Ithaca and the ASPCA/Maddie's Institute shelter medicine conference

A few weekends ago, my friend Melissa and I drove down to Ithaca, NY for the ASPCA/Maddie's Institute shelter medicine conference at Cornell University. We arrived late Friday night and checked into our airbnb apartment - thank god we were lazy procrastinators and couldn't book hotels, because airbnb is fantastic!! I've been converted.

Lectures 9-5 every day meant little sight seeing time, but we did sneak out over lunch to wander the Cornell Plantations that parallel the campus. We also spent some time downtown on Saturday night, having a great tapas dinner at Just a Taste and local ice cream at Collegetown Bagels. The downtown is really, really adorable - there's art everywhere, from murals on any and all concrete surfaces (goodbye, ugly parking lot!!) to eight-legged sculptures scurrying down office buildings.

The conference itself was wonderful as well. There were lectures in three streams (DVM/RVT, staff/volunteer, management) and you were welcome to attend whatever you liked. We were also lucky to sneak into a DVM-only Zeuterin training session - very cool stuff that I hope comes to Canada soon. We toured the Tompkins County SPCA, a gorgeous facility. The dogs had their own private rooms with plexiglass doors and "sniff holes" for visitors to interact with the dogs in a non-threatening way. Some of the rooms even had doggie doors that opened to a fenced yard. No cages, no bars, no concrete runs!! The cats were group housed when possible, again with lots of enrichment. Cats that needed private housing were in beautiful, modern cages - two levels plus a separate cubby for privacy. Obviously it's not feasible to retrofit all clinics like this, but wow. It was a world of difference from your traditional cage/run-based facilities, and you could see it reflected in the animals' comfort and sociability. Really, really interesting to experience.

Can't wait to go back to Ithaca and Cornell. Special Species Symposium 2014, perhaps? ;)

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