I first heard of Dr. Leo K Bustad in association with the Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year Award. Since 1986 this award has been bestowed upon veterinarians whose work exemplifies and promotes the human animal bond. When I first learned of the award I remember thinking, how fabulous to honor this important professional achievement rather than the academic/research accomplishments more commonly recognized within the profession. Some of the veterinarians I most admire have been recipients of this award including my friends Drs. Jane Shaw, Alice Villalobos, and Marty Becker.
Fast-forward to 2011 and here I am pinching myself since learning a few months ago that I am the incredibly fortunate recipient of the 2011 Bustad Companion Animal of the Year Award! I feel honored beyond belief.
So who was the man who served as the inspiration for this award? Dr. Leo Bustad was a veterinarian who also happened to be an outstanding educator, scientist and humanitarian. While dean of the veterinary school at Washington State University, he co-founded the People-Pet Partnership, the first university based community service program focusing on the human-animal bond. In 1981, the Partnership morphed into the Delta Society, an organization that continues to thrive and co-sponsors the Bustad Award along with the American Veterinary Medical Association and Hill’s Pet Nutrition.
The stated mission of the Delta Society is, “To help lead the world in advancing human health and well-being through positive interactions with animals.” Dr. Bustad served as the first president of the Delta Society, a position he held until 1990.
As a veterinarian, Dr. Bustad’s interest ventured far beyond the healing of animals. He devoted his professional life to the healing of humans through their relationships with animals. A great deal has been written in recent years about the human-animal bond. Perhaps the best description comes from Dr. Bustad himself. In 1985 he wrote, “On the basis of experiences by many people and institutions in Australia, Europe, New Zealand and North America, companion animals must be recognized as vital to the physical, psychological and social well-being of people and as agents of therapy in a great number of conditions and situations. Almost everyone could benefit by contact with warm “fuzzies” (unless we are allergic), and our companion animals offer us security, succor, esteem, understanding, forgiveness, fun and laughter and, most importantly, abundant and unconditional love. Furthermore, they make no judgments, and we can be ourselves with them. They also need our help and make us feel important.”
Dr. Leo Bustad passed away on September 19, 1998. He was 78 years old. On July 16th, 2011 at the American Veterinary Medical Association conference, I will be deeply honored to accept the award memorializing Dr. Bustad’s heartfelt professional endeavors and pioneering accomplishments.
Best wishes for good health,
Nancy Kay, DVM
Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Author of Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life
Recipient, Leo K. Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year Award
Recipient, American Animal Hospital Association Animal Welfare and Humane Ethics Award
Recipient, Dog Writers Association of America Award for Best Blog
Recipient, Eukanuba Canine Health Award
Recipient, AKC Club Publication Excellence Award
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Please visit http://www.speakingforspot.com to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot. There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot is available at Amazon.com, local bookstores, and your favorite online book seller.