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Survey of animal shelter managers regarding shelter veterinary medical services
- Laderman-Jones, B.E., Hurley, K.F., Kass, P.H.
- The veterinary journal 2016 v.210 pp. 68-76
- animal behavior, animal rescue shelters, animals, attitudes and opinions, disease prevention, education, human resources, infectious diseases, managers, medicine, surgery, surveys, veterinarians
- Veterinary services are increasingly used in animal shelters, and shelter medicine is an emerging veterinary specialty. However, little is known about working relationships between animal shelters and veterinarians. The aims of this survey were to characterize working relationships that shelter personnel have and want with veterinarians, identify opinions that shelter managers have regarding the veterinarians they work with, and determine areas for relationship growth between veterinarians and shelter managers. An electronic survey was distributed to 1373 managers of North American animal shelters; 536 (39.0%) responded.Almost all shelters had some veterinary relationship, and most had regular relationships with veterinarians. The proportion of shelters that used local clinics (73.9%) was significantly higher than the proportion that retained on-site paid veterinarians (48.5%). The proportion of respondents who did not have but wanted a paid on-site veterinarian (42%) was significantly higher than the proportion of respondents who did not use local clinics but wanted to (7.9%). These data suggest shelter managers valued veterinary relationships, and wished to expand on-site veterinary services. Almost all shelters in this study provided some veterinary care, and all respondents identified at least one common infectious disease, which, for most, had a substantial negative impact on shelter successes. Respondents indicated that the most important roles and greatest expertise of veterinarians were related to surgery, diagnosis and treatment of individual animals. Education of both veterinarians and shelter managers may help ensure that shelters benefit from the full range of services veterinarians can provide, including expertise in disease prevention and animal behavior.