About Centaur


The Center for Animal Human Relationships (CENTAUR) is dedicated to enhancing understanding and appreciation of the social, emotional, and inherent connection between humans, animals, and the natural world through discovery and dissemination.

CENTAUR’s mission is to provide:

  • Educational opportunities for Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine veterinary medical students and Virginia Tech students
  • Service and outreach to the community
  • A basis for collaborative research programs for the study of the animal-human interface to discover new knowledge about the benefits people and animals derive from one another
  • Education and awareness of the health and safety of human-animal interactions


CENTAUR was originally founded in 2004 through a philanthropic gift from the Metcalfe Foundation n of the Eastern Shore of Maryland and organized under the direction of Dr. Marie Suthers-McCabe until she departed the faculty of VA-MD Vet Med in 2006. The Center continued without formal governance and a renewed interest led to the creation of a training program in human-animal bond studies in 2009.

In November 2011, CENTAUR came under the direction of Dr. Bess Pierce, associate professor in the Department of Population Health Sciences. The center has a growing team of core faculty members and research partners supporting its mission, and an advisory committee representing a collaborative team of experts in various fields.