UTCVM Faculty Receives State Award

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Dr. Zenithson Ng, wearing a white lab coat, examines a black Labrador on a table in the veterinary clinic.
Dr. Zenithson Ng gives a dog a treat during a veterinary exam.

Dr. Zenithson Ng, Clinical Associate Professor in UTCVM’s Community Practice, received the John C. New Service Award at the Tennessee Veterinary Medical Association‘s Music City Conference. The award is presented to a person who promotes the well-being of people, through the interaction of people and animals. It is named after Dr. John New, a UTCVM faculty member whose visionary work helped shape the understanding of the human-animal bond. New passed away in 2013.

Headshot of Dr. Zenithson Ng in a blue blazer and white shirt
Dr. Zenithson Ng has received the John C. New Service Award
from the Tennessee Veterinary Medical Association.

Ng’s work and expertise improve the lives of humans and animals locally, nationally, and internationally. In addition to his local role as veterinary advisor to the Human-Animal Bond in Tennessee (HABIT) program and associate director of human-animal interaction research for the Center for Veterinary Social Work, he has served on various human-animal interaction committees and organizations. These include the scientific advisory board of Human-Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI), the Service Dog Scientific Advisory Committee of American Humane, the Human-Animal Bond Advisory Board of Pet Partners, the Working Dog Guidelines Taskforce of the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), and the taskforce on best practices in animal-assisted interventions of the International Association of Human-Animal Interaction Organizations (IAHAIO). Notably, he has also served as the chair of the Steering Committee on Human-Animal Interactions of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).

Ng teaches in several courses such as One Health, Wellness and Ethics, Small Animal Preventive Medicine, Cultural Awareness in Veterinary Medicine, Animal Welfare in Animal-Assisted, and Fundamentals of the Human-Animal Bond. His research interests include the effect of animal-assisted interventions on both humans and animals, enhancement of the veterinarian-client relationship, and assessment of stress and animal welfare. Through exploring the science of the human-animal bond, he remains committed to the reason he became a veterinarian: to help people through helping their animals. Consequently, his dedication to ensuring that therapy, assistance, and working animals thrive in their roles in helping people deeply resonates with his heart and passions.

Interim veterinary dean, Dr. Bob DeNovo said Dr. Ng is an incredible teacher, mentor, and clinician and his influence on the veterinary students in all areas of the profession, especially in the human-animal bond, is like a ripple in a pond. “The ripple effect is tremendous and that will continue to spread with each and every student he influences as they go out into communities throughout the world making it a better place.”

Ng has published extensively in peer-reviewed journals as well as book chapters, abstracts, and proceedings. He is co-editor of the recently published International Handbook of Human-Animal Interactions and Anthrozoology as well as the Handbook on Animal-Assisted Therapy, now in its 6th edition. He also serves on the editorial board of CABI’s journal of Human-Animal Interactions. He has several completed and ongoing grants to support his investigations. Most noteworthy is his funded research into “The effect of animal-assisted intervention on dose of sedation and anxiety in children” as well as “Expansion of Human-Animal Bond in Tennessee (HABIT) into Middle and West Tennessee.”

“I am deeply honored and humbled and filled with gratitude to receive this prestigious award commemorating the very individual who played a pivotal role in my decision to join UT over a decade ago,” said Ng. “Dr. New’s impact on this college and profession has been a constant source of inspiration for me. While I can only dream of emulating even a fraction of his career, I am so lucky to work with and have the support of amazing colleagues. Together, we will continue to carry forward Dr. New’s legacy.”

This is not the first time Dr. Ng has been recognized in the name of a distinguished UT professor with regard to the human-animal bond. He was previously awarded the Bente Flatland Resident Award for demonstrating exemplary scientific knowledge and compassion towards patients and pet owners while in residency at VMCVM.

Several UTCVM faculty and staff spoke about Ng in a video that aired at the TVMA conference.

Ng received his undergraduate degree in animal science from Rutgers University and veterinary degree from Cornell University. He then completed a rotating internship at the ASPCA followed by a combined American Board of Veterinary Practitioners (ABVP) residency and master’s degree program in human-animal bond studies at Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine (VMCVM).