What is Shelter Medicine?

Shelter Medicine is all about improving the lives of homeless animals; whether they are living in a state of the art rehoming centre or out on the streets. We believe that our vets can contribute towards improved welfare for these animals with their unique skill set. Combining surgical and medical expertise with an emphasis on problem solving - a shelter vet draws on their broad knowledge to provide the best treatment and advice for animals in their care.  

Vet with ferret on shoulder

Herd health principals are applied when dealing with large groups of animals without forgetting the health and happiness of each individual in our care.

Shelter Medicine is an emerging field of medicine with the first class taught in Cornell University, USA in 1999. The subject had developed since then and is now offered in most veterinary schools in the USA. Reflecting this progress, it has become the most recent veterinary speciality recognised by the AVMA (American Veterinary Medicine Association).

Shelter medicine encompasses many areas of veterinary care;

Disease management- Preventative healthcare, knowledge of infectious diseases, housing and disinfection

Population control- Managing the population of animals inside the shelter and also managing outside the shelter by providing neutering programs

Pet behaviour is a strong focus in conjunction with other professionals

Cruelty cases and forensics.

What is special about RVC Shelter Medicine?

We currently have 4 dedicated shelter vets who work in shelters in conjunction with our Charity Partners Dogstrust, RSPCA and Wood Green Animal Shelters. The RVC is proud to have created the first formal UK student rotation in the field in February 2014. During the rotation, students work alongside our experienced shelter vets at our partner shelters and learning hands on the challenges and rewards of looking after animals in the shelter.

How can we help your shelter or charity?

We like to find new and innovative ways to fulfil our partners’ needs and find solutions to many challenges - we want to listen to your unique needs as an organisation. Working in partnership with many organisations, we can provide a vet (with or without nursing support) for your shelter to assist with your clinical service. However, we are happy to tailor make your service. Let us talk with you, with no obligation, to see if we can help - either as a short term or long term project.  

Who are we….

The leader of our Shelter medicine program, Louise Allum and her team, Nathalie Dowgray, Sam Barley and Natalie Lowry have a wide range of experience in feline and canine shelters. Areas of interest include feline medicine, veterinary forensics, dentistry and shelter management. Louise can be contacted at lallum@rvc.ac.uk.

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