Special and intricate connections exist in relationships between humans and animals, and the Human-Animal Bond Symposium on Friday, May 3, will serve as a gathering place to explore how those links influence fields from veterinary and human medicine to social work and beyond.

The symposium will be followed by the Booker Willoughby Service Award Ceremony and Dinner recognizing excellence in training, utilizing, and caring for service animals.

Professionals as well as community members are invited to attend the one-day event at The Inn at Virginia Tech and Skelton Conference Center. Online registration will remain open until April 26. Please see the website for registration fees.

The conference, sponsored by the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine’s Center for Animal Human Relationships, will feature experts from across disciplines gathering to discuss the benefits of and challenges posed by human-animal interactions, including services and therapies. Presentations include a keynote address from Aubrey Fine of California State Polytechnic University, whose research on animal-assisted therapy spans more than three decades.

“The human animal bond is one of the most enduring and powerful forces that continues to shape both human and animal well-being in societies across the globe,” said Bess Pierce, director of the Center for Animal Human Relationships. “This event offers topics ranging from animal-assisted therapy in human medicine to the search and rescue dogs of 9/11 to the protection of animal actors in the film industry. We invite everyone to share in this experience that will highlight the joys and challenges of the influences of animals in our lives."

Dedicated to its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech takes a hands-on, engaging approach to education, preparing scholars to be leaders in their fields and communities. As the commonwealth’s most comprehensive university and its leading research institution, Virginia Tech offers 240 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than 31,000 students and manages a research portfolio of $513 million. The university fulfills its land-grant mission of transforming knowledge to practice through technological leadership and by fueling economic growth and job creation locally, regionally, and across Virginia.

Written by Jennifer Gibson.

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