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Shelter Medicine Program

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There are currently 14 Shelter Medical Programs in national veterinary institutions. Very few of these programs offer residency programs in the discipline. Midwestern University College of Veterinary Medicine’s commitment to a Shelter Medicine Program is very progressive for a newly established veterinary college. This unique and important program showcases the MWU philosophy of a One Health System. Shelter Medicine encompasses many facets of veterinary medicine, but most importantly it incorporates veterinary medicine with public health and community service in its commitment to animal welfare issues.

The current Shelter Program has three dedicated faculty members. The program has a Mobile Clinic that is active throughout the year with local and state animal shelters and assisting with animal welfare issues in less affluent communities. There is a Shelter Medicine Elective for third year veterinary students focusing on a general overview of the broad aspects of shelter medicine with components of the class involving the mobile clinic. Fourth year veterinary students will have the opportunity to participate in two or four week elective rotations in Shelter Medicine. These rotations will give the student multiple hands on experiences in areas such as high volume spay and neuter, population medicine, shelter emergency medicine, public health and many other aspects working with diverse types of animal shelters and rescue groups within the animal welfare community in the Phoenix metro area and throughout the state of Arizona.

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What To Expect

Currently the Shelter Medicine Program partners with local and state wide organizations such as Lifebridge, Hopefest, Sojourner’s Center, and Indian Health Services to assist remote or underprivileged communities with their companion animals. These collaborative efforts address animal health needs, whose owners are indigent or are in a time of crisis such as domestic violence. Other efforts assist community public health through ongoing Trap Neuter and Release (TNR) Programs with feral cats and Rabies vaccination clinics. Many of these services are accomplished with the effective use of the MWU Mobile Clinic. This past April students performed a large scale TNR event, sterilizing over 100 cats in a single day on campus using surgical labs. As the programs continues to expand and additional faculty are added these programs will increase with frequency involving students in all four years of the veterinary curriculum.

Future goals as the program begins to solidify are to increase already fruitful relations with established animal welfare and human welfare entities. One proposal is for MWU to promote a conference or meeting of state animal control and humane society agencies to expand shelter medical science throughout the state. The MWU Shelter Medicine Program will become a source of consultation and education for shelters and animal welfare groups throughout Arizona.

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