Social Capital: A New Framework for Animal Welfare

Room: Montreal 6-7

Roger Haston, Chief of Analytics, PetSmart Charities of Canada

Animal welfare is changing rapidly, as the types and complexity of the problems we now face have less to do with sheltering and more to do with people, pets and the communities that they live in. Many of the metrics and constructs that we have used in the past no longer reflect the work that is being done. Further, animal welfare has struggled to engage and incentivize governmental agencies to spend money on animal-related issues. This is in part due to a narrative that is narrow in perspective and lacking more holistic aspects of community development.

The concept of social capital was developed by Robert Putman in 1969 to understand how to improve and strengthen democracy in Italy. Since then, the field has been expanded into economics, community development and many social issues.  In this talk we will re-examine animal welfare through a social capital perspective to understand how this framework might allow a more robust pathway and understanding for the future of animal welfare and how to create a broader community model around pets and people.


  1. An understanding of the social capital model.
  2. A broader understanding of how social capital can be utilized in animal welfare.
  3. Key pathways for utilizing social capital to improve the lives of people and pets.

Dr. Roger Haston received a PhD in geophysics from the University of California Santa Barbara and an MBA in finance from Rice University. After working for Amoco and Arco in Houston, Dr. Haston moved to Colorado in 1998 where he started and grew a successful business in geophysical data processing. He had a strong desire to give back to the community and became involved with the Humane Society of Boulder Valley as a volunteer, Board member and Board chair. He also worked with both for profit and non-profit organizations on strategy and leadership development, with a strong focus on creating mission-driven organizations. 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 Chief of Analytics. He also serves on the boards of National Council on Pet Population and Shelter Animals Count.