Strategic Workforces

Recruitment and Retention in the Veterinary Workforce

November 20, 2024

10:45 am - 11:45 am |

In 2022, the Denver Animal Shelter came to the Denver Office of Economic Development and Opportunity with a big challenge –the current level and successful recruitment of veterinary professionals remained very low.  As the outlook for the future veterinary workforce in both shelters and the private sector continued to trend lower, there was the immediate need for recruitment and retention efforts. This collaboration created a call to action with local nonprofit clinics/shelters, educational entities, apprenticeships, foundations, associations, and individuals in veterinary medicine to create two workgroups that are still going strong and producing results that impact this essential industry.


Attendees will:


  • Discover the secret sauce that brings agencies and partners to the table to make meaningful change
  • Understand the role of the workforce in prioritizing a solution-based approach to address labor force challenges
  • Learn how to consolidate veterinary workforce priorities into doable pieces
  • Hear about examples of Denver’s success, including a retention study, support of a veterinary medicine pre-apprenticeship, and working with local school districts to offer career pathways in veterinary medicine



Emily Berger, MSW

Employer Services Liaison, Denver Economic Development and Opportunity

Emily Berger is an Employer Services Liaison within Denver Economic Development and Opportunity with a focus on building pipelines to employment for the city’s priority populations. In this role, Emily supports industry workforce needs by connecting and collaborating with businesses as well as industry partners. With a background in social work, she has been in workforce development with both youth and adults for over 10 years.

Melanie Sobel

Director, Denver Animal Protection

Melanie Sobel has been working in open-admission government animal shelters since 2000 and is the Director of Denver Animal Protection. Prior to this, she was the General Manager of the Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter, Director of Milwaukee Area Domestic Animal Control Commission, Director of the Williamson County Regional Animal Shelter and Director of Program Services and Public Relations for City of Chicago Animal Care and Control. She has served as President of the California Animal Control Directors Association, Vice-President of the California Animal Welfare Association and as a Board member on the Illinois Animal Welfare Federation, Texas Federation of Humane Societies and Wisconsin Federated Humane Societies.