Humane Society Alliance Education Program
Shelter Medicine
A learning opportunity for veterinary students in community-based, primary care facilities 

Shelter Medicine

What is shelter medicine?

Shelter medicine is a field of veterinary medicine dedicated to the care and wellbeing of un-homed animals and finding them new homes.

The shelter medicine program provides veterinary students a learning opportunity in community-based, primary care facilities during their final year of the DVM degree program where they can have a positive effect on the health and behavior of shelter animals.  

The WSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital partners with regional and local shelters to bring animals to the hospital where they receive care and are returned to the shelters for adoption. Shelter dogs and cats from communities in eastern Washington and northern Idaho are transported to the WSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital where they are vaccinated, examined, receive a spay or neuter surgery, are microchipped.  They returned to their shelters as more adoptable pets.

Veterinary students can also elect to spend two weeks at either Seattle Humane in Bellevue, Washington, or the Idaho Humane Society in Boise, Idaho, where they gain additional medical and surgical practice-ready skills, and specialty training, such as dentistry, animal behavior, and emergency care.

“Seattle Humane helped me to reinforce my medical knowledge and clinical skills, allowing considerable hands-on learning opportunities while I was there.”

Krysta Dawson (’20 DVM)

Community outreach

As part of the 2-week clinical rotation at Seattle Humane or the Idaho Humane Society, veterinary students also have opportunities to serve in their shelter communities caring for animals that belong to pet owners in need.  

Shelter Medicine stories


Questions about giving? Contact Christie Cotterill or 206-219-2402.