Proven Strategies

Four attendees to the 2022 Best Friends National Conference pose for a photo

Countdown to the 2023 Best Friends National Conference begins!

April 18, 2023

A speaker on stage during the 2023 Best Friends National ConferenceGet ready to pack your bags and head to the Lone Star state later this summer when Houston hosts our next Best Friends National Conference from August 10 to 12. Presented by Petco Love, this year’s schedule is packed with more than 135 sessions about all things animal sheltering. Not sure if you should go? Here are just a few of the many reasons why you should consider attending this year: 

  • You’ll have the opportunity to network with fellow advocates, innovators, and people on the leading edge of research in animal welfare. The Hub is a great place to chat with other attendees, exhibitors and experts. 
  • You’ll receive access to recordings of numerous sessions, including more than 25 of the breakout sessions, to review once the event is over.
  • You can pick up some swag. The Hub is famously full of cool items, from freebie collapsible dog water bowls to the latest branded Best Friends gear.
  • You'll get to paaaaaaaarty with old friends and new ones! Our closing night event promises lots of music, dancing, drinks, and games to send attendees off on a high note.

We don’t have room to tell you about all the sessions planned for the week, but here are five that represent the wide range of topics and speaker backgrounds in the line-up this year:

  • A Tale of 2 Outbreaks: How to Manage Influenza in Private and Public Shelters    
    Managing disease outbreaks is a big topic lately, one we touched on in a recent interview with Best Friends medical director Dr. Erin Katribe. This session – presented by Heather Dolson, vice-president of Operation Kindness in North Texas, and Sarah Sheek, assistant general manager at Dallas Animal Services – will cover how the organizations joined forces to overcome an outbreak of canine influenza at the end of 2022.    

    Someone checks in at the registration desk during the 2022 Best Friends National Conference

  • Make Your Data Work for You with Shelter Pet Data Alliance (SPDA)    
    This is your chance to learn everything you ever wanted to know about the SPDA – and more! Best Friends’ latest technological development promises to make data-sharing faster and easier than ever before. Animal welfare organizations contribute data to SPDA through an efficient, user-friendly platform. The resulting dataset populates faster, more timely data. Users can navigate through their intakes and outcomes and analyze their data by a variety of criteria. Soon, users can create comparative reports with other organizations, view national or regional trends, and measure their positive impact over time. SPDA’s product growth manager Kasey Spain will moderate a panel discussion with several network partners, who will talk about how they are using this exciting new tool in their everyday work.   
  • Beyond the Pet-Inclusive Housing Report: Transforming Data into Change through Advocacy and Action    
    Out of the many reasons why people relinquish their pets to rescues and shelters, housing issues sit high atop the list. Housing is the number 1 reason why dogs are surrendered to shelters and the second most common reason for dogs and cats combined. But recent research, including the Pet-Inclusive Housing Report, shows that the rapidly growing pet owner market is helping do away with some of the outdated breed and size restrictions that make finding pet-friendly rentals so challenging. Ross Barker, program director for the pet-inclusive housing initiative at Michelson Found Animals Foundation, and Kelsey Gilmore-Futeral, legislative attorney for Best Friends, will talk about ways you can contribute to the passage of more policies that support pet parents everywhere.

    Two speakers on stage during a breakout session at the 2023 Best Friends National Conference
  • From Storytelling to Stewardship: Fundraising Tactics for Small Rescue Groups 
    Who doesn’t need more advice on finding money? Adri Herron, executive director of Sanctuary Rescue in Richmond, Virginia, shares her insights on how connecting with people emotionally helps transform them into donors. She will touch upon the many key components of successful stewardship, including getting to know your donors, taking the time to thank them, and tracking the data surrounding giving.   
  • The Future Is Now! Creating the Shelter of the Future    
    When Best Friends unveiled the Pet Resource Center in Bentonville, Arkansas, this past spring, it was a glimpse into what the future of animal sheltering could be. The trailblazing, community-based shelter is as much for people as it is for pets. It puts the focus on building relationships between the two — whether it’s helping a family meet their new best friend, supporting people with pets by connecting them with resources and social services, or involving community members in programs that save more dogs and cats in Arkansas and nationwide. Best Friends staff members Sue Cosby, senior advisor of strategy and innovation, and Jackie Roach, executive director in Northwest Arkansas, will be on hand to talk about how our pilot projects in the region are engaging the community and saving animals’ lives in new ways.

You can find all the information about this year’s conference by going here.

Liz with cat

Liz Finch   
Senior Writer   
Best Friends Network

If you enjoyed this program spotlight, you can find our complete catalog of spotlights here