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Shelter Medicine Team

Shelter Medicine Team



Meet the Shelter Medicine team, comprising compassion and expertise, and a wide range of experience in the care of shelter animals, student and community education, and research. 

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Meet the Shelter Medicine Team

Penn Vet Shelter Medicine
Dr. Brittany Watson

Dr. Watson served as Veterinary Director of Continuing Education Initiatives for the Charleston Animal Society (CAS) in South Carolina. During her tenure, she helped CAS achieve record live release, adoptions, and education programs in the state. In her role at CAS, Dr. Watson also regularly performed surgical procedures and documented cruelty cases.

Dr. Chelsea Reinhard, Penn Vet Shelter Medicine

Dr. Reinhard completed a shelter medicine specialty internship at the Oregon Humane Society in Portland.  She was the first shelter medicine resident at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University.  During her residency, she was trained in surgery, shelter population management, infectious disease management, cruelty investigation, disaster and emergency preparedness, and shelter consultations.

Danielle Okulski, CVT, Shelter Medicine, Penn Vet Shelter Medicine 
  • Danielle Okulski
  • Bernice Barbour Mobile Clinic Lead CVT

    Bernice Barbour Foundation
Danielle has completed her bachelor degree in pre-veterinary science and worked in veterinary medicine as a CVT for over a decade. Her primary role was as lead surgical nurse and team educator. Danielle furthered her studies to become a registered nurse and has held positions in sub-acute rehabilitation and urgent care settings.
Dr. Lauren Powell, Penn Vet Shelter Medicine
  • Lauren Powell, PhD
  • Post-Doctoral Researcher

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Lauren Powell has been awarded a PhD from the University of Sydney for her research into the effects of dog ownership on human mental well-being, with a particular focus on the importance of oxytocin in human-dog bonding. Her current research sees her exploring the assessment of quality of life in shelter dogs and evaluating teaching in the shelter medicine field.

Dr. Isha Pandya
  • Isha Pandya, VMD, ScM
  • WaterShed Community Medicine Intern

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Dr. Pandya received her VMD from the University of Pennsylvania. During her veterinary education she had a special interest in animal behavior, zoonotic/ infectious diseases, and population health management. Prior to her veterinary training, Dr. Pandya received a Masters of Science in Epidemiology from Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, where she focused her thesis work on antimicrobial resistance in households with pets.

Peter Javian, Penn Vet Shelter Medicine
  • Peter Javian
  • WaterShed Program Coordinator

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Peter assists in implementing Shelter Medicine’s WaterShed Initiative by organizing symposiums, academic consortium meetings, and journal research discussions. Peter brings broad experience in communications and design, event planning, and reporting program metrics, from years of working in Penn’s office of Institutional Research & Analysis, and with Philadelphia-area nonprofits.







Community Engagement
Karen Verderame 
  • Karen Verderame
  • Assistant Director for Outreach Education

As an outreach educator, Karen develops and provides educational opportunities at Penn Vet, focusing on humane education, STEAM outreach, and pipeline-type programming. Karen has a rich professional background working with and caring for various taxa of animals in zoo and museum settings, and developing a variety of programs, curricula, and engagement opportunities.







Shelter-based Student Teaching Assistants

Lori DiFiglia, Penn Vet Shelter Medicine 
  • Lori Hobson DiFiglia, Veterinary Nurse
  • Lori began volunteering and fostering for the Animal Care and Control Team of Philadelphia in 2009. Her focus for the past three years has been in shelter medicine and volunteering as a surgical assistant. Her background includes home health care for the elderly and therapy dog work for hospice patients.
Christina Lunski, CVT, Shelter Medicine
  • Christina Lunski, CVT, Veterinary Technician in Shelter Medicine
  • Christina's passion has always been veterinary medicine. Through the years this passion progressed to include teaching a variety of veterinary skills and studies to a broad range of ages.