Could you introduce yourself briefly to WSAVA members?
I started out in marine ecology and oceanography and was involved in aquaculture research at San Diego State University. I worked in labs at Sea World and Scripps Institute of Oceanography and was a funded Sea Grant and NOAA recipient. I later realized that research was not my calling and pursued veterinary medicine, which has proven to be one of the best decisions I have made. I graduated from the University of Minnesota’s College of Veterinary Medicine with a DVM degree. I was exposed to the concept of the Human-Animal Bond during this time, which helped shape the work and personal philosophy I embrace today.
What is your ‘day job’?
I am a general practitioner and owner and CEO of a moderately large, hybrid-type practice (Animal Care Group of Lake Oswego) that employs around 80 full and part-time staff. Within this group are 12 general practitioners, 2 cardiologists, 1 orthopedic surgeon, 3 ER docs and 1 rehabilitation specialist. My time is spent seeing patients and providing management and administrative oversight.
When and how did you first become involved with the WSAVA?
I was a delegate representing the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) from 2010-2013.
You have a keen interest in nutrition. How did this come about?
In 2011, as President of AAHA, I was part of a collaborative group that presented the idea of a collaborative nutrition group that came to be known as the Pet Nutrition Alliance (PNA). Also, as a Human-Animal Bond (HAB) advocate, I realized that nutrition plays a major role in human-animal interactions and bonding, and that feeding pets, not only provides sustenance and health, but also a closer human-animal relationship.
What does your role as Co-Chair of the WSAVA Global Nutrition Committee involve?
I help to arrange education in the form of tracks at conferences that demonstrate how nutrition is an integral part of all veterinary services, from wellness care to being part of disease prevention and treatment. I work with the Committee members to develop tools that make nutritional assessment more approachable for the general practitioner and I promote the WSAVA’s Global Nutrition Guidelines through presentations and publications. With my Co-Chair Dr Marge Chandler, a double boarded nutritionist and internist, I organize and facilitate a dedicated and hard-working Committee of individuals representing all parts of the globe.
Why do you believe that the GNC’s work is so important?
In the past, nutrition’s role was poorly understood in everyday practice. We promote its importance in disease prevention and immune health and as an adjunct therapy to most of the other veterinary specialties. Surveys have shown that around 85% of clients expect or desire information on nutrition but only 15% feel they receive it. Remember: if your patient does not eat or is provided inadequate nutrition, the whole body suffers.
What is the Committee working on at the moment?
The Global Nutrition Committee always has a long list of ‘to dos’. We continue to seek to understand the many factors globally that affect nutritional understanding or recommendations, and, to that end, collaborate with nutritional organizations from various parts of the world. We are always on the lookout for new ‘tools’ that will assist veterinarian to provide accurate and timely nutritional assessments and advice. Our current projects involve developing a list of ‘frequently asked questions’ and responses, addressing common questions and some nutritional myths, and also a tool to help interpret food labels on pet foods. We have recently translated the GNC Nutrition Toolkit into Spanish and Chinese and are now working on a Portuguese and French translation.
What do you do outside work to relax?
When I am not speaking or promoting pet nutrition, the value of the Human-Animal Bond and the concept of One Health, I enjoy gardening, global fishing explorations (mainly fly-fishing), adventuresome dining, wine collecting, cooking, movies, music and the enjoyment of friends, family, and animals.