KSMP Leads Kitten and Housing Discussions at HSUS Animal Care Expo 2019

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.

Speakers at the first Kitten Summit

Drs. Karsten, Delany, and Hurley convened a well-attended Kitten Summit, at which they brought together innovators from Arizona Humane, Portland’s Cat Adoption Team, the Humane Society of Silicon Valley, and San Diego Humane to share information about all things kitten.

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.

Million Cat Challenge Cat Housing booth at Expo 2019

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.

Shelter Medicine Celebrates 18th Birthday

Happy 18th birthday KSMP! Cake with cat- and dog-shaped decorations.

“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.”

KSMP team members blow out the candles. A laptop streams video to celebrants all across the U.S.

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.”

Capacity for Care Bootcamp 2.0 Begins

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.

C4C Bootcamp screenshot

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:

  • Antioch Animal Services
  • Edmonton ACCC
  • Fredericton SPCA
  • Marin Humane
  • Solano County Animal Services
  • SPCA de’Outaouais
  • Stockton Animal Services
  • Tony La Russa ARF
  • Winnipeg Humane Society

Drs. Wagner and Hurley Publish Pair of Studies of the Effects of Housing on Shelter Cat Health, Well-Being, and Adoption

Two major studies co-authored by the Koret Shelter Medicine Program’s Drs. Denae Wagner and Kate Hurley, along with Dr. Jenny Stavisky from the University of Nottingham, were published today by The Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery (JFMS).

Shelter housing for cats 1: Principles of design for health, welfare and rehoming, lays out the current state of scientific knowledge about the challenges of sheltering cats and the most effective responses to those challenges. The article will be of interest to anyone who designs or works in facilities that provide any kind of temporary housing for felines. The authors argue that, Read more…

Portal It Forward Initiative Aims to Spread Benefits of Portals to Shelters Everywhere

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!

You can also watch the video on YouTube.

Dr. Kate Hurley displaying a portalDr. 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?

The answer: the Portal Pay It Forward Fund, and the Portal It Forward campaign. Using the money from her Maddie’s Hero Award, Dr. Hurley will purchase up to 30 portals for each of ten shelters chosen by lottery in March, 2018. Read more…

KSMP Verifies Humane Society Silicon Valley as First-Ever Model Shelter

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…

KSMP Drs. Hurley and Wagner Co-author 9-Shelter Feline URI Study

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. 

Shelter Monthly Feline URI Rate, Aug  2008-July 2009

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

KSMP Veterinarians Receive Animal Welfare Innovation and Leadership Award

Cindy, Kate, and Denae celebrate their CFHS AwardDoctors 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…

Edmonton Humane Society takes part in challenge to save one million cats

Kittens in a portalized cage

The Million Cat Challenge, a joint project of the UC Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Program and the University of Florida Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Program, launched the shelter-based campaign in 2014 to save cats all over North America, with Edmonton being the first shelter in Western Canada to take part. The goal is to reduce euthanasia and ensure humane care for shelter cats.

Read the full story from the Edmonton Journal.