In addition to being very observant and skilled clinicians, shelter veterinarians must have excellent management and communication skills – at the same time they must be able to withstand criticism for making difficult treatment, adoption and euthanasia decisions.
Shelter veterinarians must be innovative, strong and independent thinkers, since they can be at odds with veterinary colleagues who may criticize them for performing non-traditional procedures.
Creative diagnostic and unorthodox treatment regimens must often be utilized because of the unique circumstances frequently encountered and the lack of access to more conventional methods.
However, just as second opinions are valued in private practice settings, shelter veterinarians should be encouraged to seek out and accept second opinions from other shelter medicine experts without being stigmatized or accused of incompetence.
A Lifetime Career
The situations encountered by shelter veterinarians are not found in any other area of veterinary medicine. Shelter medicine is no longer a place where retired veterinarians wind up their careers or new veterinarians start before moving on to private practice.
Shelter medicine represents a new and rewarding lifetime career option that is destined to grow as more humane alternatives and options are sought for the world's homeless animals.