The work we do in research and advancement reaches far beyond us. Through our work we discover and share best clinical practices with other animal welfare organizations both locally and internationally. This work helps find better treatment approaches, improves diagnostic testing, saves on resources, decreases the length of stay for shelter animals, and increases accessibility.
Our Science and Advancement Division mandate encompasses many areas of animal welfare and sheltering and shelter medicine.
Our work serves to meet a few key criteria:
It is very important that our work not be inward-looking, but should consider the needs and deficits of the entire sector to be our problem too. For example, in 2012, euthanasia rates for cats in Canada were reported by PetHealth to be 41%. Only an outward-facing approach could allow us to help all our industry partners to reduce their euthanasia rates.
Our Science and Advancement Division has 5 major areas of work:
Education and training within our organization is of utmost importance to us, continuing support for professional development, as well as on-going education and training for our staff, volunteers and foster parents. Examples of items covered within our internal education focus are:
External education has three main purposes: to disseminate information we have generated (i.e. results of programs and research projects); to educate others about progressive sheltering and shelter medicine; and to increase our profile in the sheltering and veterinary community. This supports us in building our organization to be a trusted resource and an influencer in Canada and beyond. Recent examples of external education include:
The goal of this work is to maximize efficiency and use of resources, and ensure evidence-based practices and quality control.
Our protocols are recognized by shelter veterinarians across the world, and have been shared with students in the University of Florida’s online shelter medicine course.
We actively share these documents with veterinarians who request them, thereby helping to promote best practices across the sector.
We take particular pride in our advancement projects, because they further knowledge in areas where there are important gaps or new opportunities for development in the field of animal welfare.
Field knowledge from working shelters is rare, so these projects are particularly valuable for other shelters and the industry as a whole.
We work diligently to ensure our work is published within peer-reviewed journals to ensure that documented and strong data can help influence and improve animal welfare globally.Our published studies include:
Examples of our publications and industry advancement work can be found below:
Animal sheltering is constantly evolving, with one major landmark being the 2010 Guidelines for Standards of Care and another being the Shelter Medicine Specialty several years later. It is important to remain connected and participate in positive trends in sheltering.
The impetus for change has been accelerated by COVID-19 in two important ways:
The scope and reach of our work in advancement is substantial. Despite the small size of this division, our work has been further helped by leveraging a spirit of networking and collaboration.
We work closely with the Ontario Shelter Medicine Association, currently recognized as the de facto English-speaking shelter medicine organization for Canada.
We are increasingly recognized as an animal welfare resource and educator in Canada. This is at least in part because of the work of our science and advancement initiatives, which gives us credibility and recognition.
We have been able to contain our costs while producing significant results. Our current approach fits neatly with the philosophy of “doing more with less” that underpins both incremental veterinary care and resource-effective, sustainable sheltering.