Meet the Board candidate: Dr. Michael P. Lent

Dr. Michael Lent


Candidate: District 9 director

Biographical statement provided by the candidate.

I have been a small animal practitioner in Tucson, Arizona, since 1996, where I still continue to practice full time at Pantano Animal Clinic. My partner, Dr. Jack Quick (a 1988 Colorado State CVM grad) and I owned the clinic for 20 years, after buying it from its creator, Dr. Chuck Helwig—a 1966 Kansas State CVM grad and the former executive director of the Oklahoma Veterinary Medical Association. In 2016, we sold it to a private company, Lakefield Veterinary Group, and I have continued to work for them as medical director of my clinic ever since. Pantano Animal Clinic just proudly celebrated its 50th anniversary serving the Tucson public.

I am a 1991 graduate of Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine and practiced small animal medicine for five years in Indianapolis for Dr. Mike Thomas, a former AAHA president. I was born in Camp LeJeune, North Carolina—my father is a retired Marine captain who served in Vietnam, and my mother was a special education teacher. I grew up in northern New Jersey and graduated from a small undergraduate school in Maine, Bowdoin College, as a biochemistry major. Incidentally, my veterinary school classmate and roommate, Dr. Don Beckett, is the USDA area veterinarian in charge for Colorado.

I have been involved in organized veterinary medicine for most of my 32 years in the profession, starting in veterinary school, where I served as Purdue president of the then-called SCAVMA (Student Chapter of the AVMA). I've served as president of the Arizona Veterinary Medical Association from 2006-07 (as well as the Southern Arison VMA 1998-99), a 5 1/2-year term on the Arizona State Veterinary Medical Examining Board from 2004-09, and been involved as a charter member with the Animal Cruelty Task Force of southern Arizona since its inception in 1998, assisting law enforcement with investigations and educating the public about the link between animal abuse and human violence, especially domestic violence and child abuse. This group was founded by retired Pima County Sheriff Detective Mike Duffey, recipient of the AVMA Animal Welfare Award in 2002. I served the last three years as the Arizona alternate delegate to the AVMA and am currently serving as the Arizona delegate to the AVMA.

Outside of more traditional areas of involvement, I have also spoken to veterinary students in SAVMA and VBME groups at Purdue and Midwestern in Phoenix about the value of organized veterinary medicine and the importance of medical record-keeping and communication, as well as the link between animal abuse and human violence. I also serve on the Advisory Board of the National Association for Black Veterinarians after having attended the inaugural conference in New Orleans in 2019, speaking at the second conference at Ohio State CVM in 2022, and attending again last year in New Orleans. I also served three years on the Humane Society of southern Arizona board of directors and the Ott Family YMCA board of directors (serving as fundraising chair for two years and board chair for one). I have done charitable work (rabies vaccinations, spays/neuters and fieldwork) in Nicaragua with WorldVets and visited Cuba as part of a healthcare delegation led by Dr. Mike Paul, a former AAHA president, with the People to People program created by President Eisenhower.

I have been involved in legislative issues at both the state and national level. I testified at the Arizona state legislature at the beginning of my presidency, when we defeated a lay practitioner challenge to the practice act in 2006, and have been involved in many other state issues we have dealt with in the last few years, including telemedicine with respect to the VCPR and scope of practice. This year, I participated in the AVMA Legislative Fly-In in Washington, D.C., in April, and met with our Arizona senators and two congressmen on Capitol Hill about the Healthy Dog Importation act, Combatting Illicit Use of Xylazine Act, and obtaining additional funding for the Food Animal Residue Avoidance Databank (FARAD). I contribute regularly to both the AVMA PAC and the AVMF.

My wife, Dr. Stacey Lent, is an ACVIM diplomate and small animal internal medicine specialist, and a 1987 graduate of Kansas State CVM. We have two adult children, James and Joey. My brother is a high school counselor in New Mexico, and my sister-in-law, niece and two nephews are Mescalero Apache, who can trace their ancestry to Geronimo and Cochise; their aunt, Gina Cochise, is the current acting tribal president of the Mescalero Apache Tribe. Our two boys learned to ski at Ski Apache 20 years ago.

Personally, my wife and I enjoy spending time at our cabin in the Coconino National Forest near a small town near Flagstaff, Arizona, called Mountainaire, at 7000 feet elevation. We ski, fish, hike, and bike. My wife does dressage with her Lusitano, Gallie, and I teach self-defense in Tucson. I hold the rank of black belt in Krav Maga in the Rising Phoenix system and also do some boxing, catch wrestling and edged weapons training. We have chickens, Pygmy goats and three dogs on about five acres adjacent to Saguaro National Park East.

Dr. Mike Whitehair, a former AVMA District IX director from Kansas, and Dr. Chuck Helwig, former Executive Director of the Oklahoma Veterinary Medical Association (and one of my mentors since 1996) have endorsed my candidacy.

Statement of reason for seeking office
Statement of reason for seeking office provided by the candidate.

I've found involvement in organized veterinary medicine has helped me grow as a person and veterinarian by serving and representing others. I've been very fortunate to make some lifelong friends and mentors, and always felt like I got back more than I gave from the experiences. I've been challenged to see issues from many different perspectives and learned a great deal about aspects of the profession I love I otherwise would have not been exposed to. I also feel the most kinship and connection with my colleagues in the profession when I'm involved in something bigger than us as individuals. It started with being president of the Purdue chapter of SCAVMA (now SAVMA) at Purdue, where it was the first time I felt like a colleague of veterinarians, meeting with the dean and other professors.

I have a great deal of experience in leadership positions and at the state legislature, as well as serving on my state's veterinary medical examining board for 5 1/2 years, that would benefit the veterinarians I hope to serve; mainly because these are arenas where our profession often meets the challenges it faces. From testifying at the Arizona state legislature in 2006 as president of the AzVMA to help defeat a lay practitioner challenge to the practice act, to more recent issues like telemedicine as it relates to the VCPR and scope of practice challenges, I feel I have a good handle on challenges to our profession that are common to all our state VMAs. In Arizona, we also have two colleges of veterinary medicine, The University of Arizona and Midwestern; I know both deans and feel I have a good handle on issues they struggle with, like losing faculty to private practice. This year, the University of Arizona made history on August 24, 2023, when it graduated 106 new veterinarians.

I also have personal connections to the states in our district. My brother and his family live in Mescalero, New Mexico—my sister-in-law, niece and two nephews are Mescalero Apache and my one sister-in-law is the acting tribal president; our two adult sons learned to ski 20 years ago at Ski Apache. My wife, Dr. Stacey Lent, an ACVIM diplomate, is a small animal veterinary internist and a 1987 graduate of the Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine (Dr. Ralph Richardson, former KSU dean, helped her get an internship and medicine residency at Purdue,  where we met and where Dr. Richardson served as dean before returning to KSU). Our family has skied at Solitude and spent some great times in Park City, Utah. My veterinary school roommate and classmate, Dr. Don Beckett, is the USDA area veterinarian in charge for Colorado, and our family spent a great deal of time skiing at Purgatory, rafting and kayaking the Animas River and zip-lining in Durango. One of my mentors and the veterinarian I bought my practice in Tucson from, Dr. Chuck Helwig, is a 1966 Kansas State grad and the former executive director of the Oklahoma Veterinary Medical Association. It was Chuck who encouraged me to run for district director and is endorsing my candidacy (he also encouraged me to serve as AzVMA president and on the state veterinary medical examining board). I had the pleasure of getting to know Dr. Mike Whitehair from Kansas when he ran successfully for District 9 director and, after re-connecting with him recently, he has endorsed my candidacy as well.

I also feel I have the ability to find common ground with anybody or any group in our changing world and country—I have worked with law enforcement through the Animal Cruelty Task Force of southern Arizona assisting in investigations and educating the public about the link between animal abuse and human violence, especially domestic violence and child abuse. I have served on the Advisory Board of the National Association for Black Veterinarians since 2019 (with Dean Julie Funk, dean of the University of Arizona CVM, and Dr. Michael Bailey, current candidate for AVMA president-elect), when I attended the inaugural annual conference, spoke at last year's at Ohio State CVM and attended this year's NABV conference in New Orleans.

I feel it's important for everyone to feel welcomed and have a sense of belonging in our profession, and I think it's especially important for children to believe they can be veterinarians and join our profession by seeing people that look like them and come from the places they live, where they can shadow them and be mentored.

Should I be fortunate enough to be elected, it would be an honor and privilege to help shape the policies of the AVMA and assist our great profession by being a member of the AVMA Board of Directors. Like the other leadership experiences I've had, I would meet this opportunity with not only great passion, but with special focus on listening to what the veterinarians and delegates in our district are concerned about and how they feel the AVMA might help. I would make every effort to help us work together collectively as a caucus and visit all the member states as often as possible.

In summary, I'm seeking this office because I want to use my experience and ability to connect with people and be an advocate for the profession I love.