July Letter from the President

July Letter from the President

Dear Friends,

I hope this message finds you enjoying your summer. Having spent most of my adult life in and around animal shelters, I know that the pace of work for most of you ramps up considerably during this time of year. I haven’t been out of direct service sheltering for so long that I’ve forgotten how kitten season looks and feels.

Thankfully, for many of our members, intake numbers are trending downward. Every time I hear about an organization accepting cats transferred from other facilities my mind is blown! Thirty-three years ago when I was new to animal welfare, if anyone had theorized this would happen in my lifetime, they would’ve been laughed out of the room. Yet it is happening in some regions.

The business model for the Animal Welfare Movement is evolving … and evolving rapidly. There are entire communities where overpopulation is a thing of the past, where dogs and puppies are being sourced from other regions and even other countries. But, it is also critically important that we remember not every community has achieved this envious state. There are considerable challenges still ahead for some regions of the U.S. Warm climates, economic challenges and community attitudes can be major hurdles. SAWA is working with other national organizations including the ASPCA, the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies and The HSUS to explore this strange, wonderful new world. For those organizations whose communities have achieved an extremely high level of success, we need to answer a few questions:

  • How does their business model change from an adoption agency to a true community resource reaching everyone, including underserved populations?
  • How do those organizations who have succeeded share their resources to make sure the same level of success is experienced in communities nationwide?

You won’t want to miss our Annual Conference (November 12-14 in Miami, FL). These issues will be explored in a general session led by two industry leaders representing both sides of the equation. We look at this as an opportunity to begin an important national discussion around the future of our movement. Who better to lead this discussion than SAWA? We represent the best of the best in animal welfare and animal care and control. Our members — you! — are the folks who walk the talk every day.

What else is going on at SAWA? Too much to list here, but here are a few examples:

  • We recently released our new Best Practices document on Animal Enrichment. We will present it at various state and regional conferences over the next several months as part of our SAWA Road Show sponsored by Bayer Animal Health. Also look for a webinar series hosted by ASPCAPro.
  • Don’t miss the National Council on Pet Population’s annual Research Symposium. This year’s event will be held immediately following the SAWA Conference (November 15, Miami, FL). We have an excellent lineup of research to share following this year’s theme: Human Factors that Influence Pet Acquisition, Ownership, Retention and Relinquishment.
  • We are putting together an ad hoc committee to explore the best ways to expand SAWA’s professional development offerings. Our first line of business will be development of a preparatory course for the CAWA exam! Watch for details.

Please know that your SAWA team is busy at work looking for ways to help you become the best leader you can be. As always, we are open to your ideas and suggestions.  Enjoy the rest of your summer!


Jim Tedford

Jim Tedford, CAWA, is President and CEO of the Society of Animal Welfare Administrators.


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