s the Best contest.

Sarah Coburn, MS, DVM, practices at North Slope Borough Veterinary Clinic in Barrow, Alaska. The clinic is the sole source of veterinary care within an 89,000-square-mile area, Pets Best reported.

Dr. Coburn was presented with a $1,000 check Tuesday during the Western Veterinary Conference in Las Vegas. She intends to spend the money on shelter and insulation for outdoor dogs.

“I believe I won My Vet’s the Best because our situation and remoteness here is so different from what most other veterinarians face,” Coburn said. “It’s a challenge, but it’s interesting every day. Since it’s an area that can’t support a private vet, I’m glad to provide a service that otherwise wouldn’t be here. It’s a lot of variety, and it’s very rewarding.”

She treats everything from dogs and cats to snowy owls and walruses, and she helps state health inspectors with examinations at local restaurants. She also will work at the Iditarod dog sled race, which kicks off March 1.

Coburn was selected the national winner from among 24 finalists. Nearly 1,000 veterinarians were nominated by pet owners during the 2013 contest.

“Pets Best received an overwhelming number of nominations for highly qualified veterinarians this year, but the story of Dr. Coburn’s efforts to care for animals in a remote area of Alaska was incredibly compelling,” said Jack Stephens, DVM, the Boise, Idaho, company’s president and founder. “We believe the entire nation should be aware of her selfless commitment to treating animals under extremely demanding circumstances.”

Pet owner Beckie Campbell nominated Coburn.

“Dr. Coburn is the kindest, most compassionate animal lover I know,” Campbell wrote. “She flies out to the smaller villages here on the North Slope in small planes, sometimes in bad weather, to give her skill, care and kindness to all the animals. She has some amazing and heart-wrenching rescue stories. She is an animal angel.”

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