Best Friends National Conference reflects trends in the no-kill movement

The Best Friends National Conference is just around the corner — October 23 to 26 at the Rio in Las Vegas. I’m looking forward to another exciting and informative three days with 1,500 people who I admire, gathered from across the country.

Since the very first conference in Virginia Beach back in 2001, each one has been bigger and better, and I expect the same to hold true again this year. Over the years, the material presented has become increasingly focused and sophisticated as befits a social movement that has come of age, but not at the expense of the spontaneity and collective celebration that has distinguished this conference from all others.

The great thing about animal welfare and the no-kill movement in particular is that it is, at root, a work of the heart. The conference not only embraces that, but it is also powered by the passion of everyone to end shelter killing and to Save Them All.

The sessions range in intensity from basics for newcomers to deep dives for folks who have been at this for years, such as animal welfare and sheltering professionals.

Personally, I am looking forward to the keynote address by Adam Braun. He’s a New York Times best-selling author and founder of Pencils of Promise, an educational nonprofit that he started with an investment of $25.

Adam Braun’s selection as the keynote speaker highlights another important trend in the evolution of our movement and in the Best Friends National Conference — an understanding that our work is much more than a conglomeration of grassroots programs or changes in local policies and shelter practices. THE essential factor that will ensure the sustainability of the practical, lifesaving gains of the no-kill philosophy is real social change — and by that I mean community ownership of the goals and achievements of our movement.

It also means changes in the way society thinks about dogs and cats as members of our wider community and higher expectations regarding the work of our municipal agencies. Adam’s story is all about moving the needle on social change, beginning with very modest resources.

There is still time to register for the conference or to simply join us for special 30th anniversary activities beginning on Friday evening, continuing through Saturday and culminating in the Best Friends Animal Society 30th anniversary party and dinner.

I hope you will join us, and if you do, please be sure to find me and say hello.

Francis Battista