By all accounts, 2020 was an unprecedented year. To find out how SVPP managed, against all odds, to rescue more pets than ever, we talked with SVPP Co-Founder and CEO Melissa Lisbon.
|SVPP CEO Melissa Lisbon with Greta at a pre-pandemic fundraiser.|
What was 2020 like for rescue and SVPP during the pandemic?
|With new protocols in place, the Wyrick family |
adopted Raja (who is the only one without a mask!).
We made a huge pivot from in person adoption events for dogs and kittens, to virtual meet and greets using Zoom or Google Meet. Initially, we thought this would be a really hard change, but fortunately it has worked out surprisingly well. We likely will
incorporate this option even when we can have in-person adoption events. Some of our felines and scared or shy dogs actually do better in Zoom meet and greets than in person! They can feel more at ease in their foster environment and not be expected to “turn it on” at an adoption event!
We had to make some other big pivots “behind the scenes.” For example, we had to create a foster-to-adopt program for our kittens, since we could not get our kittens spayed and neutered in the normal time frame we were used to before the pandemic. We had to modify our process and provide additional kitten care education to prospective adopters.
|Wendi, at VCA Blossom Hill, took special care|
of (and fostered!) Xena, a kitten who had injuries
from being hit by a car.A work colleague of
Wendi's adopted this special rescue!
What were some of the "ah ha" moments?
For me personally, one of the “ah ha” moments during the initial phases of the pandemic was the realization that people wanted and needed pets during this time more than ever. As a result, it was a great time for shelters and rescue organizations to demonstrate how they work together and a prime opportunity to involve the community in a process that often is misunderstood or "behind the scenes."
What were a few of the major milestones accomplished this year?
I’m proud to say that we rescued more animals this year than in years past despite the obstacles we faced. This is a tribute to the compassion and power of our community, especially our talented volunteers who found the time to support our rescue efforts in a tremendous way throughout the pandemic and California’s fire season.
What do you expect will be different in 2021?
I'm hoping that we will eventually get back to some normalcy where we can personally evaluate the pets we rescue at the shelter, vet clinics will return to having their normal capacity for medical services, and we can come together as a community in person at adoption and other events where the pet-loving community can celebrate the bond we have with our pets again! At the very least, I think everyone will have a greater appreciation for our essential workers and a renewed sense of the importance of a kind and compassionate community.