Mike Kaviani

Chief Program Officer

Dogs Playing for Life

Mike began working with shelter animals at age 18 as a kennel attendant in Irvine, California. In 2010, he became the director of training and behavior at the Southampton Animal Shelter Foundation (SASF). Working there under the guidance of Aimee Sadler, they implemented enrichment and behavior programs with a foundation of daily play groups that resulted in the shelter achieving industry-leading results in save rate, length of stay and return rates. These efforts became the model for the national nonprofit organization, Dogs Playing for Life (DPFL).

In 2012, Mike brought the DPFL model to Austin, Texas, where he worked under Dr. Ellen Jefferson and became the dog behavior program manager for Austin Pets Alive. Mike’s focus was to save the last 10% of Austin’s homeless pets, which primarily comprised large dogs with behavior issues. The city’s current canine save rate now holds steady between 98% and 99%. While at APA, Mike also served as director of lifesaving operations and Maddie's director of canine lifesaving. In these roles, Mike oversaw all of APA’s operations, in addition to training shelter professionals from around the country to increase national lifesaving efforts.

In 2018, Mike became the director of animal care in Orange County, California, and he led the shelter to a more than 10% increase in save rate in just one year. At the start of 2020, Mike rejoined DPFL and to become the chief program officer, leading all core programming and working with shelters across the country to increase quality of life and lifesaving efforts for shelter dogs.