Maddie’s® Shelter Medicine Program Students Hard at Work with Summer Research Projects

Published: August 15th, 2014

Category: Featured, News

This summer, several veterinary students have been busy with more than just their online projects in the Integrating Veterinary Medicine with Shelter Systems course.  Here is a peek at what keeps them busy.

Non-Contact Infrared Thermometry for Large Populations of Cats

A Comparison of Non-contact Infrared Thermometry and Rectal Thermometry in CatsSoon-to-be Dr. Kelly Nutt (UF Class of 2017, shown to the right with her poster) is a Maddie’s® Shelter Medicine Program Summer Research Scholar working with Drs. Julie Levy on A Comparison of Non-contact Infrared Thermometry and Rectal Thermometry in Cats.

Infrared photograph of surface temperatures of a kitten Kelly Nutt, 2014

Infrared photograph of surface temperatures of a kitten
Kelly Nutt, 2014

Veterinarians commonly use rectal thermometers to measure body temperatures when assessing the health status of cats. This technology has limitations: it requires restraint of the animals to perform, it increases stress on the cats because the method is invasive, and it is not always feasible to perform repeatedly when assessing large numbers of cats as in a shelter environment. Non-contact infrared thermometry is popular in human

medicine because it helps to overcome similar limitations. If measurements taken with non-contact infrared thermometers in felines accurately correlate with measurements taken rectally, this technology could help shelter veterinarians monitor large numbers of cats rapidly and with less stress. This study will compare the performance of a digital rectal thermometer to three types of non-contact infrared thermometers when measuring feline body temperatures on the pinna, gingiva, and the perineum.

Long-Term Effects of Canine
Distemper Virus in Adopted SurvivorsLaura Adkins

Soon-to-be Dr. Laura Adkins (UGA Class of 2016, shown to the right with her dog) is also a Summer Research Scholar working with Dr. Crawford on A Retrospective Study of Dogs that Survived Distemper Viral Outbreak.

In 2010 an animal shelter population was isolated due to an outbreak of canine distemper virus (CDV). A sub-group of infected dogs survived that CDV outbreak and were adopted. This study attempts to locate those survivors and interview their new owners to determine whether this cohort of dogs display any long-term health problems post-infection with CDV.

Florida Shelter Animal Census

Florida Shelter Animal Census, a Maddie's Shelter Medicine Program research project

2013 Florida Shelter Animal Census (Green markers indicate shelters that have reported their data, red markers indicate shelters that have not yet reported their data)

Soon-to-be Dr. Patricia Diskant (UF Class of 2017) is multi-tasking this summer as the Head Technician for our Community Cat Management Course that ran August 4-8 during which surgeons spayed/neutered 544 feral felines in four days! She is also working with Operation Catnip, serving as the president of the UF Student Chapter of the Association of Shelter Veterinarians, and assisting Drs. Levy and Crawford with updating Florida Shelter Animal Census: A Snapshot of Statewide Intake and Disposition.

Shelters that track the intake and outcome for the animals in their care are armed with data to help them make strategic decisions about programs that can save more lives and improve welfare. Shelter managers need a consistent way to communicate and manage this data so they can make meaningful comparisons between shelters in different communities over time and set benchmarks for success. The Florida Legislature recently mandated animal shelters to collect and report their numbers   but did not mandate a standard method or a centralized repository for collecting this data. This census project attempts to inventory Florida animal shelters to collect statistics about 2013 animal intake and outcomes using the Basic Data Matrix developed by the National Federation of Humane Societies. The census will help researchers identify regional disparities in per capita shelter populations throughout the state.

Using Structured Play to Increase Adoption of Shelter DogsMaria Brandifino, Maddie's Shelter Medicine Summer Reserach Scholar

Soon-to-be Dr. Maria Brandifino (UF Class of 2017, shown to the right presenting her research) is a Summer Research Scholar working with UF’s canine behavior research team to determine if certain play interactions between shelter dogs and potential adopters are beneficial to outcomes.  By determining each dog’s individual play preferences they are able to guide adopter-dog interactions, which they hope will lead to increased adoption rates.


Maddie’s® Shelter Medicine Program is underwritten by a grant from Maddie’s Fund®, The Pet Rescue Foundation, helping to fund the creation of a no-kill nation.

Maddie's Fund

Maddie's Shelter Medicine Program