Partners in Community Outreach

Partners in Community Outreach


Shelter Medicine partners with regional sheltering organizations, national welfare organizations, campus-wide outreach initiatives, schools, foundations, and community organizations, as well as clinical services and researchers right here at Penn Vet.
Shelter Medicine Partners

Contact Shelter Medicine

Dr. Brittany Watson, Shelter Medicine 

Brittany Watson, VMD, PhD
Director, Shelter Medicine & Community Engagement
Email: brittawa@vet.upenn.edu
Phone: 215-898-8341

Regional Shelter Partnerships

While engagement in the community is a growing part of reducing the population of shelter animals, working inside the shelters is a core aspect of the Shelter Medicine Program. Penn Vet has formed relationships with shelters across the Philadelphia area, including:

Penn Vet students and faculty provide consultative services, educational programs, and surgical and medical care for animals in these facilities.

Community Outreach Partners

Knowledge of animal care, empathy towards animals, respect for veterinarians, and awareness of resources are important elements to addressing the underlying issues of overpopulation. Through service, learning, and resources Penn Vet serves the community through three major partners.

  • Pets for Life

    Since 2013, Penn Vet's Shelter Medicine Program has partnered with Pets for Life, an initiative of the Humane Society of the United States that provides free spay/neuter and wellness care for pets in underserved communities. This partnership enhances the education of veterinary students while providing animals with care they need—but which their owners may not be able to afford.

    Philadelphia is one of the core locations of Pets for Life and has become a model of success; the program has since expanded to 30 cities, concentrating in pet service “deserts.” In Philadelphia alone, more than 13,000 pets have been seen as part of the program.

  • Netter Center for Community Partnerships

    The Netter Center for Community Partnerships runs the Pipeline Program in the Sayer and West Philadelphia High Schools, a multi-tiered educational initiative that teaches fundamental principles of medicine to medically underrepresented and underserved public high school students in Philadelphia.

    Penn Vet is integrated into the cardiology, gastrointestinal, and neurology pipeline and will be running the final senior year pipeline for the program in spring of 2016 with a focus in veterinary medicine. This focuses on multidisciplinary lessons that have been proven to change knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors of high school students. 

    Results of similar programs executed by Dr. Watson have shown students increasing their opinion of the value of veterinary medicine and preventative care and bringing their animals in for spay and neuter at four times the rate of the control group.

    The Netter Center also runs after-school initiatives in the Henry C. Lea School in West Philadelphia that will integrate senior year veterinary students on rotation to teach students about animals.

    Dr. Watson has already worked with Hands2Paw to complete a 6 hours curriculum for a summer program which includes animal safety, training, behavior, veterinary care, science, and advocacy.

  • Bridging the Gaps

    Penn Vet shelter medicine students are participating in the Bridging the Gaps (BTG) Program, a seven-week summer interdisciplinary program that combines the provision of health-related services for underserved populations with the training of student interns in the health and social services fields.

    Medical students, dental students, nursing students, social work students, and veterinary students work together in community positions and continuing education throughout the summer.  The issues surrounding animal surrender are multifactorial and clearly involve human concerns. 

    By creating a team approach to solving problems, Penn Vet has elevated animals in the views of other professions as both a sentinel for cruelty and access to care issues and an integral aspect to effectively solving community issues. 

Additional Partners in Community Outreach

Additional partners include generous friends of Penn Vet, such as Richard Lichter, as well as our very own Penn Vet students. Read more about these partners:

  • Richard Lichter Charity for Dogs

    A generous gift from the Richard Lichter Charity for Dogs is helping to save the lives of shelter dogs in need of specialized medical care. Through the Shelter Dog Specialty Medical Treatment Project, experts at Penn Vet will provide life-saving, specialty care to dogs in partnering shelters that are at risk for euthanasia. The dogs will be selected through the Penn Vet Shelter Animal Medicine Program and treated at Penn Vet’s Ryan Hospital.

    Read more about this special program...

  • Penn Vet Shelter Medicine Club

    Comprised of our own students, this student-run club has done much to enhance relationships with community organizations.