Veterinary doctor Patricia Carnovale, who once hand-ventilated a puppy until 2am after it was bitten by a snake - is this year's winner of the Fairfield City Women's Day Award.
She was presented the award - that acknowledges role models who have excelled in business or have demonstrated excellence in their career - at last week's council meeting.
The Abbotsbury Veterinary Clinic owner said she was "stoked" to receive the award.
"I feel honoured to be a recipient of such an award, I've been a local Fairfield girl all my life so it means a lot to be recognised," she said.
Dr Carnovale, who taught herself English watching television as a four-year-old when she arrived to Australia from Uruguay in 1975, has demonstrated excellence in her career as a veterinary surgeon for close to two decades.
She has worked hard to improve the desexing rates of cats in the community and together with the Cat Protection Society, The Mini Kitty Commune and local councils she offers help, education and opportunities to reduce the number of abandoned kittens in the community explaining one female cat can have a litter of five and within a couple of months there could be up to 100 kittens from that mother.
She also set up the 'Tani Scholarship Award' at Cecil Hills High School for underprivileged students experiencing financial hardship. The $1000 scholarship is given to two students who show potential but who may be hindered by a lack of opportunity - something she was very grateful to receive as the result of her parent's hard work to provide her with a better life in Australia.
Fairfield mayor Frank Carbone said Ms Carnovale's success is testament to her "unwavering commitment and passion" for animals and the community.
The Champion caught with Dr Patricia last week at her clinic located inside the Abbotsbury shopping centre. She transformed the space from an empty video store in 2002.
In the wake of the corovovirus pandemic she has transferred her clinic into a drive-thru operation to meet the demand from loyal pet owners.
It's all part of her unwavering commitment and dedication to helping animals. It's a passion that started at a young age.
I was the typical young girl who would bring everything home...the strays, the sick, the injured, the magpie with the broken leg...that was me.Patricia Carnovale
"I've always wanted to be a vet. I can't remember when I decided to be a vet, because I have always wanted to," she said. "I was the typical young girl who would bring everything home...the strays, the sick, the injured, the magpie with the broken leg...that was me. My parents accepted that I was going to be a vet and there was no talking me out of it."
Patricia graduated from her Bachelor of Veterinary Science degree with first class honours and worked in several veterinary hospitals in south-west Sydney before establishing her clinic.
The former King Park Public School was driven to succeed from an early age. She recalls the time her mum came to pick her up from school after her first week. The only problem was, she wasn't in the ESL class.
"She started to panic but the teachers reassured her I spoke English. In the six months since I arrived from Uruguay and watching Sesame Street and the ABC I learnt to speak English and was in the regular class," she said.
The Edensor Park resident - who has three dogs and cats, a rabbit and horses of her own - said she was "honoured" to not only be recognised for her work but by the trust given to her by the community.
"It's a really important position... to be the person someone brings in their much loved pet to and puts all their trust in you to provide the best care for their loved ones. It's a special position and I feel honoured to be given than trust," said Dr Carnovale, who thanked the community for the support over the years especially when development almost forced the business to close.
"I have also been very fortunate to be able to mentor four lovely young local ladies over the years. All four - Jennifer Van Wyk, Kate Boggian, Jasmin Bojarski and Cynthia Vera Cricri - are now veterinarians and one is on her way to becoming a professor of cattle reproduction another is a research veterinarian for a pharmaceutical company and the other two are fantastic general practitioners early in their career. All four came to me when they where in high school. I am very proud of all of them."
When she is not helping animals, Dr Patricia and her husband Sam can be found on sporting fields around Sydney helping out with their children Danni-Elle and Tristan. From gymnastics, cricket and soccer to Oztag, AFL and tag league: Patricia is there as a mum, coach, manager, judge or sponsor.
Foundation client Donna McCormick-Ford nominated Dr Carnovale for the award. She also once helped Dr Carnovale manually ventilate a dog who was bitten by a snake causing paralysis meaning it couldn't breathe on its own.
"No matter how tired she may be, she puts the needs of animals and families first," she said. "Patricia will work 14-hour days and if a client's pet needs to be put to sleep, she will find time in her long and exhausting day to go the client's home to ease the pain on the family and the stress of driving their pet to the clinic."
WHAT YOU SAID
Helina Lewis: Well deserved recognition. Thank you for your care, professionalism and empathy.
Geoff Quinn: Congratulations Dr Patricia. Our vet for many years. You deserve your award.
Sharon Marsico: Congratulations Patricia! You provide a great service, well deserved.
Ana-maria Martinez: Congratulations. Love this vet practice. Well deserved!
Deb Pernia: Congratulations Patricia. Thank you for all your years of veterinary service to the community.
Rachael Wright: So well deserved and such a caring and wonderful clinic.