Dr. Haston received a PhD in geophysics from the University of California Santa Barbara and an MBA in finance from Rice University. Prior to his time in animal welfare, he worked in the oil and gas industry and was an entrepreneur who started and owned several successful businesses. In 2012, Dr. Haston dedicated himself full-time to animal welfare and now is the Chief of Analytics at PetSmart Charities. He also serves on the boards of Emancipet, Animal Grant Makers, National Council on Pet Population and Shelter Animals Count. At the 2018 CFHS National Animal Welfare Conference, Dr. Haston will be presenting a session entitled Innovative Approaches to Helping People and Pets: Bringing It All Together. We reached him at his PetSmart Charities office in Phoenix, Arizona.
Canadian Federation of Humane Societies (CFHS): I have to say I’m curious about how you found your way into animal welfare given your background in business and geophysics. How did that come to be?
Dr. Roger Haston: Well, I have a PhD in geophysics and an MBA in finance and spent most of my career working in the oil and gas industry and in technology. But I’ve always had a love for animals. So, I started volunteering at a local humane society – the Humane Society of Boulder Valley – and soon got involved with their Board of Directors. Around the same time, I had started doing some non-profit consulting. I really enjoyed making a difference in animal welfare and working within the charitable sector. As fate or luck would have it, a friend of mine told me about an organization in Colorado called Animal Assistance Foundation that was seeking an executive director. I ended up taking that position and I’ve been in animal welfare ever since.
CFHS: How long were you there?
RH: I was at the Animal Assistance Foundation for about five years, and then an opportunity at PetSmart Charities of North America came up. It was exciting to me to be able to have a larger impact on the lives of pets right across the continent, so I moved down here to Phoenix about 18 months ago.
CFHS: Can you talk a bit about your role at PetSmart Charities and PetSmart Charities of Canada and what your focus of work is there?
RH: As Chief of Analytics, I have a broad scope here at PetSmart Charities. My responsibility is to look at a lot of data – I’m kind of the big data guy there – to better understand trends that are happening in animal welfare, both in the U.S. and Canada, and measure the impact that grants, like those from PetSmart Charities, are having on those trends. I’m also leading the innovation and research projects that we’re embarking on, as well. Essentially, I have a position that’s very forward-looking and focused on understanding how PetSmart Charities can have the biggest impact with our dollars and what are some of the key trends that are going on that help to direct our granting budget.
CFHS: And in your presentation at the National Animal Welfare Conference in April, that’s what you’re going to be focusing on – sharing the insights that you’ve gained from your work with data and programs.
RH: Yes, I really wanted to use this talk to highlight some of the most interesting and innovative programs that I’ve seen around the country – ones that stand out to me as indicators of where animal welfare is headed. During the session, we’ll also be looking at some of the data and trends that are influencing the changes we’re seeing in the sector, as well.
CFHS: From what I understand, you’ve come across some really interesting community-based programs that people could adapt to address animal welfare concerns in their communities, too.
RH: You’ve just touched upon one of the biggest changes that we see happening in animal welfare: it’s really starting to move outside the shelter system and beginning to be much more about providing resources for pet parents – especially in under-served communities. We’ll talk about some interesting cat programs that I’ve seen and look at some emerging research on the power of the human-animal bond. We have a very interesting research study PetSmart Charities of Canada has funded at the University of British Columbia, looking at early childhood development and its relationship to pets. I’ll be talking about that and providing a broad look at the life-long relationship between people and pets, and how the animal welfare industry, pet parents, community groups, granting organizations and veterinarians are all working together to explore, maintain and enhance the human-animal bond.
CFHS: Interesting. Who do you think would most benefit from your session?
RH: Well, I believe there will be something for everybody in this session. What I really hope is that hearing about emerging trends and new programs will spur some new thinking across the Canadian animal welfare industry. I hope people might pull some ideas from my presentation, adapt them and consider how they may apply some of these learnings to their own shelters and communities.
CFHS: What do you hope people will walk away with after attending this session?
RH: What I hope they walk away with is an understanding (a) that the world of animal welfare is changing very quickly and we need to start responding to that, and (b) that the world of animal welfare is so much more than just animal sheltering. So much of the work that needs to be done is out in the community, helping people and their pets. With this mindset, we’ll soon see even more new and innovative programs for people and pets – and that’s what we’re all hoping to do at this year’s conference – to learn what we can to help save and enhance the lives of animals everywhere.
MONDAY, APRIL 23
Dr. Cynthia Karsten, Outreach Veterinarian, University of California Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Program
B.J. Rogers CAWA, Chief Operating Officer, Echo & Co.
Busy days, emotional work and the sometimes conflicting priorities of people, pets and community needs can put miles between what we do and WHY we do it. And, yet, that core motivation is one of our most valuable filters when considering how we do our work. What if the challenge isn’t the work itself, but HOW we do that work?
Once we take the time to articulate the why, then making choices about how we approach our work comes into focus with relative ease. After taking time to clarify our why, we’ll shift gears to discuss shelters who have been there and have used very practical methods to address the most common concerns with getting and staying within capacity and, thus, achieving their why through increasing welfare potential for pets AND people by reducing stressful interactions, gut-wrenching decisions and shifting the focus from the things we cannot control to the things we can.
- Participants will go through an exercise to help them connect to their personal story and the animal and/or human welfare commitment they are hoping to achieve.
- Practical methods to reduce length of stay, improve animal welfare through improved housing and manage to ideal capacity on an ongoing basis.
- Communication methods to help both the shelter staff and the community understand "full" and the true capacity for care of both.
Dr. Cynthia Karsten graduated from the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine in 2010 and then completed a shelter medicine internship at Colorado State University. She finished her shelter medicine residency at UC Davis in 2014 and is now the outreach veterinarian with the UC Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Program. Her main areas of interest include infectious disease control, population management, intake diversion programs and community medicine. She has participated in numerous game-changing shelter consultations at both rural and urban, national and international animal care facilities, where she has identified solutions in the face of limited shelter resources. Dr. Karsten, as part of the UC Davis team, was a recipient of the 2016 CFHS Animal Welfare Leadership and Innovation Award for their work on C4C in Canada (one of her proudest achievements!).
B.J. Rogers is the the Chief Operating Officer of Echo & Co., a digital services and strategy firm working with mission-focused organizations to deploy digital technology in furthering positive impact and social change. Before joining Echo, B.J. worked for 12 years in the animal welfare field, most recently as Vice President of ProLearning at the ASPCA, where he led the team responsible for the organization’s online training and support of animal welfare professionals. Previously he was executive director of the Humane Society of Chittenden County.
MONDAY, APRIL 23
Patrice Robert MCP, Owner, TAGteach en Francais
An enrichment and training program is an essential tool to reduce animals’ stress and enhance their well-being during their stay at a shelter. However, lack of resources often makes its application difficult by staff. That is why the Montreal SPCA has implemented volunteer teams to manage this program with a minimum involvement from staff. During this presentation, you will discover the different stages that led to the creation of these teams, including all the benefits and downfalls.
- The importance of an animal enrichment and training program.
- Setting up an appropriate enrichment and training program.
- Building successful teams.
It was while Patrice Robert was a veterinary assistant that he developed an interest in animal behaviour. In 1989, he began taking dog training courses and, in 1992, he started his own business offering training classes, boarding and grooming. During the summer of 2001, he took an intensive training course on the behavior of wolves and dogs. Two years later, he directed a study on the socialization of two Arctic wolves in collaboration with Garry Priest (San Diego Zoo) and Ray Coppinger (Hampshire College). Then he worked as trainer at the African Safari Park of Hemmingford (Quebec). He also participated in the rehabilitation of a monkey, as well as the training of parrots, pigs, cats and falcons besides having a potbellied pig for many years. He is now president of the Regroupement québécois des intervenants en éducation canine (RQIEC).
SUNDAY, APRIL 22
Dr. Roger Haston, Chief Analytical Officer, PetSmart Charities
Much of the animal sheltering world has been focused on how to improve the lives of pets that end up in shelters. In this session, we will look at some of the key trends impacting animal welfare and veterinary medicine. We will then delve into some of the innovative approaches that are reaching out beyond the shelter walls and into the communities to help not only pet homelessness but really find ways to preserve, improve and grow the bond between people and pets. This will include a look at how animal welfare groups and veterinarians, both for-profit and not-for-profit, can benefit from each other. We will also examine the importance of animals in the human sector and look at how concepts like "One Health" will become more and more important when talking about the future of animal welfare.
- Large-scale trends in animal welfare and how they impact the future.
- A view of successful community-based programs that can be modeled for a variety of communities.
- An understanding of the potential that is untapped in the relationship between animal welfare and veterinary medicine.
Dr. Haston received a PhD in geophysics from the University of California Santa Barbara and a MBA in finance from Rice University. He has worked in the oil and gas industry and started and owned several successful businesses. In 2012, he dedicated himself full-time to animal welfare and now is the Chief Analytical Officer for PetSmart Charities. He also serves on the Boards of Emancipet, Animal Grant Makers, National Council on Pet Population and Shelter Animals Count.
Read our interview with Dr. Roger Haston here.
SUNDAY, APRIL 22
Sarah Dykeman, Animal Care Attendant, Guelph Humane Society
June Yang BSc MSc, Adoption Program Coordinator, Guelph Humane Society
While animal shelters are primarily involved in the welfare of domestic species, members of the public will still contact these organizations seeking assistance for sick, injured or orphaned native wildlife. Though animal shelters may lack the resources and expertise to provide long-term care and rehabilitation services for wildlife, the community still expects that an animal shelter should be able to provide assistance, regardless of the species.
In 2016, the Guelph Humane Society (GHS) established a Wildlife Committee to help with the temporary care and transfer of native wildlife to licensed rehabilitators. The committee, comprised of dedicated staff with varying levels of wildlife knowledge, admitted 638, 852 and (to date) 959 individual wildlife species in 2015, 2016 and 2017 respectively. Through ongoing training, GHS has seen success in the live release rate of transferred wildlife to rehabilitators and release, which has increased from 13 per cent in 2015, to more than 50 per cent in 2017.
- An overview of the protocols and procedures implemented to make a wildlife transfer program a success.
- The challenges in the temporary housing and care of various wildlife.
- How to successfully build relationships with wildlife rehabilitators.
Sarah Dykeman has been around animals her entire life and has always had a passion for their care and conservation. From life on the farm as the daughter of a large animal veterinarian, to working at a small animal clinic, zoos, parks, a wildlife rehab and now as an animal care attendant at the Guelph Humane Society, she continues to look for ways to expand upon her knowledge and experience in the field of animal care. She has completed her BSc in Zoology and MSc in Animal Behaviour and Welfare at the University of Guelph and has used her passion and background to help implement and improve the wildlife care initiatives at the Guelph Humane Society.
June Yang has worked in animal shelters for three years, but has been actively involved in wildlife rehabilitation and zookeeping for over a decade. She has received training through IWRC & OWREN , and in 2012 was a finalist for the New Noah Fellowship. June has assisted in the training and protocol development for wildlife programs at two animal shelters, and is currently the Adoption Program Coordinator at Guelph Humane Society.
SUNDAY, APRIL 22
Stefanie Martin BSc, Supervisor of Stakeholder Relations, Edmonton Humane Society
Deanna Thompson, Executive Director, Alberta Animal Rescue Crew Society (AARCS)
Improving animal welfare is an endeavor of many independent organizations across the country. In order to most effectively aid animals in need, it is vital to develop and maintain strong working relationships between humane societies and SPCAs, rescue groups and municipal shelters.
For independent groups that decide to collaborate on animal-related initiatives, it is important to find a common goal to work towards, recognizing that groups may have different roles and responsibilities within the community. Exploring potential partnerships by identifying reputable groups, setting up clear expectations of each group and creating a written agreement are all necessary steps in establishing a successful collaboration. Formalized partnerships can provide many benefits to both organizations. Recognizing potential risks of a partnership can allow for proper planning and communication to mitigate problems.
- Finding a common goal to work towards to establish your relationship.
- Setting the expectations of each partner and putting them in writing.
- The benefits of a partnership and how to identify and mitigate potential risks.
Stefanie Martin has a vast understanding of animal sheltering operations, having been with the Edmonton Humane Society (EHS) for eight years in a variety of roles. As Supervisor of Stakeholder Relations, she has overseen further development and growth of EHS’ volunteer program, foster program and rescue relations. A graduate from the University of Alberta with a Bachelor of Science in Animal Health, Stefanie has a passion for the complexities of animal welfare. Through innovation and collaboration, Stefanie believes nurturing relationships between organizations can help to advance animal welfare.
Deanna Thompson is the Executive Director of Alberta Animal Rescue Crew Society (AARCS). A graduate from Mount Royal College, Deanna went on to complete her Bachelor of Management Degree in 2009 at University of Lethbridge. Since 2010, Deanna has lead of one of Alberta’s fastest-growing animal welfare agencies in Alberta. As an advocate for animal welfare, she has dedicated her life to improving animal welfare through collaboration, cooperation and continuous learning.
Under Deanna’s leadership, AARCS opened a 3,000 square foot quarantine shelter in Calgary in 2012, which resulted in dramatic growth for the organization. In 2017, the organization expanded operations to a 13,000 square foot facility, including a 3,000 square foot in-house veterinary hospital that features x-ray, diagnostics, dental and two operating suites. The organization current employs 17 staff members, including veterinary staff, behaviour staff and more than 1,400 volunteers and foster homes.
Focusing their efforts on rural areas of Alberta with limited or no animal services, AARCS rescues and adopts out approximately 2,500 cats and dogs each year, with the majority of their animals being cared for through their vast network of foster homes. With a vision of a Compassionate World for All Animals, AARCS focuses much of their work on improving animal welfare through Spay/Neuter & Disease Prevention Programs, Trap-Neuter-Return, Pet Assistance Programs, Emergency Foster Care and Humane Education.