Pierce honored for enhancing human-animal bond

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Dr. Bess Pierce has devoted her career as a veterinarian to enhancing the human-animal bond, particularly the bond between people and 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 on Jan. 9 during the AVMA Veterinary Leadership Conference in Chicago.

Dr. Pierce
Dr. Bess Pierce accepts the 2015 Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year Award. (Photo by R. Scott Nolen)

“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 co-sponsored by the AVMA, the American Veterinary Medical Foundation, and Pet Partners. Named in honor of the late Dr. Leo K. Bustad, a pioneer in the field of human-animal interactions, the award recognizes the outstanding work of veterinarians in preserving and protecting human-animal relationships.

Dr. Pierce (Auburn ’92) is an associate professor at the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine and serves as the director for the college’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 in California and 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.