We just returned from the North American Veterinary Community (NAVC) Conference, my fourth time attending.  This conference draws a large, diverse audience, and is a big opportunity to promote our work and learn about the great things happening for cats all around the country (and the world!).

At NAVC 2017: Bri Lovell, Joanne Correira, and #FranktheFeral ready to talk with attendees about community cats!

There were more than 9,400 veterinarians, technicians, managers, students, and staff present, and we were excited to talk to every person we could. After all, veterinarians and future veterinarians play an important part in saving cats!

Our adventure began on Saturday, February 4, with a session sponsored by Alley Cat Allies and presented by our friend Dr. G. Robert Weedon, DVM, MPH and Clinical Assistant Professor in the Shelter Medicine Program within the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Illinois.

Dr. Robert Weedon, presenting our session “Better Together: TNVR and Public Health” to a full house.

In this year’s session, we wanted to talk about a question we know Trap-Neuter-Return programs all around the country face: What about public health?

Our session, “Better Together: TNVR and Public Health” discussed the reality of Trap-Neuter-Vaccinate-Return (TNVR) programs and questions relating to public health, like rabies. Misinformation on these issues abounds, and we thought it was time to use science-based evidence to set the record straight and show that community cats are not a public health threat.

The audience at our session at NAVC 2017.

The session was a hit! There was a great turnout, and we were answering questions long after the session had ended. We even had attendees come to ask more questions at our exhibit booth throughout the weekend.

After our successful session on Saturday, we were back and ready to go to meet attendees at our booth early Sunday morning. Exhibiting at NAVC gave us the chance to share the work we do with countless people who were new to our organization. We were also happy to see some familiar faces and connect with our longtime supporters and friends.

Our booth, featuring our new Plan to Scan for Microchips campaign.

The plane ride home was a good time for me to reflect on how far we’ve come. Just a few years ago, at my first NAVC conference, I received numerous questions from veterinarians who weren’t quite on board with TNR. We faced open opposition during our session and at the exhibit booth. We had friends, but we also had some fierce adversaries.

At this year’s conference, we met so many people who work for clinics and private practices that support their local shelter and/or community cat programs. We chatted with veterinarians who are working with their clients who care for outdoor cats and have started to offer low-cost spay/neuter services. Even better! They were totally pleased with the results! It was an inspiring reminder of the strength of this movement.

It’s conferences like thesethat take me out of the office to meet the people who gush about the colony they have behind their private practice hospital, or brag about the low-cost spay/neuter day they just implemented last monththat help me realize how far things have come in such a short time.

It’s a powerful reminder that we all have an important part to play in our work for the humane treatment of all cats.

Brianna Lovell
Associate Director of Community Engagement and Events