Animal Welfare Issues and Trends in the 2020s: Our Experts Share Their Insights

We recently asked our NACA community of experts to share their thoughts about the trends and issues that the Animal Welfare community are likely to face in the 2020’s. Here are a few of their thoughts.


Lauren Bluestone, Director of Metro Animal Care and Control, Nashville

I think one of the biggest trends we’ll see in the 2020s is the controversy surrounding the animal welfare movement such as no-kill facilities versus social conscious communities. We’ll also continue to see the community’s perception shift from “dog catcher” to “Animal Services.” Resources will also be a challenge (funding) and reinforce the importance of community partnerships and community engagement.


Siobhan Chase, Animal Protection Police Officer, Fairfax County Police Department

“I think how Social Media influences ownership of exotic/wild “pets” will continue to grow in the 2020s. All you have to do is scroll through Instagram, Reddit, or Facebook in order to find cute videos of “tame” wild animals interacting with humans or domestic pets. While a video of a raccoon, coyote, or fox rolling around with a pet cat is indeed adorable, these videos are influencing people into viewing these animals as fun “pets.”

These videos do not depict the risk of disease transmission, legality, liability, or training that goes into “owning” these pets. Animal welfare agencies will likely be getting increased reports of people owning illegal exotic pets due to social media. Health Departments will also likely be getting reports of human exposure to various diseases that these animals can carry.”


Jim Crosby, Director of Canine Encounter Training.

Even though we have a lot of research on “The Link,” we are going to have to continue to educate Law Enforcement, Animal Control, and especially prosecutors and the judiciary to see animal cruelty as an abhorrent crime that is often – a gateway to subsequent crimes against humans.”

Adam Leath, Volusia County Animal Services Division Director

“The one I immediately think of is meeting the increased demands of the public with a shrinking or flat line budget and the ever-present issue of mission creep.

Agencies have to work smarter and become laser-focused on their mission to ensure they don’t get pulled in different directions. Agencies have to make difficult decisions on what the public expectations are, coupled with the expectations of policymakers. Only use resources on programs and services that support the agency’s mission.”

Michelle Welch, Senior Assistant Attorney General and Director of the Animal Law Unit, Virginia Attorney General’s Office.

“As NIBRS numbers are reported more consistently throughout the nation, I think we will a lot more animal cruelty and animal fighting [than previously thought]. I think the reporting will show both increases in gross neglect and intentional cruelty/torture.  We are seeing a propensity for law enforcement to take cruelty cases more seriously than in past years. Our biggest challenges are enforcing and investigating neglect and intentional cruelty of animals. In the prosecution world, we must keep educating prosecutors to take these cases seriously.”

Claudine Wilkins, Animal Law Source Founder

I think there will be continued and increasing challenges around service animal claims.

There will be more lawsuits for police who fail to enforce a service animal owner’s civil rights. There is hardly any training in this area, plus the laws are very confusing and are in a state of flux. There will also need to be additional education to help the justice community understand these laws. For example, Georgia has numerous definitions beyond federal laws, which causes a great deal of confusion, thus leading to minimal enforcement. There will also likely be an increase of fraud in service animal claims.


What issues or trends do YOU think will be critical in the 2020s? Share your ideas at



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