With the country in the grip of the coronavirus for an indefinite period, we’ve decided to cancel Animal Care Expo 2020, our marquee training and exhibition event for animal welfare professionals, scheduled to be held in San Antonio, Texas, this May.
In some respects, it was a complicated decision, but the easy part was this: we do not want to jeopardize the health and safety of any of the several thousand participants who were expected to assemble there.
The general demand for social distancing and the local, state and federal prohibitions on large gatherings were a crucial factor in our decision. But even before those emerged, the anticipated difficulties that so many individuals would face in arranging travel, securing employer permission to attend, applying for travel visas and putting themselves at risk made the decision obvious and necessary. Expo attracts animal care and sheltering professionals, volunteers and advocates from every state and from dozens of countries.
On top of that, it’s clear that the COVID-19 crisis has created great stress and turmoil throughout the animal care and rescue community and within the broader animal protection community worldwide. There are imminent challenges ahead for us all, and in most cases, we’ll find them in our home communities and its animal care and rescue networks. That’s where our focus needs to be in coming months.
For animal shelters and the people working there, this is an extraordinarily trying time. In some areas of the United States, there are no animals in shelters, and in other parts, the shelters and rescues are swamped. Some organizations are able to keep their employees engaged and to pay them; others are facing difficult choices in the weeks ahead. For us, the priority is to help animals in a time of crisis and to keep the public and private entities that help animals afloat. We’re doing all that we can to support others in the field, even as we press ahead with our own work and initiatives.
The humane movement has always risen to the challenge in times of adversity. We’ve seen that not just in everyday work and settings at all levels, but in moments of deep national crisis, as we experienced during Hurricane Katrina and other natural disasters. And we’ll do so this time, by working closely together, by supporting one another, and by taking every reasonable step to keep animals and people safe.
For information concerning refunds and other logistical questions associated with the cancellation, please visit www.animalcareexpo.org. We are pleased to let you know that we were able to have cancellation penalties waived by rescheduling Animal Care Expo 2024 at the same San Antonio location. In the meantime, we’ll look forward to seeing you at Expo in 2021 (in Las Vegas), with the expectation that we’ll be a better, stronger and more close-knit movement as a result of the current adversity.