Lifetime Membership Award

Among AAV's most distinguished awards is the Lifetime Membership Award. This award, presented at the discretion of the Executive Board, honors our colleagues and mentors that have made dynamic contributions to the field of avian medicine.


2017 Award Recipient:

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James Harris, OAM, BS, DVM, FRSPH
James Harris knew he wanted to be a veterinarian when he was six years-old, and growing up in the US as a British evacuee during World War ll. He never deviated from this youthful decision, but neither did it stop him from also gaining a degree in anthropology, becoming a professionally trained musician, and pursuing a serious interest in ceramics, along the way to studying veterinary science. His affinity with animals was apparent very early. Whether it was learning to ride horses while still a toddler, being a magnet for stray dogs while walking with his Scottish nanny, or during his regular Sunday visits to Regent Park Zoo, it was soon clear he shared a special relationship with animals.


Harris received his doctorate from Michigan State University in 1958 and after several months working in the state service, he opened his own veterinary practice in California where he worked for the next 40 years.


Harris began travelling to Australia in the 1990s to speak at and attend a conference. In 2001, Harris and his wife Andrea's visit to Australia was extended due to airline issues post-9/11. This combined with their love of Tasmania led to the purchase of a house, selling of the practice in the US, and opening a veterinary practice in Hobart, Tasmania where he still works.


Harris’s services to the veterinary profession and animal welfare were recognised in 2013's Australia Day awards with a Medal of the Order of Australia, despite having lived and worked in Tasmania for just 11 of the 55 years he has been in practice.


He is a long-time member and past president of the AAV, has lectured extensively, and currently serves as the AAVAC Liaison with AAV. He is also a member of AAV's International Committee, Research Committee, Conservation Committee and Welfare Committee.


He is one of only two vets in Tasmania that specialise in birds, and the only one specialising in reptiles. Over the course of his professional life he has also developed an interest in an aspect of veterinary medicine that is not always given the recognition Harris believes it deserves, that of grief and bereavement.


For Harris veterinary medicine has never been a routine nine-to-five job with time off for weekends and public holidays. For him being a vet is a way of life, and he has always ensured throughout his career that people know he is available to help a sick or injured animal 24-hours a day.


“Veterinary medicine is a way of life – a ministry in the true sense of the word – so I’m a veterinary surgeon 24-hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, and I’m available to do what I think is appropriate, and to help people and my colleagues at any time because I think service is man’s most noble activity, and it comes with a doctorate degree.” – James Harris, OAM, BS, DVM, FRSPH

2016 Award Recipients:

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   Patrick Redig, DVM, PhD - Founder of UMN Raptor Center, St. Paul, MN

Dr. Redig, Professor, Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine, Founder and Director Emeritus of The Raptor Center at the University. Dr. Redig earned his Bachelor of Science degree from St. Cloud State University, Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from the University of Minnesota and PhD in physiology at the University of Minnesota.


Since the 1970s, Dr. Redig has contributed to the growing field of avian medicine through innovation in a host of bird-related concerns including husbandry, anesthesia, radiology, orthopedic surgery, endoscopy as well as our understanding of key infectious diseases, especially Aspergillosis. 


He has developed and disseminated well-proven methodologies in the medical and surgical management of raptors. Dr. Redig served as the head clinician/surgeon at The Raptor Center from 1974 to 2010. Since 2010, he serves as Clinical Consultant to The Raptor Center.


Dr. Redig’s honors to date are many and varied. He has been an active member of the Association of Avian Veterinarians for many decades, most recently serving on the Board of Directors as Treasurer and acting as AAV's Liaison to the AVMA Committee on Environmental Issues.


  Robert E. Schmidt, DVM, PhD, Dipl ACVP - Avian Pathologist

Dr. Schmidt received his veterinary degree from the University of California, Davis. He earned his MS in Veterinary Pathology at Michigan State University and his PhD in Veterinary Pathology from Oklahoma State University. He achieved board certification as a veterinary pathologist in 1968.


Bob, as he is respectfully known, has been an invited speaker at numerous national and international conferences. His consulting activities include many labs, zoos, and hundreds of private practices.


Bob has mentored students, residents, and prepared many veterinarians for board certification. He is one of the founding members of AAV, and was instrumental in the development of the ABVP specialty for avian species.


His publication list is extensive and includes the first book published on zoo animal pathology as well as the definitive work on pet birds titled ‘Pathology of Cage and Aviary Birds.’


Previous Award Recipients:

  • S. B. Hitchner, VMD - Avian Pathologist
  • Magaret Petrak, DVM - Founding Member AAV, Author, Practitioner
  • James Doyle, MD - Vascular Surgeon
  • Julian Baumel, PhD - Avian Anatomist
  • Arnold S. "Rosy" Rosenwald, DVM, MS, PhD - Avian Pathologist
  • Robert Altman, DVM, DAVP(Avian) - Founding Member AAV, Practitioner, Mentor, Author


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