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Alley Cat Allies National Conference

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If you love cats, and want to learn how to make your community safe for them, you must join us!

Session topics will include blueprints on how to:

Harness your passion for cats

  • Advocacy fundamentals
  • Networking with decision makers and elected officials
  • Building a community coalition to protect cats

Expand resources for cats in your community

  • Partner with your local veterinary community
  • Successful clinic models
  • Recruit volunteer support

Implement lifesaving shelter and animal control policies

  • Learn from industry experts who have transformed their shelter, pound, and animal control systems
  • Learn about innovative shelter programs and policies that will save lives
  • Learn about animal control policies and procedures that support cats

Session Topics and Descriptions

Common Shelter Ailments: Increasing Survival Rates through Prevention and Treatment

Rosemarie Crawford, LVT, National Kitten Coalition
Susan Spaulding, National Kitten Coalition

From runny noses to runny diarrhea, infections and infestations, sheltered cats and kittens contend with a variety of health concerns often complicated by the stress of shelter containment. Successfully identifying and addressing these issues significantly increases the number of healthy, live releases. After prevention, early detection and appropriate, timely treatment are the most cost-effective methods for maintaining a healthy feline population.

Learn proven methods to prevent and treat common ailments suffered by sheltered felines, with special attention given to diarrhea and URIs – including how to build and use a nebulizer. Additional content will cover internal and external parasites as well as unique concerns for neonatal orphans and pregnant or lactating queens. Understand how to prevent illness, learn to recognize early symptoms and leave with options to effectively treat a variety of ailments.

Becoming an Empowered Activist: Find Your Inner Leader

Jeff Dorson, Humane Society of Louisiana
Aileen Walden, Alley Cat Allies

You already care for and about cats. Learn how to “step outside of the colony” in this interactive session. You’ll learn the fundamental skills necessary to create real change for cats in your community, including leadership principles, relationship-building skills, and conflict resolution strategies.

Shelters as Catalysts for Change

Bonney Brown, Humane Network (formerly with Nevada Humane Society)
Sue Cosby, Animal Care and Control Team of Philadelphia
Lisa Tudor, FACE Spay and Neuter Clinic and IndyFeral

In this session, shelter leaders will discuss how progressive shelters can change their communities’ approach to cats. You will hear three distinct models from leaders in the animal movement who have successfully changed not only the approach their shelter uses but how the entire community relates to cats.

Blueprints I: Community Plans for Saving Cats

Jon Cicirelli, San Jose Animal Care and Services
Steve Lamb, Spartanburg Public Safety Department

In our Blueprints sessions, innovative communities across the country will talk in-depth about their efforts to save cats. Blueprints I features San Jose, Calif., and Spartanburg, S.C.

San Jose Animal Care and Services in California abandoned the catch and kill method in 2010 and now conducts TNR. As a result, the shelter’s cat intake has decreased by 25% over the last three years. Learn how the department’s public education efforts have helped ensure the program’s success.

Learn about how the Spartanburg Animal Services team launched a citywide TNR program and brought the community together to save cats’ lives. Their lively social media presence has garnered national attention for the program and keeps them close to the community they serve.

Shelter Transformation I: A Blueprint for Change

Mike Arms, Helen Woodward Animal Center
Bonney Brown, Humane Network (formerly with Nevada Humane Society)
Scott Giacoppo, Washington Humane Society
Ellen Jefferson, DVM, Austin Pets Alive!

Nationally, only about 30% of cats who enter shelters have positive outcomes. In fact, shelters are the leading cause of death for cats in the United States. This obviously takes a devastating toll on cats, and it’s also devastating for the people working every day to help them. While it may seem impossible to change this trend with new animals coming into the shelter every day, progressive shelters all over the country are making a big difference with lifesaving programs. Learn from shelter directors who have transformed their shelters. Experts will discuss how to reduce shelter intake and build support for TNR, and other innovative programs that save lives.

Navigating Your Local Government: How to Discuss Cat Policies with Officials

Will Gomaa, Alley Cat Allies
Elizabeth Holtz, Alley Cat Allies
Christie Rogero, Animal Welfare Association

Communities all over the nation have ordinances or policies in place that promote Trap-Neuter-Return and protect cats. But there are also ordinances out there that are harmful to cats and make TNR more difficult for caregivers. You do not have to pass a law to do TNR, but if your town is considering passing an ordinance affecting cats—or if you want to change an existing law that is harming cats—this session is for you. You’ll also learn how to build connections with elected officials, and how to discuss cat policies with key decision makers.

Common Sense for Cats: Challenging Opposition to Outdoor Cats

Jeff Newman, DVM, Caring Hands Animal Support and Education (CHASE)
Laura Nirenberg, Best Friends Animal Society
Becky Robinson, Alley Cat Allies President and Co-Founder
Bob Weedon, DVM, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Illinois, and Champaign County Humane Society

Opponents of outdoor cats and Trap-Neuter-Return spread misinformation about cats, their impact on the environment, their impact on public health, and the quality of their lives to support their agendas and block the adoption of humane policies. Experts will address dangerous and common dogmas about feral cats and set the record straight.

Shelter Transformation II: Expanding Lifesaving Programs for Cats

Bonney Brown, Humane Network (formerly with Nevada Humane Society)
Sue Cosby, Animal Care and Control Team of Philadelphia
Ellen Jefferson, DVM, Austin Pets Alive!

This session will build upon the lessons learned in Shelter Transformation I: A Blueprint for Change. Already have shelter-supported TNR and other lifesaving programs for cats? Learn the techniques used to save even more lives through shelter programs like neonatal kitten care, ringworm programs, robust foster networks, and instituting an animal help desk and more.

Blueprints II: Community Plans for Saving Cats

Kristen Auerbach, Fairfax County Animal Shelter
Tawny Hammond, Fairfax County Animal Shelter
Aileen Walden, Alley Cat Allies
Helen Woods
, Laurel, Maryland Community Member and Activist

In our Blueprints sessions, innovative communities across the country will talk in-depth about their efforts to save cats. Blueprints II features Fairfax County, Va., and Laurel, Md.

Fairfax County was one of the first shelters in the Washington, D.C. area to begin a TNR program. Conference attendees will hear all about the program’s remarkable results.

When Laurel citizens wanted to help their community’s outdoor cat population, they did their homework and realized TNR was the way to go. They organized, got resources, got the city on board, and even formed a TNR group. Hear how they started their TNR program, changed policies, and launched their program, which is constantly growing to accommodate high demand.

Split Session: Shelter Transparency and Know Your Rights

Calley Gerber, Gerber Animal Law Center
Will Gomaa, Alley Cat Allies
Anna Morrison-Ricordati, Attorney

In this split session, attendees will learn about the importance of shelter record keeping and reporting, and also about their individual rights when acting as a feral cat advocate.

When shelters track and report the number of animals entering the facility and what happens to them, the community has a clear picture of how lives are being saved and resources are being allocated. Unfortunately, many shelters do not track or report this information. Learn about the importance of shelter record keeping, how citizens can access this information, and how shelter reports are useful tools in building momentum for transformation.

If you are approached by law enforcement related to your position caring for cats, it’s important to understand your rights under the law. Learn about animal control, how to interact with officers, what to do if your rights are being violated, and your responsibilities as a citizen.

Campaign Trail Lessons: Wake County and Camden County

Calley Gerber, Gerber Animal Law Center
Will Gomaa, Alley Cat Allies
Christie Rogero, Animal Welfare Association

Learn about two distinct campaigns to save the lives of cats and create change in public policy. Christie Rogero worked with a team of animal welfare groups and public officials to build and launch a countywide policy focusing on saving lives in her community. She will walk you through the process of creating and implementing this policy and where her community will go from here.

Will Gomaa and Calley Gerber will recap the steps they took in Wake County, N.C., when local animal control defied a decade-long TNR program and began sweeping up eartipped cats. They’ll explain where they started, the new paradigm that was created, and the view for the future.

Engaging the Veterinary Community: Get Vets on Board for TNR

Ellen Jefferson, DVM, Austin Pets Alive!
Jeff Newman, DVM, Caring Hands Animal Support and Education (CHASE)
Harold Vosko, Heaven Can Wait Animal Society

Veterinary support of TNR is critical to save cat’s lives in your community. It’s hard to believe, but TNR still meets criticism from some veterinarians. Hear from veterinarians and clinic directors about their stories and involvement in TNR programs. You’ll learn about what matters to veterinarians, how to overcome objections to TNR, and how to build sustainable clinic business models.

Inside Animal Control

Alice Burton, Animal Welfare League of Arlington
Major Steve Lamb, Spartanburg Public Safety Department

Interact directly with animal control and humane officers who have promoted and implemented TNR programs in their communities. These leaders of change will share their stories and anecdotes, including what their communities were doing before, what prompted change, feedback they have received from staff and the community, lessons they have learned, and what’s next.

TNR Workshops as a Catalyst for Change

Amanda Novotny, Alley Cat Allies
Anne Marie Vastano, Alley Cat Allies

Workshops are an excellent first step toward creating community-wide support for TNR. Workshops are also a useful tool for building a volunteer base. If you don’t already hold regular workshops in your community, attend this session to learn how to plan workshops that maximize community change through education, consensus building, and volunteer recruitment.