vet3vsm veterinary shelter medicine




Credit points: 15

Subject outline

In this subject, students will learn how to plan and manage the behavioural, husbandry and health care needs of animals living within an animal welfare shelter, to achieve positive animal welfare outcomes and compliance with the Code of Practice for the Management of Dogs and Cats in Shelters and Pounds. Topics covered in relation to the animal shelter include: animal welfare and ethics, relevant legislation, animal behaviour and husbandry, and shelter-specific medicine. Using an evidence-based approach, students will review the design and management practices of a shelter they have visited or undertaken placement at, in order to recommend changes and/or improvements. Students will also learn how to present an evidence-based argument regarding a contentious area in animal welfare and ethics. Through their shelter visits and placements, students will be exposed to the emotional and physical challenges faced by staff that work within animal welfare shelters, and will come to learn how to maximise staff well-being within these environments.

SchoolSchool of Life Sciences

Credit points15

Subject Co-ordinatorDilhani Premaratna

Available to Study Abroad StudentsNo

Subject year levelYear Level 3 - UG

Exchange StudentsNo

Subject particulars

Subject rules

Prerequisites Must be admitted into SBVN and have passed VET2IAN and VET2PVN.


Incompatible subjectsN/A

Equivalent subjectsN/A

Special conditionsN/A

Learning resources


Resource TypeTitleResource RequirementAuthor and YearPublisher
ReadingsShelter Medicine for Veterinarians and Staff, 2nd EditionPrescribedMiller, L. & Zawistowski, S. (Eds) (2013)Wiley-Blackwell.
ReadingsAnimal Welfare in Veterinary PracticePrescribedYeates, J. (2013)Wiley-Blackwell.

Graduate capabilities & intended learning outcomes

01. Argue the complexities of the animal shelter world in order to maximise welfare and ethical outcomes for at-risk animals

Students will undertake a number of readings and watch a number of videos on the areas of animal ethics and welfare and animal shelters. During a workshop, the tutor will lead a discussion by the class on the areas of welfare and ethics, and how they apply in shelter medicine. Students will be encouraged to recognise the complexities involved in the sector, and to appreciate that not everything is black and white and good and evil. Teams of three students will then work together to plan their argument for the side of a related debate topic that they have drawn

02. Appraise relevant legislation to make recommendations about its appropriate application to animal shelter medicine

Students will be guided in their pre-workshop reading to current sites with information on relevant legislation (such as section 59 of Division 4 of the Domestic Animals Act 1994). They will then discuss how these apply to shelter medicine, both in terms of shelter design, animal care within shelters, and the management of the shelters themselves. Students will then deepen their knowledge and understanding by applying this knowledge when they critically evaluate a shelter which has been examined whilst on a site visit or whilst on placement..

03. Critically evaluate animal shelter design and management

Students will select an animal welfare shelter which they have visited, to critically evaluate. The tutor will guide them through the logical steps of the process they should follow in order to make a thorough, thoughtful, evidence-based and insightful review, and within a workshop the students will work with their peers, to review a case study example, to help them to practice the steps involved in making a thorough critical evaluation.

04. Compare and contrast the health, husbandry and behavioural requirements of animals in a shelter environment and those in general veterinary practice

Students will undertake pre-workshop readings on a range of health and behavioural conditions, commonly found in shelter animals. In a workshop, they will then use this knowledge, to discuss with their peers, what type of special requirements should be taken into account in the design and management of an animal welfare shelter.

05. Develop plans to maximize clinical staff wellbeing in an animal shelter environment

Students will undertake pre-workshop readings on the areas of approaches for maximizing staff wellbeing, and the psychological impacts of working in shelter environments. The lecturer will guide the class through a discussion of the psychological and health challenges faced by staff working within a clinical shelter environment, together with the practical difficulties faced by shelter management in addressing these areas. Students will interview a shelter worker to hear the issues and how these are managed. Individual students will then develop a plan which aims to maximise staff wellbeing within shelter environments, in a practical, realistic and affordable manner.

Subject options

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Start date between: and    Key dates

Epping, 2019, Semester 2, Blended


Online enrolmentYes

Maximum enrolment sizeN/A

Enrolment information

Subject Instance Co-ordinatorDilhani Premaratna

Class requirements

WorkShopWeek: 31 - 43
One 5.0 hours workshop every two weeks on weekdays during the day from week 31 to week 43 and delivered via blended.
"Fortnightly workshops on campus"

Placement - Off SiteWeek: 31 - 43
Six 7.5 hours placement - off site per study period on any day including weekend during the day from week 31 to week 43 and delivered via face-to-face.
"WIL Placement. Roster-dependent. "

Unscheduled Online ClassWeek: 31 - 43
One 1.0 hours unscheduled online class per week on any day including weekend during the day from week 31 to week 43 and delivered via online.
"Delivered as reading material, quizzes, video clips."


Assessment elementComments%ILO*
5 x 10 min pre-workshop online quizzes (850 words equivalent)4% each Fortnightly 2001, 02, 03, 04, 05
15 minute team oral animal shelter debate (500 words/ student)Teams of 3 students Student teams to argue an ethical and/or welfare issue related to shelter medicine in a debate style (5 minutes per student, equivalent to 500 essay words per student) 1001, 02
1600 word animal shelter evaluation reportStudents visit a number of animal welfare shelters, and select one to critically evaluate. Individual confidential report - critical evaluation of a welfare shelter, including recommendations for future improvements (1600 words). Students visit a number of animal welfare shelters, and select one to critically evaluate. 4002, 03, 04
1200 word written wellbeing planStudents to develop a plan to manage the wellbeing of the shelter team in a clinical shelter environment (1200 words)3005