Dennis, a pioneer of veterinary law

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Gregory M. Dennis, a founding member of the American Veterinary Medical Law Association and legal counsel for three state veterinary medical associations, died Jan. 5, 2014. He was 58.

Gregory M. DennisDennis practiced at Leongatha Law, LLC, Veterinary Law Center in Independence, Mo. He was born in Leongatha, Australia. Dennis earned a bachelor’s from Kansas State University, including a year at Oxford University; a master’s in African studies from London School of Economics; and a law degree from Washburn University in Topeka, Kan.

Considered a pioneer in the field of veterinary law, Dennis represented veterinarians and veterinary organizations for nearly three decades. His attraction to veterinary medicine can be attributed to Dennis’ father, Dr. Stanley Dennis, a former KSU professor and former dean of Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine in the West Indies.

Gregory M. Dennis wrote and lectured extensively, speaking before U.S. and foreign legal and veterinary associations, law schools, and veterinary colleges, about the wide range of legal issues affecting veterinary medicine and pertaining to animal use and ownership. Dennis authored the chapter on veterinary malpractice law in the American Bar Association’s “Litigating Animal Law Disputes: A Complete Guide for Lawyers” published in 2009. He recently completed the first legal chapter for the latest edition of Fowler’s series of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine textbooks.

Dennis was one of the founders of the American Veterinary Medical Law Association, which he also served as president and as editor of the organization’s newsletter for several years. “Greg was always ready to share his knowledge of the legal landscape surrounding the practice of veterinary medicine,” recalled John Thomas, an AVMLA board member. “He was very inquisitive, and he often raised questions about a case that startled or enlightened his audience.”

In addition, Dennis was legal counsel for the Missouri, Nebraska, and Kansas VMAs. He received several lifetime achievement awards from the Missouri VMA, Kansas VMA, and AVMLA.

“His deep belief in the good that resides in the heart of veterinarians revealed the same goodness in his own heart,” said Missouri VMA Executive Director Richard Antweiler. “I could always picture him at his home or office, poring over his computer, books, and periodicals, detecting those tidbits that would help us understand the circumstances we faced, or guide us to the correct course of action.”

Dennis was an adviser to the AVMA Task Force on the Model Veterinary Practice Act in 2004 as well as a knowledgeable source for JAVMA News articles on animal law. “Certainly, Greg was instrumental in raising the profile of animal law but in a way that was consistent with the perspective of veterinary medicine,” said Adrian Hochstadt, assistant director of AVMA’s State Legislative and Regulatory Affairs Department.

His wife, Catherine Lynch, and his daughter and two sons survive him. Donations in Dennis’ memory may be made to Wayside Waifs, 3901 Martha Truman Road, Kansas City, MO 64137; Pets for Life, 7240 Wornall Road, Kansas City, MO 64114; or American Diabetes Association, P.O. Box 11454, Alexandria, VA 22312.