Elanco Human-Animal Bond Lecture Celebrates Retirement of Renowned Director of the Center for the Human-Animal Bond Alan Beck

Friday, August 25, 2023

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This year’s Purdue Veterinary Conference will kick-off with a special opportunity for veterinarians, veterinary nurses, students, faculty, staff, and animal enthusiasts to hear the final lecture by renowned human-animal bond expert, Dr. Alan Beck, who is retiring as the Dorothy N. McAllister Professor of Animal Ecology and director of the Center for the Human-Animal Bond. The Elanco Human-Animal Bond Lecture will begin at 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, September 19 in Fowler Hall in Stewart Center. The talk is free and open to the public.

Alan Beck Portrait

Entitled, “The Human-Animal Bond: Totally Natural and Completely Necessary,” the talk by Dr. Beck will draw on his years of professional experience and his extensive insight and expertise. Dr. Beck received his bachelor’s degree from Brooklyn College in 1964 and master’s degree from California State University at Los Angeles in 1968. He went on to earn his Doctor of Science in animal ecology from The Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health in 1972. He has studied the ecological and public health implications of dogs in Baltimore, St. Louis, New York, and along the United States-Mexican border. His 1973 book, The Ecology of Stray Dogs: A Study of Free-Ranging Urban Dogs is considered a classic in the field of urban ecology and was republished by Purdue University Press in 2002.

Together with Dr. Aaron Katcher, Dr. Beck edited the book, New Perspectives on Our Lives with Companion Animals, and co-authored Between Pets and People: The Importance of Animal Companionship, first published in 1983 then revised in 1996. In 2011, he edited The Health Benefits of Dog Walking for Pets and People (with Rebecca Johnson and Sandra McCune). Dr. Beck also co-edited the Routledge International Handbook of Human-Animal Interactions and Anthrozoology that is due out in September (with Aubrey Fine, Megan Mueller, Zenithson Ng, and Jose Peralta).

Dr. Beck has published more than 90 professional articles and over 60 book chapters, as well as a half-dozen books on the nature of the relationship between people and animals. He also is a founding board member of the Delta Society, now called Pet Partners. Dr. Beck directed animal programs for the New York City Department of Health for five years, and then was the first director of the Center for the Interaction of Animals and Society at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine where he served for 10 years.

In 1990, Dr. Beck joined the faculty of the Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine and became the director of what is now the Center for the Human-Animal Bond. The center was established to develop a comprehensive understanding of the relationship between people and their companion animals. He also is the editor of the scholarly book series, New Directions in the Human-Animal Bond for Purdue University Press.

Dr. Beck’s extensive research has coincided with and documented the growing appreciation of the benefits of human-animal interaction, from reducing blood pressure to boosting post-heart attack survival and combatting loneliness. Dr. Beck will discuss how the human-animal bond is an inherent part of our evolutionary journey, proving it to be both natural and essential. The lecture will be a fitting capstone to Dr. Beck’s storied career that has spanned almost 60 years, of which 33 have been spent on the Purdue faculty.

Following the lecture, there will be a reception in the Purdue Memorial Union West Faculty Lounge celebrating Dr. Beck’s retirement.

Writer(s): Susan Xioufaridou and Kevin Doerr | pvmnews@purdue.edu

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