Conference Recap: 5th Annual Maddie’s® Shelter Medicine Conference

The Annual Conference once again returned to the Caribe Royale in Orlando, Florida, with nearly 200 attendees.Nearly 200 shelter medicine veterinarians and shelter leaders descended on Orlando, Florida to explore innovative ideas and practical solutions for helping shelter animals at the 5th Annual Maddie’s® Shelter Medicine Conference.

The Annual Conference was held at the Caribe Royale on August 25-26, 2012.  Once again the audience traveled from across the United States to gain new insights into successful shelter medical programs.  Attendees even hailed from Canada, the UK, and Australia.  But wherever their origin, their goals were the same – to explore new ways to protect the health and welfare of the shelter pets entrusted to their care.

Exploring Practical Approaches

The conference opened with an inspiring look at the “Bound for Home” initiative developed by the Animal Humane Society, presented by AHS’ Director, Kathie Johnson.  Ms. Johnson told the story of AHS’ journey to decrease length of stay, drive up placement rates, and engage their community through admission by appointment.  Speakers from the University of Florida rounded out the morning session with talks on the first sixty minutes of an animal’s shelter stay with Dr. Brian DiGangi, and an exploration of a new paradigm for saving community cats, “no-frill no-kill,” with Dr. Julie Levy.

This was my first conference, and it was a wonderful experience! I hope to be able to attend again. It’s a wonderful feeling meeting new people, seeing other organizations, and being able to take information home to better our own facility and help more animals and people in need. Thank you so much!

UF's Shelter Medicine program was well-represented at the conference, including interns, certificate students, and faculty in shelter medicine.

Standardizing Medical Care

On Saturday afternnon, Dr. Lesli Groshong, Chief Shelter Veterinarian at the Humane Society of Boulder Valley, presented a three-part series about her shelter’s approach to standardizing medical and treatment protocols and streamlining communication with staff and adopters.  Attendees appreciated the challenges faced head-on by Dr. Groshong’s team to improve care and teamwork in her shelter, and were inspired by her efforts to lead the development of the HSBV Shelter Medicine Journal.

Each year, the UF Shelter Medicine Conference grows in capacity and brings different perspectives and new information on shelter health and wellness to our field.

Dr. Frank McMillan of Best Friends Animal Society led participants through research on the physical and psychological effects of hoarding and puppy mill life.

Addressing Special Needs

The second day of the conference brought an enthusiastic response to Dr. Ellen Jefferson’s talks on the programs of Austin Pets Alive! which has focused on reducing community euthanasia by building a corps of volunteers to help the ‘treatable’ pets from the shelter, including neonatal kittens and distemper and parvo puppies.  Director of Well-Being Studies at Best Friends Animal Society Dr. Frank McMillan presented afternoon sessions focused on the physical and psychological issues found in puppy mill and hoarding rescues. While the effects of such traumatic life experiences may be long-lasting for some animals, the individuals who choose to adopt these rescue pets are a special and dedicated group.  Dr. McMillan provided valuable information for helping these adopters and their rescued pets build healthy relationships.

I can’t express just how inspired, relieved, validated, and just happy I am after these conferences. I go home so excited, refreshed, and ready to put my nose back to the grindstone to keep chipping away at these problems in my shelter area.

Attendees browsed the poster session and exhibit hall.

Examining the Latest Research

During breaks throughout the conference, attendees connected with representatives from the conferences’ generous sponsors to learn about their programs for shelters and explored the Frontiers in Shelter Medicine poster session made possible by PetSmart Charities.  In this special session, researchers explained their studies’ design, protocols, and implications for shelters and their veterinarians.  Attendees had the unique opportunity to speak directly with the researchers investigating the problems facing shelters today.

Thank You

Maddie’s® Shelter Medicine Program would like to thank our sponsors for their support of this program, and all of our attendees and speakers for making the event such a success.  We’re thrilled to hear all the great work being undertaken by veterinarians in shelters, and are honored to help share those insights and move our field forward.


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Dr. Cynda Crawford welcomed attendees.
Attendees browsed the poster session and exhibit hall.
Cleon Hendricks, UF Class of 2015, presented a poster on his pilot study investigating tail vaccination in cats.
Representatives from Merck Animal Health shared their programs with attendees.