Spindel ME, MacPhail CM, Hackett TB, Egger EL, Palmer RH, Mama KR, Lee DE, Wilkerson N, Lappin MR. A lifesaving model: teaching advanced procedures on shelter animals in a tertiary care facility. J Vet Med Educ. 2008 Winter;35(4):553-8

PMID: 19228908


It is estimated that there are over 5 million homeless animals in the United States. While the veterinary profession continues to evolve in advanced specialty disciplines, animal shelters in every community lack resources for basic care. Concurrently, veterinary students, interns, and residents have less opportunity for practical primary and secondary veterinary care experiences in tertiary-care institutions that focus on specialty training. The two main goals of this project were (1) to provide practical medical and animal-welfare experiences to veterinary students, interns, and residents, under faculty supervision, and (2) to care for animals with medical problems beyond a typical shelter's technical capabilities and budget. Over a two-year period, 22 animals from one humane society were treated at Colorado State University Veterinary Medical Center. Initial funding for medical expenses was provided by PetSmart Charities. All 22 animals were successfully treated and subsequently adopted. The results suggest that collaboration between a tertiary-care facility and a humane shelter can be used successfully to teach advanced procedures and to save homeless animals. The project demonstrated that linking a veterinary teaching hospital's resources to a humane shelter's needs did not financially affect either institution. It is hoped that such a program might be used as a model and be perpetuated in other communities.