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Jun 18, 2020

Staff Spotlight: Dr. Lauren Henderson

Dr. Lauren Henderson is the shelter’s head veterinarian! Dr. Henderson, or Dr. H, as we lovingly refer to her as, has been with the shelter for almost two years. In that short time, she’s done so much to help the pets in our care! Learn more about Dr. H and the very special cat who she fell in love with!

Q. What is your role at the shelter?

A. I am the head shelter veterinarian!

Q. How long have you been working at the shelter?

A. It will be two years in July!

Q. Happy Almost Two-Year Anniversary! What does a day in your life look like?

A. My daily schedule varies from day to day. Our staff veterinarians work on two-week rotations between cat medicine, dog and exotic small animal medicine, and surgery. On medicine rotations, we will see a combination of wellness checks for pets who are ready for adoption, sick pets in need of care, and foster pets. We can also receive emergencies from Good Samaritans and seven different animal control agencies at any time during business hours, so it’s not uncommon for our day to start out one way then take a completely different direction halfway through! Our surgery rotation consists of four days of spay/neuter and one day of special surgeries. 

Q. What made you want to work here?

A. My personal and professional mission has always been to practice quality medicine, relieve animal suffering, and reduce overpopulation in companion animals. After graduating from the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine and working in general practice for some time, I began working at a non-profit high-quality high volume spay/neuter clinic in Houston, Texas. Upon moving to Washington state, I had decided I wanted to expand on my abilities to practice medicine and surgery and started looking for jobs in the shelter medicine field. I decided to reach out to the Humane Society for Tacoma and Pierce County to see if they were in need of a doctor and it turns out they were! I guess you would say the rest is history! 

We’re so glad you’re here!

Q. What is your favorite part?

A. My favorite part of working in the shelter is seeing the transformation of the animals while they are in our care. They may come in injured, cold, dirty, matted, and scared. With a little time, medicine, and TLC they transform into confident healthy-looking pets! It’s then even more exciting to see their story end with being reconnected with their family or adopted by their new family. It’s really amazing to watch happen time and time again.

Q. If you could give one piece of advice to someone wanting to become a veterinarian, what would it be?

A. There are so many different ways to gain experience working with animals. Well-rounded experience no matter how big or small really helps. I’ve had so many paying jobs and volunteering positions throughout the years with animals like being a pet-sitter, wildlife center volunteer, kennel aide, research assistant, etc and they have all directly or indirectly helped me understand animals better prior to becoming a veterinarian. There are so many paths to becoming a veterinarian aside from just doing well in school.

Q. Any special stories you’d like to share? Tell us about Goma!

A. Just a few weeks into working at the shelter, a tortoiseshell cat came in with a very injured leg. The leg ended up needing to be amputated. The cat was in such bad shape I was worried about having to put her under anesthesia. The pain medications she was on at first didn’t seem to come close to alleviating any of her pain and she wouldn’t eat. I performed the amputation to remove the bad leg but she was still so weak after surgery. At the end of the day, I would go visit her, pick her up, and hold her like a baby. She seemed to love just being held that way. I decided to take her home to foster her until she was strong enough for adoption. Well, she never ended up leaving my house! I named her Goma after the tortoiseshell cat in the book Kafka on the Shore.  

Interested in a career with the Humane Society for Tacoma & Pierce County? Check out job opportunities here. Want to volunteer or foster? Learn more here!

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