When Dr. Morgan Shaver first examined the kitten, she didn’t think he was going to make it. He was having trouble breathing due to the severe upper respiratory infection in his lungs, and he couldn’t see through the infection around his eyes.
Dr. Morgan is the 2020-2021 veterinary intern at Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region. Every year, HSPPR is matched with a recent graduate veterinarian interested in learning more about shelter medicine.
Dr. Morgan always knew she wanted to be a veterinarian. “I formed a special bond with my childhood dog and gained an understanding of the positive role animals can have in people’s lives,” Dr. Morgan said. “So, I wanted to be in a profession that made sure the animals were healthy and happy in order to make a difference in human lives.”
Dr. Morgan went to undergraduate at Iowa State University and got a bachelor’s degree in Animal Science. She then went to veterinary school at Iowa State as well and graduated last May.
“I decided to enter the shelter medicine world because I wanted to have a large role in the animals’ lives that may have been neglected, abused, or abandoned,” Dr. Morgan said. “I love to help the animals that may not have a human to voice their needs and concerns.”
Dr. Morgan started her internship with HSPPR in June of 2020. “I chose HSPPR for many reasons,” Dr. Morgan said. “I visited the shelter in October and loved the relaxed and positive atmosphere. I liked that it is an open admission shelter and sees a variety of cases through the ER service. I am very interested in playing a role in animal abuse cases and liked that HSPPR has a direct role with Animal Law Enforcement. The veterinarians at HSPPR were very inviting and eager to be wonderful mentors to make me the best shelter vet I can be.”
Dr. Morgan’s time with HSPPR is almost up. But she couldn’t resist helping one more pet before she goes. The kitten, now named Timmy, first came into HSPPR’s Pueblo campus as a very sick stray. We transferred him to Colorado Springs for care, and that’s when he first met Dr. Morgan, the veterinarian who would change his life in more ways than he could count.
“Honestly, when I first saw Timmy my thoughts were his quality of life,” Dr. Morgan said. “He was suffering. I knew he would not be able to receive the intense medical care he needed while in the shelter and would need a very experienced medical foster. As I have never fostered before, I thought he would be my perfect first one and I would be able to give him the medical care that he needed.”
At first, Timmy needed round-the-clock treatments. This included oral antibiotics, multiple eye medications, daily eye and nose cleaning, antiviral medications, and nebulizing/coupage to help with his upper airway congestion and prevent the infection from spreading to a lower respiratory infection. Dr. Morgan had to take him to work with her the first couple of days to give him such frequent care. Her bathroom looked like a second veterinary clinic, she had so many supplies for Timmy!
Slowly but surely, Timmy started improving medically, and Dr. Morgan got to work socializing him with her friends and her own pets, including HSPPR alumna cat Winnie. She watched with pride as he went from helpless, sick, feral kitten to spunky, playful kitten.
“After spending countless nights up with him, I fell in love with the little guy,” Dr. Morgan said. “I knew he was going to be a permanent member of the family. Timmy has brought excitement to my life! This was myself and my boyfriend’s first ‘kid’ together, so he is helping us learn how to co-parent, especially at the beginning when he needed so much work. Our apartment is never dull now, and he brings happiness to us every day as he is tearing through the hallway, chasing a ball, or nipping at our feet from under the bed.”
And what’s next for Timmy and Dr. Morgan? They are moving to Gainesville, Georgia! The shelter there is called Humane Society of Northeast Georgia. It is a limited-intake shelter that works closely with the local municipal shelters. They haven’t had a full-time veterinarian in almost a year and have been relying on relief vets to cover the shelter, so Dr. Morgan said she’s excited to start working, help get the medical aspect of things running smoothly, and start helping as many animals as possible.
But Timmy isn’t the only thing Dr. Morgan is taking as a souvenir from her time at HSPPR in Colorado. “I have learned more than I could have ever imagined and feel so much more confident leading into my next job,” Dr. Morgan said. “HSPPR is a wonderful organization that helps so many animals. The veterinary internship is a priceless opportunity for new graduates interested in shelter medicine and anybody would be lucky to work here and train under the staff veterinarians.”
“Every time I look at little Timmy, he will remind me of my time here at the shelter,” Dr. Morgan said. “He has already taught me so many lessons and made me a better veterinarian while treating him. I am sure he will continue to teach me lessons as he grows up.”