Get on the right track

By Denise LeBeau

The year’s No More Homeless Pets Conference is just around the corner. Running October 25–28 at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, the conference is on point to break last year’s attendance record of over 1,300 people. Best Friends has once again brought the best and brightest under one roof to share lifesaving strategies with you.

Who, me?

Do you want to have a greater impact on the animals in your community? Anyone who wants to make a difference for homeless pets, be it through volunteering or advocacy, will find cutting-edge information to take back to their community. Whether you’re a seasoned animal welfare professional or a first-time foster home, this year’s conference truly has something for everyone. To make the conference easy to navigate, there are seven individual tracks that people can follow. (While the tracks are a useful guideline, you can also choose conference offerings a la carte.)

Take the journey

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Learn alongside hundreds of like-minded advocates.

One of the most exciting tracks is "Journey to No-Kill Communities: Case Studies." With communities across the country becoming more enlightened to the plight of homeless pets, the voiceless and abandoned now have a rallying cry. So it’s no wonder we’ve got one of the best in the business on board to share his wisdom and know-how.

Speaker Brent Toellner, author of KC Dog Blog, a founding member of Kansas City Dog Advocates (KCDA), and now president of Kansas City Pet Project (KCPP), will be on the shortlist of must-sees. As an author and advocate, Brent is arguably one of the most informed and eloquent speakers on many animal welfare subjects, from breed-discriminatory legislation to innovative animal shelter initiatives.

From "meh" to amazing!

Since January 2012, KCPP has had the animal shelter contract for Kansas City, Missouri. Since the transition, the organization has achieved an 84 percent save rate for the dogs and cats of their community. Only five years ago, the city-owned shelter was at a 38 percent save rate, evidence of the need to have compassionate leadership in place in a shelter environment.

"We went into taking over the city shelter with a lot of ideas of what we could do," shares Brent. "What the city deems important and what we deem important is sometimes different. For us, lifesaving is at the forefront of our goals. We have to do right by the animals coming into our shelter."

Working toward no-kill

One of the keys, according to Brent, is getting the right people in the right staff positions. KCPP added three trainers to the staff. Brent explains, "The more we know about the dogs in our care, the more we can place them in the right home. We need the fit between animal and adoptive family to be right."

The staff is also instructed to really engage with the pet-loving public and find out what type of animal they’re looking for and why. He’s no longer surprised when he hears of a family looking for a cat and adopting a dog. It’s all in knowing the right questions to ask.

He says that understanding the no-kill equation is direct: 1) Save all the animals who enter the shelter, and 2) Minimize the number of animals entering the shelter.

Come to the conference and find out what’s working for KCPP and how you can create change at your city-run shelter.

Spoiler alert

: Brent says one of the most important things anyone can do to help their local shelter right now is to foster.

Brent’s shortlist

Who is Brent excited to see this year? April Harris, division director of Salt Lake County Animal Services in Utah, and Aimee Sadler, director of behavior and training at Southampton Animal Shelter Foundation in New York, are both at the top of his list.

He cites two previous No More Homeless Pets Conference speakers, Mitch Schneider and Bill Bruce, as being influential to his current work.

And finally he adds, "What we are doing in Kansas City can be done in Anytown, USA."

Come to the conference

Join us at the No More Homeless Pets Conference.

Here is a quick reference for all the tracks:

    Journey to No-Kill Communities: Case Studies

    Marketing Matters: Tools and Tips for Saving More Lives

    Empty Cages: Keeping Pets out of Shelters

    Adoption and Fostering: Finding Good Homes for Pets

    Making Money: Funding Your Animal Rescue Work

    Animal Care and Behavior: Understanding and Caring for Homeless Pets

    Innovation: New Solutions to Old Problems

Photos by Best Friends staff and courtesy of Brent Toellner