Event recap: Our 1st shelter medicine mini-conference was a success!

Our 1st biannual shelter medicine mini-conference was a success! On the afternoon of Friday, November 22nd, the 2019 Fall Cornell Maddie’s® Shelter Medicine Mini-Conference took place at Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine in Ithaca, New York. Organized by Sarah Nickerson, MSMP’s Program Coordinator, this half-day workshop brought together over 40 staff members and volunteers from 12 different regional shelters to discuss “Sheltering by Numbers: Using Metrics to Save Lives”.

Shelter Medicine faculty, along with MSMP Program Founder, Dr. Jan Scarlett, each led 45-minute presentations on different topics relating to metrics and the use of data in shelters. Dr. Berliner (Director of Shelter Medicine) opened the workshop with a presentation on the importance of one day in the shelter for an animal, and ways to move them through shelters faster while still ensuring they have all they need in the process. Next, Dr. Lena DeTar (Assistant Clinical Professor) guided attendees through simple formulas to identify where shelters might be stretched (staffing, surgical budget, capacity for care, etc.) or have the ability to provide more. Dr. Jan Scarlett (Founder of Cornell’s Shelter Medicine Program) followed Dr. DeTar, sharing her knowledge of what reports matter in the shelter setting, and why they matter. She focused on metrics that can be most influential in monitoring and helping to improve the health of shelter animals. To wrap up the afternoon, our newest faculty member, Dr. Erin Henry (Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Instructor), talked about the importance of organizational charts, getting attendees up on their feet to create and describe the org charts for each of their organizations. As can be seen in the photo below, this was a crowd favorite with personnel from each organization working together to map out the structure of each of their organizations. Way to go Team MSMP at Cornell!

Attendees of the 2019 fall Cornell Maddie's Shelter Medicine Mini-Conference work together to create their org charts.

Attendees of the 2019 Fall Cornell Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Mini-Conference work together to create their org charts.

Our 2nd mini-conference is scheduled to take place in the Spring, on April 3rd, 2020. Be sure to save the date! We will be discussing adoption outcomes. Registration for this event will open in early March. If you would like to be added to the CU Shelter Med Mini-Conference mailing list, please email Sarah Nickerson (Shelter Medicine Program Coordinator) at SN298@cornell.edu.

(Story and photos provided by Sarah Nickerson)


Summer Recap!

The summer is flying by! We have been busy running spay neuter clinics, providing consultations to shelters, bringing our 2 new interns into the swing of things, and preparing for the start of a new round of Spayathon for Puerto Rico, the start of the new academic year here at the college, and our new Cornell Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Mini-Conferences that are scheduled to start this Fall. Here is a brief recap of our summer.

2019 Shelter Medicine Ineterns, Wesley Cheung and Sarah Ericksen at TCSPCA_JUL19

Drs. Wesley Cheung and Sarah Ericksen    (2019 interns) at the Tompkins County SPCA, July 2019

In July, we hosted the 16thannual ASPCA Cornell Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Conference, providing high-quality education to improve the quality of life for animals. This was the first year the conference was held in the newly renovated Schurman Hall here at the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. The facilities were perfect and nearly 500 veterinary, animal shelter, and spay/neuter professionals were in attendance. Thank you to Maddie’s Fund®, ASPCA, and Cornell!

We have been busy providing spay/neuter for community cats of Cornell University faculty, staff, and students through our CornellVetCares Community Cat Clinic. We served 16 cats at our August 2 clinic with all hands on deck! Three Cornell veterinary students volunteered their time with us and even our Shelter Medicine Program Coordinator, Sarah Nickerson, joined in, providing support in recovery and help with records. Our next clinic will be held on August 23rd. We are already almost at capacity for this clinic, with 21 cats already registered! We will hold 3 more clinics in 2019 on September 20th, October 18th, and November 22nd.

The first of our new Cornell Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Mini-Conferences is scheduled for the afternoon of November 15, 2019. These half-day workshops are open to all shelter staff, veterinarians, technicians, management, board members, etc. Registration for the Fall 2019 conference will open soon.


November 15, 2019      (12:00pm to 4:30pm)

Fall 2019 Cornell Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Mini-Conference

Sheltering by Numbers: Using Your Data to Save Lives
Location: Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, Ithaca, NY

Hosted by Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Program at Cornell. #thankstomaddie


If you have any questions or comments about infromation, feel free to email Sarah Nickerson, Shelter Medicine Program Coordinator, at SN298@cornell.edu.

Enjoy the remaining weeks of summer and keep your eyes out for exciting announcements coming soon from Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Program at Cornell!


Sarah Nickerson
Program Coordinator
Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Program
College of Veterinary Medicine
Cornell University

On the road again: MSMP provides onsite consultation services for regional animal shelters

Drs. Henry (Shelter Medicine Instructor), Gallegos (2019 MSMP intern), and Fischer-Daly (2019 MSMP intern)

Drs. Henry (Shelter Medicine Instructor), Gallegos (2019 MSMP intern), and Fischer-Daly (2019 MSMP intern)


On the road again….

Drs. Henry, Gallegos, and Fischer-Daly are on the road this week, providing consultation services to a regional animal shelter who has invited them to better manage their population and increase life-saving. They will spend several days onsite, reviewing everything from animal flow-through, adoption methods, to touring facilities and interviewing staff.

Before our team even arrives at a shelter for an onsite consultation, we ask managers to fill out an in-depth set of questionnaires. This information aids our veterinarians in getting to know the struggles, questions, capabilities, and individual characteristics specific to each shelter. It also helps us target specific problem areas and make the best use of our time while there.

Drs. Henry, Gallegos, and Fischer-Daly will present their preliminary findings to shelter staff and the shelter’s board of directors. Then, back in their offices at the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, they will write up a comprehensive report with all of their findings and recommendations for the shelter. Shelters can use these reports to help secure grants, make policy or protocol changes, and design optimal sheltering facilities for the populations they serve.

To learn more about options for consultation with MSMP at Cornell, visit our website .

If you have any comments or questions about this post, please email Sarah Nickerson, Shelter Medicine Program Coordinator, at SN298@cornell.edu . Thank you!

What’s next?: Outgoing ’19 MSMP intern, Dr. Mackenzie Gallegos, plans to return home to help care for Houston’s homeless pets!

Dr. Mackenzie Gallegos ('19 MSMP intern) completes a puppy's medical chart at a Spayathon for Puerto Rico clinic.

Dr. Gallegos completes medical records for a puppy at a Spayathon for Puerto clinic.

Dr. Gallegos discussed records with CU vet student, Renee Staffeld ('20)

Dr. Gallegos discusses records with CU veterinary student, Renee Staffeld, at a Schuyler County Wellness Clinic led by MSMP at Cornell.

Dr. Gallegos ('19 MSMP intern) performs a solo spay surgery at a CornellVet Cares Community Cat Clinic.

Dr. Gallegos performs a solo spay surgery during a CornellVet Cares Community Cat Clinic led by MSMP at Cornell.








As I reflect on my year with the Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Program at Cornell, I think of my “last minute” decision to apply for a shelter internship after seeing Dr. Elizabeth Berliner speak at the annual ASPCA Cornell Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Conference. After listening to her lecture, I knew I needed to learn everything I could from Dr. Berliner. Luckily, I was accepted to this internship and was able to learn from the entire MSMP team and the amazing staff at the SPCA of Tompkins County. Before the internship, I could talk shelter medicine; now, I actually understand the concepts that encompass this diverse field and know how to apply them to any shelter I walk into.

Through the internship, I became a confident surgeon and clinician. Working at TSPCA each day allowed me to understand not only the medical side of sheltering, but experience the management and operations on a daily basis. My favorite aspect was participating in shelter consultations throughout New York State. Consulting with other shelters allowed a glimpse at the diversity of shelters out there. It also allowed critical thinking, problem solving, and the ability to improve the lives of animals and people in the sheltering world. Ultimately, working alongside extraordinary mentors, teachers, and friends made the internship an unforgettable experience.

Next, I am heading back home to Houston to work with various shelters in the area. Like many shelters in the southern United States, Houston struggles with a large population of homeless animals and a variety of infectious diseases. I feel well equipped to handle these challenges and hopefully can make a positive impact on this community that is near and dear to my heart.

– Dr. Mackenzie Gallegos (2019 Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Intern)

What’s next for Dr. Fischer-Daly?

2019 MSMP Intern, Sabine Fischer-Daly DVM, talks about her internship experience and plans for the future

Sabine Fischer-Daly DVM ('18 Shelter Medicine Intern) examines a dog at a Spayathon for Puerto Rico clinic

Sabine Fischer-Daly DVM (2019 Janet L. Swanson Intern of Shelter Medicine) examines a dog at a Spayathon for Puerto Rico clinic led by MSMP at Cornell.

My internship year with Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Program at Cornell brought me so many unique learning opportunities and experiences. Thanks to a wonderfully supportive team, the internship provided me the tools and experience to effectively and efficiently manage care of individual shelter animals and the shelter population as a whole. I had the opportunity to participate in a variety of outreach programs, in communities as far away as Puerto Rico and as near as our neighboring counties here in New York’s Southern Tier. I was able to travel to animal shelters throughout the Northeast to participate in comprehensive shelter consultations led by MSMP at Cornell, providing strategies for improvement of shelter management and animal care. Being able to visit a variety of shelters, large and small, rural and urban distinguished this internship and made for a remarkable learning experience.

Next I am headed West to work as the Community Wellness and Shelter Veterinarian at the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region, in Colorado Springs. There I will provide care for animals at the shelter, conduct public spay and neuter, and provide wellness to pets of low-income owners via a mobile unit. I look forward to applying what I’ve learned as a Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Program intern to this exciting work.

Last but not least, I must add that the MSMP faculty provided exceptional mentorship. With apparent ease, they provided appropriate support along the way and challenged my intern mate, Dr. Mackenzie Gallegos, and I to sharpen our skills. I cannot thank them enough for this year of growth as a shelter veterinarian.

– Sabine Fischer-Daly DVM (2019 MSMP Shelter Medicine Intern)

Spring Highlights: Outreach and more!

Wow! We have had quite a busy Spring here at MSMP at Cornell!

Spayathon for Puerto Rico

In May, we went on our last trip of Round 1 of Spayathon for Puerto Rico. During Round 1 of Spayathon for Puerto Rico, members of Cornell’s Shelter Medicine team along with volunteers ran 3 mash-style high-volume spay neuter clinics in Puerto Rico. We have signed on for Round 2 of Spayathonfor Puerto Rico with a commitment to lead 6 more spay-neuter clinics over the next two years. We will continue to lead veterinary service trips to multiple locations in Puerto Rico as part of the Spayathonfor Puerto Rico initiative, an endeavor comprised of 23 organizations who have come together under the leadership of the Humane Society of the United States to alleviate difficult conditions for animals in the wake of Hurricane Maria.

Images from Spayathon for Puerto Rico: Round 1 (Summer 2018-Spring 2019):

Dr. Fischer-Daly (intern '19) with Spayathon for Puerto Rico clientsclients and pets at Spayathon for Puerto Ricoclinic is ready and set up for Spayathon for Puerto Rico

Schuyler County Wellness Clinics

We held Schuyler County Wellness Clinics in both April and May. In collaboration with the Humane Society of Schuyler County, we provide wellness care, such as physical exams, vaccines, deworming, and flea/tick prevention to the under-served pets of low-income owners in Schuyler County.

These clinics are made possible by an Engaged Opportunity Grant through Engaged Cornell. Engaged Opportunity Grants are designed to help faculty and staff from across the University by supporting large and small projects which create, enhance, or encourage participation in community-engaged initiatives.

Images from the May 18th clinic at the Humane Society of Schuyler County:

Dr. Gallegos discussed records with CU vet student, Renee Staffeld ('20)CU vet student volunteering at Schuyler Wellness Clinic discusses procedures with your pet ownerCU vet student, Renee Staffeld, does physical exam on large dog during Schuyler County Wellness Clinic Photo of cars outside the Humane Society of Schuyler County on the day of the wellness clinic run by MSMP at Cornell

CornellVet Cares Community Cat Clinics

On June 14th, we ran our 3rd CornellVet Cares Community Cat Clinic for outdoor and barn cats of Cornell faculty. staff and students. Thanks to a grant made possible by Dr. Hollis Erb, Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Program at Cornell is offering several subsidized spay/neuter clinics for outdoor and community cats of Cornell faculty, staff, and students at the new Small Animal Community Practice building on Cornell’s Ithaca campus through the end of November 2019.

Coaxing a cat out of a carrier during MSMP at Cornell's CornellVet Cares Community Cat ClinicDr. Henry writes out the surgery schedule during one of MSMP at Cornell's CornellVet Cares Community Cat ClinicDr. Gallegos (shelter medicine intern '19) performs a solo spay surgery during a CornellVet Cares Community Cat Clinic


NEW! Cornell Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Mini-Conferences

This Fall, we will be hosting our first Cornell Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Mini-Conference. Taking the place of our monthly Central New York Shelter Forum meetings, these biannual half-day workshops will focus on shelter medicine topics and are designed to complement our annual summer ASPCA Cornell Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Conference, which will be held this year from July 12-14.

Lead by MSMP faculty, these smaller meetings are meant to act as networking and information gathering sessions for our local and regional shelters. Our first Cornell Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Mini-Conference will be held on November 15, 2019, at Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine located in Ithaca, NY. The topic for our first mini-conference will be “Sheltering by Number: Using Data to Save Lives”.

More information will be available soon in the “News & Events” section of our website.

If you have any questions or comments about the events or information provided in this MSMP at Cornell blog post, please email Sarah Nickerson, Shelter Medicine Program Coordinator, at SN298@cornell.edu .

Thank you,

Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Program at Cornell



Central New York Shelter Forum is back! Check out the 2018-2019 schedule below.

Hello Shelties!

Welcome to a new and exciting year of CNY Shelter Forum with your Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Team at Cornell! We have a change in the day that Shelter Forum occurs this year. Shelter Forum will now be on the first Tuesday of the month! Same time – 5:30pm to 7:30pm, and same place – Conference Room 1 at the Animal Health Diagnostic Center. 

Our Central New York Shelter Forum brings together local animal shelter staff and volunteers to discuss a broad range of topics relevant to shelter medicine and animal care. Led by our staff program’s staff, we offer advice and information and hold roundtable discussions on a new topic each month.

Here is a list of our 2018-2019 CNY Shelter Forum schedule of presentations. As always, if there is a specific topic you would like covered or you have any ideas for future topics, please email vickiweber2015@gmail.com. See you at forum!

Tuesday, September 4th
Dr. Lena DeTar, Assistant Clinical Professor of Shelter Medicine
Overview of Feline Infectious Disease and Testing

Tuesday, October 2nd
Dr. Mackenzie Gallegos, Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Intern ’18
Geriatrics In The Shelter

Tuesday, November 6th
Dr. Erin Henry, Shelter Medicine Instructor
Use of Behavior Drugs In The Shelter

Tuesday, December 4th
Dr. Sabine Fischer-Daly, Janet L. Swanson Intern of Shelter Medicine ’18
Overview of Domestic and International Transport

WINTER BREAK – January and February 2019

Tuesday, March 5th
Dr. Elizabeth Berliner, Janet L. Swanson Director of Shelter Medicine
Review of Updates in SAWA (Society of Animal Welfare Administrators) Guidelines

Tuesday, April 2nd
Dr. Elizabeth Berliner, Janet L. Swanson Director of Shelter Medicine
Puerto Rico Spay / Neuter Project Efforts

Tuesday, May 7th
Speaker TBD
Animal Hoarding and The CIA (Cruelty Intervention Advocacy)

Tuesday, June 4th
Speaker TBD
Presentation TBD




Cornell Vet Students talk about their Externships in Shelter Medicine

Thanks to funding from the ASPCA, Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Program at Cornell was able to award five Cornell Veterinary students with travel stipend grants to support their externships in Shelter Medicine in the past year. Each student received up to $500/week, for a maximum of two weeks, to assist with their travel and housing expenses, and enable these veterinary students to complete externships at animal shelters in the US. Continue reading below to find out about their experiences. To learn more about externship opportunities, please visit our website at www.sheltermedicine.vet.cornell.edu .

My externship at the Humane Society of Boulder Valley (HSBV) was an incredible, rewarding, and informative experience. Through the mentorship and support of the staff, I gained an extensive amount of knowledge in a multitude of fields including shelter operations, behavior, spay/neuter and infectious disease. The two week experience was divided between spending time in the shelter and performing surgery. The first week primarily involved learning the shelter’ processes regarding intake of animals, care of animals within the shelter, and adoption. The second week focused on performing surgical procedures for shelter animals.

My externship at the Humane Society of Boulder Valley (HSBV) was an incredible, rewarding, and informative experience. Through the mentorship and support of the staff, I gained an extensive amount of knowledge in a multitude of fields including shelter operations, behavior, spay/neuter and infectious disease. The two week experience was divided between spending time in the shelter and performing surgery. The first week primarily involved learning the shelter’s processes regarding intake of animals, care of animals within the shelter, and adoption. The second week focused on performing surgical procedures for shelter animals.

During the first week, I had the opportunity to learn about how the shelter handles their intake of animals- the process they go through from the moment they come in the door to when they are placed on the adoption floor. I helped perform physical exams on new kittens and watched temperment testing for dogs, and behavior evaluations on cats. One of my roles during the externship was to administer morning and evening medications to the animals under the care of the Humane Society. This gave me the opportunity to follow animals throughout their stay at the shelter. One of the best experiences I had during this part of the externship was spending time watching the behaviorists work withdifferent dogs, modifying their behavior to help them become more adoptable and successful in their new homes. Each animal was given a plan and worked with on a regular basis.

The second week, my time was focused on strengthening my surgical skills by performing multiple spays and neuters on cats and dogs. I performed these surgeries on my own without assistance, but always had someone willing and able to help if I had any questions. This really allowed me to gain confidence in my abilities. I also had the opportunity to assist the shelter medicine intern in performing a femoral head osteotomy.

Throughout my externship with HSBV I felt welcomed and supported. It was a very large and fast paced shelter that provided me a unique sheltering experience I had not encountered before. It was incredibly hands- on and I felt very involved even though I was only there for two weeks. This externship was invaluable and I am so glad I had this opportunity.     –Amanda Lacroix, CU CVM ’18


My time at the Humane Society of Boulder Valley was an especially enjoyable and worthwhile experience. The veterinarians and staff at the shelter were a wonderful group to work with and were engaged in teaching and helping me grow. During the first week of the externship at Boulder Humane, I focused on shadowing within the various departments that encompassed their shelter. I spent time working with the behavior and training departments, observing intake exams, behavioral testing and training classes offered to the public. It was a great opportunity to see a large number of canine behavioral tests and gain a better insight of its importance within the shelter environment. I shadowed the adoption coordinators to observe how they interacted with potential adopters and worked to match them with the best animal. Boulder Humane has a private clinic within their shelter and I spent a large amount of time shadowing the veterinarians as they saw appointments with both private clients and recently adopted pets. It was a great opportunity to see how different clinicians approach difficult or sensitive cases.

The second week of my externship was largely focused on spay/neuter surgery. I took advantage of this opportunity by spaying larger dogs, including those that were older, post-partum, etc. This was especially beneficial as I had, to this point, much more experience with feline spay/neuters. I was given a large amount of support during these surgeries, but also the autonomy to perform them without supervision. This provided an environment in which I could gain confidence in my surgical abilities while also having support for questions or concerns I had along the way. Having the opportunity to perform more difficult surgeries was a valuable experience, as well.

Throughout my entire time at Boulder, I participated in patient physical exams, treatment plans and pathway decisions. The shelter has the capability to perform radiographs and ultrasounds and I was able to increase my competency using and interpreting both these modalities. I was given the ability to work directly with the veterinarians and make decisions on appropriate diagnostics and treatments for sick patients. They have a high surgical caseload within their shelter and allowed me to assist in a variety of surgeries, including aural hematomas, splenectomies, as well as a gastrotomy, enterotomy and cystotomy. This opportunity allowed me to increase my surgical competency and better prepare myself to perform these surgeries following graduation.

My time at Boulder Humane was truly an invaluable experience and one that I would recommend to anyone interested in gaining more experience in shelter medicine. Their high caseload and interest in teaching fostered an atmosphere that allowed me to grow as a soon-to-be veterinarian. I felt that this experience improved my competency as a clinician and surgeon, especially within a shelter. I am very happy I chose to spend two 

weeks at the Humane Society of Boulder Valley; it was the perfect environment for a budding shelter veterinarian to learn and grow.          – Tyler Junco, CU CVM ’18



My externship at the ASPCA in New York City was a wonderful learning experience for me. I was delighted to find that the staff doctors, intern doctors, technicians, assistants and even security and administrative staff were incredibly welcoming and enthusiastic about having students around. All of the veterinarians and technicians willingly answered my questions about cases, guided me through differentials, allowed me to observe triages and other appointments, encouraged me to assist with examining patients and watch surgeries. My experience was comprehensive because I had the opportunity to rotate through many departments in the hospital, including dentistry, treatment, the high quality high volume spay neuter services through adoptions, and emergency.

I got to see a variety of interesting clinical cases that I have never seen before. A young cat was euthanized at the hospital due to presumptive FIP, and post-mortem one of the doctors took an abdominal fluid sample. She asked that I perform cytology and when I did, we confirmed our presumptive diagnosis. I have attached the image of what I found through the microscope: neutrophils and lots of fibrin. I observed a RNA surgery on a cat that had a presumptive tinsel foreign body, and watched the doctors expertly remove the embedded strings of tinsel from the gut. This was especially interesting for me to see, because I never had seen a linear foreign body removal before, and I saw the techniques we learned about in lecture applied in the real world!

I also saw a lot of patients with fractures, either from anticipated trauma that we learn about in school such as hit by cars and high rise syndrome, but also I got to see some abuse cases and learn about the process that is involved with pursuing legal actions against the owners. Animal abuse is something that we do not learn enough about in school, and probably most veterinarians see cases of it without realizing. I am glad that I had the opportunity to learn about these issues now, which will prepare me for my career.

I really admired how understanding, personable and generous the doctors were with clients. Before coming to Cornell Vet and experiencing programs like Southside, I had only seen doctors blame patients with no money for their pets’ problems. Here, they were willing to help any animal in need and cared about their impact on the clients, too. I would like to have the same rapport with my clients when I am practicing.

I learned a great deal from the intern doctors about what internships are like and the application process, which is also something we don’t learn about in the official curriculum. Everyone who works there loves their job! I can only imagine that this is due to the ASPCA’s supportive environment, and mission of community service that I got a small taste of when I was there. I became particularly close with one intern doctor, Dr. Cohen, who I have attached a picture with from the holiday party. I hope to apply for this internship program next year because the ASPCA’s values and interests align with my own, and because I really loved the work environment. Even if that doesn’t work out, I hope to keep in touch with the doctors I met.

Because of this grant, I had the opportunity to pursue an educational, and extremely fun externship experience.This externship has inspired me to continue pursuing a career in shelter medicine, potentially from the internship at the ASPCA right after graduation and beyond!  – Sarah Balik, CU CVM ’19


Shelter Medicine Intern 2018 Survey Results!

Dear readers,

Did you know that Maddie’s® Shelter Medicine Program at Cornell (MSMP at Cornell) has trained 14 Interns in Shelter Medicine since 2010, with 2 more currently in training? Early in 2018, we sent out a survey to our graduated interns to learn about their work post-internship. We finally have the results in and want to share what we found with you. We had a 73% response rate. Here are the results from the information we collected from those respondents. 

  • 100% of respondents are currently employed
  • 100% their work includes shelter medicine practice
  • The areas of shelter medicine they work in are varied

  • 87% are paid full-time

  • 100% have training responsibility

  • 100% of our shelter medicine intern alumni agree that MSMP at Cornell prepared them for their career
  • Suggested areas for increased exposure include high-volume animal control shelters, forensics/cruelty, and non-routine surgery

Here are some testimonials from our Internship in Shelter Medicine Program:

Having an opportunity to learn through the internship program was life changing. It wasn’t until later in vet school when I realized I could have a career as a shelter veterinarian and became very excited about that prospect. However, in vet school we received little to no shelter medicine training. While that is slowly improving since I’ve graduated, the internship provided me with the tools and knowledge to feel confident and component to work in a shelter. It’s extremely fulfilling knowing that I am able to use what I learned to help so many animals that may otherwise not have a chance. In my opinion, shelter medicine internships are invaluable in improving the welfare for shelter animals.  – Dr. D. Boes

The internship at MSMP was life-changing and without it, it is unlikely I would have pursued a career in shelter medicine. The internship set me up to think about the big picture and problem solve to be able to provide the best possible care for shelter animals – individually and as a population. It gave me the background to feel confident and comfortable to push for changes in policy and protocol to improve the wellbeing, care, and operations at our organization. – Dr. J. Boyd

My internship gave me the confidence to jump right into the organization I currently work for and make contributions. While I still had things to learn (and still do!) I had a strong enough basis to makes changes immediately.                 – Dr. K. Gollon

To learn more about the Internship in Shelter Medicine Program offered by Maddie’s® Shelter Medicine Program at Cornell, visit our website at or follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

Externships in Shelter Medicine: CU vet student Renee Staffeld gets hands-on experience at Richmond SPCA

Thanks to funding support from the ASPCA, we have been able to offer travel stipends to several Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine DVM students interested in experiencing unique hands-on training in shelter medicine through externships at different shelters around the country. Today we will hear from Renee Staffeld about her externship experience at Richmond SPCA. A big thanks to the ASPCA for supporting our students and the growth of shelter medicine! #sheltermedicinesaveslives

This June, I completed a two-week externship at the Richmond SPCA from the 18th – 29th. During that time I rotated through primary care surgeries as well as general shelter medicine and the behavior department. My days in surgery included dog and cat sterilizations as well as mass removals and hernia repairs. I was supervised by Dr. Angela Ivey, the SPCA Director of Veterinary Medicine, as well as Dr. Jaime Infantes-Ward, staff shelter veterinarian. During my days in general shelter medicine I performed intake exams on incoming animals and helped with procedures. During my time with the behavior team, I observed how the dog’s behavior is monitored and how they manage common behavioral issues such as severe anxiety, aggression and fear.

The Richmond SPCA has a full animal behavior department. I spent time with Jackie Laubacher, their staff behaviorist. She develops behavior plans for all the dogs that are having issues. I was able to attend their weekly behavior meeting where they discussed every dog and cat in the shelter that was having a behavior issue. The meeting included all of the shelter managers. The meeting was a chance to update each other on an animal’s progress and discuss changes to their current behavior plans. I was really impressed by their organization and dedication to improving the life of each animal. A strong behavior department makes a huge difference and I hope I find a shelter after vet school that puts as much emphasis on it as they do.

I also learned that it is possible to be part of a very successful shelter without feeling burnt out. They are very adamant there about people leaving at a reasonable hour. There were days when I offered to finish up intake exams or help with other tasks, but they insisted I go home, telling me that my life outside my veterinary job will be, and is important, too. They told me that there will always be more to do at the end of the day but unless there is an emergency situation happening, then it can wait. Looking back on my experience now I think that this is a big reason why they are a successful, large-scale shelter. They have developed ways to prevent their employees and volunteers from burning out. I could tell that people enjoyed working there and that many had been there for a long time.

It was amazing to see how a large-scale SPCA operates. Just a few years ago they opened up a non-profit veterinary hospital for low-income people in the area. Although I did not work on any publically owned animals, I was able to interact with their staff veterinarians and technicians. I learned a lot from all of them. My time at the Richmond SPCA has been the highlight of my summer so far. I am incredibly grateful for the chance I had to spend time there, and for the ASPCA Externship grant that made it possible. 

-Renee Staffeld, Cornell University DVM student