-By Shayla Garman

The stigma of working in shelter medicine has become a dark cloud that lingers over the veterinary and outside world, but the decision to leave private practice for shelter medicine has been one of the most divine decisions thus far in my career. I have found the reality of shelter work to be the opposite of the propaganda.

The misconception of shelter work

When I announced I was switching teams, I was told I would see animals being mistreated, witness medical negligence, watch employees burnout for little money, and that leadership looks past the hardship of the workforce and lacks compassion for both the animals and the employees. I’ve been shown just the opposite.

Shelter pets receive high-quality care before adoption

Since I started working in shelter medicine, I’ve only seen shelter pets receive high-quality care.

Shelter pets are provided with breakfast, lunch (if needed), and dinner. They are given one-on-one time with staff members regularly and are treated with kindness and respect. 

The dogs get regular rotations into play yards to exercise and receive human interaction as well as training for behavior tendencies. They’re given toys and teddy bears to cuddle with, and fed treats throughout the day for positive enforcement or to be shown love and praise.

Keeping in mind that the individuals working in adoption centers are there solely for the purpose of the animals, we commit ourselves to providing the most tender loving care to the animals. We live in the fight for rehabilitation and training, while working to find the best fit home for each individual personality.

"We all hold one major goal; to keep the animals from spending too much of their lives in adoption centers."

The benefits of joining an adoption center clinic team

There are many wonderful benefits to working in an adoption center clinic team.

The adoption center clinic staff is present twelve hours a day, seven days a week, to provide medical attention to any animal at any given time during business hours. The medical team provides services from vaccinations to enucleations, nursing of animals that suffer from ringworm, upper respiratory infections, parvovirus, renal failure and so much more. Some adoption centers coordinate with emergency centers when needed and cover any costs if the animal is under the adoption center’s care. 

Employees are not only rewarded simply by watching the physical and mental progress of these pets, but also receive insurance benefits, continuous education, hands-on training, resources for their own pets, meaningful connections, and family. 

The employees of adoption centers often work together to manage programs that provide medical care for these pets. These important programs rely on funds as well as donations like food, beds, blankets, and more. 

Shelter medicine can be hard, but it is so rewarding

Although the staff, as well as the animals, battle good and bad experiences and emotions with great courage, none of us do it alone because we’re here to change the pet’s lives just as much as they change ours.

Converting to shelter medicine has been a huge transition for me, and I have realized that there is far greater good than presented to the public eye. Our shelter, as well as other shelters across the country, strive to change the perception of shelter medicine by continuing to provide high quality care. 


A fulfilled shelter veterinary assistant 

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