Governor Newsom Proposes $50M Investment to Help California’s Homeless Animals

While running for Governor, Gavin Newsom made a promise to all Californians and to the over 100,000 shelter animals still euthanized annually: Ensure that all California communities have the resources they need to meet the state’s goal that no healthy or treatable dog or cat is euthanized in an animal shelter.

The desire to eliminate euthanasia as a management tool for animals that are not dangerous or suffering is not new; in fact, there is a two decade-old state policy stating no adoptable or treatable dog or cat be euthanized at an animal shelter. Yet last year California was second only to Texas in the number of animals dying in shelters. The state stopped reimbursing local governments for some animal shelter costs during the recession and many communities have struggled to meet the goal ever since.

What is new is a meaningful commitment from the state to help make the kind of life-saving success envisioned twenty years ago a reality for all communities, including those with fewer resources who have been left out of the successes that communities with more have been able to achieve.

On January 10, 2020, Governor Newsom put forward the first proposal in California’s history aimed at addressing these disparities and closing the gap, ensuring that all California animal shelters have access to the training and resources needed to transform their organizations.

If approved by the legislature, the Governor’s proposed $50 million dollar investment in homeless animals and the shelters that serve them will provide:

  • Prioritized investment and direct professional engagement with animal shelters in underresourced and overburdened communities
  • Regional best-practice summits open to all animal sheltering personnel
  • Access to the most current research and shelter management models available, as well as the subject matter experts who pioneered the veterinary medicine field that concentrates on the health and well-being of animals living in shelters
  • Interactive group training that guarantees shelters have access to best-practice protocols and models
  • Robust resource library complete with sample forms, protocols, case studies, policies and tool kits

The governor has asked the UC Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Program, led by Dr. Kate Hurley, to implement this ambitious initiative, should it be funded. More will be known when the California legislature completes the budget process in June.

We’re Hiring!

[Note: these positions have been filled as of 1/13/20]

Are you interested in working for the UC Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Program (KSMP)? We’re looking to fill Veterinarian, Registered Veterinary Technician, and Animal Health Technician positions.

KSMP is a dynamic team dedicated to advancing shelter medicine as a veterinary specialty through research, specialty training and education, and performance of veterinary service in animal shelters. We are looking for energetic, self-motivated, and patient individuals to join our team at Yolo County Animal Services in Woodland, California.

The Associate Supervising Veterinarian will provide veterinary services to the shelter as well as participating in student training and clinical research to benefit shelter animals.

The RVT and AHT will provide veterinary technical support and assist with the clinical training of fourth-year veterinary students during their shelter medicine and surgery rotation.

Utilize your skills to positively influence the lives of thousands of shelter animals, and help train the next generation of veterinary professionals in the vital field of shelter medicine and surgery.

Please see the links below for more details about the positions:

  • Associate Supervising Veterinarian
  • Shelter Medicine Lead Technician
  • Small Animal Medicine and Surgery Support Technician

Shelters Complete First-Ever Facility Design Bootcamp

The Koret Shelter Medicine Program always wants to share its expertise in the most efficient, effective manner, and that often means experimenting with new outreach methods. In that spirit, KSMP veterinarians Denae Wagner, Cynthia Karsten, and Kate Hurley led four shelters in various stages of planning new facilities or redesigning old ones in a first-of-its-kind online Facility Design Bootcamp. The four-week bootcamp ran in September and October.

The four shelters selected to participate in the pilot program were the City and County of Butte-Silver Bow, the Humane Society of Western Montana, the Souris Valley Animal Shelter, and the Wadena Humane Society. They were recruited by KSMP alumna, Dr. Chumkee Aziz, currently Senior Director of Shelter Outreach at the ASPCA’s Northern Tier Shelter Initiative.

“We feel so fortunate to have had this opportunity. Was great to get our team thinking together and brings a lot of great internal conversations. Likely a lot of money and time-saving insight from all of you! Thank YOU!!!”

Facility Design Bootcamp 1.0 Participant

Group Zoom calls allowed the shelters to interact with each other as well as with KSMP shelter veterinarians, while each shelter also got individual video consultations. Dr. Wagner, the facility design specialist on the team, is committed to review draft shelter plans whether they’re ready in a month, or a year from now. As Dr. Karsten likes to say, “Once a bootcamper, always a bootcamper.”

The Bootcamp curriculum included instructional videos that offered in-depth comparisons of different housing methods and floor plans; introduced the Capacity for Care (C4C) shelter management model; and explained how right-sizing the shelter and reducing length of stay works better for shelter animals ⁠— and staff.

I am a buildings manager who was asked to sit in to learn more about shelter design and operations. I found it very informative on many levels. It changed my way of thinking and gave me a higher appreciation for all that you do.

Facility Design Bootcamp 1.0 Participant

Shelter consultations aren’t educational just for the folks working in shelters; they are also a learning experience for the KSMP team. The KSMP collected feedback from participants throughout the bootcamp and sent a comprehensive questionnaire at the end.

In a final email to participants, Dr. Wagner wrote, “I am already working on Facility Design Bootcamp #2 and will be implementing many of your suggestions. Thank you too for encouraging us to continue on with this project by letting us know this was a useful endeavor.”

The ASPCA generously supplied funding to enable the shelters to participate.

UW Shelter Medicine Program Helps Contain Canine Influenza Outbreak

A Canine Influenza outbreak at two Oakland, California shelters is being managed by the Shelter Medicine program at the University of Wisconsin–Madison School of Veterinary Medicine (SVM), directed by former Koret Shelter Medicine Program faculty member, Dr. Sandra Newbury.

Alerted to the possibility of an outbreak, the Koret Shelter Medicine Program’s Dr. Cindy Karsten reached out to Dr. Newbury, a member of the Canine Influenza Task Force.

Testing revealed that two dogs transferred from Oakland Animal Services to the East Bay SPCA were infected with the H3N2 strain, as were two dogs still at OAS. Testing at both facilities continues thanks to the financial support of Maddie’s Fund.

UW shelter veterinarians are on the scene providing expertise on treatment of infected animals and containment of the outbreak.

Symptoms of the disease include runny nose, cough, and fever and can be either mild or severe. Owners whose dogs show those symptoms are urged to contact their veterinarian. Most dogs recover if isolated and treated properly.

Infections of cats are possible but rare; the canine version of H3N2 cannot infect humans.

You can learn more about Canine Influenza by reading the Canine Influenza information sheet in our resource library. Visit the UW Shelter Medicine website to read more about this outbreak.

Dr. Karsten is Outreach Veterinarian for the Koret Shelter Medicine Program at the University of California, Davis. Dr. Newbury helped to build the KSMP from 2006-2014 and now directs the Shelter Medicine Program at UW. She can be reached at

Shelter Medicine Times Newsletter Vol. 4 Issue 2 Published

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.

Issue 2 of the 4th edition of the Shelter Medicine Times can be seen at in the magical flipbook format. A mobile-optimized version is available at

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 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…