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Denise Deisler - Tips on keeping shelter open during COVID

Guest: Denise Deisler is CEO of Jacksonville Humane Society. She serves on Best Friends Animal Society’s No Kill 2025 steering committee and leads the Florida Lifesaving Steering Committee. She’s a member of Leadership Alive! and participates in leadership groups for Petco Foundation and Nestle Purina. 

Main question: How has Jacksonville Humane Society navigated through the current public health crisis?


  • Create guidelines for your organization’s decision making. When faced with the challenge of COVID-19, Denise’s three guides at Jacksonville Humane Society were to:

    • Ensure the safety and health of staff and the community.

    • Continue the organization’s mission to safely serve the community and animals.

    • And keep staff employed so that they don’t have to worry and can focus on their work.

As a result, Jacksonville Humane Society changed the way they did things, but they never shut down services. 

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  • Trust your community and your team to step up. 
    • The staff of Jacksonville Humane Society feels justifiably proud that they carried on throughout this public health crisis. 
    • Their community has been extremely supportive with donations as they continuously communicated about the needs. 

  • Build relationships in your community before you need them. Connect with local officials, government agencies, and other nonprofits well before disaster strikes.

  •  Make the decisions that are right for your organization and community. Stay connected in the field and listen to the information out there. But think also critically and ensure that you are not just going along with the crowd, but making the best decisions for your organization and community.  



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