Proven Strategies

Brown dog looking over fence next to person in blue shirt

Community-Supported Sheltering: Aligning all stakeholders in the welfare of animals in your community

Community-supported sheltering is not just “the latest trend;” it’s a natural progression for shelters and communities that want to maximize lifesaving. Where once our industry frequently viewed the public with suspicion, today we are reaching outside the walls of our facilities to engage the community as an important partner in our lifesaving work. During this town hall, Best Friends staff will address confusion around the community-supported sheltering movement and discuss the powerful intersection when the roles of the shelter, field services, government and the public come together to support the welfare of animals in a community. 

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


  • Sue Cosby – Senior Director of Lifesaving Centers, Best Friends Animal Society 
  • Laura Donahue – Director, Legislation and Advocacy, Best Friends Animal Society 
  • Scott Giacoppo – Director, National Shelter Support, Best Friends Animal Society 

Time Stamps:

  • Panelist introductions- 1:50 
  • What is community-supported sheltering (CSS)?- 3:25
  • The role of the shelter (and shelter staff) in CSS- 7:15 
  • The role of field services in CSS- 10:39
  • The ways field service organizations are adapting these principles & new philosophy- 15:44
  • The role of the government in CSS- 19:48
  • Government and community cats- 22:27 
  • Best Friends work with International Municipal Lawyers Association (IMLA)- 28:24
  • The role of the public in CSS- 32:47
  • Other groups we should collaborate with to help us extend resources – human support groups & others- 36:32
  • The 2025 Action Team- 39:22
  • How & where to get started in your community or at your shelter if faced with challenges like COVID, staffing shortages, decreased adoptions, etc.- 41:08
  • Aligning stakeholders around TNR/RTF/CCP management- 47:23
  • How do non brick and mortar animal welfare groups participate in this movement?- 51:18
  • How to get ACO agencies (under police department) more interested in community-based approach- 54:45
  • Are there communities best in class/best in practice with CSS?- 57:18
  • Sue’s point of view on the recent editorial, The paradox of adopting out unaltered animals- 1:00:54 


If you enjoyed this town hall, you can find our complete catalog here