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Shelter Animal Medicine


Penn Vet has long been known as a provider of compassionate care and clinical expertise. As In that tradition, the School established the Penn Vet Shelter Animal Medicine (SAM) program in 2006 to provide clinical support to regional shelters and the community of the Greater Philadelphia Region.

The Penn Vet Animal Shelter Medicine program serves a diverse urban community with a variety of open intake and limited admission shelters in the Philadelphia area. In addition to student education, Penn Vet delivers consultative, educational, and veterinary support to local shelters, making an impact on how many homeless animals are given quality care and placed into permanent homes.

Benefits to Our Students

During the elective Shelter Medicine rotation, Penn Vet senior students not only hone their surgical Rescued cat getting treatmenttechniques, but also get hands-on experience with disciplines relevant to both companion animal veterinarians and animal shelters, including:

  • Emergency medicine
  • Infectious disease
  • Parasitology
  • Behavior

Because of their exposure to shelter animals and animals who belong to those with limited resources, our students also learn first-hand the importance of compassionate care in a community setting.

Shelter Partners

Our shelter partner facilities include:

Because of our geographic proximity and close working relationship with these shelters, we are positioned as a leader in the field of shelter medicine via the generation of new knowledge.

  • We can integrate clinical teaching and service to the animal welfare community
  • We have the opportunity to develop improved sheltering practices

Pennsylvania Student Chapter of
the Association of Shelter Veterinarians

Penn Vet Shelter Medicine Team

Penn Vet students volunteered at the HSUS Pets for Life vaccine clinic on 9/21/13 where more than 850 dogs and cats were vaccinated.

The Shelter Animal Medicine program also advises the Pennsylvania Student Chapter of the Association of Shelter Veterinarians which operates a student-run surgical opportunities program.  This program has received generous support from PetSmart Charities.

Between the program’s  inception in March, 2010, and November, 2013:

  • 361 Penn Vet students have volunteered over 24,000 hours, with more than 50 percent of the student population participating in the program at least once
  • More than 14,000 cats and dogs have been spayed and neutered on student-powered surgical days
  • Recently, the program partnered with Penn Vet’s large animal Field Service at the New Bolton Center to organize and execute monthly mobile trap neuter release events in farming communities which serve up to 140 cats per day

As a result, Penn Vet students develop invaluable leadership skills in managing high-volume, high-quality surgical environments, and gain a greater appreciation for the concept of pro bono service and goodwill toward their future communities.

Shelter Animal Medicine and Clinical Studies

 The Shelter Animal Medicine program is also in a unique position to partner with Penn Vet’s Veterinary Clinical Investigations Center to develop evidence-based best practices to improve the life-saving capacity of the resource and data-deprived shelter environment through clinical trials.

High-volume open intake urban shelters partners are environments that experience both the greatest need and have the greatest ability to magnify improvements.