Vet student learns about Shelter Health and Wellness at the OSPCA

by | News |

Dr. Magdalena Smrdelj, our Shelter Health and Wellness department head, was pleased to have aspiring veterinarian Erica Fong join her department for a week. As part of Erica’s program at the University of Guelph, she completed a week’s rotation with shelter staff.

During her week with us, Erica participated in tours and internal discussions about infection protocols and guidelines. She went off-site to another shelter where she learned how existing protocols are implemented into new facilities. The daily flow of animals really highlighted the complexities of managing shelter wellness. Erica also met with one of our investigations officers, to learn more about animal legislation and the investigations process. The week was wrapped up with a Q&A session, where Erica was able to discuss any thoughts or observations she had about the week with staff.

After her rotation was over, Erica contacted Dr. Smrdelj to share some of her thoughts about her week at the shelter.

Dear Magdalena and Dave,

When I first contacted Dr. Magdalena Smrdelj about an external rotation at the OSPCA provincial office, I was hoping to gain a full understanding of what the OSPCA was about and how it operated. With the help of enthusiastic staff, directors and affiliates of the OSPCA, my week was extremely well organized and I was able to learn about the fundamental foundations of the OSPCA and experience different departments at the agency.

My week started with a thorough presentation about shelter medicine and overpopulation. On the same day, I was able to take a tour of the adoption shelter and to participate in a couple of intake exams. The next day, a discussion was held about the infection control protocols and euthanasia guidelines that the OSPCA has implemented. Wednesday was a trip to an affiliate humane society where I got to participate in a workshop teaching “best practices” and giving advice on protocols for the new building. Here I experienced first-hand some of the difficulties shelters might be facing and their philosophies in managing the constant flow of animals. On Thursday, I learned about the various ways the OSPCA was ensuring successful adoptions via the Meet Your Match program and SAFER assessments. In the afternoon, I was fortunate enough to meet with an animal investigations officer. Through this, I gained a better understanding of the what an investigation encompasses and the associated legislation. Friday was a Q&A session and a great way to summarize the week. We were able to touch on miscellaneous topics that were not fully covered throughout the week.

The staff at the OSPCA were all very warm and welcoming. I was encouraged to participate, voice my opinions, and to ask questions. Being someone with a limited exposure to shelter medicine, this was a wonderful opportunity to learn about the fundamental principles of shelter medicine, the infrastructure of the OSPCA, and to get first-hand knowledge from a variety of people directly involved in the the field. Due to the limited curriculum in shelter medicine at the OVC, I highly encourage people with an interest in this field to take advantage of this wonderful learning opportunity. Our awareness and understanding of shelter medicine would certainly be enhanced with more lunch talks or lecture times at school on relevant topics like overpopulation, animal cruelty, abuse, abandonment and neglect. These are all realities that we will be faced with when we come out to practice.

Once again I would like to thank the entire staff at the OSPCA for welcoming me to their agency and for making my week such an enjoyable experience. I will definitely take all the things I learned and experienced with me into my future clinical career.

With the fondest regards,
Erica Fong (OVC 2013)

Thank you Erica, for joining us and taking the time to learn about shelter health and wellness!