Kristen Hassen, Director of American Pets Alive! & Human Animal Support Services

by | Jul 30, 2021

Kristen Hassen—a highly-respected figure in the animal shelter world, owing to her accomplishments and innovations during major stints leading or helping lead animal facilities, and now Director of American Pets Alive!, through which she oversees other projects and initiatives, including Human Animal Support Services—recounts the dreadful circumstances that led to her forging a profound bond with animals as a kid. She explains how, consequently, working in animal welfare called to her early—at 19—resulting in her starting her first shelter-related position…but the large component of euthanasia prompted what her to exit that job. She then went back to school, she remembers, attended graduate school, and begin working in the parks system. Then, Hassen recalls, she re-entered the shelter world, including stretches at facilities in Virginia, Austin, and Tucson, experiences that helped shape her vision of what she calls “the current crisis in sheltering”–and how, with Human Animal Support Services (HASS), she aims to not just improve, but fundamentally reinvent animal services and sheltering. Hassen outlines the serious shortcomings of shelters, how HASS seeks to mitigate those shortcomings—for example, when a family hits a financial snag, it might conclude it needs to surrender their dog, yet HASS might be able to intervene and help arrange for assistance, thereby enabling the dog to stay with the family—and notes how shelters, or even individuals, can support the HASS mission, while touching on the HASS Coalition’s pilot shelters that are embracing the organization’s mission and implementing its major strategies. Hassen responded to listener emails and calls, including one from a caller who has adopted two pit bull type dogs and was urging others to do the same, and another caller who was challenging the practice of some shelters that indicate a prospective adoptive dog is “good with kids.” We also discussed how HASS is funded, and a good deal more.  (,,

ALSO: I also spoke briefly with Scott Trebatoski, Director of Hillsborough County Pet Resources Center, seeking his perspective on SB60, a bill Governor DeSantis recently signed into law that appears to remove the cloak of anonymity from code enforcement reports—which would seem to raise questions about the extent to which the new law will prevent anonymous reporting of animal abuse; whether animal abusers could readily locate the name and address of those who report them, thereby significantly discouraging such reporting. Trebatoski explains that the way he and his Pet Resources Center colleagues are interpreting the new law is that complaints about, for example, a neighbor’s dog barking excessively or pooping on your yard could not be delivered anonymously. But reports about things that pose a threat to the life of an animal—like neglect or abuse—can still be reported anonymously. He also notes that there may be differences in the interpretation of the new law—when it comes to animal issues–from county to county, but predicts there will likely be growing consistency in that regard across counties over time. (

COMEDY CORNER:  Max Rosenblum’s “Dog People”  (

MUSIC: Rebekah Pulley’s “Talking Animals Theme,” instrumentals

NAME THAT ANIMAL TUNE: We didn’t play “Name That Animal Tune” today.


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