Dr. Ellen Jefferson

Dr. Ellen Jefferson

Executive Director of Austin Pets Alive! & American Pets Alive!

Ellen Jefferson, DVM, is the Executive Director for both Austin Pets Alive! and American Pets Alive!, as well as an instructor for the Maddie's® Lifesaving Academy.



Dr. Jefferson graduated veterinary school in 1997 and started her career in private practice. In 1999, in response to an 85% death rate at the city shelter, she started EmanciPET, a low cost and free spay/neuter clinic in an effort to decrease the number of homeless animals. In 2008, still not satisfied with how fast the city of Austin was moving towards No Kill status, she stepped in as Executive Director of Austin Pets Alive! Since 2008, Austin Pets Alive! has been the driving force to bring the entire city of Austin to a greater than 90% save rate and the largest No Kill city in the US, and to redefine what No Kill means, as Austin's combined save rate is consistently over 94%.



In 2012, Dr. Jefferson linked with San Antonio Pets Alive! to implement the No Kill programs that were proven successful in Austin and helped drive the live release rate from 30% to 80% in just 12 months. She is married to a horse veterinarian and they share guardianship of 4 dogs and a bird but are currently catless for the first time in her adult life. Dr. Jefferson was unanimously chosen as the first recipient of the Avanzino Leadership award, named for the father of No Kill and given for her outstanding contribution to the No Kill movement.


Friday Feb 28th, 2020

Defining No Kill

Clock Icon1:30 pm - 2:10 pm
Map Icon Capitol A-H, Sheraton Austin at the Capitol

Want to know what the top-performing shelter directors in the country have to say about the term No Kill? Ryan Clinton moderates this panel with expert voices including Dr. Ellen Jefferson, Kristen Hassen-Auerbach, Rebecca Guinn and Teresa Johnson. Come hear from the people building lifesaving momentum in their communities what this term means for their work.


12 Ingredients to Increase Lifesaving

Clock Icon10:10 am - 11:10 am
Map Icon Capitol A-H, Sheraton Austin at the Capitol

Join Dr. Ellen Jefferson, Executive Director of Austin Pets Alive! and American Pets Alive!, as she guides you step by step through metrics in outcomes, intakes, and the 12 programmatic ingredients to propel lifesaving forward in your community.


Model Government Reporting Requirements

Clock Icon5:30 pm - 6:20 pm
Map Icon Capitol A-H, Sheraton Austin at the Capitol

In 2019, Austin passed the most comprehensive set of lifesaving laws in the country. A decade of work drove Austin to be the safest city in the country for homeless pets. How will these these reporting requirements help to ensure lifesaving continues to progress? Have these reports impacted the municipal shelter and its major partners? Can Austin be a model for communities all over the country to implement reporting requirements?

Saturday Feb 29th, 2020

Top 5 Reasons Animals are Dying in Shelters, and How to Save Them

Clock Icon9:00 am - 10:00 am
Map Icon Capital A-H, Sheraton Austin at the Capitol

Learn from Veterinarian and Executive Director of Austin Pets Alive! Dr. Ellen Jefferson as she shares solutions to start saving the lives of the most vulnerable pets in our care.


Managing Big Dogs: The New Horizon

Clock Icon11:10 am - 12:00 pm
Map Icon Capitol E, Sheraton Austin at the Capitol

Solutions for large breed dogs continue to be one of the most common struggles faced by many shelters and rescues today. In this session, taught by Dr. Ellen Jefferson and Dr. Sheila Segurson, you will gain a deeper understanding of lifesaving best practices and innovations to increase lifesaving for big dogs. Learn how to identify your needs clearly and work to reach goals of having enough resources to give every dog a chance it needs to be safely adopted.

Sunday Mar 1st, 2020

Conference Closing: What Pets Deserve a Radical Rethinking of the Role of Animal Welfare

Clock Icon5:30 pm - 6:10 pm
Map Icon Capitol A-H, Sheraton Austin at the Capitol

How can every shelter pet, everywhere be given a chance at life?


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