shelter medicine.

I am in Kansas City (MO, not KS) for this week and next working at a freaking amazing, enormous shelter that manages to treat it’s in-house animals so well that’s it’s not heartbreaking to see them all in their cages and runs. It’s the first shelter I’ve been in that isn’t completely depressing.

We’re working with the two doctors the shelter employs, and they are wonderful, certainly the nicest doctors I’ve worked with on an externship. We spend the morning doing spays and neuters and other surgeries (hind limb amputation yesterday!!!!), and are very much left to our own devices. I did my first completely solo spay yesterday, and did quite well (though I STILL have to work on subcuticular suturing). Tomorrow we have about 30 animals lined up for a spay or neuter, so it should be a very busy day.  (Animals who have been adopted are done by doctors; we get to do those who are still awaiting adoptions, and only assist with non-spay/neuters.)

In the afternoons, we tend to the sick animals in the shelter. They keep track of the animals meticulously, and magically know which ones need medical attention. As expected, MANY of the animals have upper respiratory infections, and there are a few with ringworm, parvo, and the other very communicable diseases.  We finish the day by pushing around the medicine cart and medicating animals who need it.

They also provide us with housing (a well-outfitted trailer on the shelter grounds), and I’m here with a good friend and our cute little dogs. My pup has been happy to have a huge dog park to prance around it, and far too happy to have a littler dog to chase around – endlessly. ENDLESSLY. END. LESS. LY.

It is an EXCELLENT experience, very eye-opening to practical medlicine, and a fantastic way to get hands-on surgery experience.  It’ll be a good two weeks.

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4 thoughts on “shelter medicine.

  1. Sal

    Is shelter medicine something you are looking to go into? I have been thinking about it myself (not even in vet school yet) and shelter was one of the things I was considering.

    I have a quick question and I am sure some places are better than others at this, but how well do they keep the dogs with communicable diseases away from the others so they don’t get it too?

    Let us know about what other awesome things you get to do on your externship.

  2. ejh345

    Hi Sal!
    Thanks for subscribing. I could see myself volunteering to do shelter work on the side, but definitely not interested in going into it full time. I think it’s VERY noble work, but I really like slightly more complex medicine, so it’s not a good fit for my professional interests.

    This shelter does a reasonable job at limiting disease spread. A LOT of cats and dogs get URIs or kennel cough, but they try to be diligent about treating and quarantining. Definitely not perfect, but I’m not sure how it realistically could be…

  3. Sal

    So what kind of medicine are you looking at going into?

    I could imagine that URIs are extremely common and some of the more common issues spread pretty quickly. It has to be extremely difficult to keep the animals separated enough to do any good. Treatment is the best option.

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