Cynthia (Cindy) Karsten, DVM, Director of Outreach

Throughout her KSMP career, Dr. Karsten has helped to identify and implement best practice protocols and capacity for care models at shelters across the United States and Canada.

Initially this was done primarily through onsite shelter consultations.  Dr. Karsten’s recent work has focused on leading shelter medicine Bootcamps, concentrated six-week courses for shelter leaders. The Bootcamps combine online learning with twice-weekly Zoom meetings at which participants can ask questions of KSMP experts and share their own experiences with peers making change at other shelters. 

In early 2020, Dr. Karsten led Big Ass Bootcamp, designed for shelters with intakes of greater than 25K animals a year.  

Her clinical work has also taken her to Mexico, Ecuador, The Bahamas, and Nicaragua to practice preventative medicine and perform spay/neuter surgeries.

Dr. Karsten became board certified in Shelter Medicine Practice in November, 2017. Her main areas of interest include teaching and mentoring undergraduate and veterinary students, working with shelter leaders on change management, and providing accessible, affordable veterinary care to everyone who seeks it.

She also continues to work to understand her role and that of animal shelters in increasing awareness of social justice issues and implementing policies to bring about equity.  A role important to her is serving as a board member of the non-profits Mercer Veterinary Clinic for Pets of the Homeless, and Compassion Without Borders.


  • DVM, University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine
  • Shelter medicine internship, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at Colorado State University
  • Shelter medicine residency, University of California – Davis

Professional Highlights

  • Presenter
    • HSUS Animal Care Expo  
    • CA Animal Care Conference 
    • Midwest Veterinary Conference 
    • Western Veterinary Conference 
    • UC Davis Winter Conference 
    • ARF’s Business of Saving Lives 
    • Colorado Animal Welfare Conference 
    • Humane Canada annual welfare conference 
    • Australia’s Getting to Zero (G2Z) Summit 
    • RSPCA’s Feline Futures Summit 
  • Keynote speaker
    • The national 2014 PetPoint Summit Conference in Chicago
  • Podcasts
    • People Are Animals Too, Darnit!
    • Vets Unleashed
    • NACA
  • Instructor  
    • UC Davis (vet school and undergrad)  
    • University of WI 
    • Ohio State University 
    • University of FL Masters Program 


  • CFHS/FSCAA Innovation Award (2016)

Selected Publications

Karsten, C.L., Wagner, D.C., Kass, P.H., Hurley, K.F. (2017). “An observational study of the relationship between Capacity for Care as an animal shelter management model and cat health, adoption and death in three animal shelters.” The Veterinary Journal 227: 15-22.

CL Karsten (2021). Sanitation and Disinfection. Infectious Disease Management in Animal Shelters. Second edition. L. Miller, K. Hurley and S. Janeczko.