Dr. Chumkee Aziz (V12)
Currently serving as Medical Director at the Austin Humane Society, Dr. Aziz oversees the surgical and medical care of all the animals in the shelter, the community cats they work with and all of the animals in foster care.
Favorite aspect of job:
"This job gives me a whole, great window into population flow and management, combined with the operational aspects of running a shelter and capacity for care."
Unlike many of her peers, Dr. Aziz went to college without the goal of becoming a veterinarian. Working as Park Ranger throughout school, only when her childhood dog developed cancer was she introduced to veterinary specialty medicine. Discovering an immediate interest, Aziz quickly began working as veterinary assistant in a local clinic in Houston. She continued for two years to acquire the required experience hours with animals that would later earn her admittance to veterinary school at Cummings School.
Kudos for Cummings School:
Dr. Aziz credits her time at Cummings School with providing her with the foundation of her later work, particularly in finding mentors who challenged and supported her in ways she didn’t understand the importance of at that time.
"Dr. (Emily) McCobb introduced me to Shelter Medicine and encouraged me to explore other parts of the curriculum that affect Shelter Medicine, like rabies clinics. Dr. (Gretchen) Kaufman was another mentor for me and led me to the path of international stray animal work. I didn’t completely understand at the time how those things fit into Shelter Medicine, but now that I’ve walked the path, I firmly believe that my experiences at Tufts helped me to land the internship I wanted, and then get the residency I desired, which are few and far between in Shelter Medicine."
Advice for students interested in Shelter Medicine:
Dr. Aziz encourages students to spend time learning all facets of Shelter Medicine, over and above spay neuter. She maintains that learning how marketing decisions are made, about the adoption process and keeping animals in their homes through community outreach will provide a better understanding of how each correlates to the discipline as a whole.
"I’d also say to pursue a Shelter Medicine internship because it is an amazing experience in general medicine, with a high volume of quality work and surgical training."
Memory of Shelter Medicine at Cummings:
Dr. Aziz credits the two summers she spent working in the humane population control of international stray dogs in Bhutan and Nepal for her personal and professional growth at Cummings, and maintains that it wouldn’t have been possible without the support of her mentors.
"Those experiences opened my eyes to what sheltering and community pet ownership looks like internationally, which is very different than in the United States. There is a wide spectrum of what pet ownership can look like and room for many different models."