WORKSHOP: Driving the What and the How with a Meaningful WHY: Turning Passion into Practice


Dr. Cynthia Karsten, Outreach Veterinarian, University of California Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Program

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.


  1. 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.
  2. Practical methods to reduce length of stay, improve animal welfare through improved housing and manage to ideal capacity on an ongoing basis.
  3. Communication methods to help both the shelter staff and the community understand "full" and the true capacity for care of both.