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What are the Goals of the Maddie’s® Shelter Medicine Program?

The Maddie’s® Shelter Medicine Program allows you to interact with the content in an asynchronous, online-delivery format, while encouraging you to reflect on your prior experiences in Shelter Medicine. When you complete our interactive courses, you will be ready to practice shelter medicine.

  1. Understand the critical role played by veterinarians when protecting the health and welfare of sheltered dogs and cats.
  2. Recognize and respond to the compromised physical health of sheltered animals.
  3. Recognize and respond to the compromised behavioral health of sheltered animals.

Core Courses – Required

VME 6810: Integrating Veterinary Medicine with Shelter Systems

Understand and appreciate the critical role played by veterinarians when protecting the health and welfare of sheltered dogs and cats.

Full Course Description

VME 6811: Shelter Animal Physical Health

Construct, critique, and implement the policies and protocols used to protect and enhance the physical health and well-being of sheltered dogs and cats, including the recognition and response to the threats of physical health.

Full Course Description

VME 6812: Shelter Animal Behavior and Welfare

This course will help you evaluate the quality of a shelter’s behavioral health programs as well as implement changes to promote welfare and placement of sheltered dogs and cats.

Full Course Description

VME 6575: Veterinary Forensic Medicine

This course will introduce the student to the application of veterinary medicine to the forensic sciences. Course topics will focus on the interpretations of injury patterns, as well as the cause, manner, and mechanism of death. Upon completion of this course, the student will have basic knowledge of the pathological documentation required for crimes involving animals, including recognition of abuse, crime scene investigation, and interacting with the legal community.

Additional Requirements

ENC 5319: Scholarly Writing for Publication

The academic arena is placing increasing pressure on graduate students to enter into academic debates as publishing scholars. Therefore, it is especially important that students understand the expectations that shape scholarly writing in their various disciplines. Being able to employ the correct forms, to interpret and synthesize the literature, and to present their research to various audiences will help position graduate students in a competitive job market or academic career.


VME 6XXX: Shelter Population Management by the Metrics

Population management in a companion animal shelter is often described as having the same principles as large animal production systems. However, few shelters prioritize using metrics to proactively manage animal flow or monitor for disease. Instead, many shelters only use data in a reactive manner or in the form of an annual report. This course will teach students to (a) retrieve, (b) assess, and (c) interpret population-level metrics on a regular basis. Students will learn about data collection and retrieval, review basic epidemiological and statistical principles, and develop a critical eye for data quality which will allow students to make data-driven decisions in a timely manner.

VME 6051: Cruelty to Animals and Interpersonal Violence

Over the last decade, criminal penalties for animal cruelty have dramatically increased, as has the prosecution of such cases. This change has been closely linked to the growing recognition of the relationship between cruelty to animals and interpersonal violence. Once a subject of common anecdotal knowledge, this connection has been substantiated by a significant body of work in social science.

VME 6052: Animal Crime Scene Processing

In recent years, both state and federal laws pertaining to animal cruelty have evolved significantly. Actions that were previously considered non-offenses are now being prosecuted on misdemeanor and felony levels. Because these convictions can carry significant sentences, juries expect to see the same level of crime scene processing and evidence handling that would be applied to crimes against humans.

VME 6054: Scientific and Legal Principles of Forensics Evidence

Students completing this course will gain a better understanding of the fundamental concepts of evidence; burden and standard of proof; judge and jury; types of evidence; witnesses; degrees of certainty; and other relevant aspects of the principles of evidence in a legal investigation.

ENY 6706: Forensics Entomology

Forensic scientists, crime scene technicians, and medicolegal death investigators are continually faced with establishing a postmortem interval (i.e., time since death) in medicolegal investigations. Students will learn the proper evidence techniques for the documentation, collection, and preservation of entomological evidence, as well as how to calculate a minimum postmortem interval from entomological evidence.

VME 6800: Welfare & Wellness for Pets & People

Welfare and Wellness for Pets and People is an online course designed to improve the lives of those working with animals. This course will help individuals to identify the need to take care of themselves and their colleagues with the same effort that they use to take care of pets.

This six module course will enable students to identify quality of life for pets and people by comparing to recognized professional standards of care, and propose humane and responsible interventions to threats toward welfare and wellness. In addition, students will have the opportunity to practice techniques and activities designed to promote these concepts for self, pets, and local communities. Promoting the recognition and support of effective communication skills is also an important objective of this course.

VME 6813: Behavioral Health of Shelter Dogs and Cats
This course will help students understand how and why dogs and cats end up in shelters, what can be done to enhance their behavioral health while they are in the shelter, how to manage common shelter dog and cat behavior issues, and how behavior influences adoptions and retention. At the successful completion of this course, students will understand: canine and feline communication; the influence of behavior on relinquishment, adoption and retention; how to assess and enhance behavioral wellness through interactions with others and the environment; and ways to use elementary training and learning principles to change common shelter pet behaviors.
VME 6816: The Role of the Animal Shelter In Community and Public Health
Shelter medical professionals play an essential role in protecting community and public health. There is increased recognition that collaboration among professionals from multiple disciplines is necessary to protect the health of both human and animal residents of a community. This course is designed to provide shelter medical professionals with the tools necessary to help fulfill these functions in their communities. Course projects are designed for students to create practical tools for use and implementation in an animal shelter and the surrounding community.
VME 6818: Planning High quality High Volume Spay Neuter Programs
Spay/neuter remains the most reliable and effective means of preventing unwanted reproduction of cats and dogs. A good spay neuter program reduces shelter euthanasia rates, directly improves length of stay, and increases capacity for care in animal shelters. In this course, students will a) learn to apply The Veterinary Medical Care Guidelines for Spay-Neuter Programs to increase both quality and volume for spay neuter programs, b) learn about existing programs, resources, and organizations on the front lines of spay neuter, c) identify and address spay/neuter needs in their communities, d) evaluate their local and organizational resources for spay neuter, e) address common questions and debates surrounding spay/neuter with intelligent, evidence-based discussion.
VME 6934: Animal Shelter Population Management by the Metrics

Population management in a companion animal shelter is often described as having the same principles as large animal production systems. However, few shelters prioritize using metrics to proactively manage animal flow or monitor for disease. Instead, many shelters only use data in a reactive manner or in the form of an annual report.

VME 6934: Teaching Clinical Skills in Animal Shelters

Course goals: Shelter medical professionals are often expected to teach and supervise volunteers, staff working with shelter pets and students completing externships or internships in animal shelters. However, few shelter medical professionals have had the opportunity to develop their teaching skills.

VME 6939: Topics in International Shelter Medicine
The rapid expansion of veterinary outreach programs into international environments has given rise to complex dilemmas on how to shelter and provide adequate veterinary care to animals in need, often with minimal resource investment. Traditionally, the focus of most shelter medicine training has been on the health of animals in brick and mortar shelters. This course is designed to address the unique challenges shelters face internationally, in addition to providing practical recommendations, protocols, and helpful tips for delivering high quality medical care under challenging circumstances. This course will provide students with a background on dog population management and rabies control programs around the globe, recommendations for operating both shelters and field spay/neuter clinics in limited-resourced environments, methods of programmatic monitoring and evaluation, and humane handling and capture techniques for free-roaming animals.
VME 6XXX: Humane Euthanasia in Animal Shelters
This course will provide an overview of shelter euthanasia from a management/organizational perspective. The intent is to train individuals responsible for oversight of euthanasia in shelters so that this process is managed with foresight and empathy. Students will assess a shelter and evaluate euthanasia practices including a clear mission statement regarding euthanasia, the existence of a written euthanasia procedure or policy document and whether a written procedure document exists for euthanasia. Additionally students should be familiar with federal and state laws that impact euthanasia and sedation including DEA compliance for controlled substances. Students will also assess the training offered to their euthanasia technicians including both lectures and practical skills.

Certificate in Non-profit Leadership

FYC 6421: Non-profit Organizations


FYC 6905: Human Resource Management for Non-profits


FYC 6424: Fundraising for Community Non-profit Organizations


FYC 6425: Risk Management in Non-profit Organizations


Certificate in Public Health with an Emphasis in Veterinary Public Health

PHC 6313: Environmental Health Concepts in Public Health

This course is a survey of major topic areas of environmental health. It will examine sources, routes, media, and health outcomes associated with biological, chemical, and physical agents in the environment. It will cover how these agents affect disease; water and air quality; food safety; and land resources in community and occupational settings. The course will introduce the students to the economic context and to the current legal framework (U.S. federal) associated with environmental health issues and public health.

PHC 6001: Principles of Epidemiology in Public Health

This course is an introduction to epidemiology for students majoring in any aspect of the health sciences. This course presents the principles and methods of the epidemiological investigation of both infectious and non-infectious diseases. The purpose of this course is to equip students with the necessary knowledge and skills to explain the place of epidemiology in the general health thinking and to communicate and apply the basic principles of epidemiology.

PHC 6519: Zoonotic Disease in Humans and Animals

The purpose of this online course is to introduce graduate and professional students to major zoonotic diseases. We will discuss both the human and animal presentations; epidemiology; means of prevention and control; available diagnostics; available treatments; and associated human and animal regulations for each disease. The diseases presented in class will be chosen based on their significance to public health practitioners.

PHC 6183: Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Response

The purpose of this online course is to introduce students to the basics of disaster preparedness and responding to disasters, and to build a base for further development in responder training. The course provides training and resources for a basic understanding of the Incident Command System (ICS) and National Incident Management System (NIMS).

PHC 6002: Epidemiology of Infectious Disease

This is an intermediate-level course, which will introduce the student to the unique aspects of infectious disease and epidemiological methods used in their study, prevention, and control. The student will gain knowledge through lectures, case studies, simulated outbreaks, readings, exercises, and an individual project.

PHC 6316: Health, Risk, and Crisis Communication in Public Health


PHC 6050: Statistical Methods for Health Science 1


Other Electives

VME 6934: Topics in Veterinary Medical Science: Introduction to Veterinary Disaster Response

This course introduces students to the basics of responding to disasters as a veterinary responder and builds a base for further development in responder training. Students receive training on Incident Command Systems (ICS), learn about the role of veterinarians in disaster response through first-hand accounts and case studies, and craft their own disaster response plan and ICS organizational chart.

Full Course Description

VME 6934: Topics in Veterinary Medical Science: Community Cat Management

Develop the knowledge and skills necessary to effectively and humanely manage populations of unowned, free‐roaming, community cats.

VME 6571: Forensic Applied Animal Behavior

An overview of Forensic Applied Animal Behavior, which is defined as the application of knowledge of animal behavior to the purpose of the law. This includes documenting the behavioral effects of abuse, neglect or inadequate care that may be in violation of laws, regulations, and industry or community standards.

VME 6615: Veterinary Forensic Toxicology

This course will encompass the basic concepts of veterinary forensic toxicology including basic principles of veterinary toxicology, legal aspects of veterinary toxicology, utilization of veterinary diagnostic laboratories in forensic cases, conducting veterinary toxicology field investigations, history-taking, and proper collection, handling and preservation of samples. Species-relevant aspects of veterinary toxicology will be covered.

VME 6056: Animal Law

Animal law is a quickly growing field and is becoming essential to social policy in the United States as well as around the world. This course introduces and surveys important overarching legal themes that occur throughout the unique relationship between humans and animals.

VME 6572: Forensic Aspects of Agricultural Animal Welfare

This course will introduce agricultural animal welfare with a focus on the legal aspects associated with abusive care of agricultural animals. This course explores scientific and ethical dialogue on agricultural animal welfare issues. Completing this course will provide an understanding of current U.S. laws governing agricultural animal welfare as well as the ability to minimally evaluate and assess the welfare of an agricultural animal.

VME 6576: Veterinary Forensic Pathology

Introduces and develops in-depth the field of veterinary forensic pathology, including how to perform and document, through photographs and written reports, a professional necropsy. Introduces and develops in-depth mechanisms and manifestations of death commonly encountered in veterinary forensics (starvation, etc.), using case examples.

VME 6905: Problems in Veterinary Medical Sciences


WIS 6576: Human-Wildlife Conflict

This course introduces issues of human and wildlife conflict both in historical context & current conservation. Explore solutions, including innovative & traditional agricultural practices, hunting & tourism as potential means of off-setting the cost of wildlife damage, & policy development at the local, regional, and national or international levels.

WIS 6421: Wildlife Toxicology: The Ecohealth Perspective

This course provides a global assessment of toxicological stressors, including pesticides, environmental contaminants, and other emerging chemical threats, and reviews the impact on wildlife, through an ecohealth perspective. Outlines the physiological and pathological impacts of toxins in wildlife as it relates to the investigative process for wildlife forensics.

WIS 6553: Wildlife Forensic Pathology

Examine the pathology and pathogenesis of infectious and non-infectious diseases, traumatic injury, and poisoning that are a feature of wildlife forensic cases. Recognition of aspects of gross and histopathological pathology and correlate changes with clinical pathology and other data. Understand infectious agents and involvement in the production of pathological lesions.

WIS 6425: Carrion Ecology & Evolution

Carrion Ecology and Evolution includes a range of organisms including molecular, bacterial, fungal, invertebrate, and vertebrate communities. Intra & interspecific interactions related to population biology, community ecology, & processes that manifest into habitats and ecosystems will be addressed. A multidisciplinary view of organisms will provide the basis for understanding decomposition.

WIS 6556: Trade in Wild Resources

This course will serve as an introduction to wildlife trade and corresponding issues, especially those surrounding The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and other legislation. At the successful completion of this course, students will have an understanding of basic wildlife trade issues and concerns, including governance and controls (both nationally and internationally), legislation, and agreements regarding major industries such as timber and fisheries, as well as regulations surrounding plants. The second half of the semester will be dedicated to discussions of CITES, which is perhaps the most well-known treaty (international agreement between governments) to ensure international trade in animals and plants is carried out effectively, with no adverse effects to their survival. The student will have learned the history, internal structure, function, permitting provisions, listing process and Appendices of CITES, along with its successes and shortcomings, and visions for the future.

VME 6580: Cybercrime in Wildlife Investigations

Students completing this course will have an understanding of the various forms of cybercrime from the perspective of wildlife investigations. The course will cover not only aspects of computer forensics, mobile device technology, email and network forensics, but also the basics of electronic evidence and processing an electronic crime scene. It will also provide a comprehensive analysis of the legal principles that apply to cybercrime and electronic trade in wildlife. Students will have learned the laws and policies applicable to privacy and digital rights and the acts and statutes governing digital technology. They will also have an understanding of how online investigations help in the fight against wildlife crime. Learning objectives will be accomplished through a combination of lecture material, readings, writing assignments, and online active discussions.

At a Glance

Key Dates