On March 30 and 31, 2015, the Kirkpatrick Foundation hosted the first ANIMAL Conference of Ideas, Impact, and Inspiration at the Skirvin-Hilton Hotel. The vision behind this triennial conference was to bring together individuals to learn, discuss, and connect on current animal wellbeing topics in Oklahoma and throughout the world. From the pre-conference tour to the our final keynote speaker, downtown Oklahoma City was alive with ANIMAL 2015 participants, alongside a few dog and cat voices that added to the attending choir. Based on attendee feedback, we believe the conference was successful in promoting our vision.
The pre-conference tour of Mindy's Memory Primate Sanctuary and a stunning, Sunday evening pictorial talk from Joel Sartore--photographer for National Geographic--began the conference in a moving and inspirational direction. Over the next two days, the 307 registered attendees from sixteen states, as well as a number of drop-ins and volunteers, heard from stocksmen, critically-acclaimed journalists, members of Oklahoma legislature, national officers of animal grantmaking non-profits, and many others. Throughout the conference sessions, attendees visited animal wellbeing booths and could even adopt a cat or two from local animal shelters. At our closing plenary we honored the service dogs from TInker Air Force Base and Oklahoma County Sheriff's Department, a New Leash on Life therapy dog program, City of Oklahoma City Fire Department's Search and Rescue K-9 program, and the Oklahoma City Police Department. ANIMAL 2015 closed in much the way it started: with a moving keynote talk from Tim Hetzner of the Lutheran Church Charities' K-9 Comfort Dog Ministry.
Our next step in continuing the momentum from the conference is the release of the Oklahoma Animal Wellbeing Study, a two-year effort by the Kirkpatrick Foundation. The report, highlighted during two sessions at ANIMAL 2015, is the culmination of 104 interviews, extensive data review, and literature research regarding the status of animal wellbeing in Oklahoma. Please check back to this website for updates concerning the publication of this report.
The conference, though held just once every three years, is a key to achieving the Kirkpatrick Foundation’s Safe & Humane mission to make Oklahoma the safest and most humane place to be an animal by 2032. We encourage conference attendees to use the positive conference energy to inspire others throughout the state and nation, by helping to facilitate the mission of improving animal wellbeing. Anyone interested in attending the 2018 ANIMAL conference should follow here on safeandhumaneoklahoma.org and on the Kirkpatrick Foundation Facebook page for information about upcoming events.