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What is shelter medicine?

image of What is shelter medicine?
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Abstract

Shelter medicine is a newly emerging discipline of veterinary medicine, which involves working closely with charitable organizations. This chapter covers: clinical approach to herd health in companion animals, the decision-making process, challenges of shelter medicine, principles and skills needed to meet the challenges. Top 10 tips for shelter medicine vets.

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Figures

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1.1 Principles of herd health, including consideration of the entire group of animals, awareness of husbandry and monitoring of key performance indicators, are transferable from farm animal practice to shelter medicine. (© M Brennan)
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1.2 Representation of the distribution of the pet population and where the principles of shelter medicine apply (shown in green).
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1.3 Effective communication between the veterinary team and all members of staff is essential to ensure the best possible care for animals in a shelter. (Courtesy of J Toner)
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1.4 Even brief periods of captivity can be stressful for feral cats. This cat was placed in a crush cage prior to being anaesthetized for neutering as part of a trap-neuter-return programme. The programme organizers balanced the relatively short period of stress and discomfort for each individual against the improvement in welfare for the population of cats. (© Jenny Stavisky)
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1.5 Veterinary surgeon examining a cat and discussing its history during a shelter visit. (© Jenny Stavisky)
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1.7 These kittens have chosen to sit on the comfortable blanket near the door of their enclosure, where they are on view to the public. The overhanging blanket also provides a potential hiding place below the chair. (© Jenny Stavisky)
Image of Engage with the shelter team. (© Jenny Stavisky)
Engage with the shelter team. (© Jenny Stavisky) Engage with the shelter team. (© Jenny Stavisky)
Image of Resources are often limited and decisions on how to distribute them can be complex. (© Jenny Stavisky)
Resources are often limited and decisions on how to distribute them can be complex. (© Jenny Stavisky) Resources are often limited and decisions on how to distribute them can be complex. (© Jenny Stavisky)
Image of Pragmatic decision-making is essential – early neutering can reduce the need for euthanasia where overpopulation exists. This feral kitten has been neutered as part of a trap-neuter-return population control programme. (© Jenny Stavisky)
Pragmatic decision-making is essential – early neutering can reduce the need for euthanasia where overpopulation exists. This feral kitten has been neutered as part of a trap-neuter-return population control programme. (© Jenny Stavisky) Pragmatic decision-making is essential – early neutering can reduce the need for euthanasia where overpopulation exists. This feral kitten has been neutered as part of a trap-neuter-return population control programme. (© Jenny Stavisky)
Image of Sometimes difficult decisions must be made. This shelter opted to depopulate in order to control an outbreak of panleukopenia.
Sometimes difficult decisions must be made. This shelter opted to depopulate in order to control an outbreak of panleukopenia. Sometimes difficult decisions must be made. This shelter opted to depopulate in order to control an outbreak of panleukopenia.
Image of Colour-coding cleaning equipment can be useful in helping to maintain biosecurity within a shelter. The red equipment will only be used in the isolation block, and use of out of place equipment will be obvious. (© Jenny Stavisky)
Colour-coding cleaning equipment can be useful in helping to maintain biosecurity within a shelter. The red equipment will only be used in the isolation block, and use of out of place equipment will be obvious. (© Jenny Stavisky) Colour-coding cleaning equipment can be useful in helping to maintain biosecurity within a shelter. The red equipment will only be used in the isolation block, and use of out of place equipment will be obvious. (© Jenny Stavisky)
Image of Diagnostic tests should be undertaken only where there is a clear rationale and the result will affect decision-making. (© Jenny Stavisky)
Diagnostic tests should be undertaken only where there is a clear rationale and the result will affect decision-making. (© Jenny Stavisky) Diagnostic tests should be undertaken only where there is a clear rationale and the result will affect decision-making. (© Jenny Stavisky)
Image of Where possible and appropriate, enrichment, which may be as simple as a hiding place, should be provided. (© Jenny Stavisky)
Where possible and appropriate, enrichment, which may be as simple as a hiding place, should be provided. (© Jenny Stavisky) Where possible and appropriate, enrichment, which may be as simple as a hiding place, should be provided. (© Jenny Stavisky)
Image of However well managed a shelter is, most animals will have better welfare in a home environment.
However well managed a shelter is, most animals will have better welfare in a home environment. However well managed a shelter is, most animals will have better welfare in a home environment. (Courtesy of Christopher Hawke)

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