All posts by MSMP at Cornell

Announcing the 2020 Cornell Shelter Medicine Club officers, Hider, Minoli, & Young

Cornell’s Shelter Medicine Club is an official student chapter of the Association of Shelter Veterinarians. The club was founded in 1999, and is involved with organizing opportunities for veterinary students to learn and become involved with shelter medicine.  The club sponsors evening lectures regarding a variety of shelter medicine-related topics, hosts weekly Monday lunch rounds presented by a Maddie’s® Shelter Medicine Program staff veterinarian, and organizes Saturday clinics at the Tompkins County SPCA to give veterinary students the chance to practice being a clinician in a shelter setting.  The club is also involved with many fundraising events including the annual Tompkins County SPCA March for Animals. The Shelter Medicine Student Club is open to all students at the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine.

The Cornell Shelter Medicine Club is planning several virtual tours of shelters across the country this Fall. These tours will give club members an inside look into the sheltering world. Club members are also planning a craft day to make supplies and items for local shelters as well as a holiday gift-giving drive for those same local shelters. The 2020 Shelter Medicine Club  officers are Kelly Hider (President), Ally Minoli, and Anna Young.

Here are the 2020-2021 Cornell Shelter Medicine Club Officers:

Kelly Hider President

Kelly is a second-year vet student with interests in shelter medicine and small animal medicine. She has worked as a veterinary assistant for the last 5 years and found the greatest fulfillment through working with the pets that so many are lucky to call “best friends”.

Anna Minoli    Vice President

Ally is a second-year vet student. She loves working with small animals and with marine mammals. She hope to pursue a career in shelter medicine after she graduates. She has a 5-year-old cat named Pixie and a 3-year-old rescue dog named Wolfie. Ally is very excited to be a Club Officer this year.

Anna Young                    Clinic Coordinator

Anna is a second year vet student. She wants to work in shelter medicine after she graduates. She is especially passionate about improving access to veterinary care for families living in underserved communities. Anna has a 13-year-old cat named Mari and wants to have a dog someday too.

Dr. Aly Cohen joins Cornell Shelter Medicine

image Dr. Aly Cohen headshotDr. Aly Cohen has joined Maddie’s® Shelter Medicine Program at Cornell University for a one-year appointment as an Instructor of Shelter Medicine.




Dr. Cohen was born and raised in New Jersey and graduated from Binghamton University with a double major in biology and anthropology. Prior to veterinary school, she volunteered for several years as an EMT. She completed her DVM at Ross University in 2015 and finished her clinical year at Purdue University. After graduating from veterinary school, Dr. Cohen moved back to Binghamton to work at a non-profit small animal hospital and cat sanctuary. She is the contract veterinarian at the Binghamton Ross Park Zoo, where she served on the board of directors for several years as well.

Dr. Cohen first became involved with Maddie’s® Shelter Medicine Program at Cornell (MSMP) through volunteering with Spayathon for Puerto Rico last year and loved the experience. Dr. Cohen is thrilled to be able to bring her experience to MSMP at Cornell as an instructor. Outside of shelter medicine, her medical interests include surgery and emergency medicine as well as zoo/wildlife. Her hobbies include hiking, baking, reading, music,  yoga, and spending time with family,  friends, and her Pomeranian named Java.

Resources in recognition of domestic violence awareness month

October: Domestic Violence Awareness Month

In recognition of October being Domestic Violence Awareness month, we have put together a list of resources for those needing assistance and those looking for more information so they may better serve humans and animals in need.

Animal abuse is often the first point of intervention in cases of human violence- including child abuse, spousal and domestic violence, elder abuse and so on. When animals are abused, humans are at risk and vice versa. This is commonly known as “the Link”.

Lila Miller, DVM ’77

Understanding “The Link”

“What is the link” (National Link Coalition):

“Pets and Domestic Violence” (National Coalition Against Domestic Violence- NCADV):

“Help Domestic Violence Victims Endangered by Pet Housing Challenges” (ASPCA blog post):

Resources on Services

Animal Welfare Institute

  • Safe Havens: Search for safe havens for pets of domestic violence victims and other agencies that either provide sheltering services for the companion animals or have a relationship with an entity that does, or provide referrals to such facilities:

Red Rover:

National Domestic Violence Hotline

24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, the National Domestic Violence Hotline provides essential tools and support to help survivors of domestic violence.

Contacts to The Hotline can expect highly-trained, expert advocates to offer free, confidential, and compassionate support, crisis intervention information, education, and referral services in over 200 languages

Informative Resources

Red Rover

Animal Welfare Institute

Humane Society of the United States

Animal Legal Defense Fund

The Link Between Cruelty to Animals and Violence Toward Humans:

McKinney’s Family Court Act § 842  

New York State includes pets in protective orders. This New York law pertains to the issuance of protection orders.  In July of 2006, the amendment that allows companion animals owned by the petitioner of the order or a minor child residing in the household to be included in the order was signed into law.  The law specifically allows a court to order the respondent to refrain from intentionally injuring or killing, without justification, any companion animal the respondent knows to be owned, possessed, leased, kept or held by the petitioner or a minor child residing in the household. Click here for a list of states that do the same:


Podcast Summary: The Eviction Crisis-What it is and How to Prepare


As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, many are worrying about the ever-looming threat of eviction once federal and state eviction moratoria expire around the country. Because of this, many animal welfare organizations are wondering if they will have a sudden influx of pets as a result.

stock image:

In a recent People are Animals Too, Darn it podcast episode entitled, “The Eviction Crisis: What it is and How to Prepare” host Melanie Sadek discussed the impending eviction with attorney Abby Volin, founder and president of Opening Doors PLLC, a team of animal accommodation experts who help residential & commercial property managers, tenants & residents, universities, employers, & healthcare providers, welcome animals through their front door. Sadek and Volin also discuss the steps that animal welfare organizations can take to prepare for the upcoming housing crisis.

Opening Doors helps animal welfare organizations develop tools that expand housing options for people with pets. Some key points made during the podcast include:

  • Housing is the number one factor determining the health of a community, making housing insecurity a public health crisis.
  • During the COVID moratoria, most states are waiving fees associated with not paying rent, but tenants will be responsible for paying back rent eventually.
  • Eviction processes vary by state and municipality. Certain aspects are consistent:
    • A landlord CANNOT evict their tenant – they can only start a proceeding.
    • A JUDGE is the only one with the power to evict – the time period between the landlord’s notice (the “cure” time) and the start of an eviction proceeding varies state to state.
    • The landlord must clarify how much time renters have to cure the problem before any kind of court proceeding will begin.
    • “Self-help eviction” is prohibited in most states – where the landlord comes in and changes the locks or throws the tenants belongings out of the property.
    • A judge usually must give additional notice during the proceedings for removal from the property (i.e. they typically cannot say “you had 30 days to rectify, you must be out by tomorrow”).
      • After the proceedings, the eviction notice still has to be delivered to the tenant, who is given a specific period of time to vacate
      • After the predetermined period of time, a Marshall will come carry out eviction. Marshalls are the only individuals who can remove a tenant’s belongings out of the rental property.
  • Prior eviction puts a bad mark on a person’s record, making landlords wary of renting to that person in the future. After being evicted, it becomes more difficult to be accepted as a tenant in the future.

The best solution animal welfare organizations can provide is to help find a way to keep a person and their pet together.

  • Encourage individuals to call neighbors, friends or coworkers to see if someone can take them in temporarily. The shelter can provide items such as a crate, food, etc.

Additional tips for animal welfare organizations which want to help the community during this crisis include:

  • Develop tools to help community members understand their rights by making a chart that includes:
    • Reasons a tenant can be evicted.
    • How much notice is required between an eviction notice and the start of court proceedings.
    • What’s the retaliation statute (when a landlord acts in response to a tenant standing up for their rights) in the community?
    • How much does the state/municipality allow for a security deposit? This is the maximum that can be asked (pet deposit + security deposit can’t exceed this).
  • Work with other human service providers in the community, such as meals-on-wheels or social work organizations, to better support pet owners.
  • Get involved with the local tenant’s association and share with them available resources for tenants with pets that may be struggling.
  • Partner with behaviorists and trainers to help keep animals out of the shelter and in their homes.
  • Poll volunteers and fosters – is there a lawyer in this group that can help with gathering this info or an organization to partner with?

To listen to the podcast, click on this link:

Additional resources:

Opening Doors:

More episodes of “People are Animals Too, Darnit!”:


Summary: ASPCApro’s “Safe Workplace Playbook for Animal Shelters” (Released August 2020)

The ASPCA just released ASPCOpro’s Safe Workplace Playbook for Animal Shelters (August 2020), which includes COVID-19 processes, procedures, and guidance (consistent with the CDC’s guidelines) for safely carrying out daily shelter activities in the time of COVID-19. Sections provide separate guidance for staff/volunteers and managers.

The playbook is meant to be used as a jumping off point from which individual shelters can create program specific protocols.

Physical Distancing

Learn 10 steps staff and volunteers can take to maintain physical distancing, emphasizing that “self-awareness and accountability for our own actions are key to assuring everyone’s safety.” In order to achieve the recommended physical distancing, it is necessary to limit occupancy in the shelter. Two physical distancing checklists are included, one for shelter managers and one for “On the Road and in the Field.” Physical distancing by clients and partner agencies is also required.

Hygiene & Cleaning

Consistency is key, both at home and at work! Hygiene practices are split into two sections, one for staff and volunteers and the other for managers. Identify key times to enact handwashing and a list of cleaning practices during COVID-19.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Did you know there is a correct way to put on a mask and take it off?  While not technically PPE, face masks are essential in mitigating the spread of COVID-19. This section discusses safe mask practices and putting on, wearing, removing, and laundering that is essential for keeping people safe during this pandemic.

Here are additional resources on PPE from the playbook:

Screening & Monitoring

Create a screening and monitoring process for staff and volunteers through use of this checklist, including a Daily Self-Screening Questionnaire.

Working with Animals

Managers and staff are provided with checklists of precautions to take to reduce COVID-19. Since the greatest risk of COVID-19 transmission is from person to person contact, the playbook breaks down the steps and precautions both managers and staff should take to reduce COVID-19 transmission.

Business Travel

The playbook provides guidance for key areas of consideration and precautions to take to stop the spread of COVID-19 during essential business travel:

  • Before you leave
  • What to pack
  • During your trip
  • Travel by car
  • Hotels
  • Air travel

Additional resources from TSA and CDC on travel are listed.

More Information

ASPCOpro recommends appointing a Site Manager and Assistant Site Manager to liaise with the shelter staff and leadership team. Duties of the Site Manager are provided.

The playbook also provides three additional COV ID-19 resources: ASPCAPro COVID-19 Information Hub; AVMA (COVID-19 section); CDC (COVID-19 section).

Here is the link to download the full pdf version of the ASPCApro Safe Workplace Playbook for Animal Shelters.

Cornell’s Shelter Medicine Program provides spay/neuter services to community cats of CU employees & students


The dedication and care you give to the feral/barn cats of the Cornell community is absolutely outstanding. I truly value your work and dedication to the care of our cat colonies. The free spay/neuter service means the world to me and my cats. Thank you again.      

-Client, CornellVetCARES Community Cat Spay/Neuter Clinic

In April 2019, Maddie’s® Shelter Medicine Program (MSMP) at Cornell began to provide subsidized spay/neuter clinics for outdoor & community cats of Cornell faculty, staff, and students through our CornellVetCARES (CVC) Community Cat Spay/Neuter Clinics . These monthly clinics were made possible through a grant by Dr. Hollis Erb, Emeritus Professor of Epidemiology. Since then, MSMP faculty and staff have organized and executed 12 spay/neuter clinics for community cats at Cornell’s Small Animal Community Practice Building located on Cornell’s Ithaca campus.

204 cats have been served by our clinics thus far. “I love it – The people that run the clinic were friendly. Informative, and very helpful. Thanks so much! I’m excited for NO MORE KITTENS – love them but don’t want any more!”, said one of our clients. Along with spay/neuter, we also provide routine vaccinations, ear mite and flea & tick checks and treatments (as necessary), and the option for ear tipping for feral and community cats.

Several Cornell veterinary students have also gained hands-on clinic experience while participating in these clinics, either as volunteers or while on Shelter Medicine Clinical Rotation with MSMP:

During the clinic, I helped facilitate the flow of cats through the clinic, from intake to anesthesia, and during surgery to discharge. I was also able to perform some surgeries (both spays and neuters).  I think it was great that people really wanted to bring us these cats to have them spayed or neutered. They were very appreciative of the services. The supervising veterinarians were great! I liked working with a great team of other students and vets, and I enjoyed getting to practice my surgical skills.

Lauren Alyssa Johnson (DVM ’20)

This was my first high-volume spay/neuter experience. I helped in recovery and made sure all cats safely recovered from anesthesia and received preventives and vaccines as necessary…. I learned that when recovering feral cats, it’s important to put them in their carrier early in recovery because they can become aggressive quickly and wake up very rapidly.

-Victoria Robertson (DVM ’20)

Clinics scheduled in March and April of 2020 were cancelled due to COVID-19. Clinics resumed in June and July 2020 with COVID-related guidelines and procedures in place. We just completed our 12 CornellVetCARES Community Clinic on August 21st, with 2 more clinics scheduled in September, October of 2020. We plan on offering similar clinics again next year under a new grant from the Feline Health Center.

All three of the cats I brought in are doing great. I truly appreciate this “gift” as I have exhausted my own ability to finance the spay/neuter of these community cats.

-Client, CVC Community Cat Spay/Neuter Clinics

Click here to learn more about our CornellVetCARES Community Cat Spay/Neuter Clinics.


HSUS/HSLF release key U.S. policy recommendations to prevent another global health crisis rooted in poor treatment of animals

On May 14th, 2020, the Humane Society Legislative Fund (HSLF) and Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) released a statement, calling for the U.S. to implement 11 key policy changes to help prevent future pandemics like COVID-19. Written by Sara Amundson and Kitty Block and published on the HSLF blog, the article stated “governments can and should implement [these recommended changes] to prevent another global health crisis rooted in our poor treatment of animals.”

Though this initial article did not give specific details on how these changes could be made, it did link to an HSUS blog post that gave further details about each of the 11 recommended policies, focused on 5 key areas: wildlife, factory farming, animal testing, companion animals, and animal fighting.

Here are the 11 recommendations:

  1. Shut down wildlife markets permanently around the world.
  2. End the trade of live wild animals.
  3. Ban close encounters with wild animals and their use in traveling shows.
  4. End fur farming and fur trade.
  5. Move to a better system than the current intensive confinement of farm animals.
  6. Shift the global food industry’s focus to plant-based proteins.
  7. Fund alternatives to animal testing.
  8. End the sale of dogs from puppy mills.
  9. End the dog and cat meat trade.
  10. Manage street dog populations.
  11. Pass and enforce strong laws on cockfighting.

On July 13, 2020, HSUS and HSLF released “The Animal Connection: Policies to prevent another global health crisis,” a 24 page document providing an in-depth description of each of the 11 policy recommendations initially stated a few months earlier on March 14th, along with specific actions U. S. lawmakers should take to implement them.

COVID-19 has demonstrated just how far reaching and devastating the consequences of a pandemic can be. Just as COVID-19 has affected nearly every facet of life, so could a future pandemic, including one with dramatically higher mortality rates. Therefore, it is critical that government and the private sector make key policy changes to help prevent future disease outbreaks….

The Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society Legislative Fund’s science-based policy recommendations to reduce the risks of another global health crisis would not only help limit future outbreaks of disease—and stop the resulting human and economic toll—but they would also strengthen our social, cultural, economic and political commitments to the better treatment of animals (pg. 23)

To read the full article and recommendations made by HSUS and HSLF, click here.

Intake prevention strategy highlight!


Intake prevention strategy highlight: Rehoming Programs – A Proactive approach to serving your community while reducing intake (Webinar hosted by CalAnimals)

Looking for a way to stem the flow of intakes into your shelter to prevent exceeding your capacity and overwhelming your staff? Consider utilizing a platform that helps owners rehome their pets so they never have to come through your doors! In this webinar, hosted by the California Animal Welfare Association (CalAnimals). Mandy Evans, the Executive Director of Pan Handle Animal Shelter (PAS) in Idaho presents Home to Home, a rehoming platform developed by her organization in 2016 thanks to funding by Maddie’s Fund . It has since expanded and is in use at 23 shelters in 15 states. Check out the highlights of this rehoming platform below which empowers the community to be a part of the solution and expands your shelter’s ability to save lives!

The process:

  • Your organization gets a “Home to Home” website with the organization’s branding.
  • Owners looking to rehome their animals fill out an online form with the animal’s information and photograph and submit it.
  • The submission is reviewed (to prevent inappropriate posts) by a staff member who then submits it for posting.
  • The profile is posted for 30 days. At the end of the 30 days, the managing staff member receives a notification to contact the individual to determine whether the profile should be renewed or given an outcome.
  • People looking for an animal click “find a pet” and search through the pet profiles on the site.
  • A link is available in each profile to “contact owner” which goes through a portal and sends either an email or text message to the owner who posted. The owner corresponds with the interested individual to facilitate a meet, etc.

Other details:

  • The shelter is not involved in the rehoming process beyond hosting the platform, though they may wish to aid in improving an animal’s adoption profile, or to offer coupons for care in their clinic to provide spay/neuter services for the adopter.
  • The platform can also be integrated with Facebook so animal profiles can be shared on the organization’s Facebook page.
  • The platform has a networking feature that allows regional shelters to connect through Home to Home.
  • Data collection occurs on the back-end of the website and generates a report of the number of animals submitted, animals posted to the website, and outcomes (must be entered by staff member at this time)
    • New data upgrades coming soon: will allow the owner to update the animal’s outcome and allow organizations to collect adopter information in order to offer services (such as training, spay/neuter or other medical).

Addressing Common Concerns:

  • Liability: Prior to its expansion, three separate attorneys evaluated the platform to determine the liability risk to animal sheltering organizations and determined the shelter was not liable as it was only providing the platform for the rehoming process.
  • Cost: No rehoming fee is collected by the organization.
    • Charging fees to the rehoming individual can make an unnecessary barrier for them, making the animal more likely to be surrendered to the shelter instead.
    • Additionally, rehoming fees do not ensure better outcomes and could lead to the potential use of the platform by individuals who have bred their animal.
  • Behavior/health concerns and dishonesty on the part of the person rehoming or the person adopting: There are techniques you can use to safeguard against receiving false information.
    • Examples given include: (1) having quality conversations and reading the profiles submitted by the person rehoming to ensure there are no behavioral red flags; (2) Offer microchip placement and registration to the new owner and collect driver’s license information to prevent people from obtaining the animal for illegal activities such as dog fighting.
    • Ultimately, it is beneficial to accept that you can’t know everything and have to trust your community has the ability to work together and not lie to each other.
  • Accessibility for individuals who do not have a computer: Instead, collect information via paper profile and the managing employee uploads the information. If the individual has no email, an organizational/employee email can be used and the phone number of the interested person can be collected and provided to the owner to complete the adoption.


  • FREE for the first year, #ThanksToMaddie, and then $35/month.
  • Allows you to provide more support to the community without increasing the workload significantly. Also helps follow up with animals you were unable to bring into your shelter.
  • Having a rehoming platform allows rehoming of animal species the organization may be unable to care for in the shelter (fish, reptiles, birds, small mammals, etc).
  • By decreasing the number of surrenders, more space/time is available to help other organizations who may be taking in a larger volume of stray animals.
  • Helps owners while they are on your waiting list for intake to the shelter.
  • Increases customer satisfaction!
  • Some people may end up keeping their animal with time.
  • Can also be used for foster animals if your organization is fine with a fee-waived adoption and screening performed by your foster families!

Want more information? Check out the full webinar here:

Or check out the national Home to Home website here:


What is HASS?


My shelter colleague mentioned something about a program called HASS. What is it?

HASS is an acronym that stands for Human Animal Support Services. It’s both a philosophy of sheltering that is centered around community needs and the human-animal bond, and a pilot program being tested by a few dozen shelters across the US and HASS logoCanada. The main goal of HASS is to reconfigure shelter programs to keep animals out of the shelter and in the community as much as possible in order to better help those animals and the community members who care for them.

The HASS idea arose from weekly zoom conversations facilitated by a sheltering organization called American Pets Alive (the national educational arm of Austin Pets Alive, a Texas-based rescue organization) and sponsored by Maddie’s Fund. The weekly American pets Alive (AmPA) conversations are open to anyone in sheltering. These Monday morning calls regularly have five hundred to a thousand participants. Although the conversations initially started out as a way to keep up with the latest COVID-19 information and recommendations as shelters adapted to operating only essential activities during the early days of the pandemic, discussions have taken off in many directions. Some of the conversations stemming from the AmPA calls include the lack of diversity, equity and inclusion in animal sheltering; racial disparities in animal control enforcement and shelter adoption policies; challenges to the idea that being in a shelter is a better thing for any animal whether owned or stray; and how to deal with push-back from boards and local government when enacting reforms.

The current HASS model includes 12 elements:

  1. Animal protection and public safety services that focus on support, education, access to care, and providing needed resources, not punishment
  2. Helping lost pets find their way home without impoundment by providing direct support and assistance to finders and seekers
  3. Providing tools for self-rehoming with shelter support including tools like Home to Home and Rehome.
  4. Easy access to remote help from the shelter for community members
  5. Keeping families together by providing animal medical, housing, and behavioral support to community members
  6. Accessible telehealth services for pet owners, foster caretakers, and finders of injured/sick animals.
  7. A focus on individual case management to help people keep pets, assist with rehoming, and in finding lost pets
  8. Intake-to-placement pathways identified before or at shelter entry to reduce length of stay in shelter or foster
  9. Emphasis on foster as the default placement for pets entering the shelter system; placement in adoptive homes directly from foster homes
  10. Sheltering mainly for emergency medical, short-term housing, and urgent public safety cases
  11. Engagement of volunteers in every aspect of HASS
  12. Partnerships with human social services organizations, vet practices, rescue groups, and the communities served by the shelter

Some of these elements are a bit redundant and will likely be streamlined as HASS pilot shelters implement their new protocols and discover where the overlaps are. And none of these elements are new- many shelters have been implementing smaller versions of these programs for years. The major difference is the scale involved and the obvious need to re-train intake staff in case management and re-allocate animal care staff to support foster parents who will be providing a bulk of the care in some communities. In some jurisdictions, laws and ordinances may need revision before certain elements can be legally enacted. And tracking how much owners and animals are assisted outside of the classic intake/shelter model will require new metrics; simple intake-outcome equations will no longer accurately measure shelter success.

The HASS conversation is still a work in progress. For more information, please explore the HASS website . To get involved in one of the working groups or to see how your shelter can start implementing some of these programs, please use the contact information available here.

Building Anti-Racism in Animal Welfare


As we continue to work through the COVID-19 crisis, we are simultaneously facing the ongoing issue of systemic racism in America. This is not a new problem, but a problem brought to light by current worldwide protests and the demand for judicial change. We share the resources below to further the conversation in the animal welfare industry to help understand how racial inequality and economic divide impact society and the care of animals. We are dedicated to building anti-racism in animal welfare and our communities.

  • Harvard’s Implicit Bias Project: Project Implicit: Complete a self-test for implicit bias (15 min).  The IAT measures the strength of associations between concepts (e.g., black people, gay people) and evaluations (e.g., good, bad) or stereotypes (e.g., athletic, clumsy). The main idea is that making a response is easier when closely related items share the same response key.


  • Brene Brown: Brene Brown speaks with professor Ibram X. Kendi, New York Times bestselling author of How to Be an Antiracist and the Director of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University. They discuss racial disparities, policy, and equality, but really focus on How to Be an Antiracist, which is a groundbreaking approach to understanding uprooting racism and inequality in society and individuals.
  • Animal welfare specific: Listen to the podcast with John Dunn and Marc Peralta: Leaning in and Listening – Diversity and Inclusion in Animal Welfare (1 hr, 19 min). Animal welfare and animal services lack diversity and inclusion, both in staffing and and in relationships to communities. There are millions of pet-loving people of color in the US; addressing systemic raciscm is crucial to ending the killing of animals in shelters and a moral imperative. This episode focuses on how to do better and be better moving forward in lifesaving work.

Other resources: