How the memory of a beloved dog is making lasting change for shelter animals

Broker's Tale scholarhsip for shelter medicine students
The “Broker’s Tale” scholarship supports shelter medicine education.

What a difference a scholarship makes!

An anonymous donor wanted to honor of her childhood dog, Broker, and recently awarded scholarships to students in the Maddie’s® Shelter Medicine Program at the University of Florida.

“We named him Broker because he was born with a broken tail,” said the donor. “But a crooked tail didn’t stop him from being one of those dogs you measure all others against.”

One of those students, Dr. Rebecca Laster, is the shelter veterinarian for the City of Columbia Animal Services and is currently pursuing her Master’s degree online with the University of Florida Shelter Medicine program. She recently wrote to share the good news about the impact of that generosity, and express her gratitude:

I completed my first course in Shelter Physical Health last semester. I would like to take this opportunity to describe to you some of the positive impacts that the course has made for residents in our shelter.


  • A new protocol for treatment of canine parvovirus has been implemented, preventing the euthanasia of puppies stricken with this treatable disease
  • A new protocol for isolation and treatment of ringworm cases has already prevented the deaths of 18 cats when both of our community cat rooms became infected. All of the cats have been successfully treated and released from quarantine.
  • A new Standard Operating Procedures manual is currently in development, outlining protocols from appropriate cleaning and disinfecting to disease management.
  • A pilot community cat program has met with great success and now the program has become permanent. Feral cats are now being trapped, neutered, and released rather than enduring stressful 5 day holding periods before being euthanized.
  • Daily medical rounds have been implemented, allowing us to catch disease early.
  • Shelter statistics are now being openly discussed. These statistics provide staff with feedback on shelter programs designed to reduce disease, decrease the length of stay, increase live releases (i.e. adoption and rescues), and decrease the number of shelter intakes.
Dr. Rebecca Laster
Dr. Rebecca Laster

These are just a few examples of the changes that have been made. With the new programs in place, our live release rate has climbed by more than 12% and continues to grow. However, the biggest change is less tangible. It is the positive impact on the morale of shelter employees. With fewer animals being euthanized and higher success rates with adoptions, the staff has been energized. More employees are becoming involved on levels beyond the scope of their assigned duties and their desire to learn is astounding. I must give a large amount of credit to our shelter director who is so open to new ideas and the shelter staff who are willing to accept change for the betterment of the animals.


Again, thank you so much for your generosity. I learn more and more as the weeks progress in my second semester. I hope, if the opportunity presents, that I may one day thank you in person for your support of our specialty. It is through this support that lasting change is made for thousands of shelter animals nationwide.

We think Broker would have been proud. We know we are!