Shelter Animal Sterilization and Population Management

Dr. Guerios and students
Dr. Guerios and students

One in 20 cats and dogs in the US enters an animal shelter every year. Students in the two-week elective Shelter Practice Clerkship will learn how to care for these animals as individuals and as a population via an immersive, hands-on experience in a large-sized animal shelter. Students will participate in all aspects of shelter practice, including population medicine, behavior assessment and modification, zoonotic and species-specific infectious disease control, facilities management, sanitation, animal welfare, ethics, cultural diversity, and public policy.

Students will also participate in individual animal care via performance of primary care diagnosis and treatment procedures of cats and dogs. Students may also observe forensic cases as opportunities arise. In addition, this clerkship also includes exposing the students high-quality/high-volume surgical procedures applied in shelter medicine and guided by standards of practice published by the Association of Shelter Veterinarians (ASV).

Students will perform spays, neuters, and other common surgical procedures common to the practice of shelter medicine as the opportunities arise (i.e., wound repairs, amputations, enucleations, lumpectomies, FHO procedures, dental extractions).  Students will practice pain management protocols, conduct pre-operative physical examinations, and manage post-operative recovery of each surgical patient. Students may also participate in forensic cases as opportunities arise.

Course goals

Provide students with hands-on training in the population and individual animal health and welfare practices within a large-sized municipal animal shelter in South Florida.  Students will learn about protecting the health and welfare of dogs and cats and be able to recognize and respond to compromised physical and behavioral welfare conditions; understand animal shelter operations and flow through; and develop proficiency in basic diagnostic evaluation procedures and creating shelter appropriate treatment plans. Provide students with hands-on training in high-quality, high-volume surgical practices.  Students will apply the standards of care for high-quality/high-volume surgical practice, including selection of patients, anesthetic monitoring, surgical record keeping, multi-modal pain management, and post-operative recovery. Students will understand the critical role played by veterinarians in reducing pet overpopulation within a culturally diverse-community

Course Objectives

Students who complete the clerkship successfully will be prepared to:

  1. Perform thorough physical examination on cats and dogs.
  2. Identify signs of pain.
  3. Demonstrate understanding of biosecurity principles.
  4. Demonstrate the ability to present case findings and summarize verbally.
  5. Correctly prepare a patient for surgery.
  6. Competently perform a small animal recovery surgery.

Course schedule

This is an elective full-time two-week clinical rotation in a local animal shelter. Students will report to the shelter at8 am Monday through Friday each week.   Students should expect to remain on duty until as late as 6 pm. Several hours of animal treatment duty may be required during occasional after hours or weekend periods.  Students will need to arrive Sunday evening before the rotation starts and plan to return home the final Saturday of the rotation.

Meet the Team

Dr. Janet Sosnicki
Dr. Janet Sosnicki, MDAS Program Coordinator


Christi Sproule
Christi Sproule, MDAS Program Assistant


Shelter Photo Gallery

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