Katherine Polak

Dr. Katherine Polak, DVM, MPH, MS, DACVPM, DABVP (Shelter Medicine Practice)

Dr. Katherine Polak is a veterinarian dedicated to improving animal welfare in Southeast Asia, and in limited-resourced communities around the world. She currently serves as the Head of Stray Animal Care – Southeast Asia for FOUR PAWS International, a global animal welfare organization based in Vienna, Austria working to end the suffering of wild, stray, and farm animals.  Dr. Polak currently manages a variety of companion animal programs in Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia, and Vietnam, with a special focus on combating the cruel dog and cat meat trade in the region.  As part of FOUR PAWS international campaign to end the cruel dog and cat meat trade in Southeast Asia, she manages undercover investigations, rescue missions, and lobbying efforts with local and national stakeholders. Prior to working at FOUR PAWS, Dr. Polak was the International Director of Animal Welfare at Soi Dog Foundation in Phuket, Thailand where she launched and managed a large-scale sterilization program for stray dogs in the capital city of Bangkok.

A boarded specialist in both Shelter Medicine and Veterinary Preventive Medicine, her focus is on improving veterinary training in Southeast Asia, the implementation of high-quality, high-volume spay/neuter programs, and organizational capacity building.  She currently holds a Master’s Degree in both Forensic Science and Public Health, and completed a shelter medicine internship at Colorado State University, and residency at the University of Florida.  Dr. Polak currently teaches in the online Shelter Medicine Program which trains students and veterinarians from around the world on how to improve shelter animal care, and community lifesaving. She has authored several scientific papers on feline infectious disease, canine heartworm disease, and international dog transportation.  In 2019, she became the Medical Director for the HSUS Spayathon for Puerto Rico.

She currently sits on the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) Animal Wellness and Welfare Committee, and is on the Board of Directors for Compassion Sans Borders, an organization dedicated to helping small animal welfare charities around the world. She has also co-authored and edited the textbook, ‘Field Manual for Small Animal Medicine’ published by Wiley Publishing, a resource for veterinarians working in under-resourced communities. In October 2019, she was awarded Veterinarian of the Year by the Association of Shelter Veterinarians.


  1. Polak, K: Dog Transport and Infectious Disease Risk – An International Perspective. Veterinary Clinics of North America: Small Animal Practice, 2019 DOI: 10.1016/j.cvsm.2019.02.003
  2. Polak, K. & Kommedal, T. (July, 2018) Field Manual for Small Animal Medicine. Wiley, Ames ISBN: 978-1-119-24327-4
  3. Polak, K and Blackmore, M: Animal shelters: Managing heartworm in resource-scarce environments. Veterinary Parasitology, 2014 DOI: 10.1016/j.vetpar.2014.03.023
  4. Polak, K, Levy, J, Crawford, C: Prevalence of infectious disease in cats rescued from large-scale hoarding cases, The Veterinary Journal, 2014 DOI: 10.1016/j.tvjl.2014.05.020.

Courses taught:

VME 6939: Topics in International Shelter Medicine