Future Vets Helping Future Pets
Dr. Elizabeth Davis, Clinical Sciences Department Head
Purpose of the Collaboration:
The shelter medicine program at the College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM) provides spay/neuter procedures for regional shelters and other humane organizations, most of which do not employ a veterinarian. Senior veterinary students perform sterilization (spay/neuter) procedures under the supervision of a CVM faculty member. A registered veterinary technician and DVM intern support the work of the students. The work is completed in a mobile surgery unit which departs each day from the CVM complex to partner organizations. The mobile surgery unit serves a variety of organizations managing unwanted pets. These include municipal shelters, non-profit humane societies, rescue organizations, and community-based trap-neuter-release programs. In addition, the faculty member provides consultation services on request for these organizations, and mobile unit personnel participate in the Hill's Pet Food regional shelter day, outreach activities fund-raising events, and public education seminars for partner organizations. The service goal of the shelter medicine program is to improve the health and adoptability of lost and relinquished pets, and to strengthen student awareness of the homeless pet population.
Length of Partnership:
Salina Animal Services Helping Hands Humane Society (Topeka – one veterinarian) Prairie Paws Animal Shelter (Ottawa) Lawrence Humane Society (one veterinarian) Emporia Animal Shelter Cat Tails Feline Rescue (Manhattan) Riley County Humane Society Beatrice Humane Society Clay County Animal Rescue and Education Center Topeka Community Cat Fix (trap-neuter-release) Hutchinson Animal Shelter Friends of Felines (trap-neuter-release Wichita)
Impact on the Community:
Since its inception in May 2015, the mobile surgery unit has performed over 16,000 spay/neuter procedures for 20 partner organizations. The animal welfare partners receive surgical and medical triage services, free of charge with the exception of lunch provisions for students, allowing them to significantly raise the standard of care for animals under their roof and reallocate funds to maximize their impact at the local level. For instance, some organizations have eliminated spay/neuter voucher programs, and are now able to exclusively place surgically sterilized animals on their adoption floor (eliminating adoption of intact animals). In other instances, regional shelter organizations had previously paid regional veterinarians a reduced fee for spay/neuter services and are now able to invest in infrastructure for animal comfort, infectious disease control, and adoption services. The program is tracking cornerstone shelter organization metrics to document positive impact at the shelter level. Metrics of interest to humane organizations are increasing live release rate, decreasing length of stay, and decreasing total annual intake. Improvement in these metrics support the mission of the organization, strengthen their efficiency, and position them to attract external funding from charitable sources. Current data demonstrates consistent and sustainable improvements as a direct result of the shelter/K-State partnership.
College of Veterinary Medicine Departments of Clinical Sciences and Diagnostic Medicine and Pathobiology, Veterinary Health Center of the Veterinary Teaching Hospital, Veterinary Diagnostic Lab
Impact on the Institution:
The K-State CVM Shelter Medicine program is strategically nested within the K-State CVM’s Veterinary Health Center which engages over 17,000 clients annually, and the Kansas State Veterinary Diagnostic Lab, which receives over 115,000 diagnostic submissions annually. Development of the service-based K-State CVM Shelter Medicine program emphasizes the rapidly evolving specialty of shelter medicine and benefits K-State in scope and visibility, regionally and nationally with the public, academia, donors and prospective students. Students involved in the program are exposed to shelter medicine, have an opportunity to experience diverse animal welfare models, and obtain extensive, repetitive surgical experience. Students prepare a consultation presentation as a group for one partner organization during their rotation and perform an average of 45-55 spay/neuter procedures during the two-week rotation. Currently, 72 senior veterinary students rotate through the program and indicate they are more practice-ready upon graduation and are more likely to engage in philanthropic activity post-graduation. Based on demand for this training and these services, the K-State CVM is expanding to 90 students during the 2019-2020 academic year.