Animal welfare award recipients recognized by AVMA

The AVMA presented two awards on July 15 at AVMA Convention 2023 in Denver to recognize these individuals’ work in animal welfare.

The AVMA Humane Award and AVMA Animal Welfare Award recognize a nonveterinarian and an AVMA member, respectively, for achievement in advancing the welfare of animals through leadership, public service, education, research, product development, or advocacy.

The AVMA announced the winners ahead of the convention. Both awards are supported through educational funding from Merck Animal Health. In connection with the awards, the recipients spoke the same day at convention.

Candace Croney, PhD, is honored with the AVMA Humane Award.
Candace Croney, PhD, is honored with the AVMA Humane Award. (Photos by Sara Beugen)

Candace Croney, PhD, was recognized with the AVMA Humane Award. She earned her doctorate in animal science in 1999 from the Pennsylvania State University.

Croney currently serves as the director for the Center for Animal Welfare Science at Purdue University, a position she has held since the center’s founding in 2014. She is also a professor of animal behavior and well-being at the colleges of Veterinary Medicine and College of Agriculture, and serves as Purdue’s associate vice provost of diversity, inclusion, and belonging.

Croney has a long history of contributing to the advancement of knowledge in animal behavior, welfare science, and ethics. She has used her expertise in these areas to positively influence animal welfare in academia, government, and the for-profit and non-profit sectors. She is well known for creating the Canine Care Certified program, which established welfare standards for dog breeders. Her contributions have focused on all species of animals and uses, from food animal agriculture to dog and cat welfare in breeding to laboratory and home environments to wild animals in captivity.

Croney delivered a lecture on the current social and ethical factors relating to the sourcing, supply, and demand for dogs in the United States. She touched on the challenges of meeting demand while also ensuring dogs experience high welfare standards, including the need for improved access to high quality veterinary care to accelerate positive change consistent with public expectations.

Dr. Sheilah Robertson (center) accepts the AVMA Animal Welfare Award.
Dr. Sheilah Robertson (center) accepts the AVMA Animal Welfare Award.

In addition, Dr. Sheilah A. Robertson was honored with the AVMA Animal Welfare Award.

Dr. Robertson completed her doctoral training at the University of Bristol in 1984. She then pursued specialization in anesthesia, pain management, animal welfare and shelter medicine. For the past six years, Dr. Robertson has served as senior medical director for Lap of Love Veterinary hospice, a company that provides in home euthanasia, hospice and pet loss support services throughout North America.

Dr. Robertson is one of only three individuals holding board certification in both the American College of Animal Welfare (ACAW) and the European College of Animal Welfare and Behavioural Medicine (ECAWBM). Her work on the Global Pain Council raised global awareness and provided a call to action based upon the understanding that all animals are sentient and can therefore feel pain and suffer from it.

Dr. Robertson presented the session “From Morphine to Monoclonal Antibodies: A History of Feline Pain Management.” Recognizing that cats can be difficult to medicate—leading to non-compliance and treatment failure—the lecture focused on palatable oral and transdermal drugs. Dr. Robertson also touched on how knowledge in the feline pain arena has increased exponentially over the past 30 years.

A version of this story appears in the August 2023 print issue of JAVMA.