Video on Demand by Karen Pryor Clicker Training |

A Complex Animal: Saving Lives and the Future of Animal Welfare

At shelter and rescue organizations, we work to save lives. It is a driving, personal mission as well as a critical measure of an organization’s success. The animal welfare landscape is continually changing and it’s hard to find solid ground anymore. Behavior problems are now the most common reason for owner surrender. Shelter populations consist of fewer puppies and more adolescent and adult animals in need of behavioral intervention. The public eye is keenly focused on an individual metric: live-release rate. The higher the percentage of lives saved, the better the organization’s reputation among stakeholders.

We navigate slippery slope arguments and debates with colleagues about how best to save lives, how many lives saved is the “right” number, and which behavior problems are even modifiable. Should we do behavior evaluations at all? Should we rehome XYZ type of behavior problem? How do we promote this animal if we try to rehome?

From Lindsay’s perspective as an applied animal behaviorist and shelter consultant, what is needed is efficiency in the flow of animals through the shelter, flexibility in decision-making, and transparency around behavior problems. Above all, we need a philosophy beyond saving lives: one that is rooted in support of the entire community of people, their animals, and their changing relationships.

In this Session, Lindsay will share her thoughts on:

  • What are the best behavior practices to flow animals through the shelter swiftly?
  • How can we change behavior most efficiently?
  • How do we promote adoption and be transparent about behavior problems?
  • How can we support the people who may need us most: owners who surrender or return an animal?

Lindsay Wood Brown

Lindsay Wood Brown is a board-certified applied animal behaviorist (ACAAB) with a master's degree in animal behavior. Lindsay is a Karen Pryor Academy (KPA) course developer and has served as a KPA faculty member since 2012. Lindsay’s goal is to help behavior consultants and shelter professionals apply behavior-change science to their everyday professional lives. Her focus is on stripping labels, flipping prevailing ideas on their sides for a better view, and honing in on systematic ways to advance strategies.

Lindsay consults for animal shelters across the country and provides 1:1 mentorship opportunities for behavior consultants. She previously served as the Director of Operations for Lynchburg Humane Society in Virginia and as the Director of Animal Training and Behavior for the Humane Society of Boulder Valley in Boulder, Colorado.