Penn Vet given $5M for equine welfare, wellness professorship

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A gift of $5 million will establish the Dr. Harry Werner Professorship in Equine Medicine at New Bolton Center, the large animal hospital of the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine.

The chair endowed by the estate of Seth and Lucy Holcombe is named for their veterinarian and lifelong friend, Dr. Harry Werner, a 1974 Penn Vet graduate. Dr. Werner cared for the Holcombes’ Morgan horses since the early days of his career, working as a veterinarian in Granby, Connecticut.

The professorship will include teaching, research, and clinical outreach, with an emphasis on equine welfare and wellness important to both the Holcombes and Dr. Werner.

Penn Vet is conducting an international search for candidates, with a goal of awarding the professorship in 2017, according to a Dec. 6, 2016, university press release.

Dr. Harry Werner (Courtesy of Penn Vet)

Although Dr. Werner and his wife, Susan, were close friends with the Holcombes, the gift came as a surprise. A lawyer of the Holcombe family delivered the news after Lucy Holcombe’s death at age 91 in January 2016. Seth Holcombe died at age 91 in 2009.

The professorship will be the centerpiece of what the veterinary college intends to build into a broader program in equine wellness and welfare, attracting international speakers and reaching populations of working horses in need, according to the release.

Dr. Werner has dedicated his life and career to the care and welfare of animals through his practice, Werner Equine, in North Granby and his continued service to veterinary professional organizations at state, national, and international levels. He was the 2009 president of the American Association of Equine Practitioners and is a member of the AAEP Welfare & Public Policy Advisory Council. He is also a member of the AVMA Animal Welfare Committee, is the AVMA liaison to the Unwanted Horse Coalition, and serves on the World Equine Veterinary Association’s board of directors.

Dr. Werner speaks internationally and has authored many articles on equine welfare, lameness, prepurchase exams, farrier-veterinarian relationships, and veterinary ethics.