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The Shelter Medicine Program at the University of Florida (UF) College of Veterinary Medicine will be gifted a $510,000 grant from national nonprofit Petco Love. These funds are to address the growing shortage of shelter medicine veterinarians by ensuring shelter pets have access to timely, necessary veterinary care.
According to an organizational release,1 the grant will support an accelerated internship program for 6 veterinarians to finetune their skills in shelter animal care, surgery, disease outbreak intervention, forensics, disaster response, behavior, public health, and high-volume spay-neuter . These specialties are coupled into a rising realm of veterinary practice called shelter medicine. The program finds top-performing senior veterinary students nationwide to partake in a 1-year internship at the UF College of Veterinary Medicine after graduation from veterinary school.
“This accelerated program empowers students with the necessary skills to provide quality care which shelter pets deserve,” stated Susanne Kogut, president of Petco Love, in the release.1 “A goal of supporting this program is to also address the shortage of veterinarians practicing shelter medicine across the US”
The shelter veterinarian shortage has especially affected animal welfare organizations. At any given time, there are hundreds of unfilled roles for shelter veterinarians and spay-neuter clinics. This prevents shelter pets from receiving essential veterinary care and spay-neuter surgeries, causing a surge in euthanasia of shelter pets, either because of 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 Julie Levy, DVM, PhD, DACVIM, DABVP, Fran Marino 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.”1
Most recent veterinarian graduates are trained just for private practice and do not have the specialized training and technical skills needed for shelter practice. The shelter medicine internship program combines training with expert faculty at UF, working alongside experienced veterinarians in an array of shelter settings and gaining experience in spay-neuter and advanced surgical procedures. Following the internship program, the veterinarians will have the skills and confidence to be shelter veterinarians, high-quality, high-volume spay-neuter surgeons, and crisis responders.
National nonprofit Petco Love invests in UF Shelter Medicine Program to increase shelter veterinarians amid national shortage. News release.University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine.January 19, 2023. Accessed January 23, 2023. https://sheltermedicine.vetmed.ufl.edu/2023/01/19/petco-love-invests-in-shelter- medicine-internship