Shelter Dogs  

Maddie's® Shelter Medicine Program at Cornell

Externship Training

Opportunity Block/ Externship in Shelter Medicine at Cornell's College of Veterinary Medicine

This 2-week clinical experience provides Cornell veterinary students and students from other veterinary colleges with opportunities to explore the field of shelter medicine with the faculty and interns of the Maddie’s® Shelter Medicine Program at Cornell.ACTIVITIES 

Because the work of the Shelter Medicine Program fluctuates with the needs of the participating shelters, the schedule varies and may not include all of the listed activities in any 2-week period. Standard activities include the following:

  • Participation in daily rounds covering aspects of shelter medicine
  • Visits to a variety of animal shelters and humane organizations
  • Experiencing the daily work of the shelter veterinarian, including physical examinations, infectious disease surveillance and diagnosis, animal handling, quarantine enforcement, shelter medical protocols, and medical assessments
  • Performing temperament testing and behavioral modification protocols in the shelter setting
  • Discussion of practical aspects of shelters, including design and management practices, disinfection protocols, air handling, environmental enrichment, and methods of increasing adoptions and decreasing relinquishments
  • Surgical experiences as available for sterilizing shelter animals with an emphasis on techniques for pediatrics, feral cats, and high-quality, high-volume spays and neuters.


After completing the externship, the veterinary student should be able to:

  • Understand the magnitude of pet surplus
  • Understand adoption guarantee goals and strategies to achieve those goals
  • Describe strategies for pet population control with an emphasis on prevention
  • Describe the role of animal shelters in a community
  • Compare/contrast different types of shelters (adoption guarantee, traditional, animal control)
  • Compare/contrast shelters in various communities (rural, urban)
  • Discuss the role of veterinarians in community shelters
  • Detail wellness protocols for animal shelters (medical and behavioral)
  • Discuss disease control strategies and outbreak management in shelters
  • Discuss the veterinarian’s role in recognizing and reporting animal abuse/cruelty
  • Clarify the day-to-day operations of an animal shelter
  • Discuss euthanasia policies, procedures, and issues, with an emphasis on decreasing its use as a mechanism of population control
  • Describe protocols for high-quality, high-volume spay/neuter


For additional information regarding the Externship or to begin the process to schedule an externship with our Program, please send an email/letter of interest, dates of interest, and a CV to Ms. Pilar Thompson, Coordinator for Externs, Visiting Vets and Fellows at Cornell Unversity's College of Veterinary Medicine. Please include “Shelter Medicine Externship” in the subject line.

From September 2014-May 2015, externships will only be scheduled during the following blocks:

B2  Sept 8-Sept 21

B4  Oct 6-Oct 19

B6  Nov 3-Nov 16

C2  Dec 1-Dec 14

D1 Feb 16-March 1

D3 March 23-April 5

D5 April 20-May 3

D6 May 4-May 17

Please click on the following links for a copy of the schedule, required readings, and other important documents you will need your Shelter Medicine rotation.