Thanks to the generous support of the Petco Foundation, our spay/neuter program was able to sterilize, vaccinate, treat for parasites, and provide care for injuries and illness for more than one thousand community cats in 2019.
Since the first veterinary students, faculty, local veterinarians, and cat lovers came together in July 1998 to spay, neuter, and vaccinate a few dozen stray and feral cats, more than 55,000 cats have received care. The clinic has grown to become the largest university-based trap-neuter-return program in the world and a model for providing veterinary students with hands-on surgery training. That model has been replicated in other veterinary schools and communities across the globe.
The program has prevented the birth of hundreds of thousands of homeless kittens, resulting in plummeting intake for cats at the local municipal shelter and a community-wide save rate that hovers around 90 percent. The program’s trapping teams also partner with personnel from the municipal shelter, Alachua County Animal Services, to respond jointly to locations of specific concern, such as large cat concentrations around mobile home parks and commercial sites and to mitigate nuisance associated with free-roaming cats. In this way, our community partners collaborate in a shared goal of life-saving and community improvement for both cats and people.
In addition to providing veterinary services to the community, the Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Program utilizes the large-scale TNR clinic to address the national shortage of veterinarians who possess the skills and motivation to perform High-Quality High-Volume Spay/Neuter.
Beginning in their freshman year, students are trained in non-surgical aspects of mass clinics, including anesthesia, examination, surgical preparation, vaccination, pain management, and recovery, as well as the problem of pet overpopulation and how they as veterinarians are uniquely positioned to help. More advanced students perform spay and neuter surgery under intensive one-on-one coaching by skilled surgeons.
The UF Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Program has had a long relationship with the Petco Foundation, including grant support for veterinary student training, disaster assistance, increasing access to veterinary care and spay/neuter, shelter consultation, presentations at professional conferences, and collaboration in the Million Cat Challenge. As we come to the end of the year and take stock of all we’ve accomplished for the animals, one thing is certain: We couldn’t have done it without them!
The Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Program at UF’s lifesaving work is proudly supported by the Petco Foundation.