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The Best Friends Podcast

An animal welfare professional’s typical day includes unparalleled joy and heart-wrenching despair, often in equal measure. Small triumphs are huge, huge losses are expected. The burn out is real but it’s the hard-won progress that sustains us. 

On the Best Friends Podcast, you'll hear stories from the front lines of lifesaving. You’ll hear from leading experts on topics that impact all of us. These are stories that matter to shelters, rescue groups, and the animal welfare organizations that enable their service to a community and its animals. These are stories for all of us.

We want to hear from you! Send us your ideas for future episodes at

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15. Emotional Intelligence - Our Super Power!: Our skill at managing emotions - of all kinds - can be measured by something called emotional intelligence. It’s not about removing the emotions, quite the opposite. How do you manage them so you can continue working towards your goals?

14. Mission Possible - Lifesaving in the Florida Panhandle: Santa Rosa County Animal Services has been progressing toward the no-kill benchmark but needed some guidance to help push through that 90% barrier. They opened their doors to the Best Friends embed programs team and their success will be the anchor to lead the entire panhandle to no-kill.

13. American Pets Alive Piloting Social Services Model of Sheltering: Led by American Pets Alive!, a pilot project in 13 cities will determine if an “Animal Social Services Model” is the wave of the future.

12. The Moonshot - No-Kill 2025: The progress towards a no-kill nation has been remarkable.
 Working collaboratively, aligned around this common goal, together, we are ending the killing of pets in our nation’s shelters. That’s No-Kill 2025.

11. Let's Spay Together: What is an essential service during the COVID-19 pandemic? While there’s little debate that animal control is necessary as a component of public safety, other elements of our work were being judged on their merits as governments debated on what should stay open. Spay and neuter surgeries were handled differently across the country both by government officials and people in our field. So just how essential are they?

10. Hannah Shaw - Kitten Lady: Neonatal kittens are one of the most vulnerable populations in animal shelters. Hannah Shaw, the Kitten Lady, has helped grow a committed group of volunteers and advocates that have offered a lifeline to newborn kittens.

9. Cultivating Resilience: Stress and adversity are part of life. How we deal with it is what matters most. How do we stay gritty, persevere, and show up as our best selves even amid a pandemic?

8. When the Budgets Get Tough, the Tough Get Going: The economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is becoming clearer for municipal governments, and the projected revenue shortfalls are causing across the board budget cuts. How do you keep up lifesaving while also providing necessary services to the public when your budget is cut by 15%?

7. Compassionate Badassery: The work in animal welfare, municipal sheltering, and field services can be emotionally, mentally, and physically taxing. The emotional peaks and valleys affect us all differently but over time, the impact of them must be acknowledged. The evolution of our profession has spurred a heightened recognition of the need to care for ourselves and each other so that we can continue our lifesaving work.

6. Norfolk - Your Time has Come: A recent change in leadership in Norfolk, Virginia, converged with the need for community collaboration as the pandemic set in. The results were nothing short of magnificent. If it was ever Norfolk's time to get to no-kill, it's right now.

5. Volunteers - Powering Lifesaving Everywhere: It's National Volunteer Week! We'll go dancing in North Carolina, and to Philadeliphia, where one volunteer turned her passion and energy online to raise serious cash to save lives.

4. Chicago - A Story of COVID-19 Collaboration: There are communities around the country that are thriving during what is a very difficult time. What makes them so successful and what lessons can we all learn from them?

3. Front Line Life Saving during COVID-19: Animal control is always an essential service, especially during a pandemic, which means field services teams are shifting what they do and how they do it.

2. Pivot on a Dime to Make a Buck: Saving lives takes money, so fundraising is always an integral part of what makes us successful. With a recession looming, shifting your tactics to pivot on a dime is the only way you'll make the bucks you need to thrive.

1. Julie Castle: On this episode of the Best Friends Podcast, Best Friends CEO Julie Castle talks about what she believes is the future of animal care and sheltering, the critical yet forgotten power of neighbors, and why she thinks that “the best of us is showing right now.

Introduction Episode: Welcome to the Best Friends Podcast. This short trailer gives you a preview of what we have planned for future episodes.



Jon Dunn


Jon has been involved with Best Friends since 2004 beginning as a volunteer with No More Homeless Pets in Utah. Since he started as a fulltime employee in 2007, he has worked in various roles, from social media, web, policy work, to innovation and technology.

Tawny Hammond


director, national no-kill leadership advancement

Tawny leads Best Friends’ leadership advancement initiatives with a focus on strengthening existing leaders’ skillsets for the goal of ending the killing of shelter pets in their communities. She has more than 30 years of experience in the public service arena, creating and implementing programs and services for people and their pets, working effectively with appointed and elected officials, and creating and leading teams focused on professional excellence and lifesaving best practices.

Aimee Charlton


senior manager, educational programs

Aimee Charlton is the Senior Manager of Educational Programs where she connects people and resources to create meaningful learning opportunities for rescues and shelters, with the goal of empowering leadership among animal advocates across the U.S. Prior to joining Best Friends, Aimee worked at Intuit for 12 years, building online communities.

Marc Peralta


senior director, national mission advancement

Marc brings together Best Friends’ newest initiatives and aligns all things related to developing the knowledge and capabilities of individuals and organizations involved in lifesaving in order to empower them to achieve no-kill in their own backyard. These initiatives include shelter outreach, mentorship, staff-embedding programs, community cat programs, no-kill leadership training, and emergency response training and operations. Before coming to Best Friends, Marc served as vice president, chief operating officer and interim CEO at Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.