Dr. Ferris is a 1996 graduate of North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine. After three years of companion animal private practice, she returned to NCSU CVM in 1999 to develop the Community Campus Partnership Program. This program was started as a collaboration with shelter and animal rescue organizations and the North Carolina Veterinary Medical Association to allow first through fourth year students to hone their medicine and surgery skills and serve a segment of the pet population that normally would not have access to medical care. A Mobile Veterinary Hospital, a surgical classroom on wheels, was designed by Dr. Ferris for routine travel to animal shelters for spay and neuter events as well as respond to large scale animal emergencies across North Carolina.
Following Hurricane Floyd, Dr. Ferris directed the three-month-long operation of the College Emergency Field Hospital and Animal Shelter to care for over 400 dogs and cats evacuated from Eastern North Carolina following flooding associated with the hurricane. This experience led to her commitment to insure that animals are included in the state emergency response plans. Dr. Ferris is one of the original founders of the State Animal Response Team (SART) concept to coordinate animal emergency planning and response at the local, state, and national level. Since then, the SART model has been implemented in 24 states with more states in the planning stages at this time.
The majority of Dr. Ferris’ emergency response activities involve large scale animal hoarding cases and dog fighting seizures rather than natural disasters. Dr. Ferris is a sworn animal cruelty investigator and teaches animal cruelty investigation courses for veterinary students and other cruelty investigators across the state. Dr. Ferris has been a key player in the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s lawsuits in North Carolina in recent years, including providing veterinary care and acting as a witness in the massive dog hoarding case ALDF v. Woodley and acting as a co-plaintiff in 2008’s ALDF v. Conyers hoarding case and in the current Wake County horse neglect case, ALDF v. Keating.