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Center for Engagement and Community Development

Vet Med Excellence in Engagement Award

Bradley Crauer, Assistant Professor in Shelter Medicine had been in private practice for about 20 years when a natural disaster uprooted his life and his career plans. When Hurricane Katrina struck, Crauer was recruited by a friend to be a first responder. While in New Orleans, he helped opened a rescue shelter, saving over 1,300 animals. Upon returning to Seattle, he found his perspective on his work had changed, leading him to get in contact with local shelters and nonprofits to continue the work he began in New Orleans.

Eventually, this new path led him to K-State, where he initiated “Future Vets for Future Pets.” Part of the shelter medicine program at the College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM), “Future Vets for Future Pets” provides spay/neuter procedures for regional shelters and other humane organizations, performed by senior veterinary students under the supervision of Crauer. As a result of his efforts, the Center for Engagement and Community Development (CECD) has awarded Crauer with the Excellence in Engagement Award.

One of the challenges that comes with shelter medicine is its novelty. Veterinarians who graduated decades ago are unfamiliar with the need for veterinarians to practice in animal shelters, especially in rural areas. Crauer is hoping to change this perspective and bring veterinarians into shelter medicine.

For Crauer, working with students has been the most rewarding aspect of this entire experience. “It really comes down to the students,” said Crauer. “Being able to impact those students and watch them grow, learn and want to work in animal welfare.

Students have found through working with Crauer that their professional goals have changed. Crauer cites a student who took the course for surgery experience, and upon leaving a shelter in rural Kansas, asked Crauer how he could help the town he would be working in when he graduated. Crauer said that is the type of impact he hopes to achieve with his students and the community.

Testimony from other students in the rotation demonstrate the influence of Crauer’s teachings. “This rotation is not only a great opportunity to become more proficient in surgery, but to learn about animal welfare in many shelter settings,” read one student’s evaluation. “Having the opportunity to see how a variety of shelters operate with their unique set of resources and missions is so important in beginning to understand and appreciate the challenges that animal welfare organizations face. With this knowledge, we as veterinarians will have more respect for animal shelters and a better understanding of how we can contribute and be a resource for our local shelters, wherever we end up practicing.”

In the future, Crauer would like to expand the program so he can continue to encourage students to pursue work in shelter medicine. “My passion is definitely the impact and asking the question ‘How do we make a difference here?’” said Crauer. “I’m honored to receive this award because it resonates with the goal of our program.”