Spotlight on Dr. Jill Kirk: The Ontario SPCA’s new Chief Veterinary Officer

by | Interesting |

We recently said goodbye to our Chief Veterinary Officer, Dr. Stephanie Black, who has chosen to move on to a new role that will help shape future veterinary professionals. We want to wish Dr. Black continued success in her new role, and we look forward to working together again for the animals.  

We are thrilled to announce that Dr. Jill Kirk has been promoted to the role of Chief Veterinary Officer (CVO) at the Ontario SPCA and Humane Society!  

Dr. Kirk’s journey with the Ontario SPCA began in October 2022, when she joined the organization as a Shelter Veterinarian. Her extensive background in shelter medicine and unwavering dedication to animal welfare make her the perfect fit for this leadership position. 

To commemorate this exciting promotion, we interviewed Dr. Jill Kirk to learn more about her background, her passion for veterinary medicine, and her vision for the future in her new role as Chief Veterinary Officer. 

What inspired you to focus your career on helping animals by becoming a veterinarian? 

My mother is a veterinarian, and while she has dabbled in almost everything, she has spent most of her career as a shelter veterinarian. I think there is nothing more rewarding than seeing an animal that is sick or otherwise needs help, being able to help them, and then getting them into their forever home. I think being a shelter vet is hopeful! 

You joined the Ontario SPCA as a shelter veterinarian in October 2022. What influenced your decision to join the organization? 

I have always been a shelter vet. I knew before getting into veterinary school that was what I wanted to do — be a voice for the voiceless. When I was looking to move to Ontario from Florida, the Ontario SPCA’s description was so unique. Having one organization with such a broad reach was really a thrilling idea! 

You stepped into your new role of Chief Veterinary Officer in June 2024. What led to and inspired you to make this role change? 

When the role of Chief Veterinary Officer (CVO) was posted, I knew immediately that I wanted to apply. I have extensive training in shelter medicine. I graduated with a Certificate in Shelter Medicine in 2014, then I went back and earned my Masters of Science in Shelter Medicine, with a Certificate in Veterinary Forensics in 2020. I have held similar roles at previous organizations, and I enjoy the leadership and decision-making role. 

Could you provide a brief overview of what your new role entails? 

My role as CVO will entail supervising the three Shelter Health and Wellness veterinarians, who are responsible for the day-to-day care of the animals in our adoption centres. I will also continue to review and update protocols (both medical and surgical) to ensure we are following the most up-to-date recommendations from experts in shelter medicine. 

What are you most looking forward to accomplishing in your new role of Chief Veterinary Officer with the Ontario SPCA? 

The Ontario SPCA has provided care and compassion to animals for over 150 years, and I hope to build on the hard work my predecessors have done. I look forward to continuing the legacy of helping animals in need, being a safe space for injured and ill animals, and finding them their forever homes. 

To date, do you have a favourite memory, experience, or something you’re most proud of while being a part of the Ontario SPCA team?  

I would say that my favourite experience so far has just been travelling around the province! I never knew that working a remote job I would see so much of my new country — and there’s still so much more for me to discover! 

Do you have animals of your own? 

I do have many pets! I live on a farm with my family, and we have four horses, 16 cats (I know, a lot!), and five chickens. All of our animals are rescues — even the chickens! 

What is the most rewarding aspect of your role? 

The most rewarding aspect of my job is seeing an animal come to us ill or injured – whether that’s a severe case of an upper respiratory tract infection, skin disease, or even a broken limb – and seeing our staff come together and help that animal get better, and then getting them into their new home. 

How does it feel at the end of each workday knowing that you’ve made a positive impact on the health and lives of animals in need throughout the province? 

It feels great to be able to help animals. I have said that no day is the same twice, as each day comes with its own challenges. And while we may not be able to help them all, I just have to focus on the individual ones that we have been able to help. Sometimes help means euthanasia and the ending of suffering, and I think that is a gift that veterinarians have. It doesn’t mean it’s easy, but when an animal is beyond any help that medicine can provide, what a blessing it is that we can stop their suffering. 

If there was one takeaway that you’d like people to know about the animals cared for by the Ontario SPCA, what would that be? 

We look at each animal as an individual while concentrating on our population. We know how many animals each centre can support and care for, and we do our very best for them every single day. We don’t get many days off in this field — animals don’t care about holidays or what hours we like to work. We do the best we can for each animal with the resources that we have. 

Why would you encourage others to consider supporting the Ontario SPCA by donating, volunteering, and/or adopting? 

The Ontario SPCA would not get far without our volunteers! Everything from walking dogs to scooping cat litter boxes, to fostering animals to get them out of the centre, to raising orphaned puppies and kittens, or helping us do laundry — the list goes on and on! We could not do half the work that we do without volunteers! 

The Ontario SPCA family once again offers congratulations to Dr. Jill Kirk on her well-deserved promotion to Chief Veterinary Officer! We look forward to the continued positive impact she will have on the health and lives of animals throughout the province.  

Join the Ontario SPCA team 

The Ontario SPCA has a wide variety of employment opportunities supporting animal well-being across Ontario. Are you interested in joining our team? Visit our employment page to see current job opportunities.