Dr. Levy obtained her DVM from the University of California at Davis in 1989 and her PhD at North Carolina State University in 1996. She completed a clinical internship in small animal medicine and surgery at Angell Memorial Animal Hospital in Boston in 1990, and a residency in small animal internal medicine at North Carolina State University, culminating in board certification in the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine in 1993.
After joining the faculty of the University of Florida specialty service in internal medicine in 1997, Dr. Levy began devoting herself to the emerging field of shelter medicine full-time in 2008 when she co-founded Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Program. The program focuses on training veterinary students and shelter specialist veterinarians, shelter consultation, and research into solving the problems that challenge animal shelters. She has spent the past decade helping to develop a recognized veterinary specialty in shelter medicine, a dream that finally came to fruition in 2014.
Dr. Levy’s research and clinical interests center on the health and welfare of animals in shelters, feline infectious diseases, and humane alternatives for cat population control. She has performed long-term studies of contraceptive vaccines for cats that, if successful, could greatly enhance the impact of feline population control programs by eliminating the need for surgical facilities and highly skilled medical personnel to sterilize cats.
In a recently published study, she demonstrated that a contraceptive vaccine targeting GnRH could prevent pregnancy in cats for several years after a single injection.
Her vaccination and infectious disease studies provide the evidence needed to create protocols that protect the health of shelter and free-roaming community cats, always with an eye toward practicality in the resource-scare environment of animal shelters and cat management programs. Recognizing that neonatal and orphan kittens were at high risk for illness and death, she identified the leading causes of illness and developed procedures for restoring immune function in kittens to increase their survival.
Dr. Levy is the founder of Operation Catnip, a nonprofit trap-neuter-return program that has sterilized more than 44,000 cats in Gainesville, Florida, since 1998. The program is the result of collaboration between the municipal shelter, the College of Veterinary Medicine, local veterinarians, and volunteers throughout the community.
Operation Catnip serves as a “field laboratory” for research examining community cat population dynamics, disease prevalence, cat caregiver interactions, and population management. It also provides a service-learning opportunity for hundreds of veterinary students, who not only polish their spay/neuter skills while sterilizing cats, but also come to understand the problem of cat overpopulation and homelessness and the unique role veterinarians can play in making their communities a better place for cats and the people who care about them.
Dr. Levy has published more than one hundred journal articles and textbook chapters, many focusing on community cat issues. She has been invited to serve on several expert panels for the Association of Shelter Veterinarians and the American Association of Feline Practitioners, and to draft standards of practice for spay/neuter clinics, vaccination in shelters, and FeLV/FIV management. She is the recipient of the Carl J. Norden-Pfizer Distinguished Teacher Award, Outstanding Woman Veterinarian of the Year, and the European Society of Feline Medicine Award.