Shelter medicine program 

One of the Community Healthcare Partnership Program’s (CHPP) primary areas of care is shelter medicine. CHPP launched the first clinical residency in shelter medicine in Canada to provide a three-year advanced training program for licensed veterinarians interested in shelter medicine practice.  

Meet Dr. Wesley Cheung, BVSc, CHPP’s first clinical resident shelter medicine. 

The goal of CHPP’s shelter medicine residency is to create and promote specialists that can serve as practitioners, educators, researchers and shelter consultants in Canada. These specialists are experts in designing and overseeing comprehensive programs that support sheltered animals and those belonging to pet owners in need. Ultimately, this will help increase shelter lifesaving, promote public health, elevate animal welfare, and provide better service to this vulnerable population of animals and owners.  

Meeting the unique needs of sheltered animals 

Under the mentorship of two board-certified shelter medicine specialists, Drs. Emilia Gordon and Alexandre Ellis, residents gain advanced skills and knowledge in all aspects of shelter medicine to meet the unique needs for the care of unhoused animals. This includes population-level infectious disease management, individual-level clinical medicine and surgery, public health, shelter operations, high-quality and high-volume spay/neuter surgery, community outreach, cruelty investigations, forensics and disaster response.  

Creating a new veterinary specialty  

While private practice veterinarians concentrate their efforts on the individual animal with its owner, shelter veterinarians combine their focus on both the individual animal and general population care. Shelter veterinarians face obstacles unique to unhoused animals – variable health statuses and histories of the animals, higher risks for infectious diseases and challenging behaviour care.  

Shelter medicine practice was formally recognized by the American Veterinary Medical Association as the newest veterinary specialty in 2014.