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OVC Expert Recognized for Work In Promoting Human-Animal Bond

Dr. Jason Coe, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, received the 2021 Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year Award from the American Veterinary Medical Association.A veterinary clinical communication expert at the University of Guelph’s Ontario Veterinary College (OVC) has been recognized for his work in protecting and promoting the human-animal bond.

Dr. Jason Coe, VCA Canada Chair in Relationship-Centred Veterinary Medicine and a professor in OVC’s Department of Population Medicine, recently received the 2021 Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year Award from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).

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. It is one of three AVMA Animal Welfare and Human Animal Bond Excellence Awards presented annually during National Pet Week, supported through educational funding from Merck Animal Health.

“It is an unexpected and genuine honor to be acknowledged with this award” said Coe. “Dr. Bustad was a forward-thinking leader for our profession. I became aware of Dr. Bustad very early in my career because of my interest in the human-animal bond and I feel privileged to be associated with him through this award. It has been my own personal experiences and relationships with animals that have driven much of what I do and, as for many people, these relationships have been essential this past year.

“Although many challenges have arisen this past year, veterinary practices and their teams have shown great resilience, rising above the challenges to provide enduring support for people and animals. I feel privileged to be a part of the veterinary profession and to be in a position to help the profession continue to make the world a better place for people and animals.”

Earlier in 2021, Coe was awarded a five-year research chair at OVC to examine and support relationship-centered veterinary medicine. The VCA Canada Chair in Relationship-Centred Veterinary Medicine will foster research and teaching in communication and relationship-building to improve the health of companion animals. In this role, Coe will develop new practice models for more sustainable business operations and enhanced mental health and well-being for veterinary teams.

Coe graduated from OVC’s Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) program in 2001, followed by a PhD in veterinary communications in 2008. That year, he joined OVC’s Department of Population Medicine where he has established an active research program examining human-animal relationships as well as the role of interpersonal communications on the outcomes of veterinary care. 

In his current role as professor, he coordinates the clinical-communication curriculum in OVC’s DVM program, teaches students about the relationships that exist between people and animals, and prepares future veterinarians to effectively support and communicate the value of the human-animal bond.

Through his research, Coe has made significant contributions to enhancing animal welfare and behavior, promoting adoption, and preventing surrender and relinquishment, specifically investigating urban cat issues, puppy socialization, dog walking, dog fear and aggression, and rabbit care. Another area of study is dietary conversations to manage canine and feline obesity. These investigations contribute to the human-animal bond by ensuring that pets stay in their homes after successful adoption and acclimation and live long and enriching lives in loving homes.

Coe’s research has also examined how veterinarians provide client support after companion animal euthanasia and client experiences of uncertainty during pet illness. In several studies, he identified client expectations of veterinarian communication, information exchange and cost discussions, and described factors that promoted client adherence to dental and surgery recommendations. These highly cited publications were groundbreaking in aligning veterinarian communication with client expectations, enhancing client adherence to veterinarian recommendations, promoting patient health and preserving the human-animal relationship.

Coe was also instrumental in cofounding and leading the American Association of Veterinary Medical College’s Primary Care Veterinary Educators group. Since its founding in 2010, the group has developed into a leading international organization whose mission is to enhance primary care programs at colleges of veterinary medicine and to develop exceptional primary care educators to prepare career-ready veterinarians.

Read the AVMA news release on their website.

The AVMA, founded in 1863, is one of the oldest and largest veterinary medical organizations in the world, with more than 97,000 member veterinarians worldwide engaged in a wide variety of professional activities and dedicated to the art and science of veterinary medicine.