Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year Award

Animal Welfare/Humane Awards are generously funded by Merck Animal Health.

Nomination Form

The Award

Named for the late Leo K. Bustad, DVM, PhD, a former dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine at Washington State University and founder of the Delta Society (now Pet Partners), this award recognizes the outstanding work of veterinarians in preserving and protecting the human-animal bond.

In addition to a physical award, the winner will be reimbursed for travel for the award ceremony and a related speaking engagement at the AVMA Convention.

Award Criteria

  • Bustad nominees must be a graduate veterinarian and AVMA member held in high regard by peers for their leadership, integrity, and professionalism. They must have demonstrable accomplishments in at least one of the following areas:
    • Practice—Been active for at least five years in practice and exhibited a special sensitivity to the human-companion animal bond through documented work with various types of clients (including children, the elderly, people with disabilities, those grieving the loss of a pet, or other at-risk populations).
    • Community Service—Assumed a leadership role for at least three years in human-companion animal interactive programs that serve the community. Examples include visiting, therapy, or resident animal programs in healthcare facilities; special population programs such as those for people with disabilities, prisoners, or children; and school or community-based programs that educate the public about the human-companion animal bond.
    • Teaching—For three years or more has actively incorporated the study of human-animal interactions into veterinary curricula and/or continuing education, as evidenced by continuous development of courses focused on increased sensitivity to human-companion animal bond issues.
    • Research—For three years or more has actively participated in research, including scholarly publication, which increases understanding of human-companion animal interactions, with applicability to veterinary medicine.
  • Anyone 18 years or older may nominate an eligible veterinarian.

Supporting Materials

  • Each nomination must include:
    • Completed nomination form
    • Detailed letter of nomination (not to exceed three single-sided typed pages), which describes how the nominee meets the criteria. The impact the nominee has made in increasing understanding of the importance of the human-companion animal bond.
    • Letters of support containing relevant information on the nominee's qualifications for the award:
      • At least one, but no more than three letters (not to exceed two single-sided typed pages each) from the nominee's veterinary colleagues and/or local veterinary associations
      • At least one, but no more than five letters (not to exceed two single-sided typed pages each) from clients, staff, members of the community, and/or representatives of relevant institutions
      • A copy of the nominee's resume or curriculum vitae (not to exceed two double-sided typed pages)
      • Two color photographs (at least 3" x 5"), or a digital image of the nominee, which are suitable for publication

Selection Process

  • The recipient will be chosen by a panel of six judges.

​Questions? Email avma-awardsatavma [dot] org.​

Merck Animal Health


2019 Dr. Karen Vernau
2018 Cynthia Otto, DVM PhD, PA
2017 No award given
2016 Jody Sandler, DVM, NY
2015 Melissa Bain, DVM, CA
2014 Bess Pierce, DVM, VA
2013 Benjamin Hart, DVM, CA
2012 Thomas Cantanzaro, DVM, Australia
2011 Nancy Kay, DVM, CA
2010 Ken Gorczyca, DVM, CA
2009 Brian Forsgren, DVM, OH
2008 Jane Shaw, DVM, CO
2007 Samuel Costello, DVM, OH
2006 Richard Meadows, DVM, DABVP, MO
2005 Marie Suthers-McCabe, DVM, VA
2004 Kathy Mitchener, DVM, TN
2003 Brenda Griffin, DVM, MS, DACVIM, AL
2002 Dr. Marty Becker, ID
2001 Dr. Bonnie V. Beaver, TX
2000 Dr. Caroline B. Schaeffer, AL
1999 Dr. Alice Villalobos, CA
1998 Dr. Patricia N. Olson, CO
1997 Dr. Thomas J. Lane, FL
1996 Dr. Marvin L. Samuelson, KS
1995 Dr. Robert M. Miller, CA
1994 Dr. Sally O. Walshaw, MI
1993 Dr. Erwin Small, IL
1992 Dr. Lynn J. Anderson, KY
1991 Dr. William J. Kay, NY
1990 Dr. John C. New, Jr, TN
1989 Dr. James Harris, CA
1988 Dr. Earl 0. Strimple, CD
1987 Dr. Robert K. Anderson, MN
1986 Dr. William F. McCulloch, TX​