Q&A with Fetch keynotes: Marty Becker, DVM, and Temple Grandin, PhD, MS


Spotlighting our Fetch Coastal and Fetch Long Beach keynote presenting pair

Marty Becker, DVM, known fondly as “America’s Veterinarian,” is the founder of Fear Free, which works to prevent and alleviate fear, anxiety, and stress in pets by inspiring and educating the people who care for them. Temple Grandin, PhD, is a designer of livestock-handling facilities and a professor of animal science at Colorado State University. She has designed facilities in the United States, Canada, Europe, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, and other countries. Together the pair will present a keynote lecture titled, “If You're Not Looking After The Emotional Wellbeing of Animals...You're Not Practicing Best Medicine.” This talk will focus on behavior medicine and specifically how high levels of fear, anxiety, and stress can affect vital sign accuracy, masked pain, and blood chemistries. To learn a little more about the speakers, check out this Q&A style interview with Becker and Grandin.

Can you introduce yourself and share a little bit about how you got started as a veterinarian?

Marty Becker, DVM

Marty Becker, DVM

Becker: I wanted to be a veterinarian from age 6 after helping a mixed-animal practitioner with a dairy cow with milk fever. That day he said, "Marty, I think you should consider being a veterinarian. You're smart and good with animals." That was the spark, that lead to wildfire of purpose, passion, and plan to get into veterinary school. Funny thing is, after getting into veterinary school at age 20, 14-years of a dream with deadlines, I listened to a talk by Dean Leo Bustad, DVM, PhD, welcoming us to vet school. Leo talked about the human-animal bond, and next thing I knew, I volunteered to help match elderly people with homeless pets and decided to be a companion animal practitioner. I joke that my dairy career lasted 30 minutes.

Temple Grandin, PhD, MS

Temple Grandin, PhD, MS

Grandin: Today I am a distinguished professor of animal science at Colorado State University. My interest in cattle started when I visited my aunt's ranch when I was a teenager. It is so important to get students exposed to many things so they can determine what they like.

What has been the most rewarding moment in your career?

Becker: Without a doubt, receiving the Bustad Award as Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year. Dr Leo Bustad, for whom the award is named, was my veterinary school dean, a cofounder of the Delta Society, and the person who coined the term the human-animal bond. He was also in the first wave of researchers that proved that pets didn't just make us feel good but were good for us (the human-animal health connection). Because of Leo's special interest in me, my veterinary school education was different. I learned not just about the science, but the soul as well. I learned to practice medicine that was state-of-the-art and state-of-the-heart. It is also the bedrock upon which Fear Free was built. We now know we must create and environment and use science-based procedures to make sure animals aren't just healthy, but happy, and enriched.

Grandin: One of the most rewarding things in my career was seeing how my work improved treatment of animals. Fear is a very strong stressor. It is really good that the importance of reducing fear is getting more and more recognized.

What inspired you to give a joint keynote on the emotional well-being of animals?

Becker: I have known Temple for decades but didn't really know her. Over the years, I'd read her books, listened to her talks, we'd appeared on programs together, even broken bread with group dinners. But we had not shared intimate one-on-ones where we got to talk science and soul. I knew she had transformed the cattle industry, but didn't know that her interests went beyond food animals to companion animals, as well. After Temple and I spent time together in a typical companion animal practice, I witnessed her amazing sensory gifts visualizing the pet's veterinary experience in a new way. Temple became intimate with the science-based protocols of Fear Free and helped identify new areas for research. Working together, we showcase the not just the science, but the proven, practical, in-the-trenches protocols to keep animals healthy and happy.

Grandin: I really like talking about the science that shows that animals have emotions. They can feel both negative and positive emotions. I like to explain the 7 emotional systems outlined by neuroscientist Jaak Panksepp. They are fear, anger, separation distress, seek—the urge to expose, sex, mother young nurturing and play.

What do you hope attendees take away from the lecture?

Becker: A dream with deadlines to "doing well by doing good." Financially successful and emotionally wealthy. A proven path to practicing like you'd always dreamed of; where you love animals, and they love you back.

Grandin: I hope attendees will have a greater understanding of the importance of behavior and seeing things from the animal's point of view. To understand animals, you need to get away from verbal language. They live in a sensory based world of sights, sounds, smells, touch, and taste.

There are 2 chances to see Becker and Grandin speak at our Fetch conferences in Atlantic City, New Jersey and Long Beach, California. Register now before it’s too late!

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