In 2020, the Athens Area Humane Society had plans to grow and was building a new facility. At the same time, the University of Georgia’s College associated with Veterinary Medicine was exploring options to establish a shelter medicine system.
Although the Humane Society and the university had partnered before—offering veterinary externships, conducting research on pet adoptions and providing service-learning experiences—a shelter medicine program would establish a more extensive relationship.
“We knew we could do more, ” said Jed Kaylor, the particular director of lifesaving programs and community initiatives for the Athens Region Humane Community. “We reached out to Dr . Spencer Johnston and [College of Veterinary Medicine] Dean Lisa Nolan plus showed them the floor plans for the new facility. ”
Leveraging UGA’s experience developing a new teaching hospital, Johnston, UGA’s Small Animal Medicine and Surgery department head, made several suggestions to adjust plans with regard to AAHS’ surgical suite to enhance student learning.
“They encouraged us to think more expansively, and their input made us a stronger partner, a better hospital, and a much better community-driven protection, ” said Dr. Cheryl McCormick, CEO of the Athens Area Humane Modern society. “It’s produced us the contender regarding one of the best shelter medication programs in the southeast. ”
The 15, 000-square-foot facility opened in September 2021 plus has supported AAHS’ considerable growth. It has allowed the Humane Society to provide more than 500 surgeries each month, give away more food to families who are struggling to afford the cost of pet meals, and bring in more animals from overcrowded partner shelters, among other key initiatives to support animal and community health.
“At a time when the community need has never been greater, we have added to the particular capacity of what we are capable of. Everything we perform has increased two- to threefold, ” Kaylor said. “The UGA college students help us with this volume. They provide extra capacity, assistance case management, plus take some of the initial intake burden off full-time staff. ”
UGA’s shelter medication program has grown along with AAHS. Dr . Staci Canon, an UGA veterinary medicine alumna, returned to Athens in July 2022 in order to serve as the college’s first faculty shelter medication specialist. Cannon is housed at the Humane Modern society and oversees the fourth-year veterinary medical students who are completing clinical rotations at AAHS.
“Student education takes more time, ” Johnston said, “so we wanted an UGA faculty member to be embedded in the Humane Society. We are guests in their building, and Dr. Cannon can dedicate time without burdening the particular Humane Society’s veterinarians. ”
Cannon works closely with AAHS personnel and veterinarians. Her background in shelter medicine plus public wellness will support AAHS’ local community outreach endeavours. In addition to spay/neuter surgical experience, veterinary learners learn about infectious disease prevention and management, facility design, and behavioral health in shelter creatures. Keeping protection pets healthy leads to shorter shelter stays, improved animal welfare, and more vulnerable lives saved.
Cannon plus AAHS employees share the vision associated with connecting future veterinarians to shelter medicine.
“There currently is a shortage of veterinarians engaged in animal shelters, ” Cannon said. “Through this program we are taking a higher-level view. We want to equip the next generation associated with veterinarians in order to help pet shelters and care for animals in all areas of our communities. ”
“We can offer a place where people can train and take the expertise to other shelters, humane societies and private practices across Georgia, ” Kaylor stated. “This will allow for more well-rounded veterinarians who can partner along with shelters or conduct research to help pets. ”
UGA programs for that refuge medicine partnership to expand in the years to come. The university is performing fundraising efforts to support the particular program’s growth. UGA offers hired the second teachers member to be housed from AAHS starting in December and plans to hire a veterinary technician.
“It is still early in the relationship, ” Johnston mentioned. “There will be a large opportunity in order to develop the particular partnership plus have things grow, and we feel very positive about it. ”