Online shelter medicine grad helps give fighting dogs a fighting chance

Stephanie BlackFighting dogs have a champion in their corner, thanks to our brand-new Online Shelter Medicine Master’s Degree program graduate, Dr. Stephanie Black, Staff Veterinarian at the Toronto Humane Society.

In her In her Master’s degree capstone presentation on behavior modification for dogs rescued from fighting backgrounds, Dr. Black said she found experts considered ex-fighting dogs to be similar to dogs from puppy mill operations. “These dogs are not well-socialized,” she said. “One expert referred to these dogs as ‘pancake dogs,’ because they would just hit the floor and try to get as flat as they could, not move, and sadly don’t even move to eat or go to the bathroom if there’s too much going on.”

She stressed that, “All dogs from fighting situations are individual animals, and should be individually evaluated. They should no longer be considered tools of violence. Instead, they should be considered victims of animal cruelty. Blind euthanasia of these dogs should not be tolerated.”

The online shelter medicine course was extremely valuable to Dr. Black in her work as a shelter veterinarian. “This program has given me the knowledge to improve the lives of animals through effective population management and disease control,” Dr. Black said. “The veterinary forensics sections have helped me rescue pets from inhumane situations and improve prosecution. Once animals are in my care, this program has helped me to find ways to improve their welfare in the shelter and get them into loving homes sooner.”

The knowledge she gained is being put to work for animals every day. “Whether it be recognizing the need for specific enrichment for an animal or controlling a potential outbreak situation, the skills I have learned were varied and useful. And I gained knowledge of disease and welfare as well as tricks of the trade that help me make the sometimes overwhelming world of shelter medicine more manageable.”

You can view Dr. Black’s capstone presentation here: Give Fighting Dogs a Fighting Chance