St. Puppy’s Day is the event that celebrates you and what you do. This year we have an excellent lineup of pet care community experts, including:

Robert Westra

Robert Westra has served as the Director of Veterinary Marketing for Paw Print Genetics since 2020. This position marries his love of science, veterinary medicine, and education. Graduating with a DVM from Washington State in 2008, Rob spent 12 years in small animal general practice and emergency medicine. Prior to that, he capped a 10-year career in wildlife biology working with tropical fish, Pacific seabirds, and coral reef ecology.

Rob enjoys the outdoors of the Pacific Northwest and providing a lap for his dog to sleep on.

Frances O. Smith, DVM, PhD, DACT

Frances O. Smith, DVM, PhD, DACT became a Diplomate of the College of Theriogenology in 1986. Since that time, she has been in private practice as a small animal practitioner specializing in canine reproduction. Dr. Smith is one of very few board certified theriogenologists in private practice. Her expertise in genetic counseling, chilled and frozen semen, and reproductive infertility of the male and female canine is known throughout the United States. Dr. Smith frequently speaks to breed groups, veterinary associations and students, and the general public. Dr. Smith retired from full time practice in March of 2023 but maintains licenses in Minnesota, Mississippi and Colorado.

Diplomate American College Of Theriogenology
Dr. Fran Smith grew up in a military family that bred German Shepherd Dogs. Her commitment to veterinary medicine began at 7 years of age and was confirmed in her high school yearbook which stated her goal was the patter of 40 little feet (not human).

Dr.Smith obtained an Associate of Arts Degree from Normandale Community College and was accepted into the College of Veterinary Medicine in 1976. She obtained a Bachelor of Science Degree in 1978 and a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine Degree in 1980. Dr. Smith was offered a residency in Small Animal Reproduction at the University of Minnesota in 1980 where she worked with Dr. Shirley Johnston and Dr. Ray Zemjanis. She completed her residency in 1983. Her PhD was completed in 1984 with a thesis titled “Cryopreservation of Canine Semen – Technique and Performance.” She developed the technique for surgical insemination of thawed frozen semen. In 1986, she became a Diplomate in the American College of Theriogenology the reproduction specialty. She is one of the only board certified small animal reproduction specialist involved in private practice in the United States.

Dr. Smith breeds Labrador Retrievers under the registered kennel name Danikk. She serves on the board of directors of the Labrador Retriever Club, Inc, where she is the health committee chair and current President of the club . She also serves as the Central Time Zone. She has been a member of the Labrador Retriever Club since 1987 and has served on the Board since 1994. She is the President of the Orthopedic Foundation for Animal – the foremost animal health data base in the world. She competes in hunt tests, conformation dog shows, obedience trials and occasionally field trials. She is an approved hunt test judge and field trial judge-Judges number ZF 378. Dr. Smith bred, owned and trained the 43rd Show Champion Master Hunter in the history of the breed. Dr. Smith continues to breed Labrador Retrievers that can successfully compete in both conformation and field events as well as serve as service dogs and great family companions. She is a nationally recognized lecturer and author. She has lectured and published in both the United States and other countries. She has authored many book chapters and publications on reproduction and genetics. She has served Minnesota as a member and President of the Board of Veterinary Medicine.

Legislative Update

Mike Bober

Mike Bober joined the Pet Advocacy Network as the Vice President of Government Affairs in 2013 and has led the organization’s advocacy efforts ever since.  In January of 2016, he was named President and CEO. 

To spread the word about the power of pets and the benefits of the human-animal bond, Mike and the team at the Pet Advocacy Network have established or expanded several popular events on Capitol Hill including Pet Night, therapy animal interactions, and an annual legislative fly-in for the pet care community. Throughout 2020, they led the nationwide effort to ensure that pet retailers and service providers were included as “essential” businesses and permitted to remain open as closures went into effect across the country.

Previously, Mike served as Coalitions Director for a national political committee, where he presented on key Congressional races and grassroots engagement to groups nationwide. His specialties include legislative analysis, connecting with lawmakers, coalition-building and outreach. 

He was named one of the pet industry’s “Forty Under 40” by Pet Age in 2016. In 2020, the World Pet Association presented him with their Pawsitive Impact Award, and he was included in Pet Age’s inaugural “Power 50” list and the National Institute of Lobbying & Ethics’ “Top Lobbyists of 2021” list last year. In March, he was recognized by Association Trends as a “2022 Leading Association Lobbyist.”

Mike is a former Jeopardy! champion who sometimes answers in the form of a question and a Certified Barbecue Judge on the KCBS circuit. He and his family have taken advantage of all their extra time at home recently to bond with Scruffles, their new cocker spaniel.

Things To Look Foward To…
  • check mark Check back soon for more exciting details!
  • check mark There’s a lot to look forward to at St. Puppy’s Day 2023