Veterinary Care in Shelters: Who Can Legally Do What? – Legal Considerations with Shelter PALS

How can your shelter best leverage the veterinary care capabilities of your entire staff?

In this short course, you’ll learn how to fully leverage the veterinary care capabilities of your entire team – not just your designated “medical” staff – including front office staff, field officers, kennel attendants, volunteers, and fosters. Bruce Wagman, Lead Counsel for San Francisco SPCA’s Shelter Policy and Legal Services (Shelter PALS), will review which shelter tasks team members can perform, from intake-related care and running diagnostics to providing treatment, surgery, euthanasia, public veterinary services, and emergency care. After this course, you’ll be ready to maximize your shelter’s options for providing veterinary care while adhering to the law and Practice Act requirements.

By the end of this course, you should be able to: 

  • Describe how the practice of veterinary medicine is defined in California and the law surrounding its practice.
  • Compare and contrast the required training, licensing, and other qualifications of Veterinarians, Registered Veterinary Technicians, and Veterinary Assistants/other shelter team members.
  • List permitted tasks for each shelter team member.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of who can perform various animal care and medical tasks including but not limited to administering medications, vaccinations, and deworming, microchipping, rabies vaccinations, inducing anesthesia, and performing euthanasia.

This course was adapted from a webinar by Bruce Wagman, Lead Counsel for the San Francisco SPCA’s Shelter Policy and Legal Services (Shelter PALS) program and hosted by the California Animal Welfare Association (CalAnimals).

This short course has been approved for 1.0 Certified Animal Welfare Administrator (CAWA) continuing education credit by The Association for Animal Welfare Advancement (AAWA) and by National Animal Care and Control Association (NACA). 

This course has been approved for 1 hour of RACE continuing education credit until 8/2/2025 in jurisdictions that recognize RACE approval. Upon completing the course and passing the quiz, upload your certificate to This is the broker used by the AAVSB to track your continuing education credits.

Email us at if you have any questions or concerns about this course.

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