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Thread Starter 
Nov 28-Dec 2
The Vaccine Controversy
How can you prevent the spread of illness in shelters or foster homes? How often should animals be vaccinated? Can some vaccine protocols actually do more harm than good? Dr. Brenda Griffin of Auburn University and Dr. Kate Hurley of the University of California, Davis, will address infectious disease concerns while keeping animals in our care safe, healthy and happy.

You can send your questions and comments now through Thursday evening to And please include your first name when you write in, so that credit can be given if your submission is posted! Please note that any emails--which may be edited for brevity or clarity--will go directly to the forum moderator to be considered for posting, rather than to the forum in general.

Related transcripts from previous forum weeks can be viewed at

Introduction from Drs. Kate Hurley & Brenda Griffin:
Strategies for vaccination in a shelter or rescue home are different in many ways from those for a privately owned pet. The likelihood of exposure to disease is often very high, and the consequences of infection potentially deadly for both the affected animal and the animals they are exposed to. For certain severe diseases including feline panleukopenia, canine distemper and canine parvo, proper vaccination can greatly reduce or eliminate outbreaks of disease. For other diseases such as the canine and feline respiratory infections, vaccination can not prevent disease altogether, but can reduce the severity and frequency of these all-too-common problems. This can help move animals through the shelter faster, allowing more animals to benefit from the shelter or rescue group’s care. For those animals that get sick after adoption, reduced severity of disease means less expense and worry for the new adopter, and that means a better reputation for shelters and the process of pet adoption. So, although an ineffective vaccination program can be costly in time and resources with little benefit, a well thought out vaccination program can be a cost effective and life saving tool.

Bio for Dr Kate Hurley:
Dr. Hurley has been working in shelters since 1989, and serves as Assistant Clinical Professor, Shelter Medicine & Small Animal Population Health Director, UC Davis Shelter Medicine Program . She has worked in almost every capacity of sheltering including: adoption counselor, kennel attendant and California state humane officer. After graduation from the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine in 1999, Dr. Hurley worked as a shelter veterinarian in California and Wisconsin. In 2001 she returned to Davis for further training as the world's first resident in Shelter Medicine. During her residency, Dr. Hurley completed her Masters of Preventative Veterinary Medicine (MPVM) with an emphasis in Epidemiology.

Her advanced training in epidemiology was immediately put to the test when Dr. Hurley was called upon to investigate an unusually severe outbreak of Viral Systemic Feline Calicivirus. Her investigation uncovered the source of the outbreak, and her prompt consultation with veterinarians in the affected community was instrumental in limiting the spread of this disease. Working in concert with pathologists and epidemiologists from UC's school of veterinary medicine, Dr. Hurley has greatly increased our understanding of this emerging infectious disease. Her presentation of the results of her investigation won her the award for best research project at UC Davis' House Officer Day Seminar in 2003. Her findings have been published in Veterinary Clinics of North America, Veterinary Pathology and the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Dr. Hurley continues to consult with shelters and private practitioners from around the country. Upon completion of her residency, Dr. Hurley become the director of the Shelter Medicine program. She looks forward to advancing the field of shelter medicine though her dedication to research, outreach and education. Dr. Hurley is a recognized leader in the field of shelter medicine. She frequently presents lectures at regional and national veterinary and animal care conferences, and writes articles on infectious disease control in animal shelters.

She loves shelter work because it has the potential to improve the lives of so many millions of animals and the people who care for them. Dr. Hurley’s interests include preventive medicine, infectious disease epidemiology (especially feline upper respiratory and caliciviral infection), and unusually short dogs.

Bio for Dr Brenda Griffin:
Dr. Brenda Griffin received a bachelor of science degree from the University of South Carolina in biology and a doctor of veterinary medicine degree from the University of Georgia in 1990. She interned at the Angel Memorial Animal Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, where she also served as a shelter veterinarian for the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA) shelter.

Dr. Griffin received an award from the MSPCA for her efforts in establishing a shelter medicine rotation for veterinary interns at the Boston shelter in 1993. After four years in private practice, she enrolled in a clinical residency in small animal medicine in combination with a master's degree program at Auburn University, where she focused her studies on feline reproduction and welfare. In 2000, she became board certified by the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine.

Dr. Griffin is currently an assistant research professor at the Scott-Ritchey Research Center at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Auburn University.

Dr. Griffin volunteers and directs the Center's Shelter Medicine Program and Operation Cat Nap (Auburn University's feral cat trap-neuter-return program), and is the faculty advisor for SCAVMA's Animal Welfare Action Committee and the Pre-Veterinary Medical Association.