Dr. Bonnie V. Beaver has been active with fully 30 veterinary organizations and related groups over the course of a busy career as a veterinarian in academia, with her special interests being the human-animal bond, animal behavior, and animal welfare.
During the AVMA Virtual Convention 2020, the longtime professor at Texas A&M University received The AVMA Award, which recognizes contributions to the advancement of veterinary medicine in its organizational aspects. Among her accomplishments, Dr. Beaver is a past president of the AVMA and a founder of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists and the American College of Animal Welfare.
Dr. Debra L. Zoran, also a professor at Texas A&M, nominated Dr. Beaver for the award. In her nomination letter, Dr. Zoran wrote of Dr. Beaver, “Her contributions to veterinary medicine in general, behavioral science, and animal welfare in particular, and most specifically to organized veterinary medicine have been exceptional and have changed our profession for the better.”
A veterinarian was the only thing Dr. Beaver was ever going to be, according to her mother. Dr. Beaver said: “I do not remember making that choice, but there was never any doubt. This was at the time when ‘Women can’t be veterinarians,’ but I had parents who encouraged me to become anything I wanted.”
Private practice was Dr. Beaver’s first choice. After graduating in 1968 from the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine, she worked for her hometown practitioner. Then she filled in temporarily doing surgery at the veterinary college, and she discovered that she liked teaching and the academic atmosphere. Afterward, she joined the veterinary faculty at Texas A&M.
“The longer I have been in teaching, the more I enjoy working with students,” Dr. Beaver said. “They challenge us to dig deeper into subjects, brighten your day, and reinforce our love of the profession.”
Dr. Beaver said she got involved in many organizations because she learned long ago that if you want to make a difference, you need to be where the decisions are made. Every organization she has belonged to has taught her something, from scientific information to leadership skills. In each organization, she has found her colleagues interesting and engaging.
Dr. Beaver said: “A few years after coming to Texas, a kennel club asked if I would give a talk on conformation and one on dog behavior. Why not? From there, it became obvious that the public was starting to demand solutions for pet behavior problems.”
She went on to call the organizational meeting of what became the American Society of Veterinary Ethology, now the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior. Eventually, she chaired the organizing committee for the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists, which received provisional recognition from the AVMA American Board of Veterinary Specialties in 1993 and full recognition from the ABVS in 2001.
Animal welfare has been important to Dr. Beaver throughout her life. Issues regarding horse slaughter and the housing of farm animals surfaced during her run for AVMA president-elect, so she decided to focus on animal welfare as 2004-05 AVMA president. She helped create the AVMA Animal Welfare Division and reorganize the AVMA Animal Welfare Committee.
“The American College of Animal Welfare came out of the package of ideas associated with my AVMA presidency about keeping veterinarians positioned as the go-to people for animal welfare,” Dr. Beaver said. She chaired the organizing committee for the college, which received provisional recognition from the ABVS in 2012.
Dr. Beaver continues to teach animal behavior, animal welfare, and the human-animal bond to veterinary students at Texas A&M. She also gives lectures and writes books on those topics, does some private consulting, and always enjoys the opportunity to watch her horses show.
— to www.avma.org