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2021 TACA Conference

Click here to register for the first in-person conference in Texas since 2019!

The Conference will be held at the Embassy Suites Hotel Conference Center and Spa in San Marcos.  Please click here to make room reservations and use the group code of "CESALC" or call (512) 392-6450 and ask for the TACA Conference rates that start at just $135 per night for a single.  Hotel reservations must be made by October 15, 2021, to ensure you receive these special rates.

This is the only conference in the state where every class, event, and award is specifically chosen due to the benefit it provides to the professionals who work day in and day out in animal care and control. If you want the best training that will provide you with tools to better perform your daily duties, this is the conference you need to attend!

We look forward to seeing everyone in San Marcos on November 7-11!

Conference sponsored by:







Class Description






TCCI Course 301 and TCCI Renewal

Free CET Renewal for all Members



Dr. Andy Neillie has been speaking, coaching and consulting for more than 20 years.  As a best-selling author with a doctorate in leadership, he has the credentials that match his 5 million miles on American Airlines as he’s worked with associations, firms and government agencies all over the globe.  Perhaps equally important, this isn’t just “consultant-speak” for Dr. Andy - he owns several franchise businesses in central Texas, oversees several million dollars of P&L annually, and leads a management team with more than 100 employees underneath them. He’s been in the trenches like us, and knows what works and what doesn’t work when it comes to working with people.  Perhaps more importantly, Dr. Andy and his family are long-time dog (and cat) rescuers; these days he's got dogs #9 and #10, Mickey and Sawyer, under his feet when he works from his home office in Austin. The Golden Principle
This class grew out of Dr. Neillie’s love for a dog they rescued more than ten years ago. Redford came to Andy's family from a horrible environment: he spent the first year of his life as a breeding sire in a squalid puppy mill.  When he was adopted by Andy's family, Redford had much to learn about trust and relationships.  And, as Dr. Andy and his family discovered, so did they.  Redford's story – and ultimately his transformation (and theirs) – became the basis for the best-selling book: The Golden Principles: Life and Leadership Lessons from a Rescued Dog. In this presentation, Andy shares vital lessons his family had to learn in order to earn Redford’s trust.  The lessons Redford taught them transformed their home and Andy's approach to businesses and leadership. This keynote is appropriate for people at all levels: we all need to be reminded of the power of trust in our personal and professional lives.

 11:00-12:30 Cathy Bustos is a retired police lieutenant from Central Texas. She is a graduate of American Military University with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology. She is a graduate of The Bill Blackwood Law Enforcement Management Institute Leadership Command College. As one half of “That Peer Support Couple, LLC” she is a strong first responder peer support and mental health advocate. She is an International Critical Incident Stress Foundation approved and certified Group Crisis and Assisting Individuals in Crisis instructor. She's also a certified trainer on the topic of Law Enforcement Suicide. She appeared in the documentary "Officer Involved". She can be reached at her website:
Compassion Fatigue: Survive and Thrive
The class will begin with an introduction to Compassion Fatigue. There will be an introduction to the core concepts of crisis intervention and preparation for before, during, and after a critical incident regarding animal care. The class will be provided definitions and statistics for crisis intervention, methods of trauma that Animal Control Workers are exposed to, and various cases will be discussed. This class will discuss depression, and suicide rate information among animal control workers. We will specifically focus on the psychological health and wellbeing of the animal control officer and their families by providing health and wellness information and resources in an effort to increase resilience among animal welfare warriors.  The class will spend a large portion of the time learning how trauma will negatively affect not only the officer but the family as well and will provide information on how to survive and thrive.
 2:00-3:30 Lee Ann Shenefiel started as the South Central Regional Director with Best Friends in January 2019 after serving as the Interim Chief Animal Services Officer at the Austin Animal Center since 2017. The city shelter is nationally recognized as a leader in sheltering and has achieved live outcomes for over 97% of the nearly 17,000 dogs and cats it intakes annually by creating systems of programs and processes that work toward live outcomes for all animals. Lee Ann is passionate about problem solving and evolving the role of animal shelters in communities.  Through her work with Best Friends, she helps shelters in Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas and Oklahoma become truly lifesaving organizations by implementing proven programs that save more cats and dogs and strengthens shelters’ community relationships to improve the quality of life for both people and pets. Lee Ann has presented at Texas Unites, Humane Society Animal Care Expo, Best Friends National Conference, and American Pets Alive.

There's a Role for Everyone: Engaging Your Community to Help You
In order to save animals and further our missions, whether we are a municipal shelter, rescue or solely perform animal control functions, we must build a broad base of support for our work locally.  For a variety of reasons, that can sound easier said than done. However, through true community engagement to mobilize animal lovers from all kinds of communities, we can - and will - see the day when all healthy adoptable pets are in homes. We’ll talk about why embracing your advocates is important, effective engagement strategies to mobilize support around specific shelter needs, how to overcomes fears around transparency, and how to find helpers where you may least expect them.  Some of the common challenges we’ll talk about include managing space, finding placements for long stay animals, getting the community on board with your work, and whether COVID-19 has changed the relationship of communities and animal shelters.

  Tabitha Blewett has over 20 years of experience in the field of animal care and animal services. She has worked as the education director for a non-profit wildlife rescue organization with special focus on large cats. She has also worked for private animal boarding and training facilities in the San Diego area as well as for the North County Humane Society. After relocating to Texas, she worked for the Williamson County Humane Society as the kennel manager and also served as the vice chair for the Williamson County Regional Animal Shelter. In September 2018, she retired from the Williamson County Sheriff's Office after 10 years of service with the department. She was the Local Rabies Control Authority as well as the Animal Control Field Supervisor where she oversaw a team of five Animal Control Officers. During her time at the Sheriff's Office, she has excelled in promoting education outreach for the community, including giving frequent education presentations for children. She developed the fractious animal training program for employees of the Williamson County Parks and Recreation Department as well as education seminars on urban wildlife which she has presented at various events around Williamson County. Currently, she is the co-owner of Humane Educators of Texas where she provides training to Animal Control Officers, Law Enforcement, and the public.  Her training focus is on Texas Law and Rabies Investigations. TXHSC 822 & You: Dangerous Dog Investigations
Dangerous Dogs are a common occurrence in Animal Control, however, many agencies are not well versed in the Texas Dangerous Dog Laws. This class will focus on Texas Health and Safety Code 822, Subchapter D & A. We will review the proper procedures when working a dangerous dog investigation, compliance inspections, and paperwork. In addition, we will review Subchapter A to understand the difference in these subchapters and when to use each of them.

Nick Walton is the National Shelter Outreach Manager for Best Friends Animal Society and works with officers and shelters nationwide to implement progressive, community-focused practices that support lifesaving within the shelter, as well as increase officer safety and efficiency.  Nick started his journey in animal welfare at a pet boarding facility where he was the designated “poop scooper”, and shortly thereafter transitioned to a dog-trainer role within the facility.  This naturally led him to devote the next few years of his life to becoming a professional dog trainer in the metro-Atlanta area. While working in Atlanta, he would regularly drive by dogs that were chained, hungry, and had no access to shelter. Nick felt a call to action, which led him to Fulton County Animal Services.  From the first cruelty case he worked as an officer, he knew that a large-scale shift would be needed in order to make Atlanta a safe place for pets.  He committed himself to a community-oriented approach to animal welfare enforcement with the goal of changing how the community viewed animal services and its officers. Commonly referred to as the “dog food man” within the inner city of Atlanta, Nick was instrumental in developing trust within the community and becoming a welcome sight throughout underserved areas of the city.  Prioritizing this philosophy, as well as utilizing resources such as Pets For Life, allowed Nick to save more lives by keeping pets in their homes and out of the shelter.  As a Field Training Officer, he would train new employees on the philosophy of community-engagement, further solidifying this mindset into the culture of FCAS.  Working in Fulton County afforded Nick many diverse experiences as an ACO and resulted in his instrumental role in a number of large-scale cruelty cases from voodoo cases to circus animal cruelty. The lifesaving techniques that Nick developed and championed at Fulton County Animal Services represent the next step for animal control field services: a proactive solution-based approach to animal issues with an emphasis on building a supportive and safe community.

Advanced Return to Owner in the Field: Beyond the Scanner
Animal control officers are playing a much larger role today in the reduction of shelter intake by choosing to identify and return stray dogs to their families without bringing them into the shelter, but all too often officers stop looking for an owner was they find that the animal has no ID tags or microchip. This workshop highlights successful efforts from agencies across the country that have shown to significantly increase the field RTO rate for those animals without obvious identification.

  Lindsay McAllister began her career in animal welfare five years ago, working to reunite lost pets with families. This experience led her to truly value the importance of correct data and registration from the intake level all the way to adoption. Recently she made the jump to the Client Services team at Pethealth Inc. where she works closely with animal welfare organizations in Texas, California, Nevada, Louisiana, Arizona, Arkansas, New Mexico, and Oklahoma to improve efficiencies with shelter and rescue operations. In her free time, Lindsay assists in raising prospective police K9s and driving rescue transports. Lindsay lives in a rural community outside of Toronto, Ontario with her husband Greer and their three dogs: a golden retriever named Ladybird and her two rottweilers, Madden and Gala. Dynamic Data: Revolutionizing Your Data Entry Game to Save More LivesIt took a few years, but we’ve finally managed to convince the animal welfare field that data-driven decision-making is in fact sexy. Now we just need to do the same for data entry! When we’re faced with devoting our time and energy to animal care versus a seemingly mundane task like entering data, the choice seems obvious. But modernizing our data entry methods and prioritizing real-time data entry are exactly how we create the technological efficiency to spend more time caring for animals and increase organizational success. In this session, we’ll highlight how technological efficiencies and updates increase staff morale, customer satisfaction and lifesaving impact. You’ll also learn how paperless operations are investments in emergency preparedness and environmental responsibility and how to foster team buy-in. Specific hardware and software recommendations will be provided.



Shelby Bobosky, Esq., attended the University of Kentucky for her undergraduate degree, earning a double major in History and Spanish in 1996. She then attended the University of Tulsa Law School and spent a year as a visiting law student at Northwestern University School of Law graduating in 1999. In 1999, Ms. Bobosky moved from Chicago, Illinois to Dallas, Texas, to begin her law practice. For the past sixteen years, Ms. Bobosky has continued practicing general civil litigation until recently when she decided to do only pro bono work putting in hundreds of hours for THLN as well as assisting animal welfare advocates and rescues when possible. Ms. Bobosky was heavily involved in the Dallas Association of Young Lawyers, co-chairing the Animal Welfare Committee for four years and raising thousands of dollars for local 501(c)(3) rescues during her terms. Ms. Bobosky has been Vice President and Board Member with THLN since January 2011. Ms. Bobosky served as the Co-Legislative Chairman for THLN in the 2013 and 2015 sessions. She has traveled thousands of miles with THLN in order to promote its mission. Ms. Bobosky and her husband, three boys and three rescue dogs live in Dallas, Texas.

Legislative Update
This course will update attendees on the new state laws just passed this legislative session and provide insight on many that did not gain approval. It will also discuss bills that are likely to be introduced next session that could affect the animal welfare profession. 


Monica Ailey's passion for emergency response and investigations started in 2005 when she spent several weeks in New Orleans rescuing displaced animals after Hurricane Katrina. That experience led her to obtain the credentials needed to continue such work in the animal response field. In doing so, she has traveled all over the United States with national organizations like Red Rover, ARC, and HSUS NDART teams responding to disasters and large scale cruelty situations. In late 2010, Monica accepted the position of Texas State Liaison for Animal Rescue Corps, focusing on cases of animal cruelty in the state of Texas. This position also aimed to build relationships with law enforcement, animal control officers, and animal organizations across the state, offering resources in cases of large scale animal abuse, neglect, hoarding, etc. Her work as Liaison led to addressing needs outside the state of Texas as well, which resulted in a regional role that led her to become one of ARC’s Lead Responders throughout the country. Upon resigning from ARC in 2013, Monica returned to her roots to focus on investigations and response in her home state of Texas. Her work has resulted in the rescuing of hundreds of animals in dire situations across the state. Not only do the animals thank her, but so do her colleagues, such as in 2015 when she received the Justice Award from Legacy Humane Society for these efforts. Monica obtained her National Animal Cruelty certifications through the University of Missouri Columbia Law Enforcement Training Institute and is certified by the Texas Department of State Health Services as a Texas Animal Control Officer. She is Texas Academy of Animal Control Euthanasia Training certified and overall holds 24 related certifications including FEMA, Red Cross, Pet CPR, and National Disaster Response. Monica is a pit bull advocate who shares her couch with four rescued pits – all of which she fostered and ultimately adopted.

Kim Meloncon has been rescuing animals since her teens when she worked with abused ponies and horses. Fostering dogs in need has been a vocation for her and her family for 30 years. Fostering primarily giant breeds in need and nursing them back to health. After moving to Texas in 1997 she started volunteering in area shelters and serves on the board of a large breed rescue group, as well as volunteering for other responsible rescue programs. Kim and her family specialize in special needs and medical fostering of giant breeds so they can be adopted to loving homes. A responder with Animal Investigation and Response since the beginning Kim has served in a variety of roles in natural and manmade disaster responses. As Director of Emergency Services Kim is responsible for all our Emergency Temporary Sheltering, Transport, Placement, Shelter Coordination and Animal Extraction Team to assist jurisdictional authorities.  Kim is a graduate of The Catholic University of America and George Washington University School of Business and overall holds numerous certifications including FEMA, HSUS, CPR, and National Disaster Response Course Completion. Kim and her family share their home with their rescued great Dane aka The Emperor and usually a foster or two.

Extraction to Placement: Planning for Large Scale Animal Seizures
A large-scale event is defined by any intake that exceeds the capacity and resources of your agency.  You have all your evidence and will attain a warrant, but what else?  Do you have the resources for a safe extraction?  How will the animals be humanely housed and cared for using a custody hold?  What can you do from day one to help assure positive outcomes for the animals?  This class will outline the steps, guidelines and considerations for best practices of a successful extraction of all animals, the preparation for animal sheltering during any custody hold, including daily care to provide maximum placement options for all anials once custody is awarded.

 Tabitha Blewett - see bio above

FTO for the ACO

Training new Animal Control Officers can be a daunting task as our field continues to develop and evolve, yet there lacks a consistency with training protocol. This class will focus on developing a uniform, yet customizable training guideline which can fit within most all departments and agencies. The training guideline follows a basic five phase FTO program which will cover all the needed basic information for anyone beginning with an agency. The objective in this class will be techniques on how to teach to different learning types, how to focus on what’s important when working within a strict timeline, and the customizable timeline itself. At the completion of the class, a USB drive will be provided to each attendee, which will be pre-loaded with forms to take back to individual agencies to create an ACO FTO program.

  Karen Deeds, is a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant through the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC).  She is the co-owner of Canine Connection in Ft. Worth, TX with her husband, Bob Deeds, a retired Federal K9 Handler on Texas Task Force I.  Karen started her business in 1994 after realizing the need for educating the public about dog training and behavior while volunteering for a local humane society.  She worked in the Assistance Dog Field for 15 years and currently provides her expertise on behavior problems including fear, anxiety and aggression.  She has consulted and worked with thousands of pet dog owners, various shelters and rescue organizations, as well as has testified in dozens of court cases regarding dog bites.  She currently teaches at two facilities in the DFW metroplex focusing on Reactive Integration and Competitive Obedience and Rally.  Karen has presented seminars to the general public, rescue groups, animal control officers, and shelter staff at various dog training clubs, dog training facilities, various shelters throughout Texas and Tennessee, Dallas, TX SPCA, Texas A&M Veterinary College Behavior Club, and Texas Animal Control Association Conference. Assessments and Placements: The GOOD, the BAD, and the UGLY – Part 1
Sometimes simple observations can make the difference between life and death of a dog or a good or horrible placement. There are many factors that influence an assessment in the shelter; health, previous history, staff, facility environment, interaction potential, and of course the capability to document observations. Taking a baseline of temperament is important, as well as how much improvement or degradation the dog develops during their time in the shelter. What can be done to facilitate improvement? What red flags should you watch for during the dogs stay that might be an indication of future behavior problems? Working with reputable rescue groups can be beneficial for dogs with behavior concerns. But verifying that they have appropriate resources to help with behavior problems is critical. Outsourcing behavioral euthanasia is not in anyone’s best interest so it is important to know their limits. This presentation will improve your observation skills necessary to make a baseline evaluation and to gage the improvement of the dogs in your care. We will also identify characteristics that may influence placement into specific situations. Providing ideas and suggestions to help adopters set their new dog up for success in their home should be part of the shelter placement program and you will learn various tips that you can recommend.
 12:30-2:00  TACA Awards Luncheon  
   Karen Deeds - see bio above  Assessments and Placements: The GOOD, the BAD, and the UGLY – Part 2
 2:00-3:30 Daniel Ettinger began his career in the animal welfare industry in 2009 as a volunteer with the Denver Animal Shelter. He has taken a unique path from a volunteer to becoming an Animal Control Officer. Currently, he is an Animal Protection Officer II with Denver Animal Protection. He has worked for two non-profit organizations and three government agencies. This experience gives him a unique perspective on animal control operations.  Daniel has investigated thousands of cases in his career. He is often able to generate voluntary compliance, in cases where he cannot Daniel is very successful in the courtroom. HUMANEizing the Badge
Welcome to the future! With all this talk of police reform and defunding the police we address what impact that may have on you, your agency and your community. Learn new ways to operate if your budget and staff gets reduced. Let’s discuss the challenges we face and create efficient ways of operating. Animal Welfare influenced social change in the 1800’s and we find ways to impact change in our profession again. 
 4:00-5:30 Billy Vyers has been a peace officer for the past 20 years and is currently an Animal Cruelty Detective with the City of Fort Worth.  He is a Texas Certified Cruelty Investigator through the Texas Animal Control Association and has written more than 100 warrants for animal cruelty cases (Penal code 42.092) ranging from class A misdemeanor to 3rd degree felonies.  He has also written numerous warrants for and testified in several Civil Seizure hearings for HSC 821.022.   Bridging the Gap Between Animal Control & PD
Getting police assistance with animal cruelty cases can sometimes be difficult or frustrating.  Some ACOs feel it is difficult to get Police Officers to listen.  This course will help ACOs get the necessary information and evidence to move forward with a cruelty case and present that to Law Enforcement Officers in a way that those Officers, who may or may not have an understanding of animal cruelty, can then take action and file charges when appropriate.

  Kate Rugroden is a TPWD permitted wildlife rehabilitator specializing in bats, opossums, and raccoons, and holds both TPWD and USDA Educational Display permits as well. She has over 25 years’ experience in presenting live animal programs in addition to her 9 years as a rehabilitator. She is a member of IWRC, NWRA, the Texas Bat Working Group, the Texas Animal Shelter Coalition, and Texas Metro Wildlife Rehabilitators, and serves as Chair of the Stakeholders Committee for the National White Nose Syndrome Response Team.  Kate serves as Director of Special Projects for Bat World Sanctuary, the largest rehabilitation and teaching facility in the world dedicated exclusively to rescue, rehabilitation, and sanctuary for bats. In that role, she has presented educational programs to thousands of adults and school children throughout the DFW Metroplex.  She has developed training manuals for four wildlife rehabilitation classes, and, with Amanda Lollar of Bat World Sanctuary, co-authored the book The Essential Bat (Bat World Sanctuary,2012). In addition, she is approved by the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) to provide up to 60 hours of continuing education credit to Animal Control Officers for the wildlife rehabilitation classes she teaches.

Rabies Risk Assessment
Rabies is perhaps one of the most misunderstood diseases known to medical science. Myths and misconceptions proliferate, and whenever a rabies case is reported, a certain amount of hysteria ensues. In this workshop, participants will gain a basic understanding of rabies transmission, and identification of rabies vector species, learn to interpret the State rabies reports, separate the myths and misconceptions from facts, identify common symptoms of rabies infection in various wildlife species, and work with a decision tree for determining whether or not to euthanize and send an animal for testing.

  • 1.      Understanding rabies transmission
  • 2.      Separating myths and misconceptions from facts about rabies
  • 3.      Identifying rabies vector species vs terminal hosts
  • 4.      Common symptoms of paralytic and furious rabies infection in wildlife
  • 5.      Reading and interpreting the state rabies reports
  • 6.      Decision tree: To test or not to test?
Participants will receive rabies information from reputable sources, a resource list for further reading, and a sample decision tree to use in conducting rabies risk assessments in their own agencies.



Howard Baskin is a former management consultant who spent 11 years at Citicorp and was an equity participant and general manager in three companies.  He met Big Cat Rescue Founder Carole Baskin in 2002 and gave up his consulting practice to devote full time to Big Cat Rescue focusing on finance, marketing, administration, real estate issues and advocacy to stop big cat abuse.  Howard received his B.S. cum laude from Union College, Schenectady, NY in 1972, his J.D. cum laude from the University of Miami School of Law in 1978 and his MBA from Harvard Business School in 1980.

Carole Baskin is Founder and CEO of Big Cat Rescue, one of the largest sanctuaries devoted exclusively to big cats that is accredited by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries. In addition to rescuing and providing outstanding care for big cats, the sanctuary is devoted to ending the suffering these animals are subjected to in captivity. Under Carole’s guidance the sanctuary is a leading force behind the federal Big Cat Public Safety Act, has conducted litigation against big cat exploiters, and is a pioneer in developing virtual reality big cat experiences that will disrupt the industry by making exhibiting big cats in cages obsolete.

Exotic Cats: The Problems and the Solution
This presentation will cover a series of topics that flow from one to the other in the following logical sequence: (1) How to respond to a loose exotic cat report; (2) Criteria to use in judging a sanctuary at which to place a captured or confiscated captive owned cat and how to find a sanctuary that meets the criteria; (3) Critical elements of rehabbing injured and orphaned wild born native captured cats; (4) Why efforts to regulate private ownership fail to insure humane conditions; (5) The solution: The federal Big Cat Public Safety Act (HR 263 / S 1210).
 11:00-12:30 Sheri Soltes has mentored assistance dog programs around the world including Australia, Japan, Spain and Chile. She has been a featured speaker at many conferences and institutions in the United States, Spain and Chile.  Sheri’s articles on the legal rights of Assistance Dog users have been published by Assistance Dogs International, the International Association of Assistance Dog Partners and Leader Dogs for the Blind. She drafted the 1995 revisions for Texas' Assistance Dog accessibility statute.  Sheri’s leadership on the board of Assistance Dogs International, NA and as chair of ADI, NA’s Legislation and Advocacy Committee, plus her 30 years as the Founder and CEO of Service Dogs, Inc. uniquely qualify her to shed light on this complexity of laws.

Putting Your Best Paw Forward
The laws governing public access with dogs are often confusing and conflicting. Assistance Dogs, Service Dogs, Facility Dogs, Therapy Dogs, Emotional Support Animals – like the tangled necklaces in the bottom of your jewelry box, it takes a bit of time and gentle attention to sort them all out.  This course will help answer the questions most commonly asked by citizens, business owners, and others who look to Animal Control Officers to provide clarification in these situations.


If a participant wants to provide feedback on this course and/or its sponsor, the participant can mail comments to the Texas Department of State Health Services, Training Course Coordinator, Zoonosis Control, MC 1956, P.O. Box 149347, Austin, Texas, 78714-9347 or email them to

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