Video Length: 41:30
Want to know what the top-performing shelter directors in the country have to say about the term No Kill? Kristen Hassen-Auerbach moderates this panel with expert voices including Dr. Ellen Jefferson, Denise Deisler, Rebecca Guinn and Teresa Johnson. These are the people building lifesaving momentum in their communities. Hear what this term means for their work.
This presentation was recorded by Maddie's Fund® at the 2020 American Pets Alive! Conference.
Kristen is the Director of Pima Animal Care Center, Pima County's only open-admissions animal shelter which takes in 17,000 homeless, lost and abandoned pets annually and serves 15,000 animals through animal protection and outreach services. Under her direction, PACC is saving more than 90 percent of the cats and dogs who come to the shelter including orphaned puppies and kittens, pets recovering from illness and injuries, and animals who have been victims of cruelty or neglect. In 2017, she oversaw the opening of the newly-constructed state-of-the-art, animal services facility.
Kristen has received national recognition for her innovative, lifesaving programs. Her efforts have been featured in numerous national publications and websites, such as Animal Sheltering magazine, the Huffington Post, BarkPost, the Dodo and Buzzfeed, and on TV networks, including CNN, Fox and ABC. Kristen formerly served as the Deputy Director at Austin Animal Center in Austin, Texas as well as the Assistant Director at the Fairfax County Animal Shelter in Fairfax, Virginia.
Denise Deisler joined the Jacksonville Humane Society in September 2011. As director, she enjoys training, mentoring and consulting on a wide variety of topics including building successful partnerships, community engagement, board and staff development, and model no kill programs. She currently serves on Best Friends Animal Society's No Kill 2025 steering committee and leads the No Kill Florida committee. She is also honored to participate with Petco Foundation and Purina leadership groups.
Rebecca Guinn left behind a successful law career after visiting a county shelter where the majority of animals had been euthanized. Thinking there had to be a better way for a community to address its homeless pet population, she founded LifeLine Animal Project in 2002 and implemented a long-term strategy to redefine metro Atlanta's practices and philosophies regarding caring for companion animals. In 2013, LifeLine was awarded the management contracts for Atlanta's Fulton and DeKalb County animal shelters, where the organization has more than doubled lifesaving rates and positioned Atlanta to become a no-kill community. Rebecca is active in the animal law section of the state bar of Georgia and is a member of Best Friends Animal Society's No-Kill 2025 National Steering Committee.
Dr. Jefferson graduated veterinary school in 1997 and started her career in private practice. In 1999, in response to an 85% death rate at the city shelter, she started Emancipet, a low cost and free spay/neuter clinic in an effort to decrease the number of homeless animals. In 2008, still not satisfied with how fast the city of Austin was moving towards no-kill status, she stepped in as Executive Director of Austin Pets Alive! Since 2008, Austin Pets Alive! has been the driving force to bring the entire city of Austin to a greater than 90% save rate and the largest no-kill city in the US, and to redefine what no-kill means, as Austin's save rate now approaches 98%.
Dr. Jefferson was unanimously chosen as the first recipient of the Avanzino Leadership award, named for the father of no-kill and given for her outstanding contribution to the no-kill movement.
Teresa is the oft-honored CEO and Chief Lifesaving Officer for Kansas City Pet Project in Kansas City, Missouri. After taking over operations of Kansas City's old municipal shelter in 2012, Teresa and her team used their "solutions - not excuses" approach to transform the shelter into a national leader in no-kill animal shelters in the United States by setting a lifesaving record of 95.7 percent. Prior to Kansas City Pet Project, the city's animal shelter had been euthanizing up to 70 percent of the animals in their facility. In 2018, Teresa received the Maddie's® Hero Award from Maddie's Fund for her work in advancing the welfare of companion animals in the United States and leading the way with innovative ideas, progressive thinking, and lifesaving actions.
Prior to her work in animal welfare, Teresa was the vice president of risk management and control for J.P. Morgan Asset Management. She holds a bachelor's degree in finance from the University of Missouri - Columbia.