Animal Hero of the Month: Dr. Lila Miller, DVM

She’s a veterinarian with a passion for shelter animals who has dedicated her life to making theirs better.


The August 2014 winner of our Animal Hero of the Month award is Dr. Lila Miller of the ASPCA and Cornell University in New York City.

Dr. Miller’s affinity for the veterinary profession started at 6 years old and hasn’t stopped since. After attending Cornell University and becoming a veterinarian, she immediately began working for the ASPCA.

Her focus was shelter medicine, and she served as director of the ASPCA’s Brooklyn Clinic for 15 years. The experience she gained in the clinic would be passed forward into her future projects.

Shelter medicine had never been taught as a course in an American college, and Dr. Miller held the first one in 1999 at Cornell University and later on the Veterinary Information Network in 2003.

She co-edited the only 3 veterinary textbooks about shelter medicine and later co-founded the Association of Shelter Veterinarians in 2001, of which she was president in 2005 and 2006.

Dr. Miller was one of the authors of the Guidelines for Standards of Care of Shelter Animals. All of her efforts helped improve the lives and experiences of pets, pet parents and veterinary professionals and led to lower euthanasia rates in shelters. Shelter medicine was not considered a veterinary specialty, and she helped establish it as such this year.

Currently Dr. Miller serves as vice president of veterinary outreach and as a veterinary adviser at the ASPCA in addition to being an adjunct assistant professor at Cornell University. In between her busy schedule, she also teaches shelter medicine to veterinary professionals at colleges and universities locally and internationally and is the first veterinarian to be a member of the National Board of Medical Examiners.

Her lifelong dedication to animals, shelter pets and shelter professionals has helped enhance the quality of life for so many, and the changes and innovations she brought to veterinary medicine have helped shape the industry and improve it. The veterinary profession agrees, and they have respectfully recognized and honored Dr. Miller with the following awards:


Here’s what all of our award winners get:

  • A feature article like this one
  • Social media mentions across all of our platforms
  • A permanent spot on our Wall of Heroes
  • Our custom, engraved gold-tone paw print medal with ribbon shipped to the winner
  • $50 donation (or cash award) from Petful

About Dr. Miller’s Organizations

American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) was founded in 1866 and is the oldest humane organization in the United States. Programs include humane law enforcement, mobile clinic outreach initiatives, veterinary forensics and a mobile animal crime scene investigation unit.

Association of Shelter Veterinarians was formed in 2001 as a network for veterinarians working in animal shelters and other facilities. The network has grown globally with 750 member veterinarians and 22 chapters internationally.

Cornell University was founded in 1865 by Ezra Cornell, inventor of the telegraph. The privately endowed research university is partnered with the State University of New York and averages more than 22,000 students, 1,600 faculty members, 43 Nobel Laureates and ranks 6th in the nation for academic reputation. Cornell University was the first college in the nation to award a degree in veterinary medicine.

Q&A With Dr. Lila Miller

1. Dr. Miller, what got you started helping animals?

I wanted to be a veterinarian from an early age, when I had to be taught what the word for animal doctor was. I don’t know why, but it was just something I always wanted to do, and I was determined to follow through with it.

2. What’s your earliest childhood memory that is animal-related?

My first animal related memory is going to the ASPCA shelter to get a puppy.

3. How old were you?

Six years old.

4. What is your favorite animal?

I don’t have a favorite animal, but I am somewhat partial to cats.

5. Tell us about the one animal you will never forget.

My dog Tippy was my best friend as a child. I spent hours talking and playing with him. I was devastated when he died at the vet’s office, and I never got to say goodbye.

6. What are the least and highest amounts of pets you have had at one time?

Because of my work and travel schedule and living situation, I have never had more than 2 cats at once. Over the years I have had parakeets and hamsters as well.

7. If your pets could talk, what would they say?

Life is good living with Lila — we have her well trained!

8. If you could solve one problem facing animals, what would it be?

Animal cruelty to all animals, both deliberate and through neglect due to indifference, lack of knowledge and respect for them.

9. If you could be reincarnated as any animal, which would you choose and why?

Unless I came back as one of my cats, I would be an eagle. I like the idea of being free to soar over long distances and view the world from above (probably a bald eagle so hunters wouldn’t shoot me).

10. If the rainbow bridge exists, which pet would you most like to see waiting for you on the other side?


Kristine Lacoste

View posts by Kristine Lacoste
Kristine Lacoste, editor in chief of Petful, is an author, poet and pet lover from Louisiana. She is the author of an award-nominated book, One Unforgettable Journey, and was host of a weekly pet news segment on the National K-9 Academy Radio Show. She was the New Orleans coordinator for Dogs on Deployment, a nonprofit that helps military members and their pets, for 3 years. She is also employed as chief operating officer for a large mental health practice in Louisiana. Kristine has a bachelor’s degree in psychology, a bachelor’s degree in English and a Master of Business Administration degree.

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