PANEL: What If We Are Not Sheltering Animals Anymore?

SUNDAY, APRIL 9, 10:30AM-12:00PM

Dr. Roger Haston, Chief Administrative Officer, Petsmart Charities
Craig Naherniak, GM, Humane Education, BC SPCA
Geoff Urton, General Manager, Strategy and Innovation, British Columbia SPCA

Just like your favourite book, all good things must come to an end. This provocative workshop promises to quicken your pulse by posing the provocative question:

Could it be time to close the sheltering chapter of North America’s animal protection history?

Our panel will provide data that demonstrates the Canadian unwanted pet problem could be eliminated in merely a decade through aggressive targeted spay/neuter initiatives.

But only by getting one critical person out of the way first: the protagonist in our story who is deeply attached to their identity as animal rescuer. The protagonist won’t let us achieve this victory and finish the story. Why? Because their very life is at stake! If the story ends, so do they.

In this presentation, participants will be asked to consider how they have been playing the protagonist in the story of animal sheltering. The panelists will offer their own new narratives for the animal protection movement, and invite them from the audience, to write a new story for our movement where even greater things can be accomplished for animals.

Join this workshop to discover for yourself what could be possible.

Three Key Learnings:
1. How we can eliminate unwanted pet problem in a decade
2. The role of targeted spay/neuter initiatives
3. Are we helping or hindering the process?


Dr. Roger Haston received a PhD in geophysics from the University of California Santa Barbara and a MBA in finance from Rice University. He had a strong desire to give back to the community and became involved with Humane Society of Boulder Valley as a volunteer, board member and board chair. His passion for helping animals continued to grow and in 2012 he committed himself full-time to animal welfare and took over as Executive Director at the Animal Assistance Foundation where he has merged his passion for science, business, and people to help the animals of Colorado and beyond. He has recently joined PetSmart Charities as the CAO. He also serves on the boards of Emancipet, Animal Grant Makers, National Council on Pet Population and Shelter Animals Count.

Craig Naherniak, BC SPCA’s General Manager of Humane Education, has been involved in the humane movement for more than 25 years. As well as education programming, Craig oversees the Society’s SPCA Certified program and, for eight years, managed the implementation of the BC SPCA animal welfare and behaviour programs in 36 shelters across BC Craig also serves on the CFHS Board of Directors as Vice Chair. Craig has a Sociology degree and a Master’s in Environmental Studies focusing on human/animal relationships and environmental education. In the past, he has worked with a range of farm animals, including managing a commercial hog farm. He has a pair of cats and a socially challenged community dog from northern BC who has taught Craig the true meaning of patience.

In every aspect of his life, Geoff Urton is committed to drawing out the best from others. It is through this ethos and a no bullsh*t approach to seeking common ground, that he has facilitated agreement between diverse stakeholders at the community and international levels. Geoff has applied his background in Animal Welfare Science (UBC) and Dialogue and Negotiation (SFU) to create an innovative and evidence-based public policy approach that has altered the animal welfare landscape in Canada. At the BC SPCA, he is honoured to have led a team of professionals with diverse backgrounds to the forefront of the animal welfare movement. His team has driven numerous landmark policy reforms, including phase-outs of barren cages for hens and gestation stalls for pigs, and regulations for BC’s dog and cat breeding industry. At home, Geoff can be found telling completely made-up tales of heroism to his generous wife, Lise, and their two boys – or being walked by their determined tripod pup, Finn.