Indiana Animal Welfare Conference

The Indiana Animal Welfare Conference brings animal welfare professionals and volunteers together for a full day of learning and networking. Pet Friendly Services hosted the inaugural conference in 2018. After a COVID-19 hiatus, the conference returned to continued success in 2023. Resources from the 2023 Indiana Animal Welfare Conference are below.


Primo Banquet Hall
2615 National Avenue Indianapolis, IN 46227

Save the Date! The 2024 Indiana Animal Welfare Conference will be (tentatively) held on April 6th, 2024.

2023 Conference Materials

Conference Slideshows

Shelter Strategies Panel

Vet Shortage & Creative Solutions

Expediting Adoptions to Save More Dogs – Kendall Paul – CEO, Vanderburgh Humane  Society

Cat Cafés – Increasing Exposure & Adoptions

Click Here to Get Your Tickets

This is your opportunity to learn about successful programs that save lives and prevent suffering. Our shared goal is to move Indiana to zero kill. By working together, this will happen sooner! There's also a Friday evening networking event. Tickets are just $25 and include a continental breakfast, lunch, and afternoon snack! Register now - price increases to $40 on March 22!

Become A Sponsor

The 2023 Conference offers sponsors an opportunity to reach a statewide audience of engaged animal welfare professionals. Pet Friendly Services anticipates 300 attendees this year. Not only will you reach a broad audience, but you will also demonstrate your support of the life-saving work Indiana’s animal welfare community is achieving.

2023 Conference Speakers

Dr. Aria Armendariz Peavy is a veterinarian born in Bloomington, IN. She grew up within the animal welfare world working with the rest of her family in High Volume High Quality Spay Neuter from the age of 8 years old. Once she started college on the West Coast at Cal Poly Humboldt she became immersed in disease ecology and climate science research where she worked at the Telonicher Marine Laboratory. She presented her research at events and conferences such as the Western Society for Naturalists and The Society of Integrative and Comparative Biologists. She began her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at Ross University where she was president of the Environmental Awareness Club and organized collaborative events between the community, medical school and veterinary school. She was the 2018 Environmental Awareness Grant recipient by SAVMA Public Health and the Community Outreach Committee for student initiatives in bridging the knowledge to action gap in global environmental problems. The club went on to host the One Health Fair and Seminars that brought guest speakers from multiple disciplines. During her time at Ross she also conducted research in vector borne diseases of fleas on the island. She finished her clinical year of Veterinary Medical School in Dublin Ireland before starting her veterinary career in Hawaii in Emergency Medicine. She moved back to the Midwest in July of 2022 where she started with Public Vet to apply One Health to animal welfare issues and has continued to work in relief medicine.

Chris Roy is a technology guy in his “day” job and used his experience to create Doobert.com which is an online software platform custom-built for animal rescuers.  It’s like a combination of Match.com specifically for animal shelters and rescues to find new partners, and then a volunteer Uber for getting the animals where they need to go.  Doobert now has technology that supports transport, fostering and even case management and rehoming.  Chris’s latest revolution is Doobert Forward where pet parents can buy the same food and other products for their pets, and Doobert will donate 5% of their order to their selected animal rescue or shelter organization.  Chris lives up in the Green Bay Wisconsin area

Animal Welfare Operations Director Hannah Fisher joined the Indiana State Board of Animal Health (BOAH) in early 2022 to coordinate the agency’s efforts to support law enforcement and animal control agencies with animal care cases and complaints. While not a new function for BOAH, the position was new to the agency when she joined the staff. In her role, the former Boone County, Ind. Animal Control Deputy assists agency veterinarians with case management and documentation and serves as point-of-contact for local authorities to shepherd cases through the legal system.

In addition to being a graduate of the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy, Hannah is a graduate of Indiana State University and also holds a master’s degree in Jurisprudence from Indiana University. She previously served as president and co-founder of Hoosier Animal Law Officers (HALO), and she is a Nationally Certified Animal Cruelty Investigator through the National Animal Cruelty Investigators School.

In her free time, Hannah enjoys spending time with her family, friends, and boyfriend. She is an avid camper, enjoys playing recreational volleyball/walleyball, and is a fur parent to a gray and white cat, “Leonidas Bartholomew,” and a Chocolate Labrador puppy, “Nala Pawla.”

Kimble Richardson, M.S. LMHC, LCSW, LMFT, LCAC

Kimble received his Master’s degree with honors in Counseling and Counselor Education from Indiana University in 1987. With 35 years of experience in healthcare, he has been co-coordinator for emergency department services at Wishard Hospital/Midtown Community Mental Health Center (now Eskenazi Health), served in various capacities at Ascension St. Vincent, and currently is Manager of Business Development and Referrals for Community Health Network – Community Fairbanks Behavioral Health. He is licensed in Indiana as a mental health counselor, clinical social worker, marriage and family therapist, and clinical addiction counselor. He was appointed by the governor to the Behavioral Health and Human Services licensing board and is the current chair.

Kimble is a former president of the Indiana Mental Health Counselors Association and in 1996 was named “Mental Health Counselor of the Year”. In March 2011 he was awarded the “Barbara Walker-Cole Distinguished Counselor of the Year” by the Indiana Counseling Association. He is an adjunct faculty member at the University of Indianapolis and was named the Outstanding Faculty Member of the Year in 2013. He is the recipient of the 2013 Charles E. Heineman Allied Health Professional Award from the Indiana Psychological Association. In March 2022, he was awarded the inaugural “Indiana CIT Behavioral Health Professional of the Year.”

Kimble was a member of the inaugural board of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) Indiana Chapter and past co-coordinator of AFSP’s Indianapolis Out of the Darkness Community Walk. He is certified in Critical Incident Stress Management (CCISM) and is the clinical coordinator for CISM teams at Community Health Network and the Fishers Indiana Police Department. He assists the Indiana CISM Network and Indiana FOP Memorial/CISM Team. Kimble is an Approved Instructor for four CISM courses (Assisting Individuals in Crisis, Group Crisis Intervention, Advanced Group Crisis Intervention, and Psychological Body Armor). He is the coordinator of Indiana’s District 5 Resilience and Emotional Support Team, a member of the American Red Cross Disaster Mental Health Services Team, the Indiana Mortuary Emergency Response Team, several Crisis Intervention Teams (a partnership between Law Enforcement, NAMI, and mental health professionals), and a board member for the Rotary Club of Indianapolis. He has responded to and/or coordinated over 800 requests for support, including eight First Responder line-of-duty-deaths, the 2011 Indiana State Fair stage collapse, the 2021 Indianapolis FedEx, NHK Seating of America, and the 2022 Greenwood Park Mall mass casualty events.

Kimble was the inaugural chair of the Behavioral Health Working Group with the MESH Coalition, a public-private partnership that helps organizations prepare for, respond to, and recover from adverse events or disasters. He is trained in EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), is a certified trainer for Mental Health First Aid, SafeTALK, and QPR (Question, Persuade, and Refer).

Kimble has presented at the World Congress on Stress, Trauma, and Resilience, the National Healthcare Coalition Preparedness Conference, Association of Public Safety Communications, National Association of EMS Educators, American Association of Physician Liaisons, National Nursing Management Congress, the National Neonatal Association, and the Global First Responder Summit. He’s been published in Crisis, Stress, and Human Resilience: An International Journal, International Initiative for Mental Health Leadership (IIMHL) and the NHS Confederation Mental Health Network (MHN), and International Review of Psychiatry. Kimble is a faculty member for the Community Health Network Psychiatry Residency Program and the APIC-approved Psychology Internship Program. He has provided training and consultation for the United States Postal Service Office of Inspector General, the FBI, the NCAA, and various state agencies and organizations. In September 2022, he completed the first-ever training for behavioral health professionals on Threat Assessment/Threat Management at the FBI Academy taught by the Behavioral Analysis Unit-1. Kimble has spoken on a wide variety of behavioral health topics and serves as a contact for broadcast, radio, social, and print media.

Samantha Chapman is the Indiana State Director of The Humane Society of the United States. She is a lifelong Hoosier and animal lover who has dedicated her life to changing policy and laws that better protect animals at the state and local level. In 2022, she was honored with Manchester University’s Young Alumni Outstanding Achievement Award for her role in helping facilitate the historic transport of 4,000 beagles from a breeding research facility in Virginia. Chapman graduated from Manchester College in 2012 magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science and Psychology and then earned her J.D. in 2015 from Indiana University McKinney School of Law. After law school, Chapman served as a judicial clerk for the Honorable Paul Mathias on the Indiana Court of Appeals and in private practice defended businesses in complex employment matters before joining the Secretary of State’s office as the Business Services Division Attorney and Special Counsel. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for Friends of Indy Animals and Waldo’s Muttley Crew Animal Rescue.

Kendall Paul is the CEO of the Vanderburgh Humane Society in Evansville. She has a degree in Public Relations from the University of Southern Indiana. She earned her Certificate in Fundraising from the Indiana University School of Philanthropy. She is a graduate of the Leadership Evansville program. She has been with the VHS for nearly 30 years, where she has served as the Operations Manager, the Public Relations & Events Manager and since 2005 has been the CEO. She has led the organization through times of growth and transformation, including the addition of their low cost, spay & neuter clinic in 2007, the opening of Happy Tails Resale Shop in 2014, and the acquisition of River Kitty Cat Café in 2019. During her tenure with the organization their live release rate has gone from 41% to 93%.

Married for 27 years with two kids, a cat, two dogs and a snake. Kendall loves the Chicago Cubs and is a confessed geek who loves Star Wars, and Harry Potter among other things.

Jane Weatherford has served on the board of directors of the Brown County Humane Society for over 40 years in a variety of capacities, including president, vice president, treasurer, secretary, and various committee chairs.

After 33 years, she retired from a career at a large pharmaceutical company, where she spent the last 15 years working in the animal health division in market research.

Animal welfare is her passion and she is now able to volunteer full-time for the Brown County Humane Society. Her involvement ranges from walking shelter dogs weekly to videography to donor development. Jane and her husband, Scott, share their lives with a dog, a cat, and a revolving door of various foster pets

Virgil Saunders has been working in the Animal Welfare field for the past Two decades.  During his 17 year tenure at Bloomington Animal Care and Control (first as Shelter Manager, and now as the Director), Virgil has led the organization from a 41% euthanasia rate to a 95% Live Release Rate.  Virgil is dedicated to leading the organization with best practices that balance the needs of the community, public safety, and the best outcomes for the animals who find temporary homes with Bloomington Animal Care and Control.

The executive director of Humane Fort Wayne since 2012, Jessica Henry-Johnson has overseen a 500% increase in annual adoption numbers and successfully led two mergers – resulting in the creation of northeast Indiana’s most comprehensive animal welfare organization. Jessica also is an instrumental part of both a state and local coalition of animal welfare leaders who meet regularly to discuss issues and effect advancements for animals. She worked to legalize TNR in her community nearly a decade ago, and her shelter operates the area’s only working cat program, saving the lives of more than 700 at-risk felines. Additionally, in 2015 Humane Fort Wayne introduced the broadest pet retention programming in the state of Indiana, offering everything from pet food distribution and free quarterly vaccine clinics to pet deposit/rental assistance and compassion fostering the pets of people in crisis. In all, Humane Fort Wayne serves more than 25,000 animals per year.

Jessica has been a speaker at several regional and national animal welfare conferences. She has a BA in Public Relations from St. Joseph’s College in Rensselaer, Indiana and shares her home with her husband and three dogs and a cat.

Sharon Dull: Litigation paralegal at Ball Eggleston PC for 49 years; volunteer at Crystal Creek, animal shelter for Tippecanoe County and North Central Indiana Spay and Neuter; appointed by Tippecanoe County Commissioners to rewrite and update animal ordinances; testified in Court multiple times regarding animal abuse and neglect cases, and also testified at State House regarding multiple animal bills; member of board for Tippecanoe County Animal Task Force; President of the Humane Society for Greater Lafayette, a new animal shelter opening in spring of 2024.

Ruth Steinberger, founder and Executive Director of Spay FIRST, is an animal advocate with over two decades in the field. She has devoted her career to expanding the network of professional and grass roots organizations that partner to assist at-risk animals through spay/neuter, education, and legal protection.

Ms. Steinberger has coordinated rural pet sterilization programs since 1993 when she launched her first program in the Appalachian region of Virginia. She moved to Oklahoma in 1999 to make her home in an area with no existing low-income spay/neuter programs and has worked daily with non-profit organizations, veterinarians and dedicated volunteers to bring spay/neuter programs to challenged communities.

A program she developed in association with the  Rosebud Sioux Tribe (Sicangu Lakota) serves as a model for preventing litters in impoverished areas.

Understanding that education is vital to helping at-risk animals, Ms. Steinberger coordinated accredited seminars for veterinarians and Oklahoma peace officers.

Ms. Steinberger presented at the First International Symposium on Dog Population Management (sponsored by World Health Organization) in the UK in 2012.  In addition to regional conferences Ruth has been featured at national conferences including all Spay U.S.A. Southern Leadership conferences from 2003 through 2009, the 2011 through 2013 Best Friends Animal Society’s No More Homeless Pets Conference, the 2007 Humane Society of the United States’ Expo and the 2011 Spay/Neuter Leadership Retreat.

An esteemed animal advocate and activist/journalist, Ms. Steinberger has received recognition for her outstanding work. Board members Dr Charles Helwig and Billy Clay, DVM, and Ruth received the 2013 OVMA Presidents Choice Award for their outstanding research on nonsurgical techniques of animal fertility control. Ruth was awarded the 2006 ASPCA’s prestigious Henry Bergh Award for animal activism.  Ms. Steinberger’s journalistic talents in covering issues in minority communities earned her being honored as 2002 Journalist of the Year by the Lakota Journal.

She was awarded an honorary lifetime membership in the Oklahoma Veterinary Medical Association in 2012.

Ms. Steinberger is proud to work with professionals, researchers and new communities everyday to create effective programs to prevent animal suffering.

Kelley Niiyama has had two major loves throughout her life: music and cats. As a classical musician and music educator, she has performed over thirty recitals and has given master classes across North America, in Japan and in the Dominican Republic. She was a member of the music faculty at Indiana State University and taught Music Appreciation at Ivy Tech.

Kelley’s introduction to cat cafe ownership was precipitated by an injury to her finger, which left her unable to play the clarinet for two years. She had started working at Nine Lives Cat Cafe as a Cat Wrangler earlier that year and fell in love with the concept of cat cafes. Kelley was especially enamored with the adoption process. When Nine Lives’ previous owners announced that they had decided to sell, Kelley and her husband, Hidetaka, jumped on the opportunity to acquire it.

After operating the business for a year, Kelley saw an opportunity to form a nonprofit organization that could help Nine Lives’ rescue partners subsidize the cost of food, litter, supplements and other essentials to support the cats in residence and founded IndyAdopts. IndyAdopts is a private foundation that generates income by charging a nominal adoption processing fee, producing and selling t-shirts and by hosting a yearly Adoption Appreciation Event. With the fees collected from 500+ adoptions since its founding, IndyAdopts has been able to grant money to organizations such as Cats Haven, and grants money to assist individuals and organizations with spay/neuter services throughout Indiana.

Kelley and Hidetaka have made their home in Indiana since 2002 and are proud graduates of the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music in Bloomington. The couple have five cat-children at home: Mick Jagger, Montgomery Chase, Michelangelo, Millie and Masaru. Their additional four cat-children, Sora, Squidward, Sasha and Weeble, are permanent residents at Nine Lives.

Kadra Hillis, Director of Operations, Kokomo Humane Society

My passion for animals began as a child, feeding every stray cat that wandered up to our house even after being told not to feed them because they would never leave, but that was my goal. Fast forward a couple of decades and I found myself back at it in the animal welfare field. After graduating from Purdue University with a bachelor’s degree in Organizational Leadership & Supervision with a focus in Change Management I get a call about a position with the Kokomo Humane Society in the brand new Cat Café as the General Manager. This was an exciting opportunity for me as this was somewhat unprecedented having a Cat Café and especially one connected to a Humane Society. Once Covid hit and the Cat Café shut down, I found other ways to put my skills to use in the shelter and found myself in the position of Director of Operations, this was exactly what my degree was intended for and I settled into the role with ease.

I have taken many animals home with me over the years and I am positive I am not alone in this, My Husband and I have two cats and two dogs so we love to spend time with them. We walk our dogs frequently and one of our cats loves to hang out in the garden while I plant/harvest vegetables and pull weeds. I am an avid crafter and love to come up with merchandise we can sell in the Cat Café or small tokens of appreciation for the staff at the shelter.

It has been an honor and a privilege to work with such an inspiring, dedicated and hardworking group of people at the Kokomo Humane Society and it has truly made me who I am today, being a part of one of the first Cat Cafes in Indiana has been a dream that I never expected and watching people spend time with adoptable cats and find their companion has been one of many true pleasures of the job. The transformation of the Cat Café after Covid was so exciting and I am looking forward to the future to see where we can take it.

Karen Wolfe, Executive Director: My journey with the Kokomo Humane society began as a volunteer, turned into the Outreach Coordinator and advanced to the past 8 years as the Executive Director. This is what happens when you are a control freak at heart.

With a Bachelor and Masters of Fine Arts ending up in Animal Welfare may seem like a stretch but a love of animals, goes along with a long list of passions that include, my family, baking, knitting, gardening and of course my personal pets.

In the course of this adventure, I am proud of my part in lowering our live Release rate from 37.48% in 2010 to 92% in 2022. During this time, we were also able to raise 100% of funding to build our new facility which we moved into in 2018. In 2022 we began our Pet Assistance Program that for the first time allowed us to not only help animals in the shelter and through Animal Control but to begin assisting our community of owned pets in need.

Thank You to Our Sponsors