. . . the dogs are healthier. That's really the goal and reward, seeing that the dogs directly benefit.
Danielle Ward '93 became the first of her kind in 2009 and not because she is a veterinarian who majored in history. That year she became the first Dog Law veterinarian for Pennsylvania.
Ward works for the Department of Agriculture's Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement, where she provides support and education to the state's dog wardens, who inspect licensed kennels, pet stores and dog-boarding facilities.
As a veterinarian, Ward has long had an interest in public health and public service. The Dog Law veterinarian job is "a perfect blend of the things I'm most passionate about," she says.
Her dedication was recognized last year when the Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association presented her the Animal Welfare Advocacy Award.
Ward was running her own small-animal veterinary practice in Mifflinburg, Pa., when she saw the Bureau of Animal Health's posting for the job eight years ago. "It was an opportunity I couldn't ignore," she says.
To keep her skills and knowledge sharp, Ward still works at her private practice one day a week.
Ward grew up in Mifflinburg, just nine miles from Lewisburg, where her family always had "critters" — dogs, cats, birds and bunnies. That experience sparked her love of animals, while her interest in medicine came from her physician father and registered nurse mother.
As a student-athlete at Bucknell — she was a co-captain and record-setting goalie on the field-hockey team — Ward was very busy, so she had to be organized and focused. While a history major, she didn't want to close the door on becoming a vet. That meant she also took courses related to science and medicine, prerequisites for veterinary school.
Now her goal — and that of the office — is to help kennel owners, rescue groups and others regulated by the state's Dog Law to understand it and come into compliance while working together to ensure that "the dogs are healthier. That's really the goal and reward, seeing that the dogs directly benefit."