Shelter Medicine

What is Shelter Medicine?

Shelter medicine is a specialized field of veterinary medicine that focuses on providing medical attention to animals housed in shelters or facilities dedicated to finding them new homes. In addition to traditional veterinary medicine and surgery, shelter medicine involves various areas of expertise including operations and facility design, epidemiology, infectious disease, animal behavior and veterinary forensics among others.  

Shelter medicine practitioners prioritize both the health of individual animals and the overall population. They are responsible for implementing population management strategies, managing resources and analyzing risks. They also engage in community outreach and public health efforts to address the unique challenges faced in shelter settings. 

Shelter Medicine at Seattle Humane

At Seattle Humane, we provide comprehensive medical care for pets of all ages and conditions. From neonatal kittens to arthritic seniors, we are equipped to treat a wide range of medical needs. 

While some pets entering the shelter may only require an initial assessment, many others require ongoing veterinary care. To meet each pet’s individual needs, we provide a broad spectrum of medical services for all treatable conditions, including… 

  • spay/neuter surgery to prevent unwanted litters 
  • dental surgery  
  • mass removals 
  • eye surgery 
  • amputations 
  • wound repairs 
  • and much more! 

At Seattle Humane, we take great pride in providing high-quality medical care to each and every pet. 

WSU College of Veterinary Medicine  

Seattle Humane’s Schuler Family Medical Center serves as a training site for the next generation of veterinary professionals, supporting the advancement of the veterinary profession to serve a growing community need. Through a partnership established in 2013 with the Washington State University (WSU) College of Veterinary Medicine, our clinic provides students with hands-on surgical experience in a high-volume shelter setting. Fourth-year students complete a two-week rotation in our clinic where they gain experience in primary care, shelter medicine, high-volume spay/neuter surgery, dentistry and animal behavior.  

As part of their clinical rotation at Seattle Humane, veterinary students also have opportunities to serve the community caring for pets from low-income families through Seattle Humane’s Community Medicine program as well as through experiences with the Doney Coe Pet Clinic and One Health Community Clinics.  

Veterinary Professional Training 

In addition to Seattle Humane’s partnership with WSU, the clinic serves as a learning hub for students enrolled in Pima Medical Institute’s licensed veterinary technician (LVT) and Veterinary Assistant (VA) training programs. Through a partnership with Pima spanning over a decade, Seattle Humane welcomes the school’s faculty and students for surgical practicums during which future generations of LVTs gain hands-on experience practicing surgical skills in a shelter setting.  

Seattle Humane hosts externships for students nearing completion of Pima’s LVT or VA programs. The externships provide students with a valuable opportunity to work alongside the organization’s veterinary staff and practice their skills on patients, as they would in a real work environment. These clinical externships usually last around six weeks.