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 animals and owners made vulnerable.
Meeting the unique needs of sheltered animals
Under the mentorship of two board-certified shelter medicine specialists, Dr. Emilia Gordon and Dr. 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.
A new veterinary specialty
While veterinarians in private practice primarily concentrate their efforts on individual animals and their owners, shelter veterinarians focus on individual animal care as well as population health. Shelter veterinarians face obstacles unique to unhoused animals – variable health statuses and histories of the animals in their care, higher risk of infectious disease and challenging behaviour scenarios. Directing care also often involves a team-based approach requiring shelter veterinarians to be excellent communicators with the ability to manage projects and foresee future obstacles and solutions.
Shelter medicine practice was formally recognized by the American Veterinary Medical Association as the newest veterinary specialty in 2014.