Module 9: The Role of the Shelter Veterinarian

The Shelter Vet Wears Many Hats

The veterinarian who works in an animal shelter must play many roles. He or she needs:

  • Excellent physical exam and clinical skills to treat the health and behavioral problems of individual animals, often without access to a complete diagnostic database.
  • Skills as an emergency clinician to stabilize and manage stray animals that have experienced trauma.
  • Expertise in veterinary forensic medicine to gather evidence for the numerous cruelty and neglect cases presented to the animal shelter.
  • Ability to deliver high-quality, high-volume spay-neuter for pediatrics to geriatrics.
  • Ability to advise shelter management and train staff on policies and procedures important for maintaining health and welfare of sheltered pets.
  • A focus on population management to increase positive outcomes for sheltered pets.

How does a shelter veterinarian manage all of this efficiently and effectively without burning out when the number of animals under care can number in the thousands? It helps to use good communication, time management, and self-care skills.

Are there enough hours in the day?

How might you best schedule your day if you were the solo shelter veterinarian who worked from 8:00-5:00 Monday through Friday at this shelter?

  • 4000 cats and dogs taken in each year
  • 100 cats and 100 dogs in the shelter at a time
  • 15 new intakes a day
  • 10 surgeries each day

Think About It . . . Making It All Fit


Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License

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.