Pre-conference workshops

Can’t wait to get started at the Best Friends National Conference? We applaud your enthusiasm! Join us before the conference at one of our all-day workshops. From recruiting and retaining passionate volunteers and upping your fundraising skills to creating a community cat program, improving your skills as an animal control officer and learning more about dogs by how they play, these learning-intense workshops take a deep dive into subjects that are key to saving the lives of homeless pets.

The pre-conference workshop registration fee is $50. The workshops will begin at 9:00 a.m. on Wednesday and end at 5:00 p.m. You can sign up for one of these workshops when you register for the conference.

Please note: Lunch is not included for any of the workshops. All workshops (except for Dogs Playing for Life) will be at the Hilton Anatole. The Dogs Playing for Life workshop will take place at Dallas Animal Services (about 6.5 miles from the Hilton Anatole) and transportation to that workshop is not included.

Partners in the work: Engaging volunteers to help achieve your mission

Volunteers are the lifeblood of shelters, rescue groups and other animal welfare organizations. It’s safe to say that these organizations couldn’t function without them.

In this all-day workshop, we’ll talk about how to recruit, train, engage and retain volunteers. You’ll learn how to transform your volunteer program into a strategy that is integral to achieving your organization’s mission. We’ll help you assess your volunteer needs, develop new roles based on those needs, create position descriptions, and develop a customized volunteer engagement action plan. Volunteers bring a lot of passion to their work. We’ll help you tap into that passion to save more pets’ lives.

Calling all animal control officers: Be outstanding in your field

Animal services field officers are the critical bridge between shelters and the communities they serve. Fostering public safety, providing essential resources, assisting pets and their people: They do it all.

This all-day workshop tackles everything from gaining a better understanding of the laws in your jurisdiction to preventing pets from entering shelters in the first place to establishing trust and rapport within your team and community. We’ll also cover how the role of animal control officers has evolved over time, shifting from being simply enforcers of the law to being proactive and compassionate helpers and educators. You’ll walk away with a greater understanding of how you can have a positive, lasting impact on the animals and people in your community.

Cat lovers unite: Get with the (community cat) program

No two community cat programs (CCPs) are exactly alike, but at the heart of any successful program is a combination of return-to-field (RTF) and targeted trap-neuter-return (TNR).

This all-day workshop will cover everything you want to know (and more) about community cat programs. We’ll talk about pertinent legislation and ordinances, return-to-field efforts that can lead us to colonies in the community, ways to overcome challenges and handle complaints, and the role that animal control officers can play in ensuring the success of your program. We’ll also focus on understanding how a community cat program can be a change agent within the shelter system.

Developing a reliable stream of revenue through individual giving

What’s the most effective way to build a sustainable fundraising organization?  Start with individuals. Learn the most strategic ways to raise the most money from individuals. With an annual plan and calendar, you can significantly improve your fundraising results, building a reliable stream of income that saves lives year after year.

This all-day workshop is designed for organizations that have already dipped their toes in the fundraising waters but want to focus resources on sources and tactics that give them the most return for their investments of time and energy. Please bring information on your current fundraising programs. We will provide expertise in the critical thinking that underlies strategies, plans and calendars. You’ll leave with a draft plan that will set you up for success and equip you to incorporate learning from conference sessions and Best Friends online resources even more effectively.

Dogs Playing for Life: Play groups at Dallas Animal Services

Founded by professional trainer Aimee Sadler, Dogs Playing for Life (DPFL) was inspired by the idea that a dog’s instinct is to play and that watching a dog at play is the best opportunity to get a glimpse inside the canine soul and discover a dog’s true personality. Play groups have proven to be a critical enrichment and assessment tool for shelters.

This all-day workshop will be led by Aimee and take place at Dallas Animal Services, which implemented DPFL play groups in December 2017. The day will consist of a classroom presentation in the morning, a break for lunch, and an afternoon demonstration of safe-handling techniques and fundamentals of successful play group experiences. Safety protocols for both people and animals are emphasized to ensure that play groups bring out the best in shelter dogs with the least possible risk of injury or the spread of infection. Attendees will walk away with a better understanding of how they can use play groups successfully as a powerful tool in their own lifesaving efforts.