Shelter Medicine Advocate and Leader

Alumna Chumkee Aziz V12 helps shelter medicine grow through education and promotion
Outreach veterinarian, Chumkee Aziz, alumni of Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University
Chumkee Aziz V12 DABVP, is an outreach veterinarian with the UC Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Program.

“I truly feel that if I did not go to Cummings School I would not be where I am today,” said Chumkee Aziz, V12, DABVP, an outreach veterinarian with the University of California Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Program and former employee of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).

Aziz grew up in Houston and recently rejoined UC Davis, where she completed her residency and now works remotely full-time from Texas. In addition to nearly five years of service with the ASPCA, she has served on the board of the Association of Shelter Veterinarians (ASV), including time as president.

“The ASV has been an incredibly important endeavor for me as the professional organization and voice for shelter vets,” Aziz contends. “I’ve put a lot of my volunteer time into ASV because I think it’s so important. We are revising the 2010 ASV Guidelines for Standards of Care in Animal Shelters and by the end of this year we hope to publish the first shelter medicine scholarly journal.”

She has worked with numerous shelters and still serves as a shelter medicine consultant, to assist shelter vet colleagues and administrators in supporting their pets, pet owners, and communities.

Aziz is quick to point out how much her Cummings School education and experience has meant to her, personally and professionally. “It was really important to me to go to a school where I felt my interests would be cultivated and nurtured,” she shares.

At Cummings School, she met Emily McCobb MS, DVM, BS, DACVAA, clinical associate professor and director of Shelter and Community Medicine, and Amarendhra Kumar PhD, BVSc, former professor in the Department of Comparative Pathobiology.

“They encouraged me and supported me through my time at Tufts and Dr. (Gretchen) Kaufman, [DVM, first director of Cummings School’s Masters in Conservation Medicine program] inspired me toward international shelter medicine,” Aziz says. “They were more than just mentors for me. Nowadays when I speak with students I encourage them to find a coach and advocate.

“Dr. McCobb was my advocate and helped me figure out what I wanted to do. I love my work and I think it’s because I got the internship and residency positions of my dreams.”

Throughout her career, Aziz has not forgotten the support she received from Cummings School, from her professors, but also from one family. “When I was at Cummings School, I was supported by a scholarship every year by the same family and it made a huge difference to me financially, but also in terms of my morale and a sense of support,” Aziz remembers.

“I am still in touch with that family and my parents exchange Christmas gifts with them. It has meant a lot to me to have grown a friendship with them. Sharing my journey with them and seeing them continue to support more students is amazing. It’s very important that I support other students as well.”

In addition to her work as a consultant and an advocate through UC Davis and ASV, Aziz has helped guide veterinary students or colleagues in the field. “I’m always willing to talk about the variety of opportunities in shelter medicine, including clinical medicine, surgery, forensics, research, or consultant work among others,” Aziz remarks.

“I know that my life and my career would have been different if I didn’t have the guidance of mentors and I would love to pay that forward.”