When TV veterinarian Dr. Marty Becker recently shared a story about the Maddie's Shelter Medicine Program at the University of Florida with his half-million Facebook fans, it quickly became clear that many of his followers, pet owners and veterinarians alike, thought it referred to veterinarians working in shelter-affiliated clinics serving the public.
Shelter medicine is something entirely different. It's the management of the health, housing and behavior needs of animals who are in shelters. It's about preventing and responding to disease outbreaks. It's about ensuring pets in shelters are happy, healthy and headed for adoption in the shortest possible time.
The practice of shelter medicine means veterinarians with special training in the needs of shelter animals are in charge of making decisions and policy about their care and well-being in animal shelters.
Shelter medicine is also a newly-recognized specialty in veterinary medicine, with the first group of shelter medicine veterinarians scheduled to sit for exams to become board-certified this fall.
At Maddie's Fund, we know that without shelter medicine, we can't save all the healthy and treatable pets in our nation's shelters, and can never become a no-kill nation. That's why we're the largest funder of shelter medicine education programs in the world.
You can learn more about the past, present, and future of shelter medicine in this Maddie's Fund mini-documentary.