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Aspirations for Animal Welfare in Manatee County: Hopes And Ideas From the Community

On August 22, 2022 a group of animal advocates converged at Manatee Community Foundation to talk about their shared aspirations around animal welfare. These advocates either work for or volunteer with animal welfare agencies. Others are compassionate animal welfare ambassadors in the community.

This community conversation was facilitated by Alicia Chalmers, MCF Manager of Donor Engagement, and Simone Peterson, Community Investment Officer, who are both certified in the Harwood Institute’s Community Conversation methodology. This process places a focus on the community as the subject matter experts and catalysts for future change.

Manatee Community Foundation’s role was to facilitate a robust conversation about animal welfare, ask questions, and take notes.

The group agreed that animal welfare could be defined as the humane treatment of animals (cats, dogs, exotics, farm animals, and wildlife), and the rescue, rehabilitation, and housing of animals.

The Challenges & Concerns

Manatee County’s top three animal welfare challenges include (not in a particular order):

  • Education

This includes education for pet owners (where to go for services and resources), for apartment complexes and housing providers (breed restrictions), for those seeking help for injured wildlife, and for animal welfare organizations themselves (what other organizations are doing).

  • Public involvement

This encompasses hearing from the public about their ongoing concerns or aspirations regarding animal welfare.

  • Increased collaboration and cooperation between animal welfare organizations

This includes stronger collaboration with current partners and the forging of new partnerships with those organizations that are missing from the animal welfare community.

In solving these challenges, the group expressed a concern that needs are outweighing resources available to solve the problems. Many nonprofits that serve animals and the people that love them referenced waiting lists, burnout of staff and volunteers, and the perception that not enough monetary resources exist in the community for animals. 

Quick Wins & Next Steps

A few potential quick successes were suggested by the group, including:

  • Developing a Manatee County Animal Welfare Guide.
  • Determining a type of dashboard with specific metrics to keep everyone abreast of the state of animal welfare is in the county (adoption rates, surrender rates, etc.)
  • Telling the story of where Manatee County has come and where we are now with the no-kill initiative. This story could be the start of garnering support for the next step of improving animal welfare in Manatee County.
  • Fundraising resources/training for nonprofits specifically working in the animal welfare space.
  • Developing relationships with people who were not at the table at the first meeting (government, private practice vets, vet schools).

Manatee Community Foundation will reconvene the group later this year, including additional people and organizations who were not at the first meeting.

If you would like to be connected with this group, email Alicia Chalmers at

Download the August 2022 Animal Welfare in Manatee County Survey Summary below.