Cynthia (Cindy) Karsten, DVM, Shelter Medicine Alumnae, Outreach Veterinarian

Dr. Cynthia Karsten was born and raised in Madison, Wisconsin. From an early age, Cindy cultivated a love of the outdoors, which eventually led her to pursue a degree in Forest Science at the University of Wisconsin (Madison campus).

Dr. Cynthia Karsten with little dogIn 2002, Dr. Karsten’s career travels took her to a small town in Skagway, Alaska. Since the closest veterinarian to Skagway was two hours away in the Yukon, Karsten helped launch a non-profit animal rescue, known as “Paws and Claws”, as a partial solution to the plight of owned and homeless animals. Her dedicated talents led to her securing a vet tech position in a specialty surgical hospital in Anchorage, Alaska – home to the only two board-certified veterinary surgeons in the entire state at the time.

Inspired by her veterinarian mentors and an interest in helping animal shelters, Dr. Karsten returned home to Wisconsin in 2006, where she attended the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine – graduating in 2010. She then completed a one year shelter medicine internship at the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at Colorado State University, before being accepted into the prestigious 3 year shelter medicine residency program at UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.

Throughout her residency, Dr. Karsten was fiercely proactive in her outreach efforts with shelters across the country – constantly searching out sorely needed solutions to improving live release rates, responding to crises and infectious disease outbreaks, and advocating for improved daily care, welfare and enrichment for all shelter animals. Specifically, Dr. Karsten has helped to identify and implement best practice protocols and capacity for care models at The Animal Foundation, Placer SPCA, Flathead County Animal Shelter, Prince Edward Island Humane Society, Humane Society for Tacoma and Pierce County, Clovis Animal Services, Dubuque Regional Humane Society, Animal Welfare Agency of South Central Ontario and many other venues.

Her clinical work has also taken her to Mexico, Ecuador, The Bahamas, and Nicaragua to teach preventative medicine and perform spay/neuter surgeries. She has participated in numerous game-changing shelter consultations at both rural and urban, national and international animal care facilities, where she has assertively identified far-reaching solutions in the face of limited shelter resources.

Today, Dr. Karsten is the Outreach Veterinarian with the Koret Shelter Medicine Program at UC Davis. Her main areas of interest include infectious disease control, population management, intake diversion/safety net programs, and community medicine. She has been an honored presenter at several HSUS Expos, along with the CA Animal Care Conference, New Mexico Humane Conference, Texas Federation of Animal Control Facilities Annual Conference (2013, 2014), the UC Davis Winter Conference, ARF’s Business of Saving Lives, and Canadian Federated Humane Societies annual welfare conference, among others. Dr. Karsten was the keynote speaker at the national 2014 PetPoint Summit Conference in Chicago.

Dr. Karsten with two dogs on a trailIn her spare time, Cindy Karsten loves running, biking, hiking, the outdoors – and saving more animals. She serves as a board member for the Mercer Veterinary Clinic for Pets of the Homeless, and the non-profit organization Compassion Without Borders. She leads and conducts wellness/spay-neuter clinics with veterinary students multiple times a year in Covelo, CA (an underserved community without a veterinarian), and volunteers at numerous community clinics around California.  She also continues to fund-raise for and coordinate the transport of small dogs from over-crowded facilities in California to shelters in the Midwest and Canada with the grand total of over 1,500 so far!

Dr. Cindy Karsten energetically lives her life with her rescue pack –a dashingly handsome Chihuahua named Neil; Mi’ja, her 50 lb. unskilled Mexican herding dog; Little Pea, a once shy foster failure Chihuahua mix; and Blue, a stray cat and reliable blood-donor.