The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP)
APOP is committed to making the lives of dogs, cats, all other animals and people healthier and more vital.
The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) has launched campaigns to fight pet obesity within the veterinary medical community, veterinary schools, and state and local veterinary organizations, and has reached out to various media outlets. We are made up of dedicated veterinarians and veterinary healthcare personnel who are committed to making the lives of dogs, cats, all other animals and people healthier and more vital.

APOP was founded in 2005 by veterinarian Dr. Ernie Ward, a competitive Ironman triathlete, certified personal trainer, and accredited USA Triathlon coach. A key component of APOP’s mission is to develop and promote parallel weight loss programs designed to help pet owners lose weight alongside their pets.
Executive Staff

Ernie Ward, DVM

Dr. Ernie Ward is the Founder of APOP and is owner of award-winning small animal hospital Seaside Animal Care in Calabash, North Carolina. He has been featured on numerous televison shows including NBC Nightly News, CNN, and Nightline and numerous Animal Planet specials and was the resident veterinarian for the Rachael Ray Show and . He has published over 55 veterinary articles and is the author of “Chow Hounds: Why Our Dogs Are Getting Fatter,” LifeLearn’s Client Education series and has produced three veterinary staff training videos and books. His clinic was awarded the National Practice of Excellence in 1999 and he was voted “Speaker of the Year” in 2004 for the North American Veterinary Conference. Dr. Ward’s veterinary articles have been published in the US, Canada, England, China, Japan,Taiwan, Spain, France and Hungary. He is also an expert contributor for Vetstreet.com and Pet Expert for WebMD. Dr. Ward is a certified personal trainer, USA triathlon coach and Ironman (PR 11:45).
Phone: 910-849-1295
Email: DrErnieWard@gmail.com
Website: www.DrErnieWard.com

Steven Budsberg, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACVS

Dr. Steven Budsberg is a Professor and Director of Clinical research at the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine and past-President of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons. He has been awarded numerous teaching and research awards including: Pfizer Animal Health Award for Research Excellence, 1995; Creative Research Medal – University of Georgia Research Foundation, 1996; AVMF-AKC Excellence in Canine Research Award, 1997; Distinguished Postdoctoral Veterinary Alumnus Award, Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine, 1998; AVMA – Fido Award, 2004; Charles Dobbins Award for Excellence in Service, University of Georgia, 2005; Pfizer Animal Health Award for Research Excellence, 2010. Dr. Budsberg has extensive interest and experience in the areas of Canine Gait Analysis, Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs and Evidence Based Medicine applications in Orthopedics. Dr. Budsberg is a Boston Marathon qualifier and avid runner and triathlete.
Phone: 706-542-6314
Email: Budsberg@uga.edu

Mark E. Peterson, DVM, Dipl ACVIM


Dr. Mark Peterson graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1976, moved to NYC to do an internship and medical residency at The Animal Medical Center, and then completed a post-doctoral fellowship in endocrinology and nuclear medicine at The New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center and the AMC.Following his training, Mark stayed on as head endocrinologist at the AMC for over 30 years. In 2009, Mark opened the Animal Endocrine Clinic, a specialty referral hospital devoted exclusively to the diagnosis and treatment of dogs and cats with endocrine disease, where he now cares for his endocrine patients.

Over the last 35 years, most of Dr. Peterson’s clinical and research efforts has been directed toward advancing our understanding of endocrine disorders of the dog and cat, especially diabetes mellitus, thyroid and adrenal disease. He has published more than 450 journal articles, book chapters, and research abstracts. With more than 300 lecture presentations to his credit, Dr. Peterson is a frequent speaker at veterinary colleges and scientific seminars both in both the United States and abroad.

Phone: 212-362-2650
Email: drmarkepeterson@gmail.com
Website: www.animalendocrine.com

Joe Bartges, DVM, PhD, DACVIM, DACVN

Dr. Joe Bartges received his DVM from the University of Georgia in 1987. After completing a 1 year internship in small animal medicine and surgery at the University of Minnesota, he completed a dual residency in medicine and nutrition and a PhD from Minnesota in 1993. He was on faculty at the University of Georgia before joining the faculty at The University of Tennessee in 1997. During his tenure at the University of Tennessee, he was the Professor of Medicine and Nutrition and held the Acree Endowed Chair of Small Animal Research. He is board certified in the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine and the American College of Veterinary Nutrition. Dr. Bartges joined the Cornell University Veterinary Specialists in 2015, where he practices both specialties and serves as CUVS’s Academic director, overseeing the school’s academic mission and clinical studies. He has spoken at more than 200 meetings, and has published more than 200 peer-reviewed manuscripts, review articles, scientific abstracts, and textbook chapters, and he is the co-editor of Nephrology and Urology of Small Animals published in 2011. He is a member of the editorial boards of 5 veterinary journals and has won numerous awards including the Pfizer Carl J Norden Distinguised Teacher award in 2000 and 2008, the Pfizer Animal Health Award for Excellence in Research in 2000, The University of Tennessee Award for Professional Promise and Creative Achievement in 2000, The University of Tennessee – Oak Ridge National Laboratory Science Alliance Research Award in 2001, The University of Tennessee National Alumni Association Excellence in Teaching award in 2007, and the B. Ray Thompson Sr. Outstanding Faculty Performance Award for The University of Tennessee in 2009. He was also selected as one of the top 100 best and brightest in canine medicine by Bark magazine in 2010. Dr. Bartges’ research interests include urinary tract diseases, specifically urolithiasis, renal failure, hypertension, bacterial urinary tract infections, and idiopathic cystitis in cats, and nutrition, specifically the role of nutrition in management and prevention of disease, obesity, and diabetes.

Lester Mandelker, DVM, Dipl. ABVP (Canine and Feline), Fellow AAVPT Pharmacology/Toxicology

Dr. Lester Mandelker is a board certified specialist in Feline and Canine Practice. He is a nationally recognized veterinarian and an expert in veterinary pharmacology, pet supplements and antioxidant therapy and pet health care. Dr. Lester Mandelker is the owner and director of Community Veterinary Hospital located in the Clearwater and Largo area of Pinellas County in Florida. He also runs The Paradise Pet Motel located on the premises. Dr. Mandelker is the only board Certified Veterinary for both Dogs and Cats in the Belleair, Clearwater, Largo and Seminole areas of Pinellas County Florida. He has practiced for over 35 years and has been recognized twice among the nation’s top veterinarians. He practices on all dogs, cats and exotic pets. Dr. Mandelker also consults with other veterinary specialists online about complex cases through the Veterinary Information Network (VIN). He is also a competitive tennis player.
Phone: 727-585-2007
Email: lestervet2@aol.com
Website: www.communityveterinaryhospital.com

Elizabeth Lund, DVM, MPH, PhD

Dr. Lund joined Banfield in 2006 as Senior Director of Research. Her professional experience has included work in academia, industry, and public health. In addition to her DVM degree, Dr. Lund has a MPH and a PhD in epidemiology/informatics. Banfield’s Applied Research & Knowledge team is dedicated to the generation and dissemination of new knowledge and understanding in support of the practice of evidence-based veterinary care. Dr. Lund’s PhD thesis research focused on the development and evaluation of a model for diagnostic surveillance in companion animal veterinary practice using computerized medical records. Over the last 20 years, she has been active in epidemiologic research on risk for disease in companion animals, specifically overweight and obesity, as well as co-morbidities associated with excess body condition. Current research at Banfield focuses not only on generating new knowledge to support optimal veterinary care but enlightened dissemination of this information to all stakeholders in the veterinary profession, i.e., veterinarians, paraprofessionals, and pet owners.
Phone: 503-922-5389
Email: elizabeth.lund@banfield.net
Website: www.banfield.net

Phil Zeltzman DVM, Dipl. ACVS

Dr. Phil Zeltzman is a traveling, board-certified veterinary surgeon near Allentown, Pennsylvania. He performs specialized surgery on dogs, cats, and exotic animals. Dr. Zeltzman is co-author of “Walk a hound, lose a pound” (Purdue University Press, due in May 2011) with leading nurse researcher Rebecca Johnson. This book is dedicated to the prevention and treatment of canine and human obesity. He has published numerous articles in national and international veterinary journals. He is also a prolific speaker internationally. He is a contributor to The Bark, Veterinary Practice News and Dog Fancy. His interests include all aspects of soft tissue, orthopedic, cancer, reconstructive and neuro-surgery, as well as physical therapy and emergency cases. He has a strong interest in the prevention and treatment of overweight and obesity. Dr. Zeltzman is a passionate skier and a ski instructor, but was forbidden to ski again after a hip fracture.
Phone: 503-922-5389
Email: drphilzeltzman@hotmail.com
Website: www.drphilzeltzman.com

Julie A. Churchill, DVM, PhD, DACVN

Julie Churchill

Dr. Julie Churchill graduated from Michigan State University (B.S and DVM.) She attended the University of Georgia for her small animal internship in medicine and surgery. She then completed combined residencies and her PhD program in small animal internal medicine and clinical nutrition at University of Minnesota.

Dr Churchill is a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Nutrition and currently an Associate Clinical Professor, section chief and director of the Nutrition Service at the University Veterinary Medical Center.

Dr. Churchill is passionate about all aspects of small animal clinical nutrition including the role of nutrition in maintaining wellness and preventive care, obesity prevention and treatment, the nutrition needs of geriatric patients, nutritional management of kidney diseases, and critical care nutrition. She is also interested in improving ways of client communication to successfully integrate nutrition into the patient care of every patient. She worked on the task force to develop the AAHA guidelines for weight management. She serves on the board of the Pet Nutrition Alliance (PNA) as well as the educational tools committee of PNA working to development of a” Go-to” website for credible nutritional information for veterinary practice teams and consumers. Dr Churchill also serves on the Education Committee for the American College of Veterinary Nutrition.