Presentations at Veterinary Schools

Dr. Hodges addresses students
Dr. Barbara Hodges speaks to a group of students at Western University.

HSVMA brings educational presentations on animal welfare topics to veterinary schools by request. We cover all our speakers' travel costs and can also reimburse for the cost of food. In return, we ask that students interested in bringing one of our talks to their campus secure a lecture hall or other meeting room and advertise the talk by posting flyers (we will provide them) and/or emailing the student body. Learn how you can request a presentation at your school»


As classes transition to online, we are offering remote lectures via online platforms!


Presentation Topics

The Quiet Leader

Typically, leadership is thought of as bold, outspoken, charismatic and extroverted. However, it can be equally powerful from more introverted leaders who quietly lead by example, avoid the limelight and put their heads down and get things done. This presentation will thoroughly explore the issues surrounding quiet leadership, and highlight veterinary leaders who have held that role. 

Pets and the War in Ukraine

The Street Dog Coalition Founder, Dr. Jon Geller, started the organization's first international operation, "Operation Ukraine," when he saw the need for veterinary care as thousands of people fleeing the war with their pets were left homeless.  With the help of emergency grants and donations from the public, Dr. Geller helped set up a pop-up clinic at the Ukraine-Romania border.  His team has helped refugees obtain much needed veterinary care and the required 'passports' for their pets so they are able to travel into the European Union together.   

Veterinary Forensics

The recognition of the Link is critical for investigators, social services, prosecutors and the veterinary community. The application of veterinary forensics can play an important role in both animal and human related crimes. This presentation will include indicators of abuse, the use of veterinary forensics for the investigator and veterinarians, and the critical role of the veterinarian, working together with investigators, to achieve positive case outcomes.

Why Access to Care Resources is a Social Justice Issue

Pet ownership crosses all geographic, racial and socioeconomic boundaries, but access to information and services does not. Institutional bias and systemic inequality have impacted pets in ways you may not realize and there is a great need in our field to understand and deepen the connection between social, racial, and economic justice and animal welfare. Discover what this could mean in your community and how it should inform your organization’s programming.

Risk Versus Reunion: Emergency Response and Distemper After Hurricane Harvey

Medical care plays a vital role in any emergency response. This presentation will discuss the part that medical care plays in disaster response and the role of the veterinarian, using one organization's response to Hurricane Harvey and the distemper outbreak that occurred as an example. Despite the many challenges, disasters like Harvey present an opportunity for pushing the boundaries of lifesaving.

Top 25 Tips from the ER

Based on Dr. Geller’s 20 years experience as an emergency clinician, this fast-paced presentation will include practical tips and procedures for the emergency clinician, as well as students and interns considering working in emergency medicine. Topics include fluid management, trickle feeding, blocked cats, cut-down catheters, decontamination of toxins, complementary therapies, anesthesia in the compromised patient, pain management, and much more. Considerations regarding internships and career opportunities in emergency medicine will also be discussed.

How Would YOU Handle It? Non-clinical Situations in Shelter Medicine 

These “Ripped from the Headlines” cases are designed to provoke thoughtful discussion among participants as to how to handle these non-clinical situations. From explaining what “no kill” means to deciding who pays for damages caused by a court-mandated pet held in your care, discussions will include difficult topics in shelter medicine in an environment that encourages audience participation. 

Understanding Animal Hospice Within Welfare Work

Animal hospice is a growing field and rightly so.  Animals deserve the best of care, emotionally and physically, as they reach the end of life.  Their welfare is at the heart of our support.  This presentation will reveal how animal hospice can be applied in medical directives and the approach we take with clients and team members.  Presented by Dr. Cooney, certified in Animal Hospice and Palliative Care and past President of the International Association for Animal Hospice and Palliative Care.

Modern Approaches to Companion Animal Euthanasia

Euthanasia has been evolving along with the rest of veterinary medicine.  It's important we stay on trend and align with advancements in animal welfare.  Dr. Cooney, expert in companion animal euthanasia, will guide us through the latest in technique choices, drug considerations, and client support for use in private practice or shelter work.  While a heavy topic, the tone will be light and engaging to assist in learning.  Euthanasia is regarded as the second most common procedure we perform.  This presentation will prepare you for what's ahead.

 Emotionally Intelligent Euthanasia: Protecting You While You Care for Others

Emotional Intelligence (EI) is the capacity to be aware of, control and express one's emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically.  Dr. Cooney, expert in companion animal euthanasia, will host this fun and engaging presentation to help students prepare for euthanasia work in private practice or shelters.  Focus will be placed on building awareness of our skills and individuality, while strengthening ourselves for emotional work.  Time will be given to exploration into ideal euthanasia methodology

 Wellness vs. Vaccine Clinics

Access to veterinary care is an issue that affects all communities. It can also be one of the leading causes of pet relinquishment when considering shelter populations. During this session we will discuss the benefits of providing low/no cost vaccines within the community, types of clinics and services, and utilizing resources that may already be available. Topics included will be targeting at risk areas, developing protocols, and deciding on the most sustainable model.

Anesthesia and Analgesia in the Field: Keeping Patients Happy in a Bus Garage

Veterinary field medicine can sometimes be correlated with diminished care due to limited resources. We’ll discuss considerations and reaching goals in anesthesia/analgesia protocols that provide high quality care to our small animal patients. We’ll examine drug effects, multimodal analgesia, and protocol design with case examples from the field.

Adventures in Veterinary Volunteerism

This talk will be a Rural Area Veterinary Services (RAVS) informational session focused on the RAVS experience.

The Ethics of Brachycephalic Dogs  (Available only to West Coast schools)

This lecture will discuss why genetic selection for brachycephaly or short-nosed dogs, is a significant welfare issue. Symptoms, risk factors, emerging diagnostic tests, and measures the profession can take to improve the problem will be discussed.

The Responsibility of Veterinarians to Address Companion Animal Obesity  (Available virtually only)

Obesity is a modern day epidemic in people and companion animals. This lecture will discuss the detrimental effects of obesity on animal welfare, scientific data on DVM compliance with diagnosing and discussing obesity with clients, and will examine ethical concerns. Discrete recommendations are suggested to guide veterinary professionals to better address pet obesity as a One Health problem.

Access to Veterinary Care: A National Family Crisis

Lack of access to veterinary care is a complex societal problem with multiple causes but it is primarily associated with low socioeconomic status. Simply stated, millions of pets do not receive adequate veterinary care because the costs are beyond the family’s ability to pay-making access to veterinary care the most significant animal welfare crisis affecting owned pets in the United States. It results in the suffering and premature death of pets, the sorrow and heartache of pet owners, and the anguish and grief of the veterinary professionals who have the knowledge, skills, and desire to provide care. Increasing access to veterinary care is a societal goal-that is, all pets deserve some level of veterinary care.

This session shares the results of a national population study of barriers to veterinary care that pet owners face, and what veterinarians know about the problem and their attitudes and practices regarding it. In addition, AlignCare™, a research and development project of One Health veterinary care, funded by Maddie’s Fund, will be presented. AlignCare™ improves access to veterinary care by aligning family support social service and public health entities with veterinary service providers, using charitable donations from foundations, businesses, and private citizens.

This was a terrific, thought-provoking lecture which reminded me of the reasons I went into this profession.

- Sarah Kezar, Auburn University Class of 2018

The Veterinarian's Role in Recognizing and Reporting Animal Cruelty

As an animal advocate and veterinary professional, one of the most important tasks you may undertake is recognizing and reporting animal cruelty. This presentation will provide guidance on recognizing animal cruelty, including abuse and neglect, and understanding the veterinary professional's responsibilities in reporting these cases to the appropriate authorities.

This was excellent and I felt that information was presented that we would not get in our education here at school. I thought Dr. Graves was very real and did not sugar coat the information  - which was greatly appreciated.

- Marissa Owen, Michigan State University Class of 2020


Prioritizing Conflicts of Interest in Clinical Practice  (Available virtually only)

Veterinarians are often faced with conflicts between the desire to help animals and the clients' difficulties in meeting the increasing costs of our medical care, as well as our employer’s policies and expectations. This interactive talk will help you consider the conflicts you will likely face as a practicing veterinarian trying to balance competing interests.

New Developments in the Case Against Cosmetic and Convenience Surgeries in Companion Animals

Convenience surgeries, such as cat declawing, ear cropping and tail docking, have no medical benefit, but are still performed by many veterinarians.

This presentation reviews these procedures and explains some of their negative side effects. It also includes information about alternatives and how to effectively explain them to clients.

The Impacts of Costs of Care on Animal and Veterinarian Well-Being  (Available virtually only)

This lecture will discuss the frequency with which veterinarians, pet owners, and animal companions are affected by economic limitations, the most common resources used to mitigate this problem and their impact on animal care, to what extent veterinarians are informing and educating pet owners regarding costs of care and payment options before patient illness occurs, obstacles to veterinarian compliance in educating clients on this topic, the influence of costs of care on professional recommendations, career satisfaction and professional burnout, and discuss proposed areas for improvement.

Exotic Companion Mammals: The New Shelter Animal

What you need to know about the numbers of exotic companion animals that are flooding shelters, including basic husbandry and medical care. An overview of best spay/neuter methods for rabbits, guinea pigs, and sugar gliders will also be provided.

Great speaker, fun presentation - a unique topic that needs to be heard about more! I would love to do an externship focused on the needs of exotic companion animals with Dr. Schneider!              

- Sara Lindo, Michigan State Class of 2021

Farm Animal Welfare: The Science and Ethics

More than three-fourths of veterinarians in the United States practice small animal medicine while there are sixty times more farmed animals killed for food in this country than dogs and cats.

This presentation summarizes the current conditions in which farm animals are raised and slaughtered in the United States, provides an ethical argument as to why small animal veterinarians should be concerned about farm animals, and provides a variety of ways small animal veterinarians can use their expertise to make a difference in improving the welfare of these animals.

Medical Aspects of Community Cat and Trap-Neuter-Vaccinate-Release (TNVR) Programs

Dramatic increases in feline lifesaving in shelters have been accomplished through the implementation of community cat programs. Community cat programming consists of a combination of proactive, targeted trap-neuter-vaccinate-release (TNVR) and shelter-neuter-return (SNR) programming as a live outcome pathway for cats that enter the shelter system. In this lecture, learn techniques to safely handle community cats in the high-quality, high-volume, spay/neuter clinic or private practice setting, preventive care protocols for TNVR/SNR cats, how to design a multi-modal anesthetic protocol appropriate for TNVR/SNR cats, surgical techniques for efficient sterilization, techniques for prevention and management of surgical complications, and management of common conditions found in free-roaming cats that enter the shelter or present for sterilization surgery (ectoparasites, traumatic injuries, upper respiratory tract disease).

How Helping Animals Can Help Your Bottom Line

A growing concern for animal welfare and increasing public appreciation for positive social impact by veterinarians means that involvement in community animal welfare activities and the operation of a profitable practice need not be mutually exclusive.

This presentation provides case studies of veterinarians who have sustained profitable practices while focusing on essential therapeutic services, such as low-cost sterilization, declining to perform cosmetic surgeries, and working with rescue groups and shelters.

Street Medicine: Caring for Pets of the Indigent

The bond between people experiencing homelessness and their pets is very strong due to the social isolation and dysfunction that exists on the streets. Providing care to pets of people experiencing homeless and near-homelessness is one of the biggest challenges facing veterinary medicine. In this talk, Dr. Geller discusses the work of The Street Dog Coalition and other non-profits involved in this work, and also presents opportunities for student involvement.

Awesome to hear a vet talk about this because I've always wanted to start something like this. Thank you, this presentation has inspired me!!!                  

- Shirley Chan, Western University Class of 2020

Promoting Public Health Through Animal Protection

To ensure animal protection and welfare, collaboration and coordination is critical among three groups: the veterinary profession, animal protection organizations, and law enforcement. Their missions are unique yet interdependent. We all must strive to ensure better communication and respect for one another. To not do so will be to the detriment of animals.

Puppy Mills and Irresponsible Dog Breeding

The expansive puppy mill industry raises many animal health and welfare concerns. Although the conditions vary widely in quality, puppy mills are typically operated with an emphasis on profits over animal welfare and the dogs often live in substandard conditions, housed for their entire reproductive lives in cages or runs, provided little to no positive human interaction or other forms of environmental enrichment, and minimal to no veterinary care.

This presentation defines what makes a breeding facility a puppy mill, reviews the number of puppies that come from puppy mills and how they are sold, showcases the common health problems seen in dogs bred in these environments and the impact on the puppies, puppy buyers, animal shelters, and other organizations.

Wildlife Care Basics

Deciding if a wild animal can be rehabilitated can be a daunting task for a veterinarian.  Whether you are planning to specialize in wildlife medicine or help triage until transfer to a local rehabber, this presentation will give you the fundamentals,  Intake, triage, handling, and species specific treatments are covered, as well as zoonotic diseases and what to take into consideration before release.  Legal issues are also discussed.

Controversies in Wildlife Research

Wildlife research has avoided some of the closer scrutiny that has been put on other animal research, and this presentation shines light on some questionable long-standing protocols used in wildlife research projects. As a previous member of the National Park Service IACUUC, Dr. Geller has seen some unfortunate outcomes that may be related to inhumane research methods, and these examples will be used in trying to create some traction for this issue. Article Dr. Geller wrote for the HSVMA newsletter on this topic:

This talk was really awesome and inspiring to take action in our community and our world. Veterinarians can make a difference in helping people as well as our global species population.

- Rikki Boswell-Jones, Western University Class of 2020

Request a Presentation at Your School

To request an HSVMA presentation, please send an email to [email protected] with the following information:

  1. Your name
  2. Name of the veterinary school you attend
  3. Presentation topic(s) you are interested in
  4. Proposed date(s) and time (i.e., lunch or evening talk)

Priority scheduling will be granted to schools with HSVMA Student Chapters.