New canine sports medicine & rehabilitation residency program launches this month


The new program aims to have more specialists trained to treat the needs of athletic and working dogs



The American Kennel Club (AKC) in collaboration with the AKC Canine Health Foundation (CHF) shared the news that it has launched the AKC/AKC CHF Canine Sports Medicine & Rehabilitation Residency Program. The program is designed to increase veterinary professionals trained to meet the unique needs of working and athletic dogs and dogs needing rehabilitation.

"CHF recognizes that the health and well-being of dogs extend beyond routine healthcare," says Stephanie Montgomery, DVM, PhD, DACVP, CHF chief executive officer. "In supporting a Canine Sports Medicine & Rehabilitation Residency, the Foundation demonstrates its continued commitment to advancing veterinary medicine and ensuring that every dog receives the specialized care they deserve based on their unique circumstances."1

According to the organizational release, the first call for applications was released by CHF from a veterinary college with approved sports medicine and rehabilitation programs this month. All proposals will be reviewed by a panel of CHF leadership and subject matter experts. The chosen institute will receive $100,000 annually to support a 3-year residency program.1 Then, interested professionals can apply through the Veterinary Internship and Residency Matching Program in the spring of 2025.

According to the US Government Accountability Office (GAO), there are about 5,000 working dogs as of 2022 working for federal agencies and about a thousand dogs are in foreign countries working to support antiterrorism efforts and support law enforcement agencies. The GAO completed a study into the welfare and health of working dogs after some agencies’ Officers of Inspector General and the GAO identified areas of concern with the management of federal working dog programs.2

The GAO then compiled a list that addressed 18 issues they identified as important to working dogs’ health and welfare. Among those, emergency medical care, routine veterinary care, and routine welfare evaluations were marked as some of the important issues working dogs face.2 Because there is a need to provide these pets the unique care they require, the residency program will be able to produce more specialists and provide care to animals like these.

"This Program will support the training of specialists to care for not only AKC companion and performance sport participants but all dogs. The AKC is passionate about everything related to dogs and proud to support the training of these integral veterinary professionals," said Gina DiNardo, AKC executive secretary.1

If accepted into the program, veterinary professionals will begin training in July 2025. The program hopes to continuously grow to award a new residency every year, providing ongoing support for 3 concurrent residents.1


  1. The American Kennel Club and AKC Canine Health Foundation Launch a Canine Sports Medicine & Rehabilitation Residency Program. News release. AKC Canine Health Foundation. February 20, 2024. Accessed February 20, 2024.
  2. Working dogs: Federal agencies need to better address health and welfare. US Government Accountability Office. Accessed February 20, 2024.
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