posted on Monday, January 28, 2013
Champaign County Humane Society’s part-time staff veterinarian, Dr. Robert Weedon, has accepted a position as Visiting Clinical Instructor in the Small Animal Surgery section of the UI College of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Weedon will continue as the staff veterinarian at the humane society’s shelter while teaching courses in Animal Shelter Medicine and working with the College to expand its Shelter Medicine Program.
Shelter medicine is a rapidly growing and newly recognized veterinary specialty that concentrates on improving the health and well-being of animals that live in shelter environments.
Dr. Weedon has been a mentor to students of the College of Veterinary Medicine since he joined the Champaign County Humane Society staff as Shelter Veterinarian in January 2011. In addition to providing instruction during rotations at the shelter, Dr. Weedon has been a guest lecturer at the college and advisor to the Illinois Student Chapter of the Association of Shelter Veterinarians. The Student Chapter has become a robust organization, its students assisting Dr. Weedon in conducting low-cost spay-neuter clinics and traveling to animal shelters in other east-central-Illinois counties to provide surgical sterilization to shelter animals available for adoption.
Dr. Weedon sees the relationship between the vet school and community agencies like CCHS as a “win-win.” Weedon explained: "The shelter medicine rotation allows students real-world experience by working with shelters to help improve conditions for the animals. It also gives them significant surgical experience, because sterilization prior to adoption is a key element of reducing the problem of animal overpopulation. The rotation has had a longtime partnership with Champaign County Humane Society, and now with the opportunity to visit other shelters, those communities will have the benefit of the students' experiential training. This is the essence of the university-community partnership."
Now, students who take the shelter medicine rotation and volunteer with Dr. Weedon get significant experiential training. Many students will graduate with 60, 70, or even 100 solo surgeries to their credit. After that many surgeries, a good student can spay a cat in 20 minutes, and a dog in 30 minutes. “That is a practice-ready veterinarian," Weedon said.
Dr. Weedon has long been passionate about teaching, having held teaching positions at Purdue University; University of North Carolina, Wilmington; and University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He is also passionate about animal population control, serving on the Board of Directors of the Alliance for Contraception in Cats & Dogs, a non-profit whose mission is to expedite the successful introduction of methods to non-surgically sterilize dogs and cats and to support the distribution and promotion of these products to humanely control cat and dog populations worldwide.
Champaign County Humane Society Executive Director, Mary Tiefenbrunn, is excited for Dr. Weedon on a personal level, but also for the potential impact that an expanded shelter medicine program could have on the community. “Dr. Weedon has a great deal of energy and is passionate about animal population control as well as seeing veterinary students graduate with real-world experience. I have no doubt that the community and the students will gain a great deal from Dr. Weedon’s increased role at the College of Veterinary Medicine,” Tiefenbrunn said.