Human-Animal Bond Alive And Well At AVMA New Orleans

All aspects of the human-animal bond were alive and kicking at the AVMA conference in New Orleans.

Dr. Lyn Buzhardt’s lecture at AVMA offered tips on introducing children to pets.

The American Assn. of Human-Animal Bond Veterinarians (AAH-ABV) hosted the informative human-animal bond sessions at the American Veterinary Medical Assn. conference in New Orleans in July.

Dr. Sam Costello, the 2007 Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian Award recipient, gave the annual Leo Bustad Memorial Lecture. Dr. Costello’s topic, “The Healing Power of Therapy Animals,” was a wonderful presentation showing how community service with therapy animals has enriched his career.

Dr. Martha Littlefield, president of the AAH-ABV, organized the sessions for the meeting. Her topic, “Public Awareness Programs for the Human-Animal Bond” promoted the value of education and information to help people take advantage of existing programs when they need help. Dr. Littlefield, Louisiana state veterinarian, was very involved in the Katrina Hurricane aftermath. She is particularly optimistic for the future of disaster preparedness for animal health and safety. She hopes that lessons learned at Katrina will help offset the suffering that occurred during the fumbled Katrina rescue efforts.

Hilton Cole, who has a career in shelter care, addressed a touchy topic involving the media, “Being Ready for Media: Breed-Specific Bond Problems in a Community – Pit Bulls.” Some of the questions he addressed were: What do you do when the microphone is put in front of you? How do you respond to leading questions from the media? Should our profession support bans and rental restrictions for certain breeds of dogs? Who is responsible?

Dr. John New, Ph.D., of the University of Tennessee, presented a paper titled “Proactive Behavior Intervention Strategies for the New Puppy.” Dr. New recognizes that a leading cause of young dog relinquishment is misbehavior, including aggression.

He stressed that veterinarians must treat client complaints about their puppy’s behavior as if they were reporting symptoms of a terminal disease.

Dr. Marianne Fairchild encouraged veterinarians to be proactive in their communities to promote pet adoptions from shelters in her talk titled “Public Speaking about Shelter Adoption.” If the public considered adopting pets from shelters first, there would be more hope for impounded animals to live normal lives.

Dr. Lynn Buzhardt gave pointers on the art of introducing children to pets in her lecture, “Families and Pets.” When the introduction goes well, there should be no trouble in the development of a safe and joyful relationship between children and pets.

A panel discussion followed the day’s sessions. This gave an opportunity for attendees to ask questions and get answers from the experts.

The AAH-ABV annual business meeting convened on Saturday. Those interested in joining the AAH-ABV or learning more about the many facets of the human-animal bond were invited to attend the business meeting. If you are interested in becoming a member of the AAH-ABV, you may join by signing up online at Dues are $35 for veterinarians and non-veterinarians and $10 for students. The AAH-ABV encourages non-veterinarians to join.

The AAH-ABV values the scientific contributions to the understanding of the human-animal bond from workers in allied professions that support the companion-animal community, including social workers, counselors, health professionals, shelter and rescue organizations, horse, dog and cat writers and fanciers, pet store and service retailers. All are welcome to join.

Membership and donation checks should be issued to: AAH-ABV and sent to: Dr. Tom Krall, St. Petersburg College, P.O. Box 13489, St. Petersburg, Fla. 33733.

Annual corporate sponsorships are very important to the AAH-ABV. Benefits for Bronze Sponsors ($500) include membership for up to five staff members, ads in the AAH-ABV newsletters and links on the AAH-ABV website, and our appreciation, and honorable mention at meetings. Gold Sponsors ($1,000), Platinum Sponsors ($2,000) and  Lifetime-Infinity Sponsors ($10,000) enjoy membership for 10, 20 and 100 staff members respectively. If your organization is interested in supporting the AAH-ABV on any level of corporate sponsorship, please contact me at 310-261-1015 or e-mail me at

The human-animal bond is the relationship between people, animals and their environment. The AAH-ABV mission statement is to provide education, resources and support that enhance the ability of veterinarians to create a positive and ethical relationship between people, animals and their environment.

Consider joining the AAH-ABV and get involved! After all is said and done, the glue that holds our multifaceted profession together is the human-animal bond, and beyond.


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