September 16, 2019 – Dr. Kelly Diehl talks with Dr. Kate Hurley, Director of the Koret Shelter Medicine Program and the University of California, Davis, and a Morris Animal Foundation-funded researcher. The two discuss the history of animal shelters in the United States and Dr. Hurley explains her study on how to decrease cases of feline respiratory disease in shelter cats.
00:17 Dr. Kelly Diehl: Welcome to Fresh Scoop episode 12, Shelter Medicine and Animal Welfare, where we are and where we're going. I'm your host, Dr. Kelly Diehl, Morris Animal Foundation's, Senior Director of Science and Communications. And today we'll talk to Dr. Kate Hurley, Director of the Koret Shelter Medicine Program at the University of California, Davis, and a Morris Animal Foundation funded researcher. We hope you're learning some things with our episodes. For those of you who may be new this is the monthly podcast of Morris Animal Foundation, one of the largest non-profit foundations in the world dedicated to funding studies to find solutions to serious health threats to animals.
00:58 DD: Founded in 1948, by Dr. Mark Morris Sr. a veterinarian, we've invested more than $126 million in more than 2600 studies that have improved and protected the health of companion animals, like cats, dogs, and horses, as well as wildlife. In each episode, we'll feature one of the researchers we fund or one of our staff members discussing their work in advancing animal health. Whether you're a practicing veterinarian, technician or a student or just an animal-loving science geek Fresh Scoop is the podcast for you. You can learn more about us at morrisanimalfoundation.org.
01:35 DD: Okay, on to today's show. Today, we welcome Dr. Kate Hurley, Director of the Koret Shelter Medicine Program at the University of California, Davis, and co-founder of The Million Cat Challenge. Dr. Hurley completed her veterinary degree at University of California, Davis, and was the first person in the world to undertake a residency in Shelter Medicine which she also completed at UC Davis. After she finished her residency Dr. Hurley became the director of the UC Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Program. Dr. Hurley is a world-renowned expert in shelter medicine and has explored all aspects of care for these special animals, from infectious disease control, to improving the emotional well-being of these animals in her care. And I thank you so much for joining me today, Kate.
02:25 Dr. Kate Hurley: Sure.
02:26 DD: To start, can you tell us more about your background and what kind of drew you to this area of medicine?
02:34 DH: I started in animal welfare back when I was in college, and I needed a job just to pay my bills. I might be the only person in the world who got into animal sheltering for the money. I took a job at the Santa Cruz SPCA, because it paid $4.69 an hour and that was more than I was making at the coffee shop where I was working. And after I graduated from college, I stayed there and I became an animal control officer or a field officer and I loved that job way more than I expected, and I actually did that for about five years.
03:12 DH: So that is what gave me the background. But when I went to vet school, I didn't go to vet school with an idea that I would do shelter medicine because, as you know, there really wasn't any such thing. I really went to vet school because I wasn't sure... I didn't want to progress into management in animal sheltering and that seemed like the path forward and I didn't really want to be the boss of people. And so I saw veterinary and medicine as a way that I could have the kind of hands-on positive impact on animals and people than I had as a field officer, but have a little bit more flexibility about where I could work.
03:54 DD: So I have a question for you, Kate, just to back up slightly; when you were working at the SPCA in college was veterinary school in your mind, or did that experience solidify your desire to become a veterinarian?
04:11 DH: Veterinary school was not in my mind at that time. And actually, the reason was... You know, of course, I loved animals and I was aware of the possibility and I thought about it a little bit but I worked for a while as a dog grooming assistant, and I didn't like that the animals when I was working with them were always scared and not super happy to see me. And so the idea of working with animals, mostly when they were sick and scared was off-putting to me and it was not until I thought more about the role that veterinarians could play in preventive health and wellness, both on an individual and as later on with shelter medicine on a population level, that I really saw the place for me. I'm so grateful that there are veterinarians who want to see my own beloved pets when they're sick, but sick animals all day is not for me.
05:07 DD: So, as a former resident, myself, I was really astounded to think about what it must have been like to be the first resident really focused on shelter medicine and I was wondering was that scary for you? Did you have a big hand in starting that program? Tell us a little bit about that.
05:27 DH: Sure, so as I said, I didn't go to vet school thinking I would do shelter medicine because there was no such thing. I had never heard those two words spoken together but when I was in vet School, there's two things that happened. One is that I had learned things in vet school that I was like, "I cannot believe I did not know this for the six years that I spent cleaning kennels and vaccinating animals and trying my very absolute best to provide the best care for them. And here are some simple facts I'm learning in my second year of vet school that would have been game changers for me and my colleagues, and I can't believe that there's this divide between what veterinarians know and what animal shelters need."
06:16 DH: And at that time, within a half hour of the UC Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital as many animals were being euthanized in shelters as the entire small animal case load at the teaching hospital here, and that just seemed unbelievable to me. These were the very same animals, were just the very same value, capable of being loved just as much, but they just didn't have owners at the moment and it felt like veterinary medicine was investing everything in the animals that did have owners and so little in the animals that didn't have owners.
06:58 DD: Wow.
06:58 DH: And... But I still wasn't really clear the role for veterinarians at that time with that many animals being euthanized like what's the point in treating one and then another one just has to get euthanized because there's not enough homes for all of them. I didn't really see the way out of that until in my second year, I had to take home exam question that changed my life. And UC Davis is a school that tracks so I was small animal track.
07:26 DD: Right.
07:27 DH: And we used to take a few large animal classes and we had one on production medicine, and they gave us a take-home question that we could spend as much time on as we wanted that said create a production plan for the population of your choice. And we were supposed to use inputs, like big inputs like ventilation, and nutrition, and legal issues and facility design, and behavioral enrichment to try and create outputs like pounds of wool, or gallons of milk or low mastitis rates and low cell counts and no antibiotic residues, all of these big picture outputs. And I thought, "What's my product? I'm anti-production girl. I want there to be less...
08:16 DD: Right.
08:16 DH: Hunted animals in this world. And so I sat down in a little cafeteria across from our classroom on a yellow legal pad and I just thought about how could those inputs be related to outputs of an animal shelter? How can we take nutrition and facility design and ventilation, and behavioral care and have more outputs like adoptions or spay/neuters performed in the community or contact with community members to help them retain their pets? And I thought back on how it was for me working in a shelter and actually it comes back to feeling upper respiratory infection, which was the subject of our Morris Foundation-funded research. I thought about how I felt when I brought my own foster kittens back for adoption and one of them got upper respiratory infection, and we didn't have an isolation ward, we didn't have a veterinarian on staff and our only response to URI was to euthanize. And so I walked into the euthanasia room and I saw my own kitten.
09:22 DD: Oh that's terrible.
09:23 DH: On a euthanasia table being euthanized my good friend who worked at the shelter. And I thought if we could prevent upper respiratory infection, it would be easier to retain good staff. It's just hard to love animals, and work in a situation where you never know when you're going to walk in and your own kitten is going to be euthanized.
09:44 DD: Right, oh, that's a terrible... But I can imagine really sort of game-changing, wow, experience. So I just...
09:53 DH: Yeah.
09:53 DD: For my own edification and for everyone who's listening, I think we have listeners of a lot of different ages, and I hate to say we'll be able to figure out later how old I am, but I can remember when I was a kid, that there were certainly animal shelters and they were not real happy places. Can you talk a little bit about how the first shelters came about in the United States and, and how they've evolved over time?
10:24 DH: Sure, sure, and then I'll just get back to the end of that realization, of my take home exam class.
10:29 DD: Sure, sure.
10:32 DH: Animal sheltering started from two different directions about 150 years ago; one was from the public safety side and that's where we have the idea of pounds, and that was really rounding up stray dogs, and it was largely a rabies control measure and the reason it was called the public pound is because they were impounded on this public land that was at the center of many communities. And then on the private side so the non-profit side, is what we see now, it was started as animal cruelty prevention and actually it started in conjunction with prevention of child cruelty and child abuse as well. There was a big focus on cart-horse wellness and prevention of cruelty in those days. The ASPCA was the first of animal shelter as we now know it and in New York City and at that time, the public pound was just drowning stray dogs.
11:26 DD: Oh.
11:27 DH: If they weren't reclaimed by their owners. And so the ASPCA came in to deal with the stray dog over population problems in a more humane way with more humane euthanasia practices, but still really vastly overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of animals coming in, and far more than were being adopted out. So 30 or 40 years ago, still animals were being euthanized at 10-20-30-50 times the rates that they are today just the volume was absolutely overwhelming.
12:00 DD: Wow. That's amazing. So...
12:03 DH: Yeah.
12:03 DD: Circle back to the end of your story, because that'll lead into my next question, for you.
12:09 DH: Okay, so to circle back, so here I am thinking back to when my own foster kitten was euthanized for upper respiratory infection and it was a huge problem, and kennel cough on the dog side as well, and other diseases that not only impacted us but impacted our adopter's experience. They adopted a kitten from us and it got upper respiratory infection. For those who don't know, it can be quite a bit more than the common cold, cats can get really sick. It can be expensive, it can have long-term consequences.
12:40 DH: And so we knew that it eroded our adopter's trust as well. So I had my little yellow legal pad and I'm thinking inputs of nutrition and ventilation and vaccination and disinfection all these things I'm learning about in vet school, and I was like, if we could just have a lower rate of these common respiratory infections in our cats and dogs and our adopters had a better experience and we were more able to track and retain animal loving staff because it wasn't so traumatic that your animal would get euthanized because it got sick. Then that would increase community support for the shelter right?
13:18 DD: Right.
13:18 DH: because people would have a better experience and if we had a little more community support for the shelter we could invest more in Spay/Neutering and helping people keep their pets. And if we did that, that would lower intake and if we had fewer animals coming in, we could do even more to keep them healthy and if we could do even more to keep them healthy you can see where this is going, right?
13:39 DD: Right, right, right.
13:41 DH: That it would also attract and retain committed staff, we'd have a better reputation and the community adopters would have a better experience then I could see this cycle start to roll. And I took that yellow legal pad and I ran to my Infectious Disease professor and I was like, "We should do this. There should be a thing. It could be called, I don't know, like Shelter Medicine and there could be a textbook and we can have conferences and we could have a residency in it." And he was a little discouraging, he was like, "You know what, that would be right, but there is no such thing. So if you want to work with a shelter go get a job in a shelter when you graduate." And that's what I did. But a few months in, and there was just disease everywhere, and I was at my wits.
14:26 DH: And I called him up again the same infectious disease professor, Dr. Niels Pedersen, and I said, these were my words, "I feel like I'm rubbing two sticks together here and I need a flame thrower." And he said, "It just so happens we got a request for proposals from this group called Maddie's fund to propose a Shelter Medicine Program, it's just like you were talking about and we're going to propose a residency training." And I said, "You know what, if you get that grant, call me because I want to be the first resident." And the rest is history. They got the grant. I came, he called me, and I came to be the first resident and on my first day, I called Dr. Lila Miller who was the chief veterinarian at the ASPCA that very first shelter, that started in America and talked to her for three hours about well, what does it mean to study this brand new field?
15:27 DD: And here you are today, it's so great, that's a really great story gate. I have a question in the back of my head, but I actually want to ask you about your Morris grant because it dovetails with what you talked about in feline respiratory disease. So could you give an overview of kind of what your research project and the questions you wanted to answer and your study design is really cool. So, I wanted you to share that with everyone.
15:56 DH: Yeah, that grant really epitomized what shelter medicine is and why it is so exciting to be a part of this field. Feline Upper Respiratory Infection was a scourge of animal shelters. And just my one story multiply that literally by millions of cats every single year. My one story, my foster kitten that was euthanized because he got upper respiratory infection.
16:24 DD: Right.
16:26 DH: A paper came out about 12 years ago now that showed that the risk of upper respiratory infection, exceeded 90% by the time cats had been in a typical US shelter for two weeks.
16:38 DD: Wow.
16:39 DH: And for some shelters that meant expending huge resources in treatment as much as a third of their resources, or even more in some cases and... For at least on the cat side of things, and for other shelters it meant that was the number one cause of euthanasia.
16:58 DD: Right.
16:58 DH: And that you could go to work any day and never know which cat was going to be euthanized, which cat you were going to hear sneezing.
17:06 DD: Right.
17:06 DH: It's like, you'd hear that sneezing and be like, "No, no, I don't want to turn around and look. Is that my favorite? Is that the one that plays with my pen? Is that the one that reaches out every time I'm trying to clean her cage?" So it was like this huge problem, trauma drain on shelters, and I found when I was a resident, I was like, "Why?" The first question is how much is there, and is there variation right?
17:36 DD: Right.
17:36 DH: Are there some shelters that have less than others? And if I asked shelterers, "How much upper respiratory infection do you have?" So I could try and understand like who's doing better, at least.
17:45 DD: Right.
17:47 DH: They all just say like, "Oh, so much, too much." But they didn't have any way of counting. And so the first pilot work that we did, was to just ask shelterers to count their cases of upper respiratory infection. And we asked a couple of shelterers to do that pilot work for us. This was before we actually got the grant but just to sort of lay the case for the grant. And so, the Sacramento SPCA, the San Diego Humane Society and Dane County Humane Society, and Medicine Wisconsin, they counted their cases for us. And what we found is, yes, indeed there was variation, significant variation even though it was still too much by every shelter's perspective, some shelters had more than others.
18:35 DH: And so that's when we wrote the grant to Morris Animal Foundation to track it for an entire year, at nine North American animal shelters. Every day, they went through and they counted every single cat in the building, and every single case of upper respiratory infection. There's unprecedented data set, they track data on over 25000 cases of upper respiratory infection and we looked at 48 different possible risk factors at an environmental so shelter level not the individual cat, but what were their vaccination practices, what kind of food were they feeding, was there natural light in the cat housing areas, what was the case size, did they have kittens and adults separately? All of these different things that we looked at that we thought might explain variation. And what we found is that there was more than 50 times the risk per cat per day basis, at the shelters with the highest risk versus the shelter with the lowest risk.
19:35 DD: Wow.
19:37 DH: Unbelievable right?
19:38 DD: Yeah, yeah, that's huge.
19:41 DH: Yeah. And we looked at that and we said, "If we could reduce the risk above the respiratory infection, 50-fold what would that mean for millions of cats, millions of dollars spent, millions of lives lost to this disease."
19:56 DD: Right. And so tell us a little bit about... And I know the answer to this, because... And it's cool. What did you find and did anything surprise you when you started to do your projects? And look at this particular... Really bad problem, right?
20:14 DH: The magnitude of the difference surprised us, the thing that we found didn't surprise us, we already had an inkling of it from just the pilot work that we had done before, which is that... But it really spoke to why Shelter Medicine is so different from other kinds of Veterinary Medicine, why it really is more like herd health because it wasn't the typical things that we looked at, it wasn't medicine, it wasn't vaccination, it wasn't our typical interventions, it was the size of the floor space in the housing that cats landed in, in their first seven days of care in the shelter and how many times they were moved in out of their housing unit.
20:58 DD: Wow.
21:00 DH: That was what was the really significant risk factor.
21:02 DD: Wow. Amazing, because I think you're right, you probably saw it in your early stage but I intuitively even as a veterinarian who would treat this stuff in practice, I would not have thought that you know what I mean? Going in.
21:17 DH: Right, you're thinking like, "How do we vaccinate? Do we treat with [21:19] ____.
21:20 DD: Right.
21:21 DH: Do we... There's all these things we think about, we don't think do they have eight and a half square feet of floor space?
21:28 DD: Right?
21:29 DH: How far away from their food is their litter pan?
21:32 DD: Right.
21:35 DH: But those are the real questions that turned out to matter.
21:38 DD: Right, right, which I guess if you think of a production like you said, the harking back to your production that would make some sense if we looked at what we know about conditions of keeping some of our housing, or food or animals, and of course, space is a big, big issue. But I don't think I would have thought of it for cats. I would have thought like you thought that it has to do with the disinfectant or... Yeah, you know what I mean? Or their incoming health assessment or something like that.
22:13 DH: And the really difficult thing, but also the really cool thing about cats in shelters and upper respiratory infection is that as you know, and as a lot of your listeners will know it is herpes virus associated. And herpes is stress activated, and so it's activated by pregnancy and by nursing and so many cats are affected at or sooner after birth. And they come into animal shelters pre-equipped with this virus, right? And so, we can disinfect, we can do everything, but it's already in their bodies.
22:47 DD: Right, right.
22:49 DH: And we have to not turn it on and that means we can't stress them. So some of the things we were doing to disinfect the heck out of every cage everyday was actually creating more stress. But the reason I say it's also kind of cool is that it's a sensitive indicator when we've got it right, because if we're not seeing upper respiratory infection, it is an indicator that we are at least meeting cats' most basic needs for behavioral wellness and that is something that we still want to do, right? Whether it's in a vet clinic or an animal shelter, is just like to know, that the cat is not experiencing fear and distress in our care.
23:31 DD: Right, right and they're unusual little creatures, I think, having had cats my whole life, they're hard to get into their heads. I find dogs a little easier sometimes.
23:46 DH: Right, a dog will show he's distressed, he's like barking and lunging at the front of the cage like, "Get me out of here."
23:52 DD: Right, right.
23:53 DH: But a cat just turns into a sad little meat loaf, and starts sneezing right?
23:57 DD: Right.
23:57 DH: They be like tuck their paws underneath her, and tuck her head down, and squints her eyes shut, that's the picture of a sad cat in a vet clinic or a shelter. It's not as obvious.
24:08 DD: Right. And so can you speak a little... And again, this is... I have the advantage knowing this answer, and I think it is just incredibly cool how... What you found is being incorporated in clinics and shelters. I bet you there are a lot of people listening who have seen this type of a cage structure when they go to, for example, Petco, and you go to pick up your dog food, and I always make a trip into the cat room, of course. Or if you go to a lot of shelters, what your design recommendations, what they're now seeing there and who's using it?
24:44 DH: Yeah, so I'll just say to go to your point about cats are different than dogs. We know that cats are much more place associated creatures. Your dog thinks it's fun to go for a walk. A cat does not. That's why we're seeing more and more veterinary practices where you actually do home visits for cats, because you can make the veterinary clinic a more friendly place for cats and that's important sometimes cats need to come in, but ultimately, the cat preference would be not go see you.
25:13 DD: Right, right.
25:14 DH: You come see her right?
25:16 DD: Right.
25:17 DH: And so we recognize that just the way we've been accustomed to housing cats it requires us to remove them from that housing unit just for daily cleaning and care; if the cage is a big mess then you have to take the cat out and set her aside or clean around her and wipe, and it's disruptive. So that was one reason why a larger cage with two compartments was really important in reducing stress and reducing disease. Of course, also just enough room for the cat to stretch out to his full body length, and engage in some normal behaviors, and walk a few steps but also really importantly, having separation between the litter box and the food and water, and again that's a difference we understand about cats they're so much more fastidious than our dog friends right?
26:05 DD: Right, right.
26:05 DH: They're not going to want to eat or drink, if they've kicked kitty litter into their food and water bowl. And so we can provide them with great food, but they're not going to eat it if there's poop in there.
26:17 DD: Right, right, right, right, or even the... Yeah when they're close by. And I think for a lot of us who've had been in practice I think we've all used the IV fluid boxes for shelters. I think we learned right that they like a little hiding place that's a good thing for them that they're not just in front of us. And I think in your cage design, there's that kind of stuff. Tell us a little bit about... because I think these were really fun with some of the gyrations you went through to design these cages, your prototypes because you guys if you ever need home remodeling for anyone who's listening, you might want to call Dr. Hurley, because they did a great job. So tell us, because this is just great how you guys designed these.
27:08 DH: These are really the doing of my colleague, Dr. Denae Wagner, who came to us from a livestock background, but also is kind of a MacGyver and an inventor and a builder. We realized, if you've ever been in a sort of a typical veterinary practice or animal shelter, there used to just be these about 2-foot x 2-foot stainless steel box cages. And we recognized that we were not going to be able to give all the shelters millions of dollar grants to get all new cages. And these stainless steel cages will last for a century. And so we actually saw one shelter that had cut holes between these two 2 x 2 stainless steel single unit cages and that actually makes a perfectly good unit that keeps the litter and the bed and the food and water separately. You don't have to move the cat all around and so Dr. Wagner's innovation was to find a plasma saw, which is a fantastic thing that like shoots flames, going back to that whole flame thrower that I needed, I really did it turns out. We needed it to cut hole, to cut through stainless steel like a knife through butter like, it's incredible to watch. And then she'd cut a plastic pipe into an aided circle and just stick that in there and stick a little protective layer of silicon around it and the first shelter that I installed is one of the first shelters in Minneapolis that Animal Humane Society there used pipe lights to close the doors when they needed to because pipe lights just fit right in there and they'd screw them together.
28:43 DH: So for years Dr. Wagner did that. Like, she would actually go and retrofit cages and we'd train someone handy on the shelter team or handy volunteer. Yeah, there's another tool you can use that's called the nimbler that just bites through the steel, but it still was pretty complicated shelters to do. You had to have someone who was pretty handy. There was no pre-made thing. And so Dr. Wagner collaborated with some folks to... Actually, first, we got a 3D printer and worked with the engineering team here to develop a... To print out a prototype. So we printed the first... It's called a portal that connects to stainless steel cages. And then we got a gift from a couple of generous donors to actually have a manufacturing group make a plastic injection mold so we could make these portals and now they... Like, it's a sleeve and you can just cut the holes between cages and put it in between cages of varying widths and different types and there's a door that goes on that you can open and shut so you can keep the cat on one side or the other. And brought those to market and now Shor-Line cage manufacturing now makes and distributes those internationally.
30:09 DH: And so that is ultimately the culmination of our Morris Animal Foundation funded work of trying to solve this problem of kitty cold, is this portal that has been distributed now worldwide; there's over 10,000 of them in use. And so you can know that there are over 10,000 cats right now today who are not sitting in their litter box, who have fresh clean food and water, who's stretched out on a comfortable bed because of that work that we did.
30:42 DD: That's really... It's a fun story when you think about it because the connection between A and B was pretty convoluted but it's been a great, I think a great advance and one that all of us veterinarians and public, we see it constantly, right? When we go... Again, to a shelter, I see it all the time here in Colorado when I go to different... Especially like Petco and PetSmart, where they have their areas for adoption so... You know, so we're talking about the medicine aspects, the housing, where is some new areas of research, and it could be your research or other research, like what are the big pressing questions in shelter or animal medicine that you see people starting to tackle?
31:27 DH: Well, you know, it's not all about our Morris Animal Foundation funded project but for me I see that narrative going all the way through. So the final piece for me, of the extension of that research was answering the question that I got from shelters of how are we supposed to cut our cage housing space in half when we're euthanizing for space.
31:51 DD: Right, right.
31:54 DH: And I knew, like I knew this was so important to cat well-being and it was so important to disease control but nobody, including me, wants to see a cat being euthanized for space in order to give some of them twice as much space.
32:09 DD: Right. Right.
32:09 DH: And so I really, what I wanted was a solution to that. Like, then we have to figure out a way to not have to euthanize cats for space. And at that time, and this was around 2013... 2012, 2013, I became aware of... Just a lot of several different innovative approaches to community cat management and how shelterers and community respond to cats and got another grant from that same group, Maddie's fund, to put those together in a campaign we call the Million Cat Challenge, which is a campaign to reduce euthanasia and save cat lives... To increase cat life-saving by one million cats in North American animal shelters over a period of five years.
32:54 DD: Right.
32:56 DH: Over a year ago, we announced that we blew that goal out of the water a year early.
33:00 DD: Wow.
33:01 DH: We jumped past the five-year mark and shelterers increased their life saving against their own baseline before they've joined the Million Cat Challenge by over 1.8 million cats.
33:13 DD: Wow, wow that's awesome.
33:14 DH: Should I say that again? Over 1.8 million cats were saved by Million Cat Challenge shelters.
33:21 DD: Awesome.
33:22 DH: Took part before they joined the challenge. And so that was really the extension of solving up a respiratory infection, solving the disease that cost the life of my foster kitten 25 years ago when I worked at the Santa Cruz SPCA, was figuring out how to solve cats. How to solve the imbalance between cats coming in and cats leaving shelters alive.
33:43 DD: Right.
33:44 DH: And I think the next place that that takes us, which is so exciting is like shelters in the Million Cat Challenge euthanized 600,000 fewer cats last year than they did five years earlier.
33:53 DD: Wow.
33:54 DH: That's an incredible cost saving.
33:56 DD: Yeah. Yeah.
33:57 DH: Let alone a life-saving. And it really gives us the opportunity to turn our attention now outward. What's happening in the shelter to what's happening in the community, there's more conversation about social justice in animal welfare, how we can decrease the impact of the animal sheltering system on poor people and enhance the ability of people to keep their pets, and not have them end up in a sheltering system in the first place.
34:25 DD: Right.
34:26 DH: How do we maintain the human-animal bond, how do we make veterinary services accessible to more community members. And that really was the vision that I originally had of, how do we sell things in the shelters so that we can turn our reach more and more outward so fewer and fewer animals are entering our care in the first place, and that's really what gets that ambitious cycle rolling.
34:49 DD: Right. And that seems like kind of an area of sort of future as we're... Right. As we're looking outward, now that we've solved some of the issues that we see at shelters is... Right. And addressing some of the reasons, right, that these guys and up there. And there's lots of sort of tragic reasons, I think sometimes, that the pets end up in shelters that are not just neglect or it's a stray animal that somebody brings in. And so if you had a message for people like the general practitioners who are listening and the lay-audience that you would like them to know about shelters, I think you just alluded a little bit to it, an issue maybe people don't think about, but what would be your message that you would like people to know now?
35:45 DH: I think for veterinarians, just one message from the study that we did, is how much housing matters. Understand that to be an integral part of health and wellness for animals in the clinic, for animals out of the clinic.
36:02 DD: Right.
36:03 DH: So the big picture for everybody listening, first, to know the good news, that things have really changed for the better in animal shelters. And the biggest reason for that, is more and more participation by everybody in the community in creating a safety net for animals. And you, whoever you are, who is listening, you can be part of our life-saving team by... If you find a dog running loose, find the owner, instead of bringing it into a shelter so that he doesn't end up having to be reclaimed and it cost them a couple hundred bucks. And it takes up a case space that might be needed for an animal that's really been the victim of cruelty or neglect. If you find a litter of kittens, take care of them, reach out to your shelter for resources and help. If you have a friend who's having a hard time keeping their animal, maybe you can help home them or bridge the gap we do best when animals are saved in the community instead of being saved through the shelter, so that the shelter can be reserved for those animals that have been displaced by disaster or really been the victims of cruelty, and neglect and those kinds of things.
37:19 DD: Well, that's awesome. Thanks so much, Kate. And thanks so much for joining us today and talking about this really cool topic of shelter medicine, and kind of animal welfare. I came of age at a time when absolutely there was... Nobody put shelter medicine together. It was something that maybe you did, right? If you were in practice, you might volunteer time, but there was nobody at a shelter... Veterinarian, full-time, that just wasn't even conceived of, so thanks so much to you and to the folks at numerous institutions. University of Florida, I'm thinking of Julie Levy who we've funded and is part of the million cat challenge and a great pioneer in this area. And you, and for all you've done, including those textbooks that you thought about way back when you were a student. See. It's the self-fulfilling prophecy. Little did you know, you'd be authoring those. And those are awesome. Just to have a textbook is... I can't tell people who are listening who may not realize that's just an amazing change.
38:38 DH: It really is.
38:39 DD: A sea-change for us. So again, thanks for joining us today, we really appreciate it.
38:44 DH: Yeah, and thank you. I just want to say, also, thank you to the donors that support Morris Animal Foundation's work, and the vet clinics that donate in memory of people's companion animals. Because this was an out-of-the-box study. It was a hard one to get funding for. And Morris Animal Foundation took a risk on it, and without that, a lot of this would not have happened. So it really matters.
39:12 DD: Great. Thanks a bunch. It was a different study for our foundation as well, and it's one of... It's one that we often look back to as being quite innovative and different, and we're so proud of the work that you did, because I think it has had a huge impact on the lives of cats, and whether they're in the clinic or in the shelter. And I think it's been a great study.
39:41 DH: It really has. Thank you so much.
39:43 DD: Alright, take care, Kate.
39:45 DH: Bye.
39:46 DD: Bye-bye. That does it for this episode of Fresh Scoop. Once again, thanks to Dr. Kate Hurley for joining us. We'll be back with another episode next month that we hope you'll find just as informative. The science of animal health is ever changing and veterinarians need cutting-edge research information to give their patients the best possible care, and that's why we're here. You can find us on iTunes, Spotify, Google Podcasts and Stitcher. To learn more about more Morris Animal Foundation's work, again, go to morrisanimalfoundation.org. There, you'll see just how we bridge science and resources to advance the health of animals. You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. I'm Kelly Diehl, and we'll talk soon.