Decorated U.S. Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell, the subject of the New York Times bestseller and Hollywood blockbuster movie Lone Survivor, visited Midwestern University's Glendale campus on April 2nd to share his perspectives on the human-animal bond. The event was co-sponsored by the National Veterinary Cancer Registry.
A standing-room-only crowd of nearly 600 people, including veterinary experts from around the Valley of the Sun, heard not only Mr. Luttrell's incredible story of survival, but also of the relationship he shares with his service animal, a white Labrador named Mr. Rigby.
Kathleen H. Goeppinger, Ph.D., Midwestern University President and Chief Executive Officer, introduced the presentation, emphasizing that "all of our lives are affected by animals, whether that be through feed animals or diseases that animals transmit, or for many of us, the psychological bond of our dog or cat that is a real support as we go forward in our lives."
"Riggs is my best friend, he's my buddy," Mr. Luttrell told the audience. "We were together before I met my wife, we're that close. I know all his emotions and he knows all of mine."
Mr. Rigby is Luttrell's constant companion and has provided therapeutic support as he recovers from wounds he sustained in Afghanistan as part of Operation Red Wings. The service animal is at his side 24 hours a day, seven days a week - even on extended speaking engagements.
Mr. Luttrell's talk highlighting the positive effects animals have on human health compliments Midwestern University's recognition of One Health, an initiative dedicated to improving the lives of all species through the integration of human medicine, veterinary medicine, and environmental science.
Included in the University's six colleges and 14 graduate-level healthcare degree programs is the College of Veterinary Medicine, Arizona's first veterinary school, which welcomes its first class this fall. Faculty and staff from the College were in attendance to hear Mr. Luttrell's remarks.
Additionally, Midwestern University is planning an Institute for Healthcare Innovation (IHI) on the Glendale Campus that will serve as a clinical research facility and advanced imaging center for all Midwestern healthcare professionals and scientists. The IHI will conduct clinical studies involving any therapeutic or diagnostic area including, but not limited to, oncology, neuroscience/behavior, and the human-animal bond.