March 2019 by Karen Sheppard, DVM, Director, Huntsville Animal Services, and Ginny Sims, Executive Director, Southern Pines Animal Shelter

Audience: Executive Leadership, Shelter/Rescue Staff & Volunteers

Video Length: 73 minutes

Lifesaving in the Deep South

Lifesaving communities can exist anywhere and everywhere. Hear the heartwarming and touching tales from two incredible leaders who have transformed seemingly impossible parts of the U.S. into true lifesaving communities. This presentation was recorded by Maddie's Fund® at the 2019 American Pets Alive! Conference.

About Karen Sheppard

Dr. Karen Hill Sheppard is a 1992 graduate of Auburn University's College of Veterinary Medicine. Until she accepted her current position as Director of the Huntsville Animal Services municipal shelter in the fall of 2002, Karen practiced small animal medicine and surgery.

Huntsville Animal Services finally achieved a 90% live release rate in 2015. The foundation of the community's success was the creation and funding of a low-income pet sterilization program in 2008, which lowered annual shelter intake from 10,000 to 5,000 animals. By adding a community cat diversion program, lowering adoption fees and being transparent, the shelter staff is now fully engaged with the community. The ongoing goal is to continue to improve in order to save every life possible. Karen completed a year-long Maddie's® University of Wisconsin-Madison Shelter Medicine/UC Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Fellowship, which provides shelter veterinarian Fellows with additional training to help them deliver life-saving knowledge and services to our nation's homeless pets.

About Ginny Sims

Before working in animal welfare, Ginny spent seven years as director of communications and professional development for a technology-based nonprofit focused on bringing 21st century skills to classrooms, teachers and individuals in impoverished communities. Ginny found her calling in animal welfare after becoming a volunteer photographer and adoption counselor at Southern Pines, where she became interested in ways to better market and showcase pets to increase adoptions and reduce shelter euthanasia. She worked to grow her knowledge of the shelter and animal welfare and joined the staff as a volunteer coordinator, and soon after was named director in 2013. Under her leadership and through the efforts of many, the euthanasia rate has steadily decreased, and Southern Pines has achieved a lifesaving rate of over 95% while continuing to serve as an open admission shelter.