Michelle Dosson is the executive director of Best Friends in Salt Lake City and the Mountain West region, having joined the team in early 2022 and previously holding the role of Bureau Manager for the Norfolk Animal Care and Adoption Center (NACC) in Norfolk, Virginia. Michelle leads efforts to engage community members and stakeholders in the implementation of proactive, lifesaving programs that promote kindness, increase pet-retention, and help keep people and their pets together. Michelle also currently serves on Board of Directors for the National Animal Care & Control Association, a non-profit organization that is committed to setting the standard of professionalism in animal welfare and public safety through training, networking, and advocacy.
Prior to NACC, Michelle was the national shelter outreach manager for Best Friends Animal Society, providing leadership and training for strategic shelter partners and animal services agencies across the country. Before that, Michelle spent a decade implementing progressive community outreach programs and developing expertise in local and state legislation through Austin Animal Services in Texas. While working as a public health educator through the field services department, she created and led programs for the Austin community that included spay neuter services for companion animals and trap-neuter-return for community cats. Michelle has worked in public service for more than 15 years.
Born and raised in Cape Town, South Africa, she nurtured a deep passion for helping animals both human and nonhuman at a very early age through volunteer work with the Cape Town SPCA and local wildlife services. After moving to the U.S. in 1997 for an athletic scholarship, Michelle found her way to the City of Richmond Animal Care and Control in Virginia, where she worked as an animal caregiver, veterinary services technician, and adoptions counselor. In 2008, she began a field services career as an animal protection officer for the city of Austin, just two years prior to the city passing its no-kill implementation plan. Michelle’s experience as a field officer before, during and after Austin’s journey to no-kill gives her unique insight into the process behind creating compassionate communities focused on lifesaving.
Michelle shares her home with her canine companions, Drexil and Honeybear, supervising cats Swiss Marcel, and Bernie Barack Ocasio Cortez, and has a habit of finding a local community cat colony to care for wherever she lives. When not out championing lifesaving work for our four-legged friends, Michelle can usually be found lifting at the gym or rolling with the Wasatch Roller Derby league.