Humane Society Alliance Education Program

Five questions with Dr. Katie Kuehl, the new veterinarian at Seattle Humane

Veterinarian holding a hedgehog.What excites you most about your new position teaching students at Seattle Humane?

I am excited to be working with an amazing medical team in a state-of-the-art animal shelter to help students gain the critical hands-on skills and confidence that they need to prepare them for their careers in veterinary medicine.

Can you share a little about your career?

Before I even graduated from veterinary school I knew that I loved teaching because of my experiences volunteering for monthly spay/neuter events in the area. After honing my animal handling, physical exam and surgical skills I was then able to help fellow classmates and underclassmen develop those same skills which became very satisfying for me.

I was able to gain some valuable shelter medicine and surgical experiences during my schooling which guided me to the Dane County Humane Society (DCHS) in Madison, Wisconsin following graduation. I was delighted to find that DCHS had a close relationship with the University of Wisconsin Veterinary School which allowed me to continue learning and also brought in students interested in learning more about shelter medicine. With the creation of the Shelter Medicine Program at the University of Wisconsin veterinary school this relationship became solidified and I also started taking part in the training and mentorship of shelter medicine interns and residents as well. Our relationship with the veterinary school also benefited our patients as we were able to consult with faculty and residents and get specialized treatments and diagnostics that the shelter animals would not otherwise have access to.

What might our alumni and donors be surprised to learn about you?

In my spare time I am an aerial dancer/circus performer on aerial silks, trapeze, hammock and steel -- think low-budget Cirque du Soleil :)

What inspires you about practicing and teaching veterinary medicine in a shelter environment?

I feel like a lot of veterinary students have not had much exposure to animal shelters prior to their clinical rotations and may have negative stereotypes about what being a shelter veterinarian is like or have misconceptions about the work that animal shelters do. I think it is really important to shelter animals and humane organizations everywhere that we teach future veterinarians about the kind of high-quality life-saving surgical and medical care that goes on in a 21st century shelter but also expose them to the kinds of special challenges and considerations that shelters must deal with to keep the animals healthy and the adopters happy. The more that we can spread understanding of animal shelters' role in the community the more we can all work together to provide care for all animals and families. These kinds of experiences are also a great way to get vet students interested in the variety of ways they can volunteer for or support the shelters in their community after they graduate.

Can you tell us about a case that has special meaning to you?

I have so many favorite patients from over the years, but I have a very special place in my heart for Coco, a dignified, but huge, old man German shepherd mix who needed wound care on his knee after a tumor removal. We treated him diligently for nearly two months and despite his nearly daily bandage changes he was always happy to hang out with us and incredibly gentle and patient during the procedures. Since he had some weakness in his hind limbs my team had to physically hold him up and I had to crawl underneath him to care for his wound and apply his bandages. We really bonded over those weeks and I was thrilled when he was finally healed up and headed off to his forever home.

Oregon, Wisconsin (south of Madison)

Alma Maters:
Warren Wilson College, Swannanoa, NC; University of Wisconsin- School of Veterinary Medicine, Madison, WI

Rufus, aka "The Shmoo," an orange tabby cat/master of the house; Harrison T. Bear, a naughty poodle-doodle; Gizmo a 15-year-old blind, grumpy shih-tzu

Pets (see above) and very supportive wife, Kim, who is a Physician's Assistant specializing in endocrinology

Aerial dance, biking, skiing, hiking, gardening and cooking

Favorite book or band:
Daft Punk

Washington State University