Pima Animal Care Center is pleased to introduce Dr. Jennifer Wilcox, who will bring creativity and passion to the challenging position of shelter veterinarian as we are expanding efforts to save the savable.
Her experience includes serving as the responsible veterinarian for the Humane Society of Southern Arizona, helping increase its live release rate to over 90 percent, as it continues to set the standard for shelter medicine in Southern Arizona.
We caught up with her for five questions.
This is the first time Pima Animal Care Center has had a designated shelter veterinarian. What was intriguing to you about the position? The volume of animals that need veterinary care at PACC is enormous, I was very excited to see Pima County invest in more veterinary medical staff positions, including vet technicians.
Do you have any general direction about your philosophy for animal care that you can share with us? Shelter medicine is a new and ever-changing field. Shelter vets think in terms of "population medicine" in order to minimize disease outbreaks and reduce pet overpopulation through spay/neuter. However, I am personally driven to make sure no homeless animal suffers while I have the capacity to provide them care. This latter point is costly and very time-consuming; luckily, I have lots of energy!
What are some of the first steps you’ll take as you become oriented in your new role? Though the shelter needs some remodeling to accommodate more clinical services, I will start treating animals Day One for pain, infection, and anxiety as needed. In the near future, we will add more vaccines and anti-parasite treatments as animals enter the facility to reduce the spread of disease. Shelter Manager Jose Ocaño and I are planning lots of training so staff can better identify animals that need vet care, reduce the spread of infectious disease, and better educate the public on animal welfare.
You work with animals all day at work. Do you have any at home? My husband, kids, and I care for 4 dogs, 3 cats, a bearded dragon, and 4 "pet" chickens. We also take on lots of foster animals (kitten season is nearly here!)
What is your ultimate goal? We need to persuade a larger portion of our community to come adopt their next companion rather than buying one from Craigslist or a pet store. Toward that end, I will work hard to keep our homeless animals healthy and happy until they find their forever home.