The Shelter Medicine Program at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine will receive a $510,000 grant from national nonprofit Petco Love to address the increasing shortage of shelter medicine veterinarians to assure shelter pets have access to timely and essential veterinary care.
The grant will support an accelerated internship program for six veterinarians to become skilled in shelter animal care, surgery, disease outbreak intervention, forensics, disaster response, behavior, public health, and high-quality high-volume spay-neuter — topics that are bundled into an emerging area of veterinary practice called Shelter Medicine. The program recruits top-performing senior veterinary students from across the country to join a one-year internship at the UF College of Veterinary Medicine upon graduation from veterinary school.
“This accelerated program empowers students with the necessary skills to provide quality care which shelter pets deserve,” said Susanne Kogut, president of Petco Love. “A goal of supporting this program is to also address the shortage of veterinarians practicing Shelter Medicine across the U.S.”
The growing shortage of shelter veterinarians nationwide has hit animal welfare organizations particularly hard. At any one time, there are hundreds of unfilled vacancies for veterinarians in shelters and spay-neuter clinics. This gap delays veterinary care and spay-neuter surgeries, resulting in increased euthanasia of shelter pets, either due to treatable medical conditions or overcapacity.
“Tough times for both the veterinary profession and animal welfare organizations are colliding to roll back progress in animal welfare,” said Dr. Julie Levy, Fran Marino Endowed Distinguished Professor of Shelter Medicine Education at the University of Florida. “This fast-track immersive training will prepare highly skilled and resilient veterinarians who are equipped and motivated to step into high-impact careers in Shelter Medicine.”
Most newly graduated veterinarians are specifically trained for private practice and lack the specialized training and technical skills required for shelter practice. The Shelter Medicine internship program combines training with expert faculty at UF, working alongside seasoned veterinarians in shelters ranging from resource-limited rural facilities to multi-doctor urban centers, and honing skills in high-quality high-volume spay-neuter and advanced surgical procedures. After completing the year-long intensive program, the participating veterinarians will have the skills and confidence to serve as shelter veterinarians, high-quality high-volume spay-neuter surgeons, and crisis responders.
Learn more about Petco Love here: petcolove.org.