The second issue of the Koret Shelter Medicine Program’s re-re-re-launched newsletter has left (very) sunny Davis, California to meet subscribers wherever they are!
In the current issue, we celebrate the bravery of all who rose to the Bad Cat Housing Challenge at this year’s Animal Care Expo and we share some advice on cat housing that enhances feline mental and physical well-being.
Also in Volume 4, Issue 2 of the newsletter: Dr. Delany returns with another fun and challenging quiz, Dr. Kraus argues there are better things to spend time and money on than testing every cat for FeLV and FIV, Dr. Karsten advocates “Capacity for Care for Us”, and Kate remembers Dr. Linda Lord.
The newsletter also features an interview with our own amazing Emma Hewitt, RVT, surgical support technician for the shelter medicine clinical rotation at Yolo County Animal Services, as well as a link to our free “DIY Housing Accessories for Animal Shelters” guide.
Every year, the Humane Society of the US puts together their Animal Care Expo, the largest educational conference for animal shelter professionals in the world. This month, as in years past, shelter veterinarians from the Koret Shelter Medicine Program were there, teaching, learning, and helping move the field forward.
Meanwhile in the Exhibit Hall, the Million Cat Challenge’s jumbo-sized Cat Housing booth provoked, informed, and amused over a thousand Expo-goers. Visitors to the booth got to spend a minute—if they could stand it—in the Bad Cat Housing Challenge, a cramped, foul-smelling space with the sound of barking dogs and the unappetizing sight of food next to a toilet.
Visitors emerged from there to walk through several rooms displaying good individual and group housing, where they could read about housing myths and realities and talk with MCC co-founders Dr. Kate Hurley and Dr. Julie Levy, among others.
Booth visitors were also treated to displays of enriching Do-It-Yourself housing accessories created by the KSMP’s own Dr. Denae Wagner. Dr. Wagner not only showed off her DIY skills, she also debuted her DIY Animal Shelter Housing Accessories booklet available for free at the exhibit and downloadable from sheltermedicine.com. The booklet and DIY section of the website make instructions for creating the accessories available to all.
“If I could have made a wish 18 years ago, I could not even have imagined wishing for anything as incredible as what shelter medicine has grown up into,” said Dr. Kate Hurley as she lit the candles on a festively decorated birthday cake in a conference room at UC Davis on Monday.
Dr. Hurley started her internship in shelter medicine – the first of its kind anywhere – in January, 2001. “Luckily the Association of Shelter Veterinarians was actually born in the same year,” she says. “There was something really fun and kind of intimate and kind of wild westy about all learning to walk together and just figuring it out together, figuring out what was possible.”
Two and a half years later, Dr. Hurley took over the program. “In some ways that was the hardest time. We had a glimpse of what shelter medicine could be, but there weren’t enough people around to make it be that thing yet.”
Eventually a Petsmart grant allowed the program to hire Dr. Sandra Newbury as another fulltime shelter medicine co-faculty member. Dr. Hurley had a “co-parent for this unruly program.”
“Then other shelter medicine programs were born and all of a sudden we had siblings. Family reunions became a lot less awkward and more fun because it wasn’t just us. We had joint consult camp and we could learn from each other and our programs could play tag together.”
Now shelter medicine is 18 and has a life of her own. “I think Sandra and I as co-parents are perhaps the most amazed and agog at what this thing has grown up to become. And we see it when we see the fellows going and doing their things and we hear about great things and amazing programs that we have nothing to do with and I don’t even know about them and I don’t know where they came from.”
On the phone from Wisconsin, Dr. Newbury expressed her pride in the program and noted with astonishment that nobody in the room could even say anymore how many shelter medicine programs there are at this point.
“It’s just like our 18 year old is out, stirring up all kinds of stuff,” says Dr. Hurley. “We’ll hear a hint of some crazy idea that we kicked around late at night on the phone 18 years ago that seemed so unimaginably far out and far off, and now it just exists beyond us so richly and in so many different ways that I couldn’t even have imagined.”
Shelter consultations offer a powerful way to help shelters provide humane care and save homeless animals’ lives. They can also be expensive and time-consuming, since they require travel and accommodations for shelter health experts.
Searching for a more scalable, cost-effective way to bring lasting change to shelters, Dr. Hurley and her team launched a pilot online “Bootcamp” program in 2018 that replicates the experience of an onsite shelter consultation — with far greater reach, and no travel necessary.
The six-week bootcamp offers a curriculum of videos, readings, and quizzes. But it’s the chance to interact with KSMP experts that makes the bootcamp so effective. Twice-weekly video conference calls allow shelters to receive personalized advice, report progress, describe challenges, and connect to other shelters working on the same programs.
This month, the KSMP welcomed nine shelters from Northern California and Canada into the new, improved Bootcamp 2.0. Drs. Karsten, Hurley, and Wagner have overhauled the curriculum, revised videos, and re-written content to help these shelters discover, reach, and operate according to their capacity for care:
Update: We received requests for more than double the number of portals we had, so we turned to the animal-loving community to help us make up the difference. Watch this video to see Dr. Kate Hurley announce the winners of the contest!
Dr. Kate Hurley likes to think big. She knows that portalized double-compartment housing makes shelter animals happier and healthier while making their care easier for shelter staff. So she asks, How can we make it so every shelter in the world could offer portalized cages to the animals in their care?
A couple of years ago, Dr. Cristie Kamiya, Chief of Shelter Medicine at Humane Society Silicon Valley and Koret Shelter Medicine Program alumna, had an ambitious idea: meet all 543 “must, should, and ideal” guidelines in the Association of Shelter Veterinarians’ 2010 “Guidelines to Standards of Care in Animal Shelters” white paper.
In order to achieve that goal, HSSV would have to meet all minimum standards of humane care, match all strong recommendations, and implement all the best practices set forth in the Guidelines. KSMP Program Director, Dr. Kate Hurley, one of 14 co-authors of the ASV’s Guidelines, led a marathon two-day KSMP team effort to verify HSSV’s implementation in November, 2017. The determination: HSSV is the world’s first “Model Shelter” based on the Guidelines. Today, teams at HSSV and the KSMP announced the achievement at a joyous celebration. Read more…
Koret Shelter Medicine Program Shelter Veterinarians, Dr. Denae Wagner and Dr. Kate Hurley joined Dr. Philip Kass this month in publishing a study looking at variation in risk of feline Upper Respiratory Infection (URI) in nine North American animal shelters. The study looked at monthly incidence of URI in the shelters during the period of August 2008 – July 2009.
The key finding: although periodic introduction of pathogens into shelter populations may be inevitable, disease resulting from those pathogens is not. The study identifies modifiable environmental and group health factors linked to risk for URI.
Housing and care of cats, particularly during their first week of stay in an animal shelter environment, significantly affects the rate of upper respiratory infection.
Shelters can take immediate practical action based on the results of this study: provision of housing that offers adequate space and does not require removing the cat for daily cleaning and care (double-compartment cage housing or housing that allows caretakers to enter the housing unit) will likely help reduce feline URI.
Dr. Kass, DVM, MPVM is a Professor of Analytic Epidemiology in the School of Veterinary Medicine and School of Medicine at UC Davis and has obtained degrees including M.S. in Statistics, and Ph.D. in Comparative Pathology (Epidemiology) .
Dr. Hurley, DVM, MPVM is the Director of the UC Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Program and co-founder of the Million Cat Challenge. Dr. Wagner, DVM, MPVM is Assistant Director of the KSMP and chief developer/evangelizer of the cat cage portal.
Read the Study
Wagner DC, Kass PH, Hurley KF (2018) Cage size, movement in and out of housing during daily care, and other environmental and population health risk factors for feline upper respiratory disease in nine North American animal shelters. PLoS ONE 13(1): e0190140. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0190140
Koret Shelter Medicine Program Director Dr. Kate Hurley has received a Maddie’s Hero Award in the category of Big Picture Thinking for her pioneering work with the Million Cat Challenge, crystallizing and popularizing data-driven policies and practices that help shelters increase their lifesaving capacity. Read more…
Doctors Kate Hurley, Cindy Karsten, and Denae Wagner of the UC Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Program have received the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies’ Animal Welfare Innovation and Leadership Award for their “outstanding leadership in the creation of a program that is revolutionizing the cat overpopulation crisis and saving millions of lives – Capacity For Care (C4C).” They received the award at the opening ceremony of the 2016 CFHS National Animal Welfare Conference. Read more…