Dr. Michelle Lem is a 2001 graduate of the Ontario Veterinary College (OVC), and the founder and director of Community Veterinary Outreach: a veterinary-based registered charity founded in 2003 that provides pro bono preventive veterinary care for pets of the homeless and marginally housed in Ottawa.
The work of Community Veterinary Outreach is demonstrating how accessing veterinary care for companion animals can be an entry point to successfully engaging marginalized pet owners in receiving social services and health care for themselves. Community Veterinary Outreach programs also operate in Vancouver, BC, Winnipeg, MB, Halifax, NS, and Ottawa, Toronto, York Region and the Golden Triangle in Ontario.
After graduating from veterinary school, Dr. Lem practiced in New Zealand before returning to Ottawa, where she has practiced companion animal medicine and surgery as an associate veterinarian, companion animal mobile service and locum. From 2003 to 2009, Dr. Lem provided behavioural consultations for companion animals on a referral basis; was the contract veterinarian for Department of National Defence's military working dogs from 2009 till 2011; and has taught in the Veterinary Assistant and Technician programs at Algonquin College since 2004.
In 2009, Dr. Lem received an OVC fellowship to pursue graduate research in the Department of Population Medicine, studying the effects of pet ownership on street-involved youth, receiving her MSc in 2012. Dr. Lem has served on the College of Veterinarians of Ontario's (CVO) Shelter Medicine Task Force and represented the CVO on Emergency Management Ontario's (EMO) committee for resourcing. Dr. Lem is an active member of the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) as a trained member of the Canadian Veterinary Reserve and serves on the CVMA's Animal Welfare Committee.
In 2011, Dr. Lem received the Ottawa Humane Society's Muriel Davies Award for her contribution to animal welfare in the Ottawa community. Her outreach work has been recognized at the Summit for Urban Animal Strategies, where she was awarded the Thought Leadership Scholarship and Individual Achievement Award in 2011, the Community Collaboration Award in 2013, the OVC Young Alumnus Award in 2014, and the CVMA's President's Award in 2015. In 2012, Dr. Lem was humbled to receive the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for her service. In May 2013, Dr. Lem was elected as an Ashoka Fellow. As such, she is now part of a global network of the world's leading social entrepreneurs. She completed her Masters of Social Work at Carleton University.