031: Do You Crave Variety? Shelter Medicine Might Be For You w/ Dr. Louisa Poon


For many of us, the thought of a specialized career path is equivalent to a boring one. Dr. Louisa Poon joins us today to share her experience of finding variety working as a jill-of-all-trades veterinarian at an animal shelter in Denver.

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Show Notes: 

A woman of many hats, Dr. Poon joins us at our mobile studio, reporting to you on the move from the AVMA Conference in Denver, Colorado! She gives us a breakdown of the variety and excitement she sees on a daily basis as the Denver Animal Protection veterinarian. She sees over 7,000 patients a year with the help of her team of volunteers, staff, and interns, and deals with everything from animal protection to public health and intern programs.

Fulfilling a lifelong dream of becoming the head of a large-scale medical center, Dr. Poon has had a very busy and impressive history dealing with a wide range of treatment types, species and countries. Dr. Poon’s goal is to provide appropriate health care and good enrichment for the animals while they are in the shelter. Dr. Poon has an infectious passion and speaks candidly about what she sees in today's veterinary industry. Marginalization in the workplace, euthanasia and work-life balance are just a few of the hot topics we are covering on this episode.

Dr. Poon has a passion for volunteers, being an avid volunteer herself, as well as creating and supporting multiple other agencies such as the I Have A Dream Foundation and the Pets for Life Program. In addition to openly sharing her vast amount of experience, in this episode, Dr. Poon also gives us some tips on learning from your mistakes, recognizing that everyone has bad days, and pushing the line to see what more you can do for your patients.

In this episode:

  • What it is like working on the inside of a city animal shelter team
  • Opportunities for internships with Dr. Poon through the I Have a Dream Foundation
  • The rewards and opportunities available through volunteering
  • How Dr. Poon’s past teaching experience helps her be more effective in her position
  • Some challenges and benefits of being the head of a large-scale medical practice


“The great thing about being a veterinarian - and all the veterinarians know - is you are very flexible with your career. You learn on the job, you learn from other people, so you can pick up new skills and do different things as a veterinarian” (7:11)

“Education is really, really important for me. So when coming here [to the Denver Animal Shelter], when I saw that we are really short staffed, one of the things was, well we need to expand our outreach in the community, and educate not just the next generation but also for them to see if this is something they really want to do.” (18:29)

“We are very, very privileged, absolutely. And as long as we understand that we are privileged, and everybody has a bad day, and it's okay to say ‘we just can’t do this today’, right. That's absolutely okay. But overall, appreciating the opportunities we have and sometimes we have to make some sacrifices to really absorb the experience and that's okay, but just realizing that.” (22:46)

“I also liked shelter medicine because I knew it incorporated everything. You know you get a chance to do emergency, shelter medicine, hurt health, a lot of public health and also surgery as well, a larger volume of surgery. So that was what was really interesting to me.” (38:34)

“I think with everything I have done, ranging from basic research to teaching high school to going back to get my PhD, and then the different fields of veterinary medicine that I have done, it’s really given me all the skill set that I need to grow this position and grow this program and help with the growth of the shelter.” (41:27)


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I Have A Dream Foundation

Denver Animal Shelter Website

DPS CareerConnect

Pets For Life Program

AVMA Conference


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