José Ocaño, Pacific regional director

José Ocaño joined the Best Friends team in 2018 as its Pacific regional director. In this role, he works with shelters in California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska and Hawaii to help them achieve no-kill by 2025.

A Tucson native, José spent the first decade of his career working for Pima Animal Care Center (PACC) in Tucson, Arizona. He started as a shelter technician at the open-admission shelter, which took in more than 30,000 pets each year. After he spent his first day on the job euthanizing dozens of saveable pets, José considered leaving animal welfare, but he decided to stay and work for change at the county facility.

During his tenure at PACC, José focused on community engagement and implementation of progressive, lifesaving adoption, rescue and volunteer programs to increase live outcomes and decrease intake. In his last role at PACC, as executive director, José helped launch a pet support center and overhaul the shelter’s medical operations, which pushed the open-admission shelter’s save rate to the 90 percent it is today.