Who Was Dr. Leo Bustad?

I first heard of Dr. Leo K Bustad in association with the Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year Award.  Since 1986 this award has been bestowed upon veterinarians whose work exemplifies and promotes the human animal bond. When I first learned of the award I remember thinking, how fabulous to honor this important professional achievement rather than the academic/research accomplishments more commonly recognized within the profession.  Some of the veterinarians I most admire have been recipients of this award including my friends Drs. Jane Shaw, Alice Villalobos, and Marty Becker.

Fast-forward to 2011 and here I am pinching myself since learning a few months ago that I am the incredibly fortunate recipient of the 2011 Bustad Companion Animal of the Year Award! I feel honored beyond belief.

So who was the man who served as the inspiration for this award?  Dr. Leo Bustad was a veterinarian who also happened to be an outstanding educator, scientist and humanitarian. While dean of the veterinary school at Washington State University, he co-founded the People-Pet Partnership, the first university based community service program focusing on the human-animal bond. In 1981, the Partnership morphed into the Delta Society, an organization that continues to thrive and co-sponsors the Bustad Award along with the American Veterinary Medical Association and Hill’s Pet Nutrition.

The stated mission of the Delta Society is, “To help lead the world in advancing human health and well-being through positive interactions with animals.”  Dr. Bustad served as the first president of the Delta Society, a position he held until 1990.

As a veterinarian, Dr. Bustad’s interest ventured far beyond the healing of animals.  He devoted his professional life to the healing of humans through their relationships with animals. A great deal has been written in recent years about the human-animal bond. Perhaps the best description comes from Dr. Bustad himself. In 1985 he wrote, “On the basis of experiences by many people and institutions in Australia, Europe, New Zealand and North America, companion animals must be recognized as vital to the physical, psychological and social well-being of people and as agents of therapy in a great number of conditions and situations. Almost everyone could benefit by contact with warm “fuzzies” (unless we are allergic), and our companion animals offer us security, succor, esteem, understanding, forgiveness, fun and laughter and, most importantly, abundant and unconditional love. Furthermore, they make no judgments, and we can be ourselves with them. They also need our help and make us feel important.”

Dr. Leo Bustad passed away on September 19, 1998. He was 78 years old.  On July 16th, 2011 at the American Veterinary Medical Association conference, I will be deeply honored to accept the award memorializing Dr. Bustad’s heartfelt professional endeavors and pioneering accomplishments.

Best wishes for good health,

Nancy Kay, DVM
Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Author of  Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life
Recipient, Leo K. Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year Award
Recipient, American Animal Hospital Association Animal Welfare and Humane Ethics Award
Recipient, Dog Writers Association of America Award for Best Blog
Recipient, Eukanuba Canine Health Award
Recipient, AKC Club Publication Excellence Award
Become a Fan of Speaking for Spot on Facebook

Please visit http://www.speakingforspot.com to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot. There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot is available at Amazon.com, local bookstores, and your favorite online book seller.

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44 Comments on “Who Was Dr. Leo Bustad?

  1. Thank you for your tireless outreach and supportive efforts to make reliable information and help available to literally everyone. I am happy you have received this well deserved award.

  2. As you stand on the podium before your colleagues Saturday, may you think of Gracie and her last act of devotion when mortally wounded by a negligent driver, she circled around and laid her head on my shoulder out of concern for my well being. And of Peach who was warehoused for 4 days in a specialty practice because the veterinarians did not listen to her mom and did not practice due diligence, allowing her to die as a result of a peforated stomach ulcer. And of Toonces the cat that received 30 units of insulin at her vet hospital by the veterinarian’s son who should not have been treating the hospitalized patients (www.thetooncesproject.com) . Toonce’s mom, Stefani Olsen will attempt to pass Gracie’s Law in Maryland. And of Marcus Luttrell’s dog Dasy, so important in his healing from war wounds suffered in Afghanistan, shot and killed in his backyard for fun by derelicts who received a slap on the wrist because Dasy was property. Marcus Luttrell is a decorated war veteran and his book, Lone Survivor, will soon be a movie. And of all of the pet victims of negligence and malice.

    May the spirit of Dr. Bustad and the burden of possessing his prestigious award move you to honor the human animal bond in a way that goes beyond encouraging pet parents to choose a veterinarian and spend money for their care. May you be moved to address the injustices bestowed upon our pet kids because they are property in a court of law, whatever way that you deem appropriate. Kenneth Newman, DVM

  3. Congratulations. Your blog is special because you treat everyone well and take time to moderate it. Thank you.

  4. Wonderful and well deserved! Congratulations! Yippee!~!!!

  5. Congratulations Dr. Kay! And thank you for sharing about Dr. Bustad and his worthy contributions to the celebration of the human-animal bond.

  6. Congratulations! I have been getting your newsletter just a short time but have read the book and it is clear that you are a deserving recipient!

  7. And it is well deserved! You’re a huge asset to the veterinary community, Nancy–keep up the good work (and the great posts)!

  8. Congratulations Dr. Kay! You are very deserving of this reward and along with the other honors you have already earned. Thank you for all that you do for pets, owners and the veterinary profession.

  9. Hip Hip Hurray Dr. Kay! Thanks for all your good work & heart-felt efforts on behalf of companion canines everywhere!

  10. Congratulations Dr. Kay,

    I have learned so much from your book. I couldn’t believe that you actually answered my question by email so quickly and personally. You certainly deserve this recognition for your work!

    Every pet parent and/or prospective pet owner needs to read this book.

  11. Congratulations, Dr. Kay – doing the happy dance for you. Not only is this a great honor – it will give you a larger audience for your book and advice. I for one appreciate all I’ve learned from you.

  12. A very warm congratulations! I agree with Jane that your writing alone qualifies you! Please keep up the good work with your blog and your work with animals!

    Warm woofs…..Nannette

  13. As a veterinarian, Dr. Bustad’s interest ventured far beyond the healing of animals. He devoted his professional life to the healing of humans through their relationships with animals. A great deal has been written in recent years about the human-animal bond. Perhaps the best description comes from Dr. Bustad himself. In 1985 he wrote, “On the basis of experiences by many people and institutions in Australia, Europe, New Zealand and North America, companion animals must be recognized as vital to the physical, psychological and social well-being of people and as agents of therapy in a great number of conditions and situations. Almost everyone could benefit by contact with warm “fuzzies” (unless we are allergic), and our companion animals offer us security, succor, esteem, understanding, forgiveness, fun and laughter and, most importantly, abundant and unconditional love. Furthermore, they make no judgments, and we can be ourselves with them. They also need our help and make us feel important.”

    Dr. Bustad’s preceding description of the relationship between humans and their companion animals underscores the incredible bond that exists between them. In the famous and true story of Hachiko, the loyal Akita Inu, it is abundantly clear that companion animals can know and feel grief. Hachiko pines and waits for his Master’s return for nine years and ten months. His vigil is only interrupted by his own death, at the age of thirteen.

    Conversely, when the human being loses their animal companion, that grief is also profound, particularly when the loss is compounded by the fact that the loss is due to negligence or malice. Having read Dr. Bustad’s eloquent description of the myriad benefits provided to human beings by their companion animals, I am of the opinion that were he alive, Dr. Bustad would be the first veterinarian to publicly recognize that bond by giving his blessing and support to Gracie’s Law.

    Congratulations on your award, Dr. Kay! I treasure your book, as you know, and have recommended it to many people. I do so appreciate your informative and educational newsletters and for all that you do to help us advocate for our beloved companion animals.

    In the spirit of Dr. Bustad, may you become the first veterinarian to offer support and publicity for Gracie’s Law.

  14. WooooooWOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOWoooooooooooooooooo! (=Congratulations!) Your writing alone would qualify you :-)

  15. Congratulations Dr. Kay – a wonderful award being given to a wonderful veterinarian, educator and compassionate healer. Thank you for sharing the inspiring story of Dr. Bustard.

  16. Congratulations, Dr. Kay!

  17. I too, would like to offer my heartfelt congratulations, on this much deserved honor!!

  18. All you had to do was look for the ughlest sports jacket in the room and you knew when you saw it that Leo was wearing it! Do get yourself one!! I once asked him if he thought dogs went to heaven and he replied if they didn’t then it wasn’t heaven. Congratulations.

  19. Congrats! Thank you so much for all you do especially educating all of us.

  20. Congratulations Dr. Kay! We value you and your work, and how wonderful to see it acknowledged with this prestigious award!

  21. With all the love and warmth that comes thru in your very informative e-letters I can think of one no more worthy of this honor. I thank you with each and every email for all you teach me …

    CONGRATULATIONS Dr. Kay

  22. Hehe, Dr.Nancy; quite appropriately, you are being flooded with heartiest congratulations for your VERY well-deserved award!

    My Kwali and Kumbi agree from the Bridge, and Camellia waves her magic-wand to celebrate your award. And I continue to thank you for all you do for our companion animals and us!

    Sun, 10 Jul 2011 10:22:44 (PDT)
    CarolW
    http://www.coherentdog.org/

  23. Congratulations! You are inspiring people like Dr Bustad has inspired you and others. Your dedication to animal human bond is impressive. Enjoy the day on Saturday.

  24. Congratulations! You deserve it and have worked hard to earn it. I am so happy for you. Thanks for all you do to help educate others to advocate for their animals. Take care and all the best,
    Jane

  25. Congratulations, Dr. Kay, this award is one you richly deserve!
    Camille Partridge
    Gaelforce Scottish Terriers

  26. I am proud to know you, Dr. Kay – you are very deserving of the award! Many, many congratulations!

  27. Congratulations for this personal as well as professional strategic award.
    You have earned it.

  28. Nancy…Your whole community here at home is so proud to see you receive this award. You are a star among all leaders in animal care and through the years you have been an inspiration to us all…in so many ways. Mazel tov! Dianne

  29. Congratulations Dr. Kay!! I just need to agree with what Kathie wrote. It is so wonderful to know a vet really cares about the animal!
    Thank you for your book, and all you do for the animals and those who love them.

  30. Dr. Nancy,

    Congrats! This is an award well deserved and I know you will wear it well.

    I’ll be thinking of you July 16th.

  31. Congratulations!! Your work is so important in educating and advocating for both companion animals and their guardians. This is a well-deserved award!

  32. Congratulations! You are an inspired choice for this award. Thank you for all your efforts on our (pets and people) behalf.

  33. Well earned Dr. Kay!

    You have done so much to make life better for so many beloved pets.

  34. Huge congratulations!!!! What a wonderful way to acknowledge just \who\ you are and what you do for anybody smart enough to make your acquaintance. Enjoy the occasion and all it stands for.

  35. Congratulations Dr. Kay – you are an amazing voice for all of us sharing our lives with companion animals. I know I speak for many when I say that we truly appreciate your work and efforts in empowering us to be informed and proactive advocates for our pets, and your work with veterinary colleagues to help enhance communication between veterinarians and their clients. I’m sure Dr. Bustad will be smiling ear to ear on Saturday when you receive the award.