TOPEKA, Kan. (September 13, 2002) — Dr. Marty Becker, veterinarian, author, educator and media personality, has been named as the recipient of the prestigious 2002 Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year Award. Named for the late Dr. Leo K. Bustad, former President of the Delta Society and dean of the Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine, the award is one of veterinary medicine’s highest honors, recognizing the outstanding work of veterinarians in protecting and promoting the human-animal bond.

Left to Right: Dr. Phillip Kosch, Tufts University Dean and Foster Professor of Comparative Medicine, Dr. Leininger, Director, Professional Affairs, Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Inc., Dr. Howell, AVMA President, Dr. Marty Becker, recipient of 2002 Leo K. Bustad Award, Linda Hines, Delta Society President and CEO, Steve Marton, Hill’s Pet Nutrition President.

The Bustad Award is co-sponsored by the American Veterinary Medical Association, Delta Society and Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Inc. The award was presented by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), Delta Society and Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Inc., to Dr. Becker at Tufts Animal EXPO 2002 in Boston on September 12, 2002.

Dr. Becker has made it his life’s work to promote the strength and healing power of the human-animal bond through his frequent lectures, his books, including the best-selling “Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover’s Soul,” and his syndicated weekly newspaper column, “The Bond.” His mission has touched millions of people, and now he is being recognized for the enormous contribution he has made to elevate the relationship people have with their pets.

The award is especially meaningful to Dr. Becker, who is a former student of the late Dr. Leo Bustad at the Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine, from which Dr. Becker graduated in 1980. Largely from the teaching of Dr. Bustad, Dr. Becker became an early and passionate believer in the power of the Bond between animals and people.

Dr. Becker says, “Sharing your life fully with a pet is life enhancing for both parties. I value my role in celebrating, protecting, nurturing and sharing that special relationship we call The Bond; being an evangelist for its magical properties.”

Indeed, when Dr. Becker heard the news he broke down in tears. “Dr. Leo Bustad was my teacher, mentor and friend. He’s the one who took that little spark I had for the Bond and fanned it into a wildfire of enthusiasm and visible action towards helping both pets and people live happier, healthier, fuller lives.”

It was with the enthusiasm nurtured by Dr. Bustad that Dr. Becker embarked on his veterinary career, and later, began his quest to educate the public and the veterinary community about the importance of the human-animal bond. He has traveled to all six continents, spoken at every veterinary school in the United States and lectured at the Smithsonian Institution to communicate this message, as well as at hundreds of other forums, and along the way has become one of the most well-known veterinarians in the world.

“Dr. Marty Becker has made outstanding contributions for more than 20 years to improve the lives of companion animals and families through his actions, his speaking, his writing and his passion to share knowledge about how animals influence our health, our well being and enrich our lives in that wonderful relationship between companion animals and people,” said Dr. R. K. Anderson, professor emeritus, director, Center to Study Human Animal Relationships and Environments, University of Minnesota.

Dr. Becker’s work to promote the human-animal bond spans many forums. In addition to lecturing at veterinary schools around the world impressing the importance of the relationship between humans and animals, he is a popular media personality as well, appearing as a regular veterinary contributor to ABC-TV’s “Good Morning America,” and in segments for Walt Disney Television’s “Petsburgh U.S.A.,” in addition to many other leading newspaper, magazine and television programs.

As co-author of the 1999 “Chicken Soup for the Cat & Dog Lover’s Soul,” and the fastest selling pet book in history, “Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover’s Soul,” Dr. Becker has touched millions more with his message about the richness that pets add to human’s lives.

In his first practice in Twin Falls, Idaho, Dr. Becker began serving his community by volunteering at the local animal shelter. When Dr. Becker first came to the shelter, the shelter was rescuing only 25 dogs a year. Now with Dr. Becker’s help, almost 700 pets are finding new homes every year. Saving unwanted pets became a passion to Dr. Becker, and a practice he opened in Salt Lake City became one of the first in the nation to offer an adoption center to help unwanted animals find homes. He continues to help unwanted pets by regularly donating time, supplies and money to local shelters and supporting animal adoption programs.

Dr. Becker has also been involved with the health of his patients in animal-assisted activities and has worked to assist the Delta Society in promotion of their programs as well as worked to assist programs providing service dogs for sight and mobility impaired persons. He is the cofounder and vice-president of the Association of Veterinary Communicators, an organization that helps veterinarians speak with a unified voice in the media. Dr. Becker also is the Practice Leadership Editor for Veterinary Economics magazine.

“I have met many people in my career who have done wonderful things to enhance the knowledge and meaning of human-animal relationships, but none can measure up to Marty’s accomplishments,” said Dr. Peter Theran, vice president, Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. “In his lectures, television appearances, writing and personal interactions, Dr. Marty Becker has the ability to not only create an understanding of the Bond but also to infuse this into his audiences so that they embrace this concept and feel good about it…He is a unique ambassador for my profession and for animals.”

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), founded in 1863, is the oldest and largest veterinary medical organization in the world. More than 67,000 member veterinarians are engaged in a wide variety of professional activities. AVMA members are dedicated to advancing the science and art of veterinary medicine, including its relationship to public health and agriculture. Visit the AVMA Web site at to learn more about veterinary medicine and animal care, and to access up-to-date information on the association’s issues, policies and activities.

Delta Society is an international, non-profit, human service organization with a very unique mission–improving human health through service and therapy animals. Delta Society trains and evaluates pet owners and their pets to volunteer in local animal-assisted therapy programs in hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers and schools. Nearly 7,000 Pet Partners teams serve in all 50 states and six foreign countries.

Delta Society’s National Service Dog Center provides consultations and referrals about service dogs for people with disabilities. Service dogs are specially trained to alert people with hearing disabilities to sounds, serve as the arms and legs of people with physical disabilities, and much more. Delta Society is working to increase the number of service dogs available to help people in need

For almost six decades Hill’s has provided the most technologically advanced therapeutic and wellness foods to veterinary professionals. Hill’s Prescription Diet&reg brand offers a complete line of therapeutic pet food to nutritionally manage more than 50 disease conditions. Science Diet&reg products are specially formulated to provide superior nutrition for a wide range of lifestage and special wellness needs. To learn more about Hill’s products and our commitment to companion animal health and to the veterinary profession, please contact us at 800-548-8387. You can also visit us online 24 hours a day at


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