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Michael San Filippo
Phone: 847-285-6687
Cell: 847-732-6194



 Virginia veterinarian honored for enhancing human-animal bond

Dr. Bess PierceDr. Bess Pierce has devoted her career as a veterinarian to enhancing the role of the human-animal bond, particularly involving working animals such as military dogs, police dogs, and service animals.

In recognition of her efforts, Dr. Pierce received the 2015 Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year award during the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Veterinary Leadership Conference on Friday, January 9, 2015, in Chicago.

“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,” Dr. 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.”

The award is cosponsored by the AVMA, the American Veterinary Medical Foundation, and Pet Partners (formerly known as the Delta Society). Named in honor of the late Leo K. Bustad, an internationally recognized pioneer in the field of human-animal interactions, the Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year Award recognizes the outstanding work of veterinarians in preserving and protecting human-animal relationships.

“I am thrilled to accept this award, named for an extraordinary man who left an even more extraordinary legacy,” Dr. Pierce said. “Dr. Bustad was a visionary who recognized the human-animal bond as an entity worthy of study and understanding.”

Dr. Pierce is an associate professor at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine and serves as the director for the school’s Center for Animal-Human Relationships, which conducts instructional, research and outreach programs designed to foster a greater understanding of the mutual benefits and challenges associated with human-animal interactions.

Dr. Pierce has served more than 20 years on active and reserve duty in the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps, with experience working in a variety of assignments worldwide, including California, Japan and several years at the Military Working Dog Center in San Antonio. She is currently a colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve, assigned to the Public Health Command Region-Europe.

For more information, or to schedule an interview, contact Michael San Filippo, AVMA senior media relations specialist, at 847-285-6687 (office), 847-732-6194 (cell), or

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