New shelter medicine clerkship underway at Miami-Dade Animal Services

Dr. Larry Garcia, center, with two UF veterinary medical students participating in a procedure at Miami-Dade Animal Services. (Photo courtesy of Dr. Larry Garcia)

Dr. Larry Garcia, center, supervises UF veterinary medical students Rebecca Diaz and Yenny Ramirez, as they perform a procedure on a dog at Miami-Dade Animal Services. The students were the first participants in a new shelter medicine clerkship there.  (Photo courtesy of Dr. Larry Garcia)

Two third-year UF College of Veterinary Medicine clinical students participated in the inaugural block of the new Shelter Animal Sterilization and Population Management Clerkship Oct. 9-20. The clerkship is housed at Miami-Dade Animal Services in Miami. The students had the opportunity to evaluate and treat approximately 70 sick and injured stray animals. The students also sterilized approximately 25 homeless animals over the two-week period.

The new program, approved last year, is a unique collaboration between the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine and the Miami-Dade  County Commission. The hands-on immersion experience in a large municipal shelter will provide students with unique opportunities to enhance their clinical and surgical skills, help needy animals and better understand the issues facing large community shelter operations.

“During the clerkship, each student had the opportunity to perform a tail amputation as two cats presented with tail fractures,” said Dr. Larry Garcia, a UFCVM faculty member and clerkship coordinator. “Each student was afforded the opportunity to perform a limb amputation, one on a kitten hind limb, and the other on a cat forelimb, as both presented to the shelter injured.”

He added that both students were further afforded the opportunity to perform enucleation procedures in cases with severe eye injury, as well as entropion, or eyelid, repair in a dog with the condition bilaterally. The students were able to help many incoming animals with minor injuries such as lacerations, which are commonly seen in animals arriving at the shelter, Garcia said.

The students spent time with the herd health/population managing veterinarian on site to understand shelter animal population management. In addition, the students spent time in the infectious disease isolation area to evaluate the progress of isolated animals and determine the next best steps to aid in recovery and preparation for sterilization and adoption.

“Understanding and recognition of infectious disease signs and symptoms is key to maintaining a healthy population and preventing disease outbreaks,” Garcia said. “This is very valuable to students preparing for both shelter and general practice.”

The students were stationed in the intake/receiving area so they could observe the process of animal surrender by citizens as well as the intake examination and processing, which are the foundation steps in pathway planning, maximizing live release and decreasing length of stay in sheltered animals, he added.

During their clerkship, the students were introduced to the veterinary forensics program housed in the shelter.

“This clerkship is a great experience with many opportunities for student development while enhancing the shelter’s lifesaving capacity.  I am confident that the clerkship will be in high demand,” Garcia said.


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November-December 2017

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