Lincoln Memorial University

Dr. Cynthia Otto Awarded for Work with the Human-Animal Bond

Dr. Ottio Award Pictures


Dr. Cynthia Otto serves as clinical adjunct faculty for LMU-CVM. She serves on the Small Animal Medicine Team and teaches fluid therapy and critical care concepts to LMU-CVM 4th year veterinary students. When visiting our campus she works with LMU-CVM’s Critical Care Club.


Dr. Cynthia Otto, founder and executive director of the Penn Vet Working Dog Center at the University of Pennsylvania, has been named the winner of the 2018 Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year Award.


Named in honor of the late Leo K. Bustad, an internationally recognized pioneer in the field of human-animal interactions, the Bustad Award is one of three American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Animal Welfare and Human Animal Bond Excellence Awards sponsored and funded by Merck Animal Health. It is presented to an AVMA member veterinarian in recognition of their outstanding work in preserving and protecting the human-animal bond.


Dr. Ottio Award Picture 2


Dr. Michael J. Topper, president of the AVMA, presented the award to Dr. Otto at the 2018 AVMA Convention held in Denver in July 13.


“The commitment and passion Dr. Otto has shown in her day-to-day work that explores and supports relationships between working dogs and their owners shows how highly she values the connections that exist between people and the animals with which we share our planet,” said Topper. “Bestowing her with this award is a fitting tribute to Dr. Bustad, an outstanding educator, scientist, humanitarian, and pioneer in the field of human-animal interactions.”


Otto is associate professor of critical care in the Department of Clinical Studies and Advanced Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. She has been practicing veterinary medicine for more than 30 years. In addition to her doctor of veterinary medicine degree, Otto has a PhD in veterinary physiology and is double board certified in veterinary emergency and critical care and veterinary sports medicine and rehabilitation.


In her capacity as founder and executive director of the Penn Vet Working Dog Center, Otto has made substantive contributions to fundamental and clinical research on working and performance dogs. Otto founded the center after being inspired by her work monitoring the health and behavior of search-and-rescue dogs while serving as a first responder for the 9/11 terrorist attacks.


Through her work at the Center, Otto provides rehabilitation, fitness and conditioning training to working dogs, including those involved in law enforcement, search and rescue, and sporting events. The center has made tremendous strides in advancing the human-animal bond through research, education, and the study of all facets of canine performance, as well as the interaction of dogs with their handlers and human partners. The program further enhances the human-animal bond by placing puppies with area foster families.


In addition to her work with the specialty working dog community, Otto has been the faculty advisor for Penn Vet’s pet visitation program, VetPets, for 15 years. Her own rescued dog, Dolce, visits the children at the Ronald McDonald House and participates in de-stress events with Penn Vet students.


“I am incredibly honored to receive the Bustad Award,” said Otto. “This award was made possible by the animals in my life! Especially my dog, Dolce, who taught me how to listen to the language of dogs, a gift that has opened my world to so many incredible working dogs; and my cat, Zucca, who introduced me to Zen and taught me that it’s what’s inside that counts.”


By recognizing animal welfare-related achievements through its Animal Welfare and Human Animal Bond awards, the AVMA hopes to raise awareness of the important roles people play in improving understanding of animal welfare-related issues.


423.869.3611 | 800.325.0900
6965 Cumberland Gap Parkway
Harrogate, TN 37752