Module 9: The Role of the Shelter Veterinarian

Careers in Shelter Medicine

As interests in careers in Shelter Medicine increase, so have positions in animal shelters, spay-neuter programs, and non-profit clinics. In fact, a current shortage of veterinarians with practice-ready skills for these positions is keeping pay and opportunities highly competitive, and employers are rolling out the red carpet to recruit the best talent. At any one time, there are hundreds of open veterinary positions, and dozens of these are in animal shelters, nonprofit organizations, spay-neuter clinics, and low-cost veterinary care providers.

Recruitment promotions are designed to give an overview of the position, a flavor of the organizational culture, and the veterinarian’s role in the organization, while tempting qualified candidates to learn more and to apply. As you read these two recruitment ads, one for a veterinarian in a low-cost spay-neuter and wellness clinic, and one for a shelter veterinarian in a large city shelter, think about how well they sell their organization as being a good place to work. Do they sound like places you would like to work?


Is It You?


Emancipet clinic lobby

Spay-Neuter & Preventive Care Veterinarians: Emancipet, Austin, Texas

There’s a chance you may be our ideal veterinarian if:

  • Even though you often find yourself teaching others, you live to learn more and geek out on JAVMA articles
  • After a long day of helping 50+ families and their pets, you still have the energy to hit the town with your friends
  • You have a bunch of gross pictures on your phone (of surgeries!) that you can only share with other veterinarians
  • You don’t take life (or yourself) too seriously and are quick to laugh
  • You would love to be part of a team that has fun every day, and considers medical excellence as a bottom line

Read more . . .

NYCACC shelter entrance

Shelter Veterinarian: Animal Care Centers of NYC, New York

Animal Care Centers of NYC is on the prowl for a multi-tasking, big-picture-thinking, problem solving, puppy kissing, cat cuddling, veterinarian with super-hero medical and surgical skills to embrace the multitude of challenging cases facing our NYC homeless pet population. Must be a social butterfly, as every shelter animal has a person (likely whole departments) attached to the end of their leash. It takes a village to raise a shelter animal and put them on the path to success.

At ACC we treat our colleagues with the same compassion as we do our animals. Therefore, a successful candidate inspires the team to want to come to work every day and shows them how they make a difference in the lives of every animal that enters through our doors. You motivate, collaborate, initiate, stimulate, communicate, appreciate, and sometimes commiserate with your team and colleagues. And you do doctor things . . . the variety of our case load pales in comparison to everyday practice. You won’t be bored, you will be stimulated, challenged and you will have a stellar support team to assist you in making sometimes difficult decisions. Ones you can live with.

Your input and perspective is encouraged in strategic development as the organizations evolves to meet the mission.  This job will never be just another “day at the office”. You will go home each day, tired, dirty and challenged by what you see every day. It will be your best job ever. Ready to find out more?

Read more . . .


Watch This


Thumbnail of veterinary recruitment video for Lee County Domestic Animal and Services

Shelter Veterinarian: Lee County Domestic Animal Services, Fort Myers, Florida (3:05 min, no relevant audio)

When LCDAS needed to recruit a second veterinarian, they decided to show off their shelter with a video that described the work they do, their progressive operations, typical duties of the veterinarians, their community partnerships, a robust county benefits plan, and their beautiful community in Southwest Florida.


Thumbnail of Peggy Adams veterinary recruitment video

Low-Cost Public Clinic Veterinarian: West Palm Beach, Florida (2:34 min)

Peggy Adams Animal Rescue League didn’t hold back on showing off its well-appointed clinic in this recruitment video for a veterinarian to work in their low-cost public clinic. Dispelling stereotypes about the quality of nonprofit services was part of the recruitment strategy.


In contrast to recruitment promotions, job descriptions are the legal description of the position that the employer and employee are agreeing to. Although there is no standard format for job descriptions, the best ones clearly describe the spirit and details expected for the position, including compensation, schedule, chain of supervision, leadership expectations, authority, and accountability. Knowing what you know now about the variety of skills that a veterinarian can bring to the practice of Shelter Medicine, what would you look for if you were hiring a shelter veterinarian? Would you prefer a candidate with a few years of solid clinical experience or one who has pursued additional studies in Shelter Medicine, such as a certificate, MS degree, or  internship/residency? What salary range and benefits would make the job description competitive, but affordable? Here are examples of job descriptions for nonprofit and municipal shelters.


Official Job Descriptions


San Diego Humane Society lobby

Shelter Veterinarian: San Diego  Humane Society, San Diego, California

San Diego Humane Society is looking for candidates who will support our goal to end animal suffering with our mission to Inspire Compassion. It is through our approach to reducing systematic reasons for animal homelessness that we are making the greatest impact in our community. San Diego Humane Society thrives on a Culture of Care, offering competitive pay and benefits. We have a generous paid time‐off plan, paid holidays, medical insurance, long‐term disability insurance, life‐insurance,a retirement savings plan with 5% match, flexible spending accounts, wellness program, and employee discounts.    Read more . . .


Jacksonville Animal Care and Protective Services shelter exterior

Shelter Veterinarian: Jacksonville Animal Care & Protective Services, Jacksonville, Florida

This position reports to the Chief of Animal Care & Protective Services. The primary purposes of this position are to examine and triage animals entering the facility, develop and over see appropriate treatment plans for animals requiring emergency or ongoing medical care, perform surgeries, monitor the health and care of animals housed at the shelter, and act in the capacity of an expert witness in court cases.    Read more . . .


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Integrating Veterinary Medicine with Shelter Systems Copyright © 2020 by University of Florida is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.