Best Friends Summit: Nashville

Join Best Friends Animal Society and local animal welfare leaders for a Best Friends Summit in Nashville, TN. This event is geared toward shelter staff and volunteers, animal rescue groups, spay/neuter organizations and other groups looking to support their community’s pets (and the people who love them). The summit is free* but please RSVP if you’d like to attend.

February 7, 2020
Nashville Public Library
614 Church Street, Nashville, TN 37219

RSVP today

*Although the summit is free to attend, lunch will be on your own and, if you drive, the library parking garage will be $14 for a full day of parking. More details will be sent to you after you register.

9:00 - 9:30 a.m. Check-in
9:30 - 10:00 a.m. Opening Remarks
10:00 - 10:30 a.m. Community Cat – Elements of an Effective Program
10:30 – 11:40 a.m. Community Cat Conflict Mitigation
11:45 – 12:45 p.m. Lunch (on your own)
12:45 – 1:45 p.m. Reducing Shelter Stay
1:45 – 2:00 p.m. Break
2:00 – 3:00 p.m. Communications 101: Marketing, Fundraising, Conversation based adoptions
  Strategic Field Services
3:00 – 3:10p.m. Break
3:10 – 4:10 p.m. Reading and Interpreting Laws
4:10 – 5:10 p.m. Q/A on Laws, Fears discussion
5:10 - 5:20 p.m. Raffle


Elements of an Effective Community Cat Program, 10:00–10:30 a.m.
Karen Little, executive director, Alley Cat Advocates

In 2018, Tennessee’s animal shelters admitted around 37,400 cats, but only 27% of them were saved. And in Kentucky, shelters admitted around 51,600 cats and saved only 17% of them. Community cat programs are the most humane, effective way to control stray and feral cat populations, while reducing cat euthanasia at local shelters. These programs also have a positive impact on public health, fiscal responsibility and the welfare of the cats themselves. You’ll learn how to speak to shelter management, elected officials and the public about the benefits of sterilizing and vaccinating community cats and about how to fund and coordinate these programs to save the most lives.

Community Cat Conflict Mitigation, 10:30–11:40 a.m.
Scott Giacoppo, director of national shelter outreach, Best Friends
Karen Little, executive director, Alley Cat Advocates

Cats: Who wants them around, who doesn’t and what should we do about it? This session covers how to navigate the full range of issues surrounding community cats (aka feral, stray or free-roaming cats). We’ll cover how to respond to residents who don’t want the cats on their property and discuss strategic placement of deterrents, de-escalation techniques and communication tactics for educating the public on the long-term effectiveness of community cat management.

Reducing Length of Stay, 12:45 – 1:45 p.m.
Makena Yarbrough, Mid-Atlantic and Southeast regional director, Best Friends

Short and sweet shelter stays are the name of the game. Pets belong in homes, not in shelters. In this session, we’ll take a look at programs designed to reduce length of stay through community engagement, which ultimately saves more lives. And if we can keep them out of the shelter altogether, even better.

Strategic Field Operations (Field Services Operations Track), 2:00–3:00 p.m.
Scott Giacoppo, director of national shelter outreach, Best Friends
Lauren Bluestone, director, Metro Nashville Animal Care & Control

Running around putting out fires with little time and energy to address the underlying issues in our communities has traditionally been the nature of the job. But it doesn’t have to be. This workshop focuses on looking at our communities comprehensively and using data to identify where particular problems are most prevalent, and then tackling them with effective outreach strategies. We’ll walk through exactly how to transition from always reacting to problems after they develop to a more proactive approach that prevents issues from developing in the first place.

Communications 101 (Shelter Track), 2:00–3:00 p.m.
Alexis Pugh, director, Memphis Animal Services
Katie Pemberton, community engagement specialist, Memphis Animal Services

Caring for animals comes naturally to most of us. Marketing, public relations and development? Not so much. This session on communications and development fundamentals covers specific strategies for engaging with your community and raising money to support your lifesaving programs. We’ll talk about conversation-based adoptions, events, social media, marketing tactics, fundraising and more.

Reading and Interpreting Laws, 3:20–4:20 p.m.
Scott Giacoppo, director of national shelter outreach, Best Friends

Laws are created to be flexible and open to interpretation; however, that flexibility leads to a lot of subjectivity, which makes enforcement challenging without the proper training. Most ACOs never receive formal training in law interpretation for the purpose of responsible and consistent enforcement. This session teaches you how to dig into and make sense of local, state and federal laws, and how to foster common understanding and consistent enforcement of those laws across departments.