TERRI JOHNSON, AAHA PRACTICE ACCREDITATION
Humane societies and animal shelters play an important role in our communities. They rescue and provide safety and shelter for homeless animals, help injured and abandoned animals, and work hard to find families for homeless pets. AAHA believes that all pets deserve the best care, and so do many humane societies and animal shelters throughout the United States. In fact, 12 veterinary hospitals associated with humane societies and animal shelters in the United States are now AAHA-accredited.
The Humane Society of Missouri (HSOM) actually has three accredited Veterinary Medical Centers. All three of them are in the greater St. Louis area. Kathy Warnick, president of the HSOM, says, "From the beginning, the HSOM has offered outstanding veterinary care to our adopters and the St. Louis community. Several years ago, we felt it was important for the public to understand that the quality of veterinary care we are providing is second to none. AAHA accreditation offers that seal of approval and validation from a respected, independent, professional organization."
"The mission of the HSOM Veterinary Medical Centers is to offer the highest quality veterinary care to private clients and the homeless pets in their shelters and to provide essential funding to support the animal rescue, rehabilitation, adoption and humane education activities of the organization. Dr. Steven Schwartz, director of the HSOM Veterinary Medical Centers, says "AAHA accreditation ensures that we’re holding ourselves to the highest standards, and providing high-quality medicine to shelter pets and to the public’s pets."
Surgery assistant Rachel Weisen comforts a beagle at HSOM.
Dr. Joy Lee takes a sample from a willing Spaniel at HSOM.
All three veterinary medical center facilities are affiliated with and under the same roof as the shelter and adoption centers. They provide all veterinary care for the shelter animals including spay/neuter and surgical services, as well as any other medical needs the shelter animals have. All three of the full- service Veterinary Medical Centers are open to the general public and provide low-cost spay/ neuter services. They also offer a no-cost spay/neuter program to residents of St. Louis.
Before joining the HSOM, Schwartz owned an AAHA-accredited practice. He says, "Meeting the AAHA standards helps us provide the highest level of care. Re-accreditation forces us to continually re-evaluate what we’re doing to make sure we’re providing a high level of care, keep up with changes in equipment, technology, and to maintain a high level of staff training."
To become AAHA-accredited, hospitals like the HSOM Veterinary Medical Centers voluntarily choose to be evaluated on approximately 900 standards. Accredited hospitals are re-evaluated every 3 years to make sure they are keeping up with industry updates and maintaining this high level of care and service. As a pet owner, when you choose an AAHA-accredited hospital, you can feel confident that the hospital has the staff, equipment, medical procedures and facilities that AAHA believes are vital for delivering high-quality pet care.
The HSOM Veterinary Medical Centers also work with local agencies. They are committed to the prevention of cruelty, abuse and neglect of animals, and work with these agencies to meet the goals of humane treatment for all animals. All proceeds from the three Veterinary Medical Centers go directly to the HSOM’s animal shelters and help fund adoptions and rescues, as well as provide a second chance for the more than 75,000 animals that come to the shelters each year. The HSOM also provides educational programs for approximately 25,000 children. These programs address current issues and focus on helping children see how they can make a difference for animals.
Dr. Dawnetta Woodruff examines a puppy held
by assistant Joanne Sotomayer at HSOM.
If you’ve ever walked through an animal shelter, you probably remember all those big eyes looking up at you, pleading to be adopted and taken home. We encourage you to consider adopting your next pet from your local humane society/animal shelter, making a donation or volunteering your time to assist the homeless pets in your community. We salute all those who work and volunteer in shelters, humane societies and rescue groups for the difference they make in the lives of thousands of animals.
This article originally appeared in PetsMatter March / April 2012, published by the American Animal Hospital Association. Copyright © 2012 AAHA. Find out more.