Michigan Humane Externship Program

Gain Valuable Experience as a Michigan Humane Extern

Michigan Humane, founded in 1877, is the oldest and largest nonprofit animal welfare organization in the state. Each year, Michigan Humane achieves 100 percent adoption of more than 8,000 healthy and treatable animals through compassionate care, community engagement, and advocacy for humane treatment. Michigan Humane operates four shelter and veterinary centers in DetroitRochester HillsWestland and Howell; seven adoption partnerships with Premier Pet Supply, Petco, and PetSmart; and both a Cruelty Investigation Department and a Statewide Animal Response Team.

This broad array of programs and services provides a wide variety of externship opportunities for  professional veterinary students in the clinical year of their curriculum. Externships can focus on one or a combination of the following areas. The descriptions provided are intended to give a general overview of potential experiences, and each student’s experience will vary depending on the cases and animals coming into Michigan Humane during the student’s externship.

  • Shelter medicine – understand population health in a shelter environment; learn preventative health protocols, understand capacity for care, housing, facility design, husbandry, and stress reduction; understand common infectious diseases and disease outbreak management (e.g., isolation, quarantine, titer, testing, breaks, etc.); participate in direct animal care, medical and behavior/temperament evaluation, treatment of sheltered animals, rounds, and triage of incoming animals; learn to identify potential cruelty cases.
  • Surgery – overview of Michigan Humane expected surgical techniques and “routine” anesthetic protocols; understand and use surgical monitors; understand emergency resuscitation procedures and equipment; perform preop physicals on all animals presented for surgery, determine fitness for surgery, and identify any required alterations in anesthetic protocol; perform sterilization surgery on shelter animals; conduct postop examinations; assist in special procedures in the shelter and clinic.
  • Clinical medicine – conduct client interviews; understand the dynamics of inner-city practice; examine client animals; develop differential diagnoses and treatment plans; understand preventative health programs; learn proper preparation of medical records; participate in rounds, triage, and emergency animal care; participate in direct animal care and treatment.
  • Behavioral health – overview of recommended training techniques and shelter enrichment techniques; participate in behavioral and temperament assessments; learn about common behavioral problems in companion animals and potential remedies; learn behavior modification practices; gain hands-on experience employing learned techniques; work with boarded veterinary behaviorist when available.
  • Cruelty investigation and forensics – overview of local, state, and federal laws regarding crimes against animals; learn how to identify cruelty cases; learn how to conduct a forensic necropsy; travel to court on any pending cruelty cases; ride-along with the Cruelty Investigation Department; participate in behavioral assessment and evaluation of fighting dogs; participate in rounds and triage of incoming animals.
  • General – exposure to and participation in several areas of a full-service humane society by rotating among the MHS functional divisions; perform sterilizations on Michigan Humane adoptable animals; experience a ride along with the cruelty investigation unit; experience shelter medicine, clinical medicine in an externally-focused clinic, and the behavior health services department.

Consistent with most universities, externships are usually two- to three-week programs. However, there is flexibility to create a longer externship upon request. Externs’ hours are typically scheduled to be 40 hours per week during normal hours of operation. Externs may be invited to work on special cases arising in the evening or on a weekend if they choose. There is no stipend or student housing available. Michigan Humane externships are designed to provide opportunities to observe and participate in animal care that will be invaluable regardless of a student’s future career goals. Students are assigned to multiple mentors depending on the area(s) of focus who will coordinate his or her activities and serve as a consistent point of contact and support throughout the externship. Students will generally spend their time at the Detroit and Westland locations.

Past externs have spoken highly of their experiences with Michigan Humane.  You can read about one extern’s experience here: https://cvm.msu.edu/vetschool-tails/q-a-student-internship-with-michigan-humane-society-in-detroit

For more information or to apply, please contact Chelsea Orkis at corkis@michiganhumane.org. We require the following materials:

  • Approval from the college to participate in an externship at Michigan Humane
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Proof of liability insurance
  • Valid health insurance coverage

Providing a few time frames that you are available for the externship is also helpful for scheduling purposes.

Urban Alliance (High School Students)

Michigan Humane participates in the Urban Alliance High School Internship Program. The Urban Alliance is a national youth development nonprofit that provides young people with the exposure, opportunity, support, and training needed to prepare them to join the workforce. Urban Alliance’s core model, the High School Internship Program, matches high school seniors with year-long job skills training, one-on-one mentoring, nine-month paid internships, and ongoing post-program support. During the school year, Urban Alliance interns work part-time (up to 12 hours per week) Monday through Thursday. In June and July, when the school year is done, interns work 32 hours a week. During the summer, interns attend continued professional development workshops led by Urban Alliance staff. In July/August, the students participate in a Public Speaking Challenge hosted by Urban Alliance where they will present on their internship experience and how it impacted their future.

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