American Veterinary Medical Association Award Recipients


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Here are three honors recently announced from the American Veterinary Medical Association:

Humane Award

Dr. Suzanne Millman

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) today honored Suzanne Millman, PhD, professor of animal welfare at the Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine, as the winner of the 2022 AVMA Humane Award.

The AVMA Humane Award is given annually during National Pet Week to a non-veterinarian to recognize achievement in advancing the welfare of animals through leadership, public service, education, research and product development, or advocacy. The recipient is selected by the AVMA Animal Welfare Committee. It is one of three Animal Welfare and Human-Animal Bond Excellence Awards presented annually by the AVMA and supported through educational funding from Merck Animal Health.

“It is a true honor to be nominated for the AVMA Humane Award, and to join the prestigious roster of recipients,” said Dr. Millman. “I would like to acknowledge that this awards reflects efforts of numerous colleagues, students and animal caretakers who have helped me understand animal welfare and opportunities to strengthen it.”

Dr. Millman has published more than 80 peer-reviewed journal articles on animal welfare, including ethical and scientific issues pertaining to animal welfare, and various aspects of animal behavior as a function of environmental conditions experienced by animals. Dr. Millman’s work has been extremely influential in shaping scientific understanding of how agricultural animals express pain and distress, how we recognize it, and the importance of finding practical, affordable and effective ways of mitigating it. She has been instrumental in shaping agricultural animal producers’ considerations of ill and injured animals, and the opportunities to manage, mitigate and avoid suffering in their animal care practices.

In addition to her research, Dr. Millman has delivered hundreds of presentations related to her scientific discoveries and is highly sought as an animal welfare advisor by multiple national and international organizations. Her outreach program targets tools for animal welfare assessment, particularly animal-based outcomes that can be measured practically and reliably in field or farm environments. She serves as a subject expert advisor to the World Organization for Animal Health Ad Hoc Groups on Animal Welfare and Chicken Layer Production Systems, United Egg Producers, and International Poultry Welfare Alliance, and serves an animal welfare advisor to HyLine International. Dr. Millman additionally serves as animal welfare advisor to the Iowa Pork Producers Association, Humane Farm Animal Care and Professional Animal Auditor Certification Organization.

In further testament to her influence on advancing humane conditions for animals, Dr. Millman has served as chair of the Iowa Veterinary Medical Association and chaired the Iowa Cruelty Response Task Force. Her collaboration on training programs developed in collaboration with the Iowa Veterinary Medical Association, Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Iowa Federation of Humane Societies and Iowa Association of County Sheriffs and Deputies has been instrumental in improving the knowledge base of the respective professionals who benefit, and serves as a model for other states in illustrating the benefits of such partnerships on animal welfare education toward the goal of reducing animal suffering and enhancing public service.

Dr. Millman has also translated her skills in animal welfare assurance with livestock and poultry to the creation of an animal cruelty response service offered through Iowa State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. In so doing she has helped fill long-standing knowledge gaps for animal control officers and others who are often called on to investigate animal cruelty cases involving livestock species despite having little or no formal training on animal welfare assessment with these species. She has similarly enhanced veterinarians’ efforts to support humane animal care by helping to create the Iowa Farm Animal Care Initiative, which works to prevent neglect in farmed animals and offers a hotline and response team to assist with concerns.

In addition to these activities, Dr. Millman has significant experience in developing animal welfare curriculum for veterinary students, including serving as co-chair of the AVMA Model Animal Welfare Curriculum Working Group. She teaches numerous courses on animal welfare, mentors graduate students and postdoctoral researchers and serves as coach to undergraduate, graduate, and veterinary students on the AVMA Intercollegiate Animal Welfare Judging Team. She also serves as advisor to ISU’s College of Veterinary Medicine Animal Welfare Club and the ISU Student Chapter of the American Veterinary Society for Animal Behavior. Through these efforts, Dr. Millman contributes significantly to the veterinary profession’s capacity to promote humane conditions for animals through enhanced knowledge and practice of animal welfare.

Previously, Dr. Millman was the recipient of the 2012 Pfizer Animal Health Award for Research Excellence and the 2016 Faculty Member of the Year Award at the Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine.

Bustad Award

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) today honored Dr. Dani McVety-Leinen, founder and CEO of Lap of Love Veterinary Hospice, as the recipient of the 2022 Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year Award.

Named for the late Dr. Leo K. Bustad, former president of the Delta Society and dean of the Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine, the award is one of veterinary medicine’s highest honors, recognizing the outstanding work of veterinarians in protecting and promoting the human-animal bond. It is one of three Animal Welfare and Human-Animal Bond Excellence Awards presented annually by the AVMA and supported through educational funding from Merck Animal Health.

Dr. Dani McVety-Leinen

“I’m beyond honored to be the recipient of the Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year Award,” said Dr. McVety-Leinen. “Dr. Leo Bustad was a true pioneer in our field, who pushed through new concepts of honor and respect between animals and humans, ideas that still shape our profession today.

“The bond between our species has not only brought me into this career that I cherish, but has also been the cornerstone of my work as a clinician, my inspiration as a businesswoman, and the driving force behind my work with veterinary students. Just like Dr. Bustad, I feel that helping veterinary students understand this bond at the beginning of their career helps shape the kind of doctor they become. And through this work, I’ve learned that as a veterinarian it is not medicine that we sell; rather, our true product is the human-animal bond.”

Dr. McVety-Leinen founded Lap of Love Veterinary Hospice in Tampa, Florida, in 2009, just months after graduating from veterinary school. Since that time, she has grown the service from one veterinarian—herself—to a nationwide network of more than 250 doctors and a full-time interdisciplinary support staff dedicated to making the end-of-life experience for pets, and the people that love them, as dignified and peaceful as possible. Nearly 500,000 families have benefited from Dr. McVety-Leinen’s vision.

Over the past decade, Dr. McVety-Leinen and the Lap of Love team have revolutionized the care of geriatric pets, the end-stage management of terminal illnesses and the handling of euthanasia in the veterinary space. By perfecting the veterinary hospice concept and proactively bringing euthanasia into the home, they have transformed end-of-life care from a small component of practice into its own industry. As a pioneer in end-of-life care, Dr. McVety-Leinen has sought to actively educate and share Lap of Love’s resources and reserves of knowledge with other veterinary professionals and pre-professionals. This has substantially contributed to the growth of a new culture of veterinarians who are learning to treat death not as a failure of medicine, but as a natural progression of biology.

Additionally, Dr. McVety-Leinen recently created a new department at Lap of Love to better serve families grieving the loss of a pet. Lap of Love’s Pet Loss Support Team, established in 2021, offers a free pet loss support group to anyone who has experienced the death of a pet as well as personalized support sessions, children’s grief groups and a pet loss journey course. The support group provides a safe, compassionate and empathetic environment for those who want to listen, share and celebrate the life of their treasured pet with others who are suffering a similar loss.

Dr. McVety-Leinen’s commitment to community service includes allotting each of her team members one “gift appointment” each month to provide relief to a family in need of financial assistance. She also encourages her team of nearly 500 employees to extend this gift to any family they choose. In 2021, Lap of Love provided more than 1,500 charity appointments to families amounting to nearly $500,000 in free care.

In addition to her work with Lap of Love, Dr. McVety-Leinen frequently writes and speaks for professional and lay audiences on topics relating to body language for doctors, veterinary hospice, euthanasia, avoiding career burnout, compassion fatigue, assessing quality of life and how veterinarians will help change the face of human death. She has provided thousands of lectures, lunch and learns, seminars and webinars to attendees of all walks of life and has written or contributed to hundreds of publications to serve others. Dr. McVety-Leinen has been featured on numerous local, national and professional media outlets including ABC, The Associated Press, New York Times, Washington Post, Entrepreneur Magazine, Huffington Post and many more.

A 2009 graduate of the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. McVety-Leinen is the youngest recipient of the college’s Distinguished Young Alumni Award (2013) and the Florida Veterinary Medical Association’s President’s Award (2014). She has also been honored with the Tampa Bay Up and Comer’s 40 under 40 Hall of Fame award and the Pet Industry Woman of the Year in 2017.

Animal Welfare Award

Dr. Patricia Turner

To honor her decades dedicated to improving farm and laboratory animal welfare through teaching, training, service, research, advocacy and policy development, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) today recognized Dr. Patricia Turner, corporate vice president of Global Animal Welfare for Charles River Laboratories, as the winner of the 2022 AVMA Animal Welfare Award.

The AVMA Animal Welfare Award is presented to an AVMA member veterinarian in recognition of their achievement in advancing the welfare of animals via leadership, public service, education, research/product development and/or advocacy. It is one of three Animal Welfare and Human-Animal Bond Excellence Awards presented annually by the AVMA and supported through educational funding from Merck Animal Health.

“I am deeply honored to receive this prestigious award from the AVMA,” said Dr. Turner. “Improving the lives of animals has been a lifelong passion for me—through my own research and efforts, but also through professional collaborations, and educating, supporting and inspiring excellence in others. Advancing animal welfare is an important and ongoing journey for us all.”

Dr. Turner has devoted countless hours as a volunteer promoting the ethical treatment of animals in science around the world. Her passion for animal welfare education and training runs deep, and she has delivered lectures, seminars and workshops to a range of veterinary and scientific audiences, on a variety of topics related to laboratory animal science and animal welfare and ethics. As an educator, she has trained hundreds of veterinary peers and students, and developed three well-regarded post-graduate programs for veterinarians specializing in laboratory animal science. Dr. Turner and her team are now developing an in-house online certificate program in animal welfare for laboratory animal technicians.

In her role at Charles River Laboratories, Dr. Turner is responsible for assessing welfare risks and developing animal welfare policy and related training for the company’s sites within the United States and around the world. Her work has directly impacted how animals are raised, cared for and worked with across global sites.

Dr. Turner is also a professor emerita and applied animal welfare scientist at the University of Guelph and Campbell Centre for the Study of Animal Welfare, where her current research interests include research animal behavioral management, compassion science for laboratory animal professionals, research animal pain recognition and mitigation, and euthanasia.

Dr. Turner began her veterinary career as a mixed, mostly food animal, practitioner working in a rural setting, which provided a solid basis for her later research with farmed pigs, rabbits, and poultry, as well as ongoing activities in national and international policy development for farm animal and research animal welfare.

A graduate of the Ontario Veterinary College, Dr. Turner is a Diplomate of the American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine, the American Board of Toxicology and the European College of Animal Welfare and Behavioral Medicine, specializing in animal welfare science, ethics and law. She is the immediate past president of the World Veterinary Association (WVA), where she led numerous initiatives to spread animal welfare knowledge and reward those promoting best practices. She is also the past chair of the WVA’s Animal Welfare Strategic Focus Group, where she helped produce several animal welfare factsheets and position statements on global issues and supported the development of new WVA-sponsored global animal welfare awards.

For the AVMA, Dr. Turner has been a member of the Animal Welfare Committee (2008-2014)—leading multiple policy discussions working groups throughout her tenure—and the Model Animal Welfare Curriculum Working Group (2011-2015). She has also actively supported and championed the AVMA Animal Welfare Judging Competition, including as a scenario reviewer and writer (2014-2016), and speaker and judge (2017). Dr. Turner is the current AVMA House of Delegates representative for the American Society of Laboratory Animal Practitioners.

In 2014, Dr. Turner received the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association Humane Award for national contributions to animal welfare.