Face to Face: Cindy Karsten, shelter veterinarian

Cindy Karsten2It’s not uncommon to miss the company of animals when travelling. But a severe case of “dogsickness” changed the career direction of forest scientist Cynthia (Cindy) Karsten.

“I went to work in Montana with the AmeriCorps program Montana Conservation Corps, travelled a lot with the job and couldn’t have a dog,” she said. “Thus I started volunteering at the local shelter”.

“My first impression was that it seemed broken – animals come in, if they aren’t reclaimed or adopted, they’re euthanised – simply because they ended up in the shelter. This sparked my interest in shelters.”

Karsten and her partner (now husband) moved to Alaska to work as bike guides, but she continued to be involved with homeless animals.

“I decided to go to vet school – so after three years we moved to Anchorage so that I could take some classes that I needed to apply to vet school.”

Karsten spent the next two years working at a veterinary specialist clinic while volunteering with a rescue group. In 2006, she was accepted into veterinary school in Madison, Wisconsin.

“I had thought that I would go to vet school and then would work in a shelter. However, Sandra Newbury, who was with UC Davis at the time, was living in Madison and working with vet students so opened my eyes to the possibilities in terms of working with shelters.”

Fast forward almost a decade and Cindy Karsten, DVM, is one of a growing number of veterinarians specialising in Shelter Medicine. In June 2014, the American Veterinary Medical Association granted provisional recognition to the Shelter Medicine Practice specialty within the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners. Continue reading Face to Face: Cindy Karsten, shelter veterinarian

Canines, caring and community

Mary Jan and Steve in the ute2Veterinarian Jan Allen has had a varied career, working around Australia and the South Pacific, but it is her work in Indigenous communities which she has found most rewarding.

Allen is currently the One Health Program Manager for Animal Management in Rural and Remote Indigenous Communities (AMRRIC). The organisation is a national, non-profit charity founded to improve the health and welfare of companion animals in communities where access to veterinary care may be limited to absent.

Allen grew up in Kempsey with family on a dairy farm before moving to Nelson Bay then to Sydney (Harbord) where she went to high school to ensure she got a good education.

“I was applying for a Commonwealth Scholarship for a Bachelor of Education but Dad said I might as well try to get into veterinary science,” she recalled. “It was a big surprise to me when I got in.”

After graduating in 1976, Allen took a six-week “apprenticeship” at the RSPCA’s Yagoona shelter before taking a mixed practice position in Tasmania.

“They shouted me a flight down for an interview which really impressed me,” she said. “They really needed vets. The caseload was trotters, smallies, greyhounds and wildlife – a bit of everything.” Continue reading Canines, caring and community