Traditionally, the focus of companion animal veterinary training has been on the health of individual animals. In shelters, large numbers of animals share common sources of air, food, water, living space and caretaker attention, increasing stress and facilitating disease transmission and the development of behavior problems. The health and welfare of the population influences the health and welfare of all individuals and vice versa.
Complete veterinary care of shelter animals requires focused expertise combining elements of epidemiology, infectious disease control, behavior, surgery and shelter management. More specifically, the shelter veterinarian must have an expanded understanding in the following areas:
Shelter medicine veterinarians must also be well versed in legal, regulatory, ethical and emotional aspects of shelter animal care.