During the past 25 years, there have been amazing advancements in the dog world. To commemorate them, we set out to find the people behind these accomplishments—the innovators, thinkers and achievers who relished challenges and whose creativity, compassion and commitment helped reshape the world of dogs and our understanding of it. Without further ado, we present our honorees: The Bark’s 100 Best & Brightest.
Teachers on a grand scale, our mentors guide, support and generously share their knowledge. Where would we mentees be without them?
Patricia McConnell combines her love for dogs with a well-grounded scientific understanding of them. For decades, she has spoken and written about the ethological aspects of canine behavior and the importance of applying that scholarship to practical work that helps both dogs and people. She brought a vast knowledge of canine visual signals to a generation of dog trainers and other professionals, and was the first to teach about the signals’ importance for reading dogs, understanding their emotional states and predicting their future behavior. She has always valued understanding people and dogs in order to improve the relationships between them; Trisha truly likes people as much as she likes dogs, and is respectful and kind to members of both species. Despite charges of anthropomorphizing, she maintains that dogs’ emotions are important and can be studied. By discussing the natural behavior of both canines and humans, she has helped dog lovers be closer to their animal companions and communicate more effectively with them.
—Karen B. London
The gospel of Jean Donaldson—cheerful training with profuse praise and gentle correction—has happily permeated the world of co-pilots like water on a sponge, thanks to her bestselling books, including Culture Clash, Dogs Are from Neptune and Oh Behave!, and the Academy for Dog Trainers—sometimes called Harvard for dog trainers—that she founded and directed for a decade.
The public gleans practical wisdom from animal behaviorist Nicholas Dodman through his bestselling books, including The Dog Who Loved Too Much. But his fellow veterinarians look to him as well. The founder and director of Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine’s Animal Behavior Clinic, one of the first of its kind in 1986, Dr. Dodman works on the frontier of behavioral pharmacology—conducting groundbreaking studies on the use of medication to tackle knotty behavioral challenges, such as canine compulsive disorders.
Couldn’t survive without a Gentle Leader? Gratitude goes to R.K. Anderson. The multi-laurelled, multi-degreed veterinarian, epidemiologist, behaviorist, researcher and professor co-invented the tried-and-true headcollar as part of his mission to gently and humanely prevent behavior problems that land dogs and cats in shelters by the millions. Dr. Anderson is also a main mover behind the Animal Behavior Resources Institute, a free, collaborative educational resource with expert videos, podcasts and articles for professionals and their clients.
Training methods using rewards and a whistle or a click—more formally known as operant conditioning and bridging stimulus—have become so ubiquitous that most of us take them for granted. We tip our cap to the late Marian Breland Bailey, who (along with Keller Breland and Bob Bailey) developed these humane approaches and taught them to others for more than 60 years; thousands sharpened up their skills and became better trainers at the Baileys’ operant-conditioning workshops, a.k.a. “chicken camps.”
Karen Pryor’s impact on dog nation has a soundtrack —or rather, a sound: click! A pioneer of positive reinforcement training (inspired by the operant conditioning she mastered working with dolphins in the 1960s), Pryor is the founder and leading proponent of clicker training. Today, marking desired behavior with a noisy click (and a treat) isn’t limited to the dog world—the sharp snaps regularly ricochet off zoo enclosures, out in pastures with livestock and even in gyms, signaling “well done” to human athletes.
Ian Dunbar’s ideas about dog training—that it should be a fun bonding experience—have become so central to the practice, it would be easy to forget someone (Dunbar!) got us thinking this way in the first place. Advocating a hands-off, reward-based approach at his Sirius Dog Training centers, the behaviorist and vet first promulgated the now-accepted-as-gospel notion that teaching good behavior to puppies before six months of age, using positive reinforcement, prevents most future problem behaviors.
In academia or in the field, these scientists and researchers work to unlock the mysteries of the canine genome and pin down the history of domestication.
For more than two decades, Robert K. Wayne has used the powerful tools of genetic analysis to revise and, in some cases, redraw the evolutionary history and relationships of the family Canidae. In constructing that evolutionary tree (or phylogeny), Dr. Wayne, a professor of evolutionary biology at UCLA, his students and postdoctoral fellows have documented the monumental loss of diversity the gray wolf eradication programs of the past three centuries have wrought here and in Europe. In the early 1990s, Dr. Wayne used mitochondrial DNA to clinch the case for the gray wolf as the wild progenitor of the dog, laying to rest that “southern,” or pariah, dogs were descended from jackals, while “northern,” wolf-like breeds came from gray wolves.
A few years later, Dr. Wayne and Carles Vilà, a postdoctoral fellow, proposed that dog and wolf started down their separate evolutionary roads as long ago as 135,000 years, but certainly not much after 40,000 years ago in multiple locations. The dates are still controversial, and others have been proposed, but odds are that the final number will be
close to that put forth by Dr. Wayne and Dr. Vilà. With graduate student Jennifer Leonard, Dr. Wayne also showed that dogs were not domesticated in the New World independently; rather, they appear to have arrived with the earliest people crossing the Bering Land Bridge. More recently, he has worked with Elaine Ostrander and Heidi Parker at the National Institutes of Health to complete a new breed phylogeny, showing interrelationships among breeds and pointing to the Middle East as a center of early separation of wolf from dog.
In conducting his groundbreaking research, Dr. Wayne has also trained many of the people studying the genetics of canid evolution and has been consistently generous in assigning credit where it is due.
While at London’s Natural History Museum, Juliet Clutton-Brock penned many definitive texts on the archaeology of animal domestication, including A Natural History of Domesticated Mammals. In her work, Clutton-Brock illuminates our tangled history with dogs (among others), establishing a baseline for understanding the reasons, biological and behavioral impacts, and unexpected consequences of domestication.
L. David Mech, founder of the International Wolf Center and chair of the IUCN Wolf Specialist Group, has studied wolves and their prey since 1958. His is among the foundation work on canines wild and domestic.
Mark Neff, a professor at the University of California, Davis, participated in the Dog Genome Project at UC Berkeley as a postdoctoral fellow. More recently, he has been working to locate the genes that cause a variety of genetic disorders in domestic dogs. Among his research results is the identification of the gene that causes dwarfism in several breeds, and his findings continue to inform veterinary medicine about the inheritance of many canine diseases.
On the trail of human and canine cancer, Elaine Ostrander and her group map the genes responsible for cancer susceptibility in both. Earlier, as part of the Dog Genome Project, she searched for the genetic markers that make up the concept of a “breed,” and found that genotyping could be used to assign 99 percent of individual dogs to their correct breeds.
Kerstin Lindblad-Toh, co-director of the Genome Sequencing and Analysis Program at the Broad Institute, maps genes associated with cancer and autoimmune diseases in dogs. Her group developed a SNP chip that has been used to identify the genes for several canine diseases.
James Serpell, director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for the Interaction of Animals and Society, is currently involved in researching the relationships between domestic animals—especially dogs—and people. He has also traced the natural history of the human-animal bond, including the processes by which various species have been domesticated.
Stanley Olsen, a pioneer in the discipline of zooarchaeology, was among the first to search for the origins of the domestic dog; his work laid the foundation for later studies that significantly pushed back his original 8,000 year date.
Geneticist Jasper Rine and his Dog Genome Project collaborators began with a theory that it was possible to map the chromosomes of the domestic dog and thereby discover the genetic basis of mammalian development and behavior. In his early research on purebred dog behaviors, he crossed a Newfoundland with a Border Collie, two distinct breeds with very different breed typical behaviors, and then bred the offspring to see how these various behaviors were inherited.
Through their words, art and photography, these creative people make tangible the intense and heartfelt connections we have with our dogs.
Mark Derr, journalist and author, set the “fancy” world spinning in 1990 with his Atlantic Monthly article about practices in the show-dog realm. In his seminal book, Dog’s Best Friend, he proved that his range of interests in all things canine extended far beyond that topic. With an investigative reporter’s love for unearthing a scoop balanced by a wide-ranging knowledge of his subject, he is highly regarded by dog aficionados (and a nudge to some). As Bark’s science editor, he has been an invaluable advisor and translator when it comes to the latest research and discoveries.
Elizabeth Marshall Thomas took a bite out of the bestseller lists with her original examinations of dogs. Fueled by her Husky’s ramblings through civilization, field work with wolves and anthropology training, Thomas described surprising behaviors that in ensuing years have been affirmed in studies. In The Hidden Life of Dogs and The Social Lives of Dogs, Thomas deployed her keen eye and novelist’s sensibility to shed light on the mystery of dogs without erasing their magic.
Donald McCaig would be notable enough as the author of beloved dog books like Nop’s Trials and Eminent Dogs, Dangerous Men. We also celebrate him as an early activist against the homogenizing perils of inbreeding, on behalf of his beloved working sheepdogs. That tale, too, is skillfully rendered in his book, The Dog Wars. He writes with an insight and subtle humor that befits his own Virginia breeding.
The first year that Caroline Knapp and I were friends, in 1996, we took the dogs on a beach run at Gay Head, on the southwestern tip of the island of Martha’s Vineyard. My Samoyed, Clementine, was not yet two, strong as an ox and full of fire. Caroline’s Shepherd-mix, Lucille, was smaller in stature and calmer in demeanor. We spent the afternoon watching them charge up and down the beach, until a series of sonic booms from a nearby naval airfield shattered our reverie. Clementine took off down the beach at a full run, as wild-eyed as a spooked horse. I got her back long enough to leash her, but she had the sled-dog ability to pull a small car, and I fell in the sand just trying to hang onto her.
“Let me have her,” said Caroline, and took hold of Clemmie’s leash and started running alongside her the half-mile to the car. Lucille, seeming to understand that I was the one with the bad leg, stayed by my side. The larger world knew Caroline Knapp through her narrative voice: the wry intelligence and emotional honesty she brought to all her books, but most belovedly to Pack of Two: The Intricate Bond Between People and Dogs—the story of the shelter dog named Lucille who changed Caroline’s life. Armed with 20/20 acuity, Pack of Two delivered a kaleidoscopic view of the place of dogs in contemporary America. But because Caroline brought her whole heart to her story, she gave us, as well, the essence of what it means to love a dog.
For the rest of her life—another six years—she was the one person I trusted utterly with my dog. In the real world, the world of pastoral beach walks and terrifying moments, she was as steadfast as any narrative persona could have hinted. And in my interior vision of heaven—wherever Caroline could possibly be, given that she isn’t here—she is surrounded by every dog who ever loved her, including Clementine and Lucille. All of them are trying to get in her lap.
Poet Mary Oliver has graced the world with her meditative eye and exquisite language for nearly 50 years, bringing the physical world—dogs not least among it—into sharper focus for the rest of us. Using humor to reconcile the intellectual with the natural, she imparts wisdom through such gems as this line, written from her dog’s perspective: Books? says Percy./I ate one once. It was enough./Let’s go.
Inspired by the late, great Earl, MUTTs creator and animal activist Patrick McDonnell is a cartoonist with a message, showing readers the world through the eyes of his animal characters.
Stanley Coren takes the canine IQ seriously, and has covered the topic in numerous articles and books. His work has done much to popularize the subject of dogs’ intelligence as well as our bond with them.
As the founding editor of the staunchly independent Whole Dog Journal, Nancy Kerns has been empowering dog owners with intel on dog-friendly training, holistic health care and practical nutrition—i.e., how to read a dog food label—for more than 10 years.
When Harriet Ritvo, a noted professor at MIT, wrote The Animal Estate: The English and Other Creatures in the Victorian Age in 1987, she launched an innovative animal studies curriculum that has inspired similar programs at universities around the globe.
Nationally syndicated pet columnist Gina Spadafori, author or co-author of a half-dozen top-selling books about animals, was hailed from the floor of the United States Congress for her coverage of the 2007 pet food recall.
Oh, those fabulous Weimaraners! Though William Wegman is renowned in the art world for his work in a variety of media, it is his photos of his pack of elegant, silvery-grey dogs—dressed in zany costumes and posed in tableaus reflecting his special brand of visual puns—for which he is most widely known.
Snoopy, everyone’s favorite Beagle and the quintessence of canine cool, sprang from the fertile imagination (and pen) of Charles Schulz, who created him along with the rest of the “Peanuts” crowd. Over a period of nearly 50 years, Schulz drew 18,250 cartoon strips, basing the character of Charlie Brown on himself and memorializing the dog of his adolescence in the character of Spike, Snoopy’s bedraggled, desert-dwelling brother.
Charting the mysteries of the inner dog and searching for the trail to better health, these scholars improve life for canines and humans alike.
For trainers who embrace science and medicine, Karen Overall has been an authoritative voice of reason and research for more than a decade. Dr. Overall’s bestselling textbook, Clinical Behavioral Medicine for Small Animals, was among the first to provide techniques for the prevention and treatment of behavior problems; some consider it the bible for vets and behavior consultants. After running the behavior clinic at U Penn’s School of Veterinary Medicine for more than 12 years, Dr. Overall shifted her focus to study canine behavioral genetics as a research associate in UP’s Center for Neurobiology and Behavior. Her clinical work centers on humane treatment of troubled pets and their distressed people; she focuses on understanding the neurobiology and genetics of canine behavior and cognition, and on developing natural genetic and behavioral canine models wisdom of two decades ago upside down, and undoubtedly saved tens of thousands of dogs from harm.
Brian Hare began his academic career by examining the ability of dogs to follow human body language; recently, his lab opened the Duke Canine Cognition Center to further explore the effects of domestication on canine cognition.
Shirley Johnston, an expert in the field of animal reproduction, oversees the Found Animals Foundation’s Michelson Prize and Grants, established to inspire the development of a low-cost non-surgical sterilization product for dogs and cats.
Lawrence Myers, who founded the Institute for Biological Detection Systems at Auburn University, was among the first to determine that dogs can detect disease conditions.
Adam Miklosi helped found the Family Dog Research Project at Budapest’s Eötvös Loránd University in 1994, and he and his group lead the world in the study of canine psychology.
Alexandra Horowitz’s research, which resulted in her book, Inside of a Dog, explores what dogs know and how they know it, adding an important chapter to the study of canine cognition.
It was no surprise to dog lovers when Karen Allen, a social psychologist with SUNY at Buffalo, defined the “pet effect,” or the ability of our dogs to lower our blood pressure and help us cope with stress.
Larry T. Glickman’s long-term longitudinal study of bloat, undertaken at Purdue University’s School of Veterinary Medicine, followed more than 1,900 dogs of 11 breeds for five years, and the findings inform treatment of this dangerous condition.
Ronald D. Schultz is chair of the department of microbiology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and one of the world’s leading veterinary vaccine researchers. His study of the science behind vaccine protocols, the harmful effects of unnecessary vaccines, and different types and brands of vaccines, particularly for canine parvovirus, has turned the conventional for human psychiatric illnesses, particularly those involving anxiety, panic and aggression.
Marc Bekoff, professor emeritus of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder, has studied dogs, wolves and coyotes, finding that these animals have a notion of fair play and a kind of moral sense based upon empathy. Bekoff is also interested in the human-animal relationship, and how this relationship affects the emotional lives of animals.
Pulling back the curtain on the mysterious social life of dogs, German researcher Dorit Feddersen-Petersen demonstrated that several dog species communicate with each other, and possibly us, using a complex spectrum of barking sounds.
Vilmos Csányi, author of If Dogs Could Talk, introduced a new approach to the study of ethology, one that relies on analyzing behavior’s genetic architecture. He and the department he founded at Eötovös Loránd University maintain a profound interest in dog-human relationships.
John Paul Scott and John L. Fuller conducted an extensive study of the inheritance of various behaviors of five breeds at the Jackson Laboratory at Bar Harbor, Maine; all of the dogs were of similar size but very different in their breed-typical behaviors, providing variances that could be measured as the dogs developed. The authors were the first to suggest the concept of “critical periods” in which puppies’ social behavior develops.
Konrad Lorenz, Nobel Laureate and co-founder of the field of ethology, was one of the first theorists to write about dogs. Man Meets Dog (1953) demonstrates that he was a remarkable observer of animals, a lover of dogs in particular, and oftentimes got things wrong. But, since he was the one who, according to Donald McCaig, “started all these debates,” his book remains a classic that deserves to be read (judiciously) for that fact alone.
With their deep understanding of what makes dogs tick, these individuals show us how to expand the bond between pilot and co-pilot, bringing harmony to our shared lives.
Since the 2005 debut of trainer Victoria Stilwell’s hit television show, It’s Me or the Dog, her no-nonsense, positive-reinforcement-based approach has endeared her to pet lovers all over the world. Her holistic methods empower families to work together to create lasting solutions to behavioral problems. Stilwell’s acting background and dog-training experience have put her in an ideal position to promote positive methods to both professional and mainstream audiences in more than 30 countries. She’s judged contestants on the television show Greatest American Dog and appeared on numerous talk shows, written for several periodicals, and authored two books: It’s Me or the Dog: How to Have the Perfect Pet and Fat Dog Slim: How to Have a Healthy, Happy Pet (a third book is in progress). Plans are currently underway for a foundation to raise money for smaller rescues and assistance-dog organizations.
Stilwell’s influence on popular culture has helped create exposure for positive training while providing a media counterbalance to those promoting dominance-based methods.
Together, Suzanne Hetts and Dan Estep came up with the concept of behavioral wellness, which emphasizes the need for baselines to determine what is “well” in terms of pets’ behavior.
Pamela Reid, director of the ASPCA’s Animal Behavior Center, not only lectures on animal behavior and learning theory, she puts it into action to improve human-canine relationships.
Terry Ryan has been a guru for a generation of trainers. Teaching others how to motivate dogs through games, lecturing, writing and presenting seminars, she is a bright light in support of good relationships between people and their pups.
Pia Silvani turned her love of teaching people and dogs into an amazing career as an internationally recognized canine coach and one of the training and behavior world’s go-to people.
For the past 30 years, Wendy Volhard—who is credited with developing the first puppy test and first drive theories—has been teaching people how to communicate effectively with their pets.
Sophia Yin is a multitalented vet, behaviorist, trainer, lecturer and videographer, with a great knack for imparting knowledge and expertise both to her colleagues—via her textbooks—and to the general public. Her site has invaluable info and fantastic videos.
Emily Weiss probably never thought of herself as a matchmaker, but to the benefit of many adult dogs in shelters, it’s worked out that way. During a career dedicated to creating positive, humane animal behavior programs, Weiss developed MYM SAFER (Meet Your Match Safety Assessment For Evaluating Rehoming), a test that helps animal-welfare professionals identify potential aggression in dogs as well as opportunities for behavior modification, which ultimately leads to more—and more successful—adoptions through appropriate placement.
If you want to become fluent in “dog,” start with Dog Language, the seminal work by ethologist Roger Abrantes, widely known for his views on social behavior and its applications to the daily understanding of pet behavior.
We not only look out for our dogs, our dogs look out for us. These folks help them learn how to do it.
Well ahead of most of his ivory tower peers, Leo K. Bustad, dean of Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine, perceived the healing power of animals and dedicated himself to establishing the science behind the notion that our dogs and cats make us feel better. As co-founder of the Delta Society, he promoted greater understanding of the human-animal bond, and helped create the gold standard for animal-assisted therapy in health-care settings.
Joan Esnayra, founder and president of the Psychiatric Service Dog Society, works to open people’s eyes to this more subtle form of service; much of her work focuses on assisting veterans suffering from PTSD.
From the depths of grim personal experience, Sister Pauline Quinn found the inspiration to start the Prison Pet Partnership Program that has helped heal the lives of an untold number of dogs and inmates alike.
Bonnie Bergin originated the concept of “service dogs,” canines trained to perform essential everyday tasks, such as opening doors and switching on lights, for people with mobility limitations—and then dedicated herself to getting these life-changing dogs to the people who needed them. In 1975, she founded Canine Companions for Independence, the first nonprofit to train and place service dogs. She later established a university of canine studies and spearheaded campaigns to help low-income individuals with disabilities afford assistance dogs.
Kathy Zubrycki and her late husband, Ted Zubrycki, pioneered the innovative development of “special needs” guide dog training, showing that guide dogs could be successfully trained for blind people with additional disabilities.
After a puppy spontaneously alerted Mark Ruefenacht to a dangerous drop in his blood sugar, he founded Dogs4Diabetics, which is dedicated to training dogs to detect the subtle scent of life-threatening hypoglycemia.
Inspired by her son’s cerebral palsy service dog, prosecuting attorney Ellen O’Neill-Stephens introduced canine advocates into Seattle’s criminal courts, and then co-founded Courthouse Dogs to promote the use of dogs to comfort traumatized victims and witnesses.
Sandi Martin’s flash of brilliance: Children who struggle to read will do better if reading to dogs. The success of her Intermountain Therapy Animals’ Reading Education Assistance Dogs (READ) program spawned a four-pawed literacy revolution.
For nearly three decades, working-dog trainer and handler Larry Allen has been transforming “problem dogs,” especially Bloodhounds, into happily employed trackers for law enforcement agencies across the country.
Retired British orthopedic surgeon John Church made the leap from anecdote to science when he and his team undertook the first scientifically robust study that proved dogs can be trained to detect cancer.
There are many paths to wellness—here are some of the people who marked the alternative way.
Narda G. Robinson applies rigorous scientific methods to the study of complementary and alternative medicine for small animals; she holds the first endowed position in this field at Colorado State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine.
Veterinarian Anthony Smith makes saying goodbye gentler for dog and guardian alike through his Rainbow Bridge Veterinary Services, one of the few practices in the world devoted exclusively to providing end-of-life care.
Ann Martin, author of Foods Pets Die For, was among the first to raise the alarm about the dangers of commercial pet food, and continues to monitor the industry today.
The work of the late European herbalist Juliette de Baïracli Levy was the foundation upon which many later holistic practitioners built; her book, The Complete Herbal Book for the Dog, originally published in 1947, is still in print. (Read more about de Baïracli Levy in Eleanor K. Sommer's profile for Bark, Apr/May 2010)
Barbara Fougere’s Pet Lover’s Guide to Natural Healing for Dogs & Cats fortifies the bookshelves of guardians with an interest in natural healing by providing a straightforward alternative therapy reference for layfolk.
Carvel Tiekert founded the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association in 1982 and is the heart of this organization, which explores and supports alternative and complementary approaches to veterinary healthcare.
Allen M. Schoen is one of the pioneers in holistic medicine; his writings and influential speaking have brought complementary and alternative veterinary medicine to the hearts and minds of practitioners everywhere.
Cheryl Schwartz was among the first to use Traditional Chinese Medicine in the care of companion animals; her book, Four Paws, Five Directions, spread the word and made it accessible to everyone.
Tellington TTouch—need we say more? Linda Tellington-Jones is an expert in rubbing dogs (and other animals) the right way, and shares her techniques worldwide, much to the delight of dogs everywhere.
Back in the age of kibble, Ian Billinghurst took his bible of Biologically Appropriate Raw Food (known as BARF) directly to the people. In Give Your Dog a Bone, the Australian veterinary surgeon repudiated grain-based, commercially produced dog foods and advocated a diet based on what wild dogs eat, including plenty of raw, meaty bones. While BARF has detractors, there’s no doubt it shifted the entire dog food paradigm toward better nutrition.
Well before most Americans would consider acupuncture for themselves, holistic health care icon Ihor Basko was seeing good results using the ancient Chinese technique on arthritic and pain-racked dogs. Since the 1970s, he has been a leading light for expanding treatment and prevention options for animals with alternative therapies, including acupuncture, herbs and minerals, dietary therapy, homeopathy, and massage. Dr. Basko is a founder and current president of the Veterinary Botanical Medical Association.
A veterinarian with a PhD in immunology, Richard Pitcairn was a pioneer in the field of holistic pet care and raw feeding, both of which gained their current prominence largely due to his seminal book, Dr. Pitcairn’s Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats, published in 1982 and now in its third edition. He challenged the orthodoxy of the day that dogs and cats can only thrive on commercially formulated diets, and gave his readers an overview of the entire field of alternative medicine as it could apply to their family pets, from acupuncture to Chinese and western herbs, and chiropractic to homeopathy. He was among the first voices to question the then-common practice of routine annual immunization for dogs and cats, pointing out that such protocols could be risky and were probably unnecessary —wisdom that is now altogether conventional. Today, holistic veterinarians have their own medical association, the AHVMA, and even otherwise conventional veterinarians often recommend homemade diets and practice acupuncture. It’s a changed world, and one that might not have happened without Pitcairn’s early influence.
On the street, in offices and in courtrooms, they work to save lives, protect animals from harm and find them forever homes.
As founder of what is now the No-Kill Movement, Rich Avanzino changed how Americans view shelter animals. In his 22 years leading San Francisco SPCA, Avanzino demonstrated that shelters could be transformed from death camps for discards to adoption centers for pets whose worst sin was choosing their people badly. Now heading Maddie’s Fund, Avanzino anticipates the day when supply and demand balance, and a no-kill nation is achieved.
Kate Hurley, director of the Koret Shelter Medicine Program at University of California, Davis, heads one of the very few dedicated programs of this type in the U.S.
Motivated by a New Year’s resolution to save one dog a month, Betsy Saul and her husband created Petfinder.com in 1996; in the years since, the free website has helped more than 13 million dogs, cats and other critters land in good homes.
Lawyer, author and no-kill activist Nathan Winograd is the voice of America’s displaced pets and the conscience of the animal sheltering industry. Uncompromising and committed, he heads the No-Kill Advocacy Center.
Since 2004, vegan Wayne Pacelle has built HSUS into a public policy powerhouse; his organization now has investigation, litigation and campaign teams. He has broadened HSUS’s scope beyond companion animals, and was the force behind California’s overwhelming passage of Prop. 2. HSUS has also recently teamed up with Maddie’s
Fund to develop the Shelter Pet Project.
A high-profile and articulate voice for companion and farm animals from the highlands of his native England to his home in Minneapolis, Michael W. Fox takes a broad view of the world in which our humanity and the rights of animals are intimately interconnected. The professor/bioethicist/veterinarian has been a leader in the movement to foster the ethical treatment of animals since 1967, including nearly three decades at HSUS.
An expert in the human-canine bond, Randall Lockwood gave everybody a reason to care about cruelty to animals. His groundbreaking research identified links between pet- and domestic abuse, and demonstrated that early animal cruelty predicts later violence against people. As an officer of ASPCA, he has advanced the forensic techniques and training of cruelty investigators and, on the brighter side, promoted humane education.
To honor his cherished Miniature Schnauzer, software mogul Dave Duffield endowed Maddie’s Fund with $300 million to promote a no-kill nation and end euthanasia as a form of population control. Big fund, great goal.
Randy Grim and canine sidekick Quentin, a gas chamber survivor, patrol the streets of East St. Louis, seeking new prospects for his Stray Rescue; 5,000 abused, abandoned dogs owe him their lives—we owe him our gratitude.
Ed Sayres directed PetSmart Charities and led SF/SPCA before becoming ASPCA president in 2003; though ASPCA played a key role in the Michael Vick investigation, it thereafter declined to associate with his public rehabilitation.
Singer, dancer, actress, and animal activist Gretchen Wyler had a big voice and a big presence, which she used to help animals by establishing her own Hollywood nonprofit animal protection group, the Ark Trust, Inc., and developing and promoting the Genesis Awards.
Bob Baker has a well-earned reputation as one of the country’s top animal welfare investigators. Now associated with the ASPCA Anti-Cruelty Initiatives effort, he is a key player in the ongoing battle to combat the cruelties of puppy mills and large-scale commercial breeding operations.
Credit Tiny, Doris Day’s loyal companion during her Ohio teens, with forging her lifelong bond with canines. Still America’s all-time favorite actress, she has used her ample supply of good will to do well by animals through lobbying via the Doris Day Animal League, now part of HSUS, and funding projects like Spay Day and assistance to seniors seeking to keep their pets via the free-standing Doris Day Animal Foundation. Good dog, Tiny!
From humble counterculture origins, Michael Mountain and a group of about 25 animal-loving friends laid the foundation for what is today a vast animal sanctuary in Kanab, Utah, and the nonprofit Best Friends Animal Society that supports it, giving life to their simple mission: “No more homeless pets.” The continuing campaign by that name gathers momentum in the effort to achieve a no-kill nation.
In the 1970s, the founders started taking in strays at their Arizona ranch; by 1986, they were able to purchase land north of Kanab that was once the backdrop for countless movie and television westerns. Renaming it Angel Canyon, they parlayed it into a home for Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, which includes Dogtown, Kittyville and places for livestock animals. During a year of post-Katrina rescue work, Best Friends rehomed or reunited some 4,000 animals with their people. Best Friends magazine, which Mountain edited, changed the tone of rescue and adoption from gloom and gore to a more upbeat message of joy and progress.
Mountain, now 58, recently stepped down to focus, he writes, on “building a global, grassroots community of people who care about animals, wildlife and the natural world.”
Veterinarian Elliot Katz founded the animal rights group In Defense of Animals in 1983. For the past 25 years, he has campaigned against puppy mills, saved research lab canines from the needle and convinced many to call themselves “guardians.”
Nedim Buyukmihci, antivivisection vet and co-founder of Animal Place Sanctuary and Education Center, challenged the conservative status quo of his profession when he spoke out against the use of live animals in vet school training labs.
Game show host Bob Barker knows the media’s value and its uses. A vegetarian, he has fought pet overpopulation, promoted anti-cruelty legislation and donated $1 million each to five top law schools to fund the teaching of animal law.
Writer, humorist and humanitarian Cleveland Amory was fiercely dedicated to the cause of animal welfare. An early HSUS board member, he later created the Fund for Animals, for which he served as unpaid director until his death.
Take a dash of showmanship, add entrepreneurial savvy and Buddhist monk–level commitment and you get Mike Arms, adoption promoter extraordinaire. Going strong after four million animals, he recently founded the “Home for the Holidays” adoptathon.
At the helm of the Morris Animal Foundation, the world’s largest nonprofit organization funding research studies to protect, treat and cure animals, Patricia Olson wields a mighty big carrot for good. But that’s not all. Dr. Olson’s legacy includes establishing programs that foster the human-animal bond and address pet overpopulation, including co-founding the National Council on Pet Population and Policy, a coalition of organizations working to reduce the number of animals euthanized simply because they are homeless.
Bringing their high-level skills to improve the well-being of our canine companions, these men and women put compassion into action.
There are plenty of veterinary guidebooks out there, but it took Nancy Kay to compile one with essential and lasting lessons on how to be an effective advocate for your dog’s health-care needs. Speaking for Spot, Dr. Kay’s primer on everything from how to know if your pet is sick and finding the right vet, to knowing when to say goodbye, not only empowers guardians but also operates as a touchstone for many veterinarians.
Douglas Slatter literally wrote the books on small animal surgery. His Fundamentals of Veterinary Ophthalmology and Textbook of Small Animal Surgery have been used and referenced by thousands of vets.
We know that dogs’ knees blow out all too easily. What we didn’t know was that a good fix wasn’t available until the 1990s, when Barclay Slocum developed and patented the tibial plateau leveling osteotomy (TPLO).
The compassionate care of companion animals has been greatly enhanced by the work of trailblazer Robin Downing, a leading voice in veterinary pain management and advocate of a preemptive approach to the control of pain.
Before Cynda Crawford (along with Edward Dubovi from the College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University and others) identified the canine influenza virus—a.k.a. H3N8—it was thought that dogs weren’t susceptible to the flu.
A controversial figure, W. Jean Dodds has nonetheless persisted in questioning many “established truths” of veterinary medicine, pushing the envelope on vaccine safety and efficacy and the diagnosis and treatment of thyroid disease. She also established and runs Hemopet, a canine blood bank. In the on-going Rabies Challenge Project, she is researching the period of efficacy of rabies vaccines.
You’d think being a renowned veterinary cardiologist and discovering the cause and cure for a fatal heart disease in cats would be enough for one lifetime. Not for Paul D. Pion. In 1991, Dr. Pion began building bridges among notoriously competitive vets through the Veterinary Information Network. With more than 42,000 participating colleagues, scores of databases, message boards, conference rooms, et cetera, et cetera, VIN is considered by many to be the most comprehensive online resource for and by veterinarians.
When he wrote Home-Prepared Dog and Cat Diets, leading gastroenterologist Donald Strombeck created a first-of-its kind volume on alternatives to commercial pet food and made canine nutrition understandable to the general public. m
The experience, common sense and insider knowledge that made Marion Nestle the go-to expert on dietary policy for humans reached the dog dish with her compelling investigation of the 2007 recalls in Pet Food Politics.
Clarence Rawlings led a team of researchers at the University of Georgia’s College of Veterinary Medicine in adapting minimally invasive surgical techniques for use with companion animals, reducing traditional surgical complications and improving outcomes.
Each one standing for many, these individuals and thousands like them manifest a spirit that inspires people to go beyond the ordinary on behalf of dogs.
As science demonstrates continuities between humans and other species, law professor Steven Wise addresses their legal implications. In groundbreaking books, he challenges the “animals as property” notion and argues for incremental recognition of their separate interests.
On the front lines of animal welfare since 1980, Jeff Dorson has been known to risk his life undercover. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, he and the Louisiana Humane Society he helped create rescued some 1,700 pets from the floodwaters.
When Rachel McPherson began producing a therapy dog documentary, she fell in love with her subject, turned off the cameras and created The Good Dog Foundation instead. McPherson’s nonprofit promotes these furry miracle workers, as well as providing training, certification and support. After 9/11, Good Dog teams came to the aid of families of victims, survivors and rescue workers. Based on that model, Good Dog created a disaster response course, and was deployed for families in need in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
Jana Brunner has a passion for shelter pets and volunteers as many as 40 hours a week to the Humane Society of Greater Kansas City, taking photos to post on Petfinder.com, designing and managing their website, creating promotional materials, organizing offsite adoption events and supporting HSGKC financially. She’s been at this for 14 years, and her efforts have saved thousands.
Retired biology professor Charles L. “Bud” Kramer shook up the AKC’s Obedience regime—unchanged since 1937—by originating the livelier, freestyle Rally Obedience, as a club-sanctioned answer to the Agility boom.
Search and Rescue
Retired teacher Wilma Melville founded the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation, which has exponentially increased the supply of FEMA-certified SAR dogs, many of whom were themselves rescued from shelters.
Gwen Davis isn’t afraid to tackle the big issues. After earning her DVM from the Tuskegee School of Veterinary Medicine, she founded the Puerto Rico Animal Welfare Society to offer low-cost sterilization and rescue stray dogs.
Dog Park Activists
We join the dogs of Redmond, Wash., in a bark-out to Judy Trockel, a resolute voice in the grassroots group Serve Our Dog Areas, which fought to retain Marymoor Park’s off-leash dog area and is its steward today.
And to shelter staffers everywhere: You are all the best & brightest. Thank you for the work you do and the lives you save.
Limiting ourselves to 100 meant that we were not able to call out many worthy individuals. Read on to discover more hard-working and dedicated folks who have made life-time commitments to the well being of dogs and other animals.
Colin Allen teaches at Indiana University, and is known for his extensive research and writings on animal behavior and cognition.
Cora Bailey founded the Community Led Animal Welfare (CLAW), which provides low-cost veterinary services to impoverished communities around the globe.
Lynda Barry is an American cartoonist and author best known to dog lovers for her weekly comic strip, Ernie Pook’s Comeek.
Joseph Bartges is a renowned professor of animal health and medicine, with a special focus on bladder and kidney stones in canines.
Bonnie Beaver, former president of the American Veterinary Medical Association, now leads the movement for an American College of Animal Welfare.
Marty Becker gets the word out on animal health as a contributor to Good Morning America and the resident vet on The Dr. Oz Show.
Ed Beltran explores the use of natural and homeopathic animal treatments at Blair Animal Hospital in Ottowa.
Phil Bergman, one of the nation’s leading veterinary oncologists, developed a vaccine for canine melanoma in partnership with colleagues at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and Merial.
Dennis Chew, of the College of Veterinary Medicine at Ohio State University, studies kidney function in animals, including methods to slow the progression of renal disease and interventions that can improve and extend quality of life for dogs and cats with chronic renal problems.
Dogs romp in hundreds of Billy Collins’ poems; Collins served two years as the American Poet Laureate.
Pam Constable founded the Afghan Stray Animal League, which fights for the welfare of strays in Afghanistan.
Alexander de Lahunta pioneered the containment of contagious disease in animals and is highly regarded as a scientist, diagnostician, educator, and mentor.
Thanks in large part to Christine Dorchak, co-founder of Grey2K USA, and her associates, legislation banning dog racing in Massachusetts was finally passed in 2008.
National Book Award–winning poet and memoirist, Mark Doty is the author of Dog Years, in which he bears witness to the unbounded joy dogs bring even in times of personal calamity.
Advocating for animals, Geordie Duckler heads up the Animal Law Practice, one of the few in the nation focusing on this particular speciality.
Donna Duford is not only an internationally known trainer and behavior counselor, she’s also among the early practitioners of canine musical freestyle, or “dog dancing.”
Long-time animal- and political activist Ed Duvin’s landmark article, “In the Name of Mercy,” sounded a wake-up call to the shelter community.
Ed Eames, co-founder of the International Association of Assistance Dog Partners, was a tireless worker for the rights of the visually impaired and their canine assistants.
Dogs are among Elliot Erwitt’s favorite subjects; his iconic black-and-white photographs capture them with both humor and dignity.
Australian Barbara Fougere is known for her advances in the field of herbal medicine for pets; her book, Pet Lovers’ Guide to Natural Healing for Dogs and Cats, is a staple on dog-lovers’ bookshelves.
Al Franken, media personality and U.S. senator for Minnesota, made it his first priority to push a bill through the Senate to increase the number of service dogs available for veterans.
Artist Lucian Freud has been called one of the greatest figurative painters of our time; he often features pets and their owners in his work.
Behaviorist Susan Friedman has pioneered efforts to train pet animals through “facilitation rather than force.”
Marjorie Garber, who teaches at Harvard University, considers dogs’ place in American culture; her book, Dog Love, demonstrates the ways dog stories have found a spot in our ongoing folklore.
Susan Garrett developed the “Say Yes” dog training philosophy, allowing dogs and owners to achieve their goals without physical or verbal correction.
At the University of Pennsylvania, Urs Giger studies hereditary and hematological disorders in small animals, as well as variations in the dog genome.
Bob Goldstein developed the “Breed Specific Healing Protocol,” using knowledge of breeds to create individualized holistic treatments for dogs.
Marty Goldstein is considered one of the foremost experts in alternative veterinary medicine, integrating both holistic and conventional techniques in his treatments.
Temple Grandin is a highly respected advocate for humane treatment of livestock and a keen observer of the relationships people have with animals, dogs among them. She has written several books on the subject, including Animals in Translation and Animals Make Us Human.
Among her other accomplishments, Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Carol Guzy recorded the plight of animals in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and gives generously of her talents to help humane groups, particularly in the Washington, D.C., area.
Jemima Harrison directed the BBC documentary, Pedigree Dogs Exposed, revealing dangerous breeding practices in the show dog community.
Lynette and Benjamin Hart are known for their collaborations on animal behavior and their books about the pet-human connection.
California State Senator Tom Hayden and UCLA professor Taimie Bryant fought for state legislation, colloquially known as the Hayden Law, to prevent shelters from killing savable animals.
In her crusade to change the way animlas were trained, Vicki Hearne wrote about their capacity for achievement and moral understanding.
Johnny Hoskins is a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine and the authority on geriatric medicine for cats and dogs.
David Jaggar and Marvin Cain founded the International Veterinary Acupuncture Association, which promotes the highest standards for animal acupuncture worldwide.
Roy Kabat developed methods of training guide dogs for the deaf, building the framework for what eventually became Dogs for the Deaf.
Juliane Kaminski studies the evolution of social cognition in various mammal species at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology at Leipzig, Germany. Kaminski has found that domestic dogs have sophisticated cognitive abilities, which include “fast mapping” and enhanced sensitivity to the perceptions of humans.
Chand Khanna is changing the face of cancer research by integrating research of pet animal cancer into the study of human cancer treatment.
Expert trainer Brian Kilcommons, along with partner Sarah Wilson, has developed intuitive training methods based on a patient, friendly relationship between owner and dog.
Trish King, director of Marin Humane Society Behavior & Training Department, is nationally recognized as an extraordinary teacher, writer and speaker.
Biologist and ethologist Erich Klinghammer founded Wolf Park with a noble mission: education, research and conservation.
Jim Kutsch, president of the The Seeing Eye, is also a graduate of the prestigious guide-dog school, a first in the school’s history.
Baseball’s Tony La Russa and his wife, Elaine, co-founded the Animal Rescue Foundation, which not only helps individual animals but also sponsors comprehensive outreach programs and events to help educate the public about the value of animal lives.
Al Legendre has investigated the spread and prevention of cancer and infectious diseases in cats and dogs, receiving numerous awards for his work.
Steve Mardsen practices naturopathic treatment and acupuncture in effective ways, combating the most serious of animal cases with alternative medicine.
Kong Company president Joe Markham developed the rubber, snowman-shaped Kong toy loved (and chewed) by millions of dogs.
Jeffrey Masson, a trained Freudian analyst and prolific writer, has authored many books that give us insight into the emotional lives of animals.
Katrina Mealey is on the cutting edge of genetic research in dogs, studying how genetic determinants effect how different breeds respond to drug therapy.
Shawn Messonnier is a popular speaker and author on the subject of holistic animal wellness and animal behavior, as well as the host of his own SIRIUS radio show.
Myrna Milani studies and writes about the deeper psychological effects of relationships between humans and pets.
The name of Pat Miller’s training group, Peaceable Paws, neatly sums up her commitment to positive reinforcement methods. Spreading the word via workshops, apprentice programs, books and articles, and more, she’s a positive force for harmony between people and their dogs.
Jamie Mondiano, a veterinarian and molecular biologist, is advancing research on canine hemangiosarcoma, or blood-vessel tumors.
Willie Morris gave us My Dog Skip, a powerful story of a dog’s unquestioning love.
Gregory Ogilvie, director of the California Veterinary Specialist’s Angel Care Cancer Center, has done important and comprehensive work on the nutritional needs of dogs with cancer.
Carl Osborne’s research and clinical interests focus on urinary disorders and renal failure in small animals.
Rod Page is the founding director of the Sprecher Institute for Comparative Cancer Research at Cornell University, where he studies cancer diagnosis and prevention for the benefit of all species.
Donald F. Patterson is on the forefront of canine genetics and disease research, creating the Canine Genetic Disease Information System database for use by veterinarians.
Untold numbers of animals have benefited from Michael Pavletic’s skills as a reconstructive plastic surgeon and from the techniques he has developed for rebuilding and restoring function.
Niels C. Pederson is an international authority on immunological disorders in small animals, and advocates for less pet vaccination.
Agility maven Monica Percival started Clean Run, a weekly newsletter about the sport of dog agility that has expanded into a magazine and a full line of products.
Tim Racer and Donna Reynolds, co-founders of BAD RAP, are among the leaders in Pit Bull rescue; the group’s outreach and training programs have made a life-or-death difference for hundreds of dogs.
Jane Russenberger, an expert in dog training and behavior, has served as senior director of breeding and placement for Guiding Eyes for the Blind for more than 20 years.
Michael Sapp founded Paws for a Cause, a national organization that trains assistance dogs for the disabled and hearing impaired.
Peter Savolainen, a geneticist at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden, studies dog mitochondrial DNA; he has posited that domestic dogs were domesticated 16,000 years ago in Southern China.
Peter Singer, an Australian philosopher and Princeton professor, sparks controversy with his views on animal ethics and his support of the animal liberation movement.
Sue Sternberg, an expert on dog aggression, created the Assess-a-Pet, an innovative (and controversial) method of evaluating temperament of dogs in shelters.
Sheila Styron, former president of Guide Dog Users, successfully campaigned to allow guide dogs to travel to Hawaii without a quarantine period.
Stephen Withrow established the Colorado State Animal Cancer Center, the largest of its type in the world, which works to improve the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer in pet animals.
Thanks to Charlene and Larry Woodward, the dog world has Dogwise, a one-stop shop for books, DVDs, hand-selected toys, foods, supplements and other useful goods.
Susan Wynn is famous for her work in pet nutrition counseling, as well as her four books on the integration of holistic medicine into traditional veterinary practices.