Current Research
Issues That Impact the Health & Well-Being of Sheltered Animals

Faculty, residents, interns, and veterinary students; all investigate important Shelter Medicine questions to understand the issues that impact the health and well-being of homeless and sheltered animals.

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Florida Shelter Animal Census: A snapshot of statewide intake and disposition

Consultants in a kennel

  • Lead researcher: Dr. Julie Levy
  • Researchers: Keegan Spera, Naima Cortes-Stoneberger, Susan Amirian
  • Student researchers: Sara Stiehler, Chloe McKee, Casey Miller
  • This statewide initiative will develop a reliable snapshot of the state’s shelter animal census, answering a critical question: How many cats and dogs are admitted to shelters each year and what happens to them?


2020 Maddie’s Summer Research Scholar: Return-to-Field programs for managing community cats in Florida shelters

black ear-tipped community cat
  • Florida’s 150 shelters collectively take in more than 200,000 cats each year, most of which are unowned community cats taken in as strays. Only 72% of cats have live outcomes, compared to 88% of dogs. Return-to-Field (RTF) programs sterilize, vaccinate, ear-tip and return healthy un-owned shelter cats to the location of origin as an alternative to euthanasia or shelter crowding. RTF differs from traditional trap-neuter return programs in that RTF addresses cats that are admitted to shelters, whereas TNR typically addresses cats in the field. RTF programs are one of the most effective in quickly reducing shelter cat crowding, stress, disease, and euthanasia. This study will characterize the use of RTF programs in Florida shelters for managing community cats.

2020 Maddie’s Summer Research Scholar: Shelter management programs for cats living with FeLV and FIV

three gray and white kittens in crate

  • Approximately 3% of cats are infected with FeLV nationwide, a diagnosis that impacts 60,000 cats in animal shelters each year and 2.7 million cats in private homes. In many animal shelters, cats with a single positive screening test are routinely euthanized, even though the AAFP Feline Retrovirus Testing and Management Guidelines recommend against euthanizing healthy retrovirus-positive cats. The public expects shelters to save animals that are not suffering or dangerous to society. As a result, adoption programs for cats living with FeLV and FIV are increasingly common in both municipal and private shelters. This study will characterize the practice of saving retrovirus-positive cats in Florida shelters. Operational characteristics of adoption program will be determined.