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2023 Annual Training Conference

November 12-15, 2023

Annual Training Conference

Embassy Suites Hotel Conference Center and Spa

San Marcos, TX

Click here to register so you can join us November 12-15 for our 2023 Annual Conference in San Marcos!

Information on conference courses and special events is below.

Embassy Suites will host our 2023 Conference!  Registration fees will remain at $225 for current members and $275 for new or updating members.
Please click here to reserve your room starting at just $139 per night!

Sponsorship and Vendor registration is NOW OPEN! Check out the sponsor and vendor opportunities HERE!  Register as a Sponsor/Vender by clicking HERE.

Special Thanks to Our 2023 Sponsors

Course Information

Instructor Name


Course Description

Course Length

 11/12/23  Special Event  Networking in Hotel Lounge  5:30-7:30
   Special Event  Casino Night Welcome Reception  TBD

 Daniel Ettinger

Daniel Ettinger began his journey in animal welfare as a volunteer at a wolf sanctuary and animal shelter in 2009. He is currently a Animal Control Officer Lieutenant. He quickly realized his life's work was to help protect people from animals, and animals from people. Daniel has several years of experience investigating crimes against animal and maintaining a safe community. He has worked countless bite investigations, cruelty/neglect cases and is an expert witness. Daniel is the host of the Animal Control Report, a podcast dedicated to animal control officers and other animal welfare professionals. He is an adjunct instructor for the University of Missouri, Law Enforcement Training Institute. He has developed and presented several trainings for the university. Daniel is also an internationally recognized public speaker and a valued member of the animal welfare community. His innovative topics challenge the dog catcher and dog pound stereotype to help provide alternative and proactive ways to operate.

Consequences of Trends in Animal Welfare

Animal Control was founded out of the need for public safety.  The first animal shelter was established to ensure homeless pets didn’t end up suffering a horrific death of being drowned by the municipal dog catcher in the 1800s.  The animal welfare movement in the United States is only 149 years old.  The current trend is the transportation of homeless pets from the south to the north, TnR, No Kill and more.  But what are the consequences, what is the succession plan and what is the right thing to do for the community?  This thought-provoking session will take you through the darkest times of animal welfare to the newest slogan, SMART Animal Shelters.

  November 13


Ashlee Bishop

Ashlee has been in animal welfare for over 20 years. She has worked in the shelter, in vet clinics, and as the first and only Humane Officer for her jurisdiction. She has spent the last 10 years in the animal control specific field. The Animal Control Report Podcast is a fun side project that she co-hosts with Dan Ettinger. In her off time she enjoys being with her family that includes her husband, twins, one dog and two cats. 

Good Death vs Stressful Life

The world in which we work is unique. We have the responsibility to choose the outcomes for animals. This is a heavy load to bare, but there are times that we are criticized for the choices we make when doing that. That often is heavier. This class is to talk about the importance of making decisions for the animals that will relieve their suffering and keep others safe from them. It is okay to feel the emotions of those decisions especially when making the least favorable of them. We will talk about how euthanasia is not evil and how it may be more appropriate. 

November 13


Karen Walsh

Karen S Walsh, CAWA, LVMT, CFE is the Senior Director of Animal Relocation for the ASPCA and the former Executive Director of the McKamey Animal Center in Chattanooga, TN.  She graduated from Blue Ridge in Virginia with a degree in veterinary technology and has achieved designations as a Certified Animal Welfare Administrator and a Certified Compassion Fatigue Educator.  Karen has held leadership positions in both veterinary and animal welfare organizations and was appointed to serve on the Tennessee state Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners. Karen lives in Tennessee with her husband, Tom, their four children, and a menagerie of furry and feathered family members on their small, but beautiful farm.

Back to Basics – Animal Sheltering Fundamentals

As animal welfare professionals, we're all passionate about improving the lives of the animals in our care and pursuing positive outcomes. However, with the emergent changes following the pandemic, and the influx of team members that are new to the field, it's easy to lose sight of the foundations of animal shelter operations. An interactive exercise incorporating rounds, length of stay, managed intake, sanitation and other basic concepts of animal sheltering will be covered. Whether a seasoned animal welfare professional, or just starting out in the field, this presentation will provide tools and resources using evidence-based practices to build pathways that lead to positive outcomes for animals.

November 13


Don Noll

Don brings over 30 years of experience in the field of animal welfare. As an animal control officer for OC Animal Care Services in California, he collaborated in creating a new barking dog program and ordinance which has been adopted in part by other agencies. He was assigned as one of the first barking dog officers lasting 4 years and also served as an animal control officer with the San Gabriel Valley Humane Society near Pasadena California where he implemented a new barking dog program and dangerous dog program. As an animal warden with Cook County Animal Control in Illinois, he's been passionate about humane education and responsible pet ownership.

Certifications & Awards:
Certified Animal Cruelty Investigator
Essential Animal Services Training Module C Essential Animal Services Training Module B Essential Animal Services Training Module A Euthanasia Technician Safe Handling of Aggressive & Dangerous Dogs Chemical Immobilization FEMA IS-00010.a Animals in Disaster Recognition for Public Service During the Santiago Wildlife Fire PC 832 Laws of Arrest (California POST) FEMA IS-700 National Incident Management System FEMA IS-100 Introduction to the Incident Command System OC Animal Care Outstanding Customer Service Effective Communication

432 hours Animal Control Training (OC Animal Care)

Barking Dog Programs: Time for Change

Is your barking dog program effective? Do you need an aggressive program while balancing the rights of both the dog owner and complainant? My presentation will discuss some lessons learned when creating or updating a barking dog ordinance and program. A program where animal services has an active role in the dog's health & happiness. These calls are often difficult for some officers to handle and sometimes even overlooked. My presentation objectives are: Where We Were, Why We Changed, How We Did It, A New Program and Lessons Learned.

November 13


Art Munoz

Currently the Director of Animal Services for the City of Garland, Art oversees six departments within the animal services that consists of: shelter operations, field operations, animal cruelty division, rescue program, community outreach, and medical team.  He previously has served as a Special Investigator with the Dallas County District Attorney Animal Cruelty Unit, was a Reserve Patrol Deputy Sheriff with the Van Zandt County Sheriff’s Office, and was the Director/Chief Investigator, the SPCA of Texas Animal Cruelty Unit Investigations for 16 years where he conducted animal cruelty investigations specialized in blood sports and hoarding cases.

Advanced Cockfighting Investigations

Despite being illegal for decades in Texas, cockfighting still exists in both urban and rural areas throughout the state.  This course will help students identify cockfighting operations, what evidence to collect when investigating complaints, and how to build a case for both civil and criminal court.

November 13


Alexis Fine

Alexis is the Operations Manager at the Williamson County Regional Animal Shelter in Georgetown, TX.  Working with animals is a lifelong passion and for 25 years she has worked in animal care and welfare.  Her experience ranges from a small zoo in Florida, managing a vet hospital, working with DHS border patrol dogs, and now working the last 12 years at a municipal animal shelter here in central TX.  She loves her job and her staff is the best group of people who all really care about  animals.

The Shelter Rainbow

Using a behavior color system has helped  retain volunteers by offering specific training to handle specific behavior issues, has cut down on the number of bites/injuries in the shelter, and has also helped staff feel empowered when dealing with volunteers who are not following training/protocols required for specific color levels.  How the system has adapted and changed over the years to become what it is today will also be discussed.

November 13


 11/13/23  Special Event  Networking in Hotel Lounge  5:30-7:30

 Special Event  Animal Control Olympics  7:30 - ???

Kim Meloncon

Kim is the Director of Emergency Services for Animal Investigation and Response (AIR).  She 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 of AIR's 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

A large-scale event is defined by any intake that exceeds the capacity and resource 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 animals once custody is awarded.

November 14


Katie Jarl

Katie is a life-long animal advocate specializing in government and public affairs, media relations, and advocate engagement. For the last decade, Katie worked at the Humane Society of the United States, serving in a variety of roles. Most recently, as Regional Director overseeing a territory of ten states and guiding priority policy initiatives for the organization. Prior to that, Katie was the Texas State Director and successfully worked to pass laws and increase enforcement on the issues of puppy mills, animal fighting, the shark fin trade, bestiality, animal cruelty, and exotic animal ownership and abuse. She works with local city governments to pass meaningful ordinances to help animals and recently helped pass an ordinance in San Antonio banning the retail sale of dogs and cats in pet stores. She currently serves as Mayor Adler’s appointee to the Austin Animal Advisory Commission and the District 8 appointee to the San Antonio Animal Care Services Advisory Board. She has managed on-the-ground responses to large-scale cruelty investigations and disaster response operations in Texas, including HSUS’ response to Hurricane Harvey. Katie is a proud Longhorn, having received her degree in Journalism from the University of Texas at Austin. She lives in San Antonio with her husband and two dogs, Bella and Yuci.

Community Conversations: Productive Strategies for Engaging and Educating the Public

Do you ever feel that your community doesn't understand your role as an ACO? Do you see misinformation shared about your shelter? Are you interested in creating a unified voice among rescue groups, advocates and elected officials about important topics such as budget, programming and services? Public meetings, when done correctly, can be a proven strategy to address a variety of goals and get more buy-in from decision makers in your community. This session will focus on best practices for organizing, executing and implementing a community conversations platform in your area. We will share case studies of where this has been done and what impact it can have to enhance reputation and relationships at every level. 

November 14


Shelby Bobosky

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. 

November 14


Lisa Norwood

Lisa is the Public Relations & Outreach Manager for San Antonio Animal Care Services.  With close to twenty years as the P.R. and Outreach Manager for the City of San Antonio’s Animal Care Services Department, Lisa Norwood has seen just about everything. From thousands of media interviews on responsible pet ownership to hurricane response to crafting award-winning promotional campaigns, Norwood has used her media savvy and street-style marketing to boost the Alamo City shelter’s reputation and release rate. A working journalist for over a dozen years, Lisa now oversees all things media, social media, and education-oriented for ACS.

Crisis Communications

Media relations is an often overlooked (and underused) skill for animal control agencies. The ability to work well with media can make a huge impact on community awareness and your department’s reputation when things are going well, but it’s even more vital when things are going badly and you’re dealing with a crisis. Using easy-to-learn media relations techniques combined with lessons learned from handling a recent deadly dog attack in San Antonio, this workshop will give attendees a foundation for handling crisis communications in a way that educates the public and keeps their agency’s reputation intact.

November 14


   11/14/23  Special Event  TACA Awards Luncheon  12:30-2:00

Kate Rugroden

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.

Why Can’t We All Just Get Along?

As humans continue to expand their footprint on the landscape, conflicts between people and wildlife inevitably increase. In this course, participants will learn techniques for identifying the root causes of human/wildlife conflicts, proven solutions for resolving conflicts, and strategies for preventing future conflicts. We will also explore ways to engage the community and establish cooperative partnerships between citizens, Animal Control agencies, and wildlife rehabilitators to ensure positive outcomes while reducing ineffective solutions such as trap-and-relocate.

    November 14


    Art Munoz

    See bio above.

    Officer Safety and Communications

    Officer Safety is a key pillar in Animal Care & Control work. Ensuring ACOs are equipped with verbal tools. Presentation options in this area are all related to officer safety and include: de-escalation techniques for the ACO, turning conflicts into the conversation, professionalism and ethics, perception and animal handling, situational awareness, and emotional Intelligence.

    November 14


    Dr. Brian DiGangi

    Dr. Brian DiGangi is a Clinical Associate Professor of Shelter Medicine at the University of Florida, College of Veterinary Medicine and is board-certified in both Canine and Feline Practice and Shelter Medicine Practice by the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners. After earning his DVM at the University of Florida in 2006, Dr. DiGangi completed a rotating internship in small animal medicine, surgery, and critical care, a residency in Shelter Animal Medicine, and received his MS in Veterinary Medical Sciences in 2010. Dr. DiGangi has published peer-reviewed research on canine heartworm disease, veterinary field clinics, feline adoption, pregnancy detection and immunology and authored textbook chapters on sanitation and asepsis, infectious disease management, animal welfare, and animal relocation. He is the lead editor of the 2nd edition of Animal Behavior for Shelter Veterinarians and Staff, and has served on the Board of Directors of the American Heartworm Society (2016-2022) and President of the Association of Shelter Veterinarians (2015-2016).

    Press Pause on the Parvo Panic! Preventing a Case from becoming an Outbreak.

    Did your parvovirus case turn into a parvovirus outbreak? Do you want to expand your ability to manage canine parvovirus cases without putting the rest of the population at risk? This session will explore current recommendations and new tools for managing canine parvovirus in shelter environments. Learn how to plan for safe and successful case management by refining preventive care and biosecurity practices. Techniques to prevent the disease from spreading through the population and move affected animals through the shelter systems quickly, including exciting new treatment options, will be highlighted.

    November 14


    K.D. Hearst, Sr.

    Mr. Hearst Sr. began his Animal welfare career in Atlanta GA in 1994, where he was heavily influenced by Dr. Melinda Merck in 2007 who opened his eyes to Animal cruelty investigations. Being part of a Countywide Animal cruelty task force was incredible for his next chapter in life as an instructor.  He was given training opportunities which led to LETI (Law Enforcement Training Institute), where he met Lisa Dority, John Worden and Bill Stephens and led to Kevin Hearst being recognized/assigned as a humane investigator. Mr. Hearst has been a member of our National Animal Cruelty Investigations School faculty for over 12 years and is recognized as an expert in the field of animal cruelty investigations. The school is written into policy in several jurisdictions throughout the United States and has been recognized as one of the leaders in education for humane investigators. Mr. Hearst is one of the primary reasons for this honor. He has been asked to and delivered many presentations for conferences throughout the nation.

    Canine Confrontations

    How to use de-escalation tactics when confronting canines on routine calls.  Using video and best known and current tactics to resolve scary, vicious, and aggravated canine situations. Case review breakdown of previous mistakes made when arriving on incident scene. Emergency, environment, equipment assessment review of training and tactics.

    November 14


       11/14/23  Special Event  Networking in Hotel Lounge  5:30-7:30

    Laura Pfefferle

    Laura Pfefferle is an Assistant General Counsel at the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR).  She attended Tulane University School of Law in New Orleans where she was a member of the Tulane Law Review, a managing editor of the Environmental Law Journal, and received a certificate in Environmental Law.  She formerly worked for the Texas Office of the Attorney General under John Cornyn and Greg Abbott, for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), and for the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS).  She is the attorney for various regulatory programs at TDLR, including the Licensed Breeder program, and is experienced in areas of law including open records, medical privacy, and information security. Her experience with animals encompasses many types of livestock and pets, and even a pot-bellied pig. 

    TDLR Breeder Law Update

    Recent updates to the state’s laws that regulate commercial breeders have been made.  This course will discuss all of the requirements for breeders as well as have an explanation of field inspection protocols that the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation use to ensure standards are met.

    November 15


    K.D. Hearst, Sr.

    See bio above.

    Bad News in a Better Way

    How to deliver unpleasant news to animal owners. From deceased to injured animals, and court summonses. We can all learn how to be patient, exercise decorum while following standard operating procedures and professionalism.

    November 15


    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

    Texas Animal Control Association

    2521 Georgia Ave.

    Deer Park, TX  77536

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