Session: One Welfare in Homeless Populations
Dr. Michelle Lem is a 2001 graduate of the Ontario Veterinary College (OVC), and the founder of Community Veterinary Outreach, a veterinary-based registered charity that has provided pro bono preventive veterinary care for animals of the homeless and marginally housed in Ottawa since 2003. This program has been successfully reproduced in other communities and is demonstrating how veterinary care can be leveraged to engage marginalized pet owners in social services and health care for themselves. Community Veterinary Outreach programs also operate in Hamilton, Toronto and Kitchener-Waterloo, and Guelph, Ontario CANADA.
After graduating, Dr. Lem practiced in New Zealand before returning to Ottawa, where she has practiced companion animal medicine and surgery as an associate veterinarian, companion animal mobile service and locum. From 2003 to 2009, Dr. Lem provided behavioural consultations for companion animals on a referral basis; was the contract veterinarian for Department of National Defence’s military working dogs from 2009 till 2011; and taught in the Veterinary Assistant and Technician programs at Algonquin College from 2004 till 2014.
In 2009, Dr. Lem received an OVC fellowship to pursue graduate research in the Department of Population Medicine, studying the effects of pet ownership on street-involved youth, receiving her MSc in 2012. Her research has been published in peer-reviewed journals including the Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare, Anthrozoös, and the Canadian Veterinary Journal. Dr. Lem has also authored a chapter on street-involved youth in the 2016 Springer Publication “Men and Their Dogs: A New Psychological Understanding of ‘Man’s Best Friend”, and speaks internationally on her research and outreach work, One Health (the human-animal-environment interface), animals in society, and social change and leadership.
Dr. Lem has served on the College of Veterinarians of Ontario’s (CVO) Shelter Medicine Task Force and represented the CVO on Emergency Management Ontario’s (EMO) committee for resourcing. Dr. Lem is an active member of the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) as a trained member of the Canadian Veterinary Reserve and serves on the CVMA’s Animal Welfare Committee.
In 2011, Dr. Lem received the Ottawa Humane Society’s Muriel Davies Award for her contribution to animal welfare in the Ottawa community. Her outreach work has been recognized at the Summit for Urban Animal Strategies, where she was awarded the Thought Leadership Scholarship and Individual Achievement Award in 2011, the Community Collaboration Award in 2013, the OVC Young Alumnus Award in 2014, and the CVMA’s President’s Award in 2015. In 2012, Dr. Lem was humbled to receive the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for her service. In May 2013, Dr. Lem was elected as an Ashoka Fellow, one of 65 Canadian Fellows and joining an international community of 3,000 leading social entrepreneurs in over 70 countries (www.ashoka.org).