College Vet Bess Pierce Receives Bustad Award

Award winner Bess Pierce is director of the Virginia-Maryland Center for Animal-Human Relationships.

The research interests of Dr. Bess Pierce include the human-animal bond and interactions as well as canine sports medicine and rehabilitation.

A Virginia-Maryland veterinary professor who directs the college’s Center for Animal-Human Relationships was named the 2015 Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year.

The honor was presented Jan. 9 to Bess Pierce, DVM, Dipl. ABVP, Dipl. ACVIM, Dipl. ACVSMR, during the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Veterinary Leadership Conference in Chicago.

The award is named after revered human-animal bond researcher Leo K. Bustad, DVM, Ph.D., who died in 1998.

Dr. Pierce paid tribute to Dr. Bustad, calling him “a visionary” and “an extraordinary man who left an even more extraordinary legacy.”

The Center for Animal-Human Relationships at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine hosts research into the human-animal bond and examines how both groups benefit.

“We tend to look at the human-animal bond through the lens of our relationships with our pets, but it is so much more than that,” Pierce said. “This intricate connection between animals and people is the very foundation of veterinary medicine; we have the gift of not only helping animals but of also serving people through animals.”

Pierce, an associate professor and Auburn University graduate, served on active duty in the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps for 15 years. Now a colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve, she was assigned for several years to the Military Working Dog Center in San Antonio.

The Bustad award is co-sponsored by AVMA, the American Veterinary Medical Foundation and the nonprofit group Pet Partners.

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