Mobility Matters: Making Physical Rehabilitation Happen to Increase Adoptability

Room: St Laurent 7
Simultaneous English-to-French interpretation available for this session.

Christina Giordmaina RVT, CCRP, Physical Rehabilitation Veterinary Technician, Toronto Humane Society
Jenna Cook, RVT, CCRP, CCMT, Lead Physical Rehabilitation Veterinary Technician, SOAR Veterinary Services

Physical ailments affecting shelter animals such as recent or impending orthopedic surgery, arthritis, nerve injuries, and obesity cause pain and suffering and are often viewed as barriers to adoption. Efforts to ensure these animals receive physical rehabilitation plans and treatment to improve comfort and mobility can go a long way in increasing adoptability. Whether it is collaborating with an external rehab facility or implementing rehabilitation practices in-house, these animals have special needs that require additional monitoring and follow-up in order to attain optimal functioning. Through initiatives such as Foster-to-Adopt programs shelters are able to support adopters through the recovery process, providing detailed owner education and practical assistance that can increase the speed of recovery and even provide positive psychological effects for both the animal and new owner.

This lecture focuses on one of the fastest growing areas in veterinary medicine, physical rehabilitation, and brings to light its place in the treatment of shelter animals regardless of life stage or resources available to the shelter. A brief overview of the science behind physical rehabilitation will provide participants with the knowledge to identify why it is a valuable and necessary component of patient care and the treatment options available to help shelter animals keep fit and have fun while improving their mobility and adoptability. The realities of mobility compromised animals in shelter care will be discussed as well as exploring possibilities for partnerships with local veterinary rehabilitation professionals. The lecture will offer practical applications for shelters including how the rehabilitation department at the Toronto Humane Society has evolved using select case examples.

Key Learnings:

1.The reality of physically compromised patients in shelter care.

2. Why physical rehabilitation is necessary in the treatment of mobility issues.

3. Options for bringing rehabilitation practices to shelter animals – partnering and/or in-house.


Christina Giordmaina completed a Bachelor of Kinesiology from McMaster University in 2008, with a focus on physical activity for special populations. Her lifelong passion for animals led her to attend the Veterinary Technician program at Seneca College of Applied Arts and Technology. She has worked as a Registered Veterinary Technician at the Toronto Humane Society for more than three years. Both her academic background in human movement and her devotion to animal welfare inspired her to focus her efforts on those most vulnerable, which led her to complete the Certified Canine Rehabilitation Practitioner program through the University of Tennessee. Christina developed and is currently implementing the physical rehabilitation program at the Toronto Humane Society, advocating tirelessly for the animals in her care as they transition to their forever homes.

Jenna Cook is registered veterinary technician and certified canine rehabilitation practitioner. Jenna has been involved with many different aspects of animal care leading up to and throughout her career in veterinary medicine. She graduated from the University of Guelph in 2013 earning a Bachelor of Science, majoring in Animal Biology. While completing her degree, Jenna found her passion for animal rehabilitation. In 2015, Jenna graduated from Seneca College as a Registered Veterinary Technician. She then attended the University of Tennessee, earning her credentials as a Certified Canine

Rehabilitation Practitioner in 2016. Jenna started her rehab career at the Toronto Veterinary Emergency & Referral Hospital where she ran the animal rehabilitation department for the last two and a half years. Jenna became certified as a Canine Massage Therapist by the Royal Canadian College of Massage in 2016. Jenna is now the head RVT at SOAR Veterinary Services in Burlington, where herself and a certified rehabilitation veterinarian specialize in providing rehabilitation and pain management services to companion animals. Jenna is currently working toward becoming a board certified Veterinary Technician Specialist in animal rehabilitation, as well as a Certified Veterinary Pain Practitioner. Jenna has a special interest in neurological rehabilitation, geriatric care, and pain management. She continues to further her knowledge in animal rehabilitation, so she can continue to provide the finest level of care to her patients. Jenna is committed to helping our pets live healthier and more active lives.