If you’re like me, you are aware of the SPCA but don’t actually know what they do. Well, get ready to discover there is more this amazing organization than most of us are aware of.
Welcome to DiscoverOV podcast. My name is Eric and I’m going to be your host, as we discover all there is to do in Ocean View. Now here in just a moment, we’re going to listen in together with the conversation that I got to have with the executive director of the Norfolk SPCA. Her name is Kimberly. And I have to be honest, I knew nothing about the SPCA going in. It’s an organization I’ve heard about. I have seen advertisements for, but I was surprised to learn about all the different things that they do for the people and animals of our community. And so it was just an amazing conversation. I learned a lot I hope you do as well. Make sure you listen through the podcast all the way. There are several things you do. It’s not just about adopting animals, there’s so many more things that you can do to help the SPCA with their mission here in our backyard. So with that, my conversation with the executive director of the Norfolk SPCA.
Well Okay, everybody. Thanks again for like I said there in the intro for listening to this episode of the ocean view, Business Association, podcast Discover OV and today I’m back in Coaster Coffee. And I am being joined with by Kimberly. Hi, Kimberly.
Hi. Thanks for having me.
Yeah. So Kimberly, what organization are you? Sure I am the Executive Director of the Norfolk SPCA. Okay, so what is does SPCA stand for?
That’s great question Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Okay. Okay. So SPCI and you are your you have your Norfolk’s SPCA. Alright,
So we’re a private organization. We’ve been established since 1892. So we’re one of the oldest SPCA in the country, but started off based on the care of workforces, or should I say the lack of care for workforces? So being a port community, you know, way back when everything was pulled by workhorses and draft horses. So the SPCA originally started with the protection of workhorses.
Oh, okay, that’s pretty fascinating, pretty fascinating. Um, now, you and I were talking before we started recording, and so I already know a little bit of this, but for those listeners that don’t know and don’t know you. So you’ve been here since you were saying 2005. Is that right?
So moved to Virginia in 1995 95. Okay, okay. Yeah. But this is my second term is executive director for the Norfolk sbca. So I started originally in 2005 through 2009. And then I left and I returned in May of 2018.
In 2018, okay, Oh, wow. Okay. So just pretty recently, then back as the director
Two years, actually.
All right, all right. Now, so you’re the focus of the ASPCA is Prevention of Cruelty to Animals? So how do you achieve that? What do you do in the community? What? You know that a lot of people, what I have found is this either, like the breeze to hear it, it cost your coffee when I walked in, like she immediately knew when I told her, she was like, Oh, I know. Yeah, she’s like, I volunteer for the SPCA. I did it. And like, all in or it’s like people like me that have like, I’ve seen SPCA. I have no clue what you do. So there’s not like this, like middle of the road, it seems like it’s like they know and they’re all in or there’s a complete lack of awareness. So yeah, so what, what in what what are some of the big picture things that the SPCA does?
Sure. A lot of your smaller local shelters are private organizations. And then you also have the city shelter. So it can be a bit confusing to the public at first because we all tend to have animal in the name. So the Norfolk sbca, being a private organization. We’ve concentrated on several things over the years, but one of the main services we provide are adoption services. So animals that are unwanted, neglected, abandoned. We become that clearing house that safety net for those animals to come in, be properly vetted, be spayed and neutered, which is really important, and then have the opportunity to be adopted out into loving homes. So that’s one of our primary services that the SPCA has been known for. In so much as Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, those animals That we take in sometimes have unknown pasts or have had a rough life.
So we work in conjunction with our city shelters to transfer animals in that they receive as well, from all of our local actually municipal shelter, so that’s Virginia Beach, that’s Chesapeake. That’s Suffolk, that’s Island wait. So we serve as Norfolk, but we also serve as all of Hampton Roads. So we don’t go out and actively do any type of cruelty investigations, or particular sbca. So that’s also something different that’s handled through the city and the police department and the Animal Protection Unit for Norfolk. Secondary to that we found that people need affordable low cost options for veterinary care, especially during difficult financial times, you know, the ebb and flow of economics changes and it changes for people independently. So being able to ride affordable vet care, so you can keep your pet healthy. That’s vaccinations, that’s wellness exam. So let’s say you bring a pet in and it’s a little bit itchy. Rather than let that get out of control and, you know, be painful for the animal. We’re there to help give you a wellness appointment, get you started on whatever the medication is needed for that. And hopefully, that’s all you need to get to over that hump of keeping your animal healthy. So those are the primary things that we do spay neuter as fix so one of the very first things to do to stop overpopulation, right is to spay and neuter, so.
Okay, all right. Um, wow. Okay, so you’re you don’t do any enforcement?
Oh, that’s because I just assumed you did. So okay, so you don’t do any enforcement that’s on the city. But now, is there an sbca of Virginia Beach? Are there what like, what’s the next closest sbca? to us?
Sure. Um, Virginia Beach has also called the Virginia Beach sbca, which you’ll see something else that’s interesting. Portsmouth is Humane Society, Chesapeake is a humane society. And that’s a choice by whomever the founders were of that organization to pick that titling. So we are not affiliated with affiliated with the ASPCA. They originally started out in New York, they are just the absolute largest chapter a national leader using that that title, so there’s also the Humane Society of the United States. So there’s two organizations that are very similar, but each of us rely on the big guys, the national leaders for resource development for grants. Often were involved in disaster transfers, so ahead of hurricanes. Often the Humane Society, United States will come to us and say, Hey, do you have spots for 20 animals? Last year, we took 34 animals in advance of Dorian coming out of South Carolina. So we try to be a partner with those organizations, as well in various ways.
So those animals that were in shelters in target areas that were going to be hit by the storm. Yeah. And they moved them out. And then you were able to house some of them.
Yes. So we took those 34 animals and the majority were coming from Hilton Head, okay, um, Humane Society. So you can only imagine as we’re coastal community here, in Virginia, and here at ocean views, you know, that it’s really scary when you know, you’re gonna flood at that level. So they got him out within just a couple days time. And they were all adopted within about 30 days, which was exciting.
So you adopt that you’re able to adopt him out as well? Yeah. Okay. But how many animals do you adopt out in whatever period of year a month? What what are some stats on that?
Yeah, this is exciting. For us. We had our largest adoption year, last year, and just roughly 18 148 animals. Previous five year average was only 980 animals. So we’ve really gone through some transitions in the last two years coming back and reaching out to the community and neighbor to neighbor type of approach to what we do. And that involves adoptions as well. So we’ve seen a real increase in what we’re doing there.
Ok, That’s great. So let’s say somebody, you know, you were saying unwanted you know, so we, my family, we have discovered we are not great people. And that’s just we tried and how we tried was, I’m a bit there’s a there’s a saying in the business world, you know, shoot a bullet before a cannonball? Yeah, basically, it’s how do you test something?
And so there was a group of our family that really wanted a dog, and then there was me. And so I was like, like, how can we test this? And so we found an organization, pets or dogs on deployment.
And we fostered a dog for six months. And at the end of that, my kids, of course, cried when Roscoe had to go back to Her, his owner, and it was, it was a great experience. But ever since then my kids are very much like, no, it’s okay, if we don’t get another dog, it was a lot of work. That was, you know, because it was a lot of work the daily, you know, taking him for a walk, keeping the backyard cleaned up and all this stuff. But if we would have just went out and got a dog, we’d almost now been in this position like, Well, now what?
It doesn’t necessarily fit your lifestyle. Yeah, one of the things about supporting your local shelter, there’s a lot of ways you can do that. And it’s not necessarily adopting and thank you for fostering, because that’s a short term commitment that’s very helpful, whether it be a military person who’s on deployment, or we have puppies and kittens come in that just need to be housed for two weeks, and then you can send them on back, which is also quite fun. But what I really realized in a long time ago that you have to reward kindness, and it’s, you know, two minutes of kindness, two hours of kindness, and kindness and compassion towards the animals is really important. You know, no matter how you measure it. So for us, there’s other ways like in kind contributions, things like we need to Dawn dishwashing liquid, right to keep things moving and keep things clean. And so anybody who dropped off a gallon of dawn dishwashing liquid that had an amazing impact on our ability to operate as a shelter and do what we needed to do. events. We have several events that people can attend and that are fun. I’m down here in the ocean view area. We did our first ever salty dog beach walk with over 300 participants. It was one of the most glorious days it was November we were so lucky. We partnered with bold Mariner, and they were so kind. I mean, they had really been open that long for us to sort of invade the parking lot in that corner there. And it was really a great day, it was incredible to see that many people walking on behalf of just goodwill that on behalf of you know, supporting the Norfolk sbca. So people can with their dogs that came without their dogs. You know, we had music, we had beer. We had vendors, it was a really Family Fun Day. And so we’re planning on doing that again.
Nice. Now we’ve bought we’ve been talking unintentionally dogs, but you do way more you Yeah, your pets. Yeah, not dogs.
So cats as well, companion animals, generally. So the other thing that we started two years ago is taking back in small animals. So there are a lot of what people call a pocket pets, which I hate that term. You get the picture Gerbils, your hamsters, there are a lot of folks who get those. And then they’re like, what was I thinking? I’ve got to clean this cage every day. So knowing the responsibility of the animal that you’re you’re taking on is important. So we see a lot of those animals come back through the shelter. Rabbits, some of the rabbit advocate, a lot of folks don’t know a lot about rabbits. So we’re there to educate the public. And we also take birds as they come in, okay, parakeets got a whole group of finches right now, which is new for us. Okay.
So do you. So the adoption, like, this isn’t somebody who’s gonna walk in this morning and walk out with a dog? Are you helping that people are you helping people discover if their pet people, not pet people,
it’s about our relationship with the prospective adopter for us. And it’s a non judgmental, you know, relationship. So it’s what’s important is we get to know you, you fill out an application, we’re talking to you and just sort of like you describe with your family, what are the strengths in your family, and the things that you do. And we can help best match you with potentially a dog, a cat, or a small, furry, you know, that that meets those needs. Because sometimes you often find out you want to come in, and you’re thinking that you want a small dog, and you walk out with a seven year old hound, and it’s the best relationship you’ve ever had. But we always go on the fact that we’re building relationship with you, because often people will adopt again. And then also because we rely on direct public support, having the support of the community and a good experience. But there is an application process, there is an adoption fee, which goes to fund the organization we have about a $2.8 million budget. So it’s small, but it’s not that small, you know, and keeping the lights on and keeping everybody fed and well cared for. Well,
I mean, if you’re adopting out 1800 animals in a year, I mean, and you have you said a little bit ago of 40 staff, does that mean just that I mean, that’s your that makes you a more significant employer in the area, you know, so you’re you’re providing an economic base and now during work We’re recording this during the covid 19 pandemic, we are appropriately socially distance, we’re six feet apart. But you were saying that you were able to keep your staff working during this time, because you’re essential you’re providing, like, somebody still had to feed the animals and care for them and stuff, right?
It’s, uh, you know, it’s, we’re not there 24 seven, but it is a 24 seven, you know, operations because you’re, you’re working with live animals, and you’re working with the needs of people to in terms of what they need for their animals, we scale back or ours a little bit. Um, but then we were able to bring that back up, we were just very, very adaptable. And the community was incredibly patient with us and our ability to do content lists and curbside service. So a lot of use of the iPad and on the phone. So your dog was taken by a veterinary assistant brought in seen by the vet the vet phone to tells you everything that’s going on with fluffy, what you need to do, and and then the dog was meant then back out at your car. So we got creative, really creative. In the end, the team was just ready to you know, make sure that we could still provide the community service. It’s been a really interesting experience, but we’re grateful.
Okay, now that’s on the vet side. Are you still doing adoptions? Yes.
So what we did with that is all of the general conversation like your adoption, counseling, filling out the application, and even then just closing out the adoption and paying for that was all done outside. And then we limited and are still limiting the number of people who come in and look and then you just step outside, and we complete all the transactions outside. So we didn’t do virtual adoptions. We kept folks coming in, but just practiced all distancing and disinfection.
Yeah, that makes sense. I think I think virtual would be hard. You want to see that? I’m sure the pets together. Yeah. Yeah, make sure there’s a connection there. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. It makes a lot of sense. So where do people do you have, like one place that people could come and see all of your animals, you have more than one shelter?
We have one main location, which is over on Valentine Boulevard and the Broad Creek neighborhood there. And then we have a small satellite, which also houses our main veterinary clinic. But we also have a small satellite clinic inside the city municipal shelter. So the Norfolk Animal Care Center, and we provide primarily services to their animals there and we do a lot of feral or community cat spay neuters. Okay, so we work with a lot of rescue groups, we have many, many, many shelter partners.
Ok Okay. So you’ve got a lot going on. And, you know, I’m sure the you the primary operating comes in, through, you know, operating funds comes in through through a couple of different ways. So you’ve got some services you’re charging for, but a lot of donations, is that right?
So it’s about right now, it’s about a 60/40 split with the fee based services, which are mission based for the veterinary services, bringing in about 60% of the revenue, and then 40%, in direct public support. What we’d like to do in our continued growth is change that a little bit and get it up to 50/50 or 60/40. The other direction, just so that we can think forward to the future. We’ve been in our current location of that corner for 70 years.
And so they’re, you know, our hopes would be that there would be a new building and new clinics in the future.
Okay. That’s great. That’s great. That’s amazing. So do now do you post pictures online? Of Pets you have available as you do?
Yeah. So if you go to our website, there’s an adoptable section. If you click on there, you can see all of the pets that are available for adoption and to get some of their basic bio. We are really aggressive with our social media. So we’re posting two to three times a day. And so I’d really direct folks to our Facebook page. And because we’re often they’re telling the story of the particular animal or we’ve got multiple pictures that you can see there. So I balanced between taking a look at the website. Check it out. Facebook, definitely just come in. I mean, if you’re interested in you kind of you’ve never been to the ASPCA. If you’re a little nervous because you think it’s going to be sad. Don’t don’t feel that way. We’ve done renovations over the past two years. We have a nice new lobby, the kennels are clean, it’s warm, it’s welcoming. It’s inviting. It’s not scary. It’s not sad.
So it’s safe to bring your kids into not traumatizing. Yes.
Keep the fingers out. Yeah, yeah. No, it is not traumatizing anyway. And so this is something we’ve really, you know, made as a goal is to be able to connect to the community because some folks can’t come in. I mean, it’s emotional. I after 15 years in the business, you know, I still cry so we understand that it has to be More of a overall great experience for families.
Okay, well, and I, another thing people can do is, I think that would be also helpful is you said you, you post a lot on social media. We’ll link to your Facebook and stuff here. Now you’re on Facebook. Do you do Instagram with this story with this?
Yes, that’s as well. Okay, I have somebody who does that. I am not that good.
But, but the SPCA of Norfolk is on
Yes they are.
Alright, so somebody needs help finding that they can, you know, either go there and search or go to the links for this podcast episode on the ocean view dot biz website, and we’ll link in there. But you know how my connection to the ocean view Business Association is I own a digital marketing agency. And I understand the power behind people liking and sharing and commenting that that trifecta on a post. So if somebody really wanted to play a part, another thing they could do is just regularly, like, comment and share your post.
You can you couldn’t be more cracked. And it’s interesting during this covid 19 time that we’re in so many people have been home. So we’ve seen an increase in that. And 10 years ago when I was with the SPCA, you know, social media wasn’t a big event. And I would have to say our increase in adoptions in community sport is really very much led by social media the second time around and getting the adoption numbers up. So, so important, it’s easy to share, it’s to click them.
It is it’s so easy, but and how it works is when Facebook, or Instagram sees that people are engaging, then they assume, rightfully that, that means it’s content worth other seen. So they share it to more people to for them to see it. So it’s just it’s very, very important. So and then lastly, I want to circle back around to this because I think it’s fascinating. Do you have a need for people right now that would be interested in fostering?
And I think most people are completely unaware. That’s an option.
Absolutely. It’s raining kittens. Not really raining dogs and cats. It’s raining kittens. And again, the foster commitment is, you know, generally less than a month. And so you know, you have that ability to work with the tiny animal to help get it healthy and ready for a time. But yes, we constantly puppies, kittens, seniors, we even had a hospice situation with the 14 year old cat that we were looking for, you know, just that special place and the community has been so welcoming of that. But if you travel, if you know that you can’t make that full time commitment, fostering is absolutely enormous help life saving help for the ASPCA?
Yeah. Yeah. I think that would be great. I think, you know, yeah, I think that’s amazing. And I completely was unaware that that was available through the sbca. Because I say, like I said it, it worked out great for our family in the fact that we didn’t end up getting a long term commitment to a pet that we weren’t providing a great experience. We did we we up and leave the house quickly without notice. Just for fun. You know, we go here we go there. It just we weren’t we’re not home enough consistent. I mean, we are during this time, but outside of COVID, which is not home regularly enough to make it make sense.
Well, you know, what you do there through fostering and what you did is, you know so much more about that animal to your situation a little bit different because the service members deployed in there getting their animal back. But if you foster a homeless animal that’s waiting for adoption, you’re able to say, Hey, you know, this dog loves to fetch a ball. Well, you won’t chase that ball to save your life. Yeah, you know, this is what he likes to eat. This is how he reacts to this. So the ability for a foster to give us more information on an animal’s personality is so helpful in the adoption process, you might have learned something that is exactly what someone else is looking for. It’s quite a match.
Oh, so you were able to take that information and put it in the pets file? Yes.
So we’re through database systems. And again, it’s sort of like a matchmaking business but but all your data
Is so great. I want to Oh, that’s me. I had no idea the SBCA was doing so much. That’s fascinating. So great. Well, we’re gonna put links to all of that on here. And we’ll also be sharing out the salty dog is on the books, yes. tentative, you know, long as everything works out with COVID for November 8, November 8, November 8, okay. And it’s basically like a fun walk?
To totally It’s just a fun walk. It’s a half mile and a half mile back. Nothing strenuous. So you know, everyone can get it out, walk at your own pace. And again, you don’t even have to have a dog to walk. So although it’s a dog walk, and we’d love to have you out walking just to get out that morning.
Yeah, great stuff. Alright, Kimberly. Well, thank you very much.
I really enjoyed it thanks for having me. I’ve really enjoyed it, too.
Thank you. And thank you, friend for listening to this episode of the Discover Ovie podcast. For more about the ocean view Business Association and to find even more amazing members of ours that have a great pet food to eat activities to do things to see just all kinds of stuff about our community here in Ocean View. You can find that on the website, Ocean View dot biz, and also make sure you leave us a rating or review on our podcast. With that again, Until the next episode. Thanks for listening