We’ll let you know next year. Or, rather, Merial the Morris Animal Foundation (MAF), and the publisher of Cat Fancy and Dog Fancy will let you know next year.

In a joint press release today, Merial, MAF, and BowTie, Inc., announced the “Thank Your Vet for a Healthy Pet” contest, which runs through May 31, 2007, with the winning veterinarian announced at next year’s Western Veterinary Conference, as well as in both Cat Fancy and Dog Fancy (catmanager guesses they probably won’t be selecting a veterinarian who practices only feline medicine). And there’s more:

The national winner and each of the five regional winners will receive a plaque. In addition, the national award winner will be named a co-sponsor on a Morris Animal Foundation animal health study of his/her choosing, and Merial will provide a $3,000 donation toward that study. Merial will also give a $3,000 donation to the national winner’s favorite animal-related local charity.

The pet owner whose nominee is chosen receives a comparatively paltry year’s supply of Frontline.

Why are they doing this? “As America’s leader in pet healthcare, we want to say ‘thank you’ to veterinarians for the skill, talent and dedication they employ to help our loved ones live better lives,” said a Merial spokesperson. Catmanager hates to speak poorly of good deeds, but I suspect that this contest has as much to do with increasing sales of Frontline, Heartgard, Cat Fancy, and Dog Fancy.

Regardless of the sponsors’ motivation, I hope pet owners have lots of fun lauding their favorite veterinarian.