Great Plains Summit

Join Best Friends Animal Society and local animal welfare leaders in Minneapolis, Minnesota for the Great Plains Summit. Choose from one of two session tracks, including one devoted to animal control officers and field work, and get lifesaving tools and takeaways to save more cats and dogs in your community and help make the country no-kill by 2025.

August 9, 2019
Minneapolis Central Library
300 Nicollet Mall
Minneapolis, MN 55401

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This event is geared toward shelter staff and volunteers, animal rescue groups, spay/neuter organizations and other groups looking to support pets (and their people) in their communities. Best Friends’ Great Plains region includes animal welfare groups in North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Minnesota, Iowa and Missouri.

Summit schedule

(Please note that the summit is free, but lunch and drinks are not provided.)

Great Plains Region Summit schedule

General session

Welcome to Best Friends’ Great Plains Region

Exciting things are happening for cats and dogs in the Great Plains states, and we want you to be a part of it. During this opening session, we’ll provide a brief introduction to Best Friends Animal Society and discuss exactly what no-kill is, what it isn’t and how to talk about it effectively. We’ll also take a look at the current lifesaving needs in this region using 2017 national shelter data.

Speakers: Brent Toellner, Senior Director of National Programs, and Michelle Dosson, Great Plains Regional Specialist, Best Friends Animal Society

Breakout sessions

Operations and leadership track

Minding the Gap: Using Your Shelter’s Data to Maximize Lifesaving

We all know that implementing new programs takes time, effort and a whole lotta resources. Which is why it’s frustrating when those new programs don’t produce the desired results. This session will show you exactly how to use your own organization’s data to determine your specific needs, focus your resources better and save the most pets. During the session, we’ll review case studies from shelters that have used data successfully to drive their decision-making.

Speaker: Brent Toellner, Senior Director of National Programs, Best Friends Animal Society

Going with Your G.U.T.S.: Saving More Lives Through Great Client Service

Getting your community members, and the public at large, to support your organization and help further your work requires an understanding of exceptional client service. In this session, you’ll learn specific methods for connecting with people during meetings, building trust with the public and sharing information effectively. We’ll dive into examples of how great client service can positively impact your organization, and how poor service can do just the opposite. Want to know what G.U.T.S. stands for? Come to the session to find out!

Speaker: Marc Peralta, Senior Director of National Mission Advancement, Best Friends Animal Society

Minnesota Partnership for Animal Welfare (MnPaw)

Creating a collective vision and collaborative partnerships in our communities is essential for achieving any kind of goal. This session is a chance to learn from an organization championing that kind of progressive collaboration. MnPaw is a Minnesota-based coalition dedicated to the humane treatment of animals through legislation, training, programming and other support services. You’ll also find out how to take advantage of their upcoming free best-practices seminars.

Speaker: Kate Mudge, Board President, Minnesota Partnership for Animal Welfare

Winning the Day: Reducing Length of Stay in Your Shelter or Rescue Group

Open-admissions shelters fight a daily battle with the elements of time and space. We never have enough of either, but there are ways to overcome that challenge. This session provides practical tips for minimizing the amount of time animals spend in the shelter without breaking your budget. We’ll talk about simple, effective methods for removing roadblocks to getting more pets out of the shelter and increasing your organization’s lifesaving capacity in the process.

Speaker: Brent Toellner, Senior Director of National Programs, Best Friends Animal Society

Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV): What It Means for Your Shelter

A tremendous amount of information (and misinformation) is out there about what to do with cats who test positive for FeLV. And keeping up with all that information while trying to make informed decisions for your shelter can be a challenge. Come learn from leading cat advocates about current research and best practices for caring for and finding homes for this special cat population.

Speakers: Monica Frenden, Director of Feline Lifesaving, American Pets Alive, and Natascha Hamman, Feline Leukemia and Matchmaker Program Manager, Austin Pets Alive

Field services track

Using What You Have: Implementing Strategic Field Operations

We can only do so much with the resources we have, right? But having limited resources doesn’t mean you can’t have a lifesaving impact for the animals in your community. In this session, we’ll walk you through how to use effective community engagement tactics and data tracking to allocate your resources better and increase the number of pets you can help.

Speaker: Michelle Dosson, National Shelter Outreach Manager, Best Friends Animal Society

Cat Conflict: Effectively Resolving Conflicts Over Community Cats

When we're working in the field, it sometimes feels easier to just bring animals in rather than address the issue directly with community members. But when we do that, we’re just spinning the revolving door for animals pouring into our shelters. In this session, you’ll learn techniques for addressing public complaints and mitigating feline nuisances that don’t involve removing the cats from the area.

Speaker: Michelle Dosson, National Shelter Outreach Manager, Best Friends Animal Society

Solve the Problem: Crafting a Problem-Oriented Response

Tired of getting calls and hearing complaints about the same issue over and over again? Then let’s talk about getting to the root of the problem. Come learn how to address and finally solve recurring problems in your community through the effective use of resources and collaborative partnerships.

Speaker: Michelle Dosson, National Shelter Outreach Manager, Best Friends Animal Society

Lifesaving Field Services- Community Engagement Based Animal Control Programs

Gaining your community’s trust and support through engagement from both field and shelter services will promote collaboration to save more pets' lives and emphasize that a no-kill mission is a community effort, not a shelter initiative. In this session, you'll learn how to reduce animal intake, reduce call volume and save more lives while improving public perception of your animal control department through community engagement. We'll also talk about the difference between outreach and engagement and discuss how enforcement-based programs fail to provide long-term or sustainable solutions, or improve an animal’s situation.

Speaker: Michelle Dosson, National Shelter Outreach Manager, Best Friends Animal Society

Plan your trip


There is a parking garage connected to the central library, accessible from 4th Avenue, just before the stoplight at Nicollet Mall. Guests can take the elevator or stairs to the 2nd floor to reach Pohlad Hall for the event. Other parking options are available throughout the downtown area. Additional information on central library parking can be found here.


There are several restaurants and dining options in the downtown area within walking distance of the library.