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While Cats And Dogs Fared Well During Pandemic, Less Popular Pets Have Struggled

 April 15, 2021 at 12:30 PM PDT

Speaker 1: 00:00 COVID-19 was tough on people, but great for dogs and cats. There were high adoption rates and owners spent a lot more time at home, but not all pets fared as well and local animal advocates hoped to keep them close to the spotlight KPBS environment. Reporter Eric Anderson has details. Speaker 2: 00:20 A backpack sized sulcata tortoise chomps on lettuce leaf said, it says Candido home Named Ninja is surprisingly quick. When the flutes, Speaker 3: 00:33 They are the terrible twos, but as they creature Speaker 2: 00:37 The eco vivariums Shelly Oneida speaks lovingly of an animal that was about the size of a saucer. When it first came here, Speaker 3: 00:44 They have all the wide-eyed wonder of a little kid and all of the destructive power of a tank. I'll just in one it's great. Speaker 2: 00:53 Angela lives at the eco vivarium because the tortoise has owners were locked in a domestic dispute. Animal control came to Susan new Wiki, the founder and director of the eco vivarium. She says, reptiles didn't get the same pandemic boost is dogs and cats. Speaker 4: 01:10 The opposite happened in the reptile world. Suddenly people were looking, you know, meeting difficult circumstances where they were not able to care for the animal anymore because of job loss and the cost of the food and care and everything for the animal and no programs out there to supplement like there are for dogs and cats. So they were left with having to find homes. Speaker 2: 01:36 The facilities population swelled from 200 to 300 during the pandemic. The Wiki says, in one case, a local pet shop owner just walked away from his business, leaving dozens of reptiles, homeless. Speaker 4: 01:49 What do you do with hundreds of animals that need to be cared for for the next 30 to 50 to a hundred years, Speaker 2: 01:56 The animals have homes here, but new Wiki pays a steep price, thousands in extra vet and food bills each month. At the same time that COVID cut them off from people Speaker 4: 02:08 And our outreach programming and birthday parties. And all of those kinds of things were how we paid for the animal care. And all of that went away. Speaker 2: 02:18 Having kids interact with the animals is only possible. Now in small groups like the prearranged tour for the Alvarez family, Shelly Oneida is showing Levi the snake room. Speaker 3: 02:31 This piggy is like how my daughter Speaker 2: 02:40 In-person interaction is what Nikki says makes the eco vivarium unique school groups used to be drawn to the up-close experience. It also helped to cultivate donors and people who might adopt some of the animals living here, Speaker 4: 02:56 Getting the hands-on full cross education programs that COVID completely shut down. Speaker 2: 03:02 A local animal friendly nonprofit hopes to help the animal bond Academy produces YouTube videos that highlight some of the regions, lesser known animal rescue and advocacy groups, Speaker 4: 03:14 Places like Penelope purpose that focused on pig rescue. Speaker 2: 03:18 Andy Peterson runs the animal bond Academy. Speaker 4: 03:21 We recently visited Libby loos in a Boulevard and they focus on Cal rescue. So these are all animals that may not be on the forefront of people's minds, but we wanted to make sure that the animal bond Academy videos kept all of these organizations are relevant. Speaker 2: 03:39 Peterson says once she started explaining how different animal advocacy and rescue groups work, the list of future projects got longer. Quickly. People began reaching out to her Speaker 4: 03:51 And I am still learning about new organizations, small organizations that I didn't know were in existence. Speaker 2: 03:58 No Ricky says having the animal bond Academy video available is crucial to helping re-establish the eco have a variant contact with schools in the public. Speaker 4: 04:06 They were able to see the people interacting with the animals and everything and see the kids eyes lighting up. And that is so impactful. Speaker 2: 04:16 Nikki says anything that helps her organization's connection with the public will help her rebuild once the pandemic subsides. The very, very cool thing is black BlackLine help you find scorpions. Hurricane Anderson, KPBS news. Speaker 1: 04:34 And joining me is Annie Peterson, founder of animal bond Academy. Annie, welcome to the show. Speaker 5: 04:41 Thank you so much. Now Speaker 1: 04:43 You create YouTube videos for small animal rescue nonprofits. What do you like to highlight in those videos? What do you want people to see? Speaker 5: 04:54 Well, I really like to highlight, of course, the animals that are in the care of all of these organizations, but also, and one of the reasons that we started to animal bond Academy is to highlight the, their need for donations still, even with COVID and are not being able to do one-on-one outreach. Um, in-person visits. It's important that people are still able to see that animals still need to be fed and lives are still being saved. And so that, that is the highlight of the, the videos that are posted. Speaker 1: 05:34 Did you start animal bond academies specifically because of the COVID shutdowns? Speaker 5: 05:40 Yes. That was not a plan of mine to do YouTube videos. Um, however, because I've worked in the animal welfare community for a couple of decades now, when COVID hit, I was very curious to find out what was going on within all of these organizations, my friends, the people I knew that already had many animals that they needed to care for, and really did rely on those in-person visits and donations in order to support their organizations. And so really quickly, we put together a plan with a couple of people who have these organizations and started doing animal bond Academy videos. And it was, we were just going to do a couple of videos just to help people remain relevant during the pandemic and all of the shutdowns. However, we're a year later and we're still posting videos and I'm finding more and more people that still need that, that extra boost to be able to reach out to the community. Speaker 1: 06:55 Now, in the report, we just heard, you mentioned a pig rescue group and that gal rescue organizations, what other types of small animal rescue groups have you held Speaker 5: 07:07 Well along with them? Uh, we of course have, uh, highlighted reptile groups like eco vivarium. Um, we've also highlighted, uh, bird rescues, such as parent education and adoption center. We have an upcoming one with a free flight bird sanctuary, uh, really you name it. There is an organization that helps to support those animals. And that's what makes animal bond Academy so unique in supporting the human animal bond, because it's not just the bond you have or the love you have for the cute and fuzzy animals like dogs and cats. You can have a bond with insects. It just really depends on who you are and how you feel your life is enriched by nature. And so that's what we really try to do with these videos. And Speaker 1: 08:04 How have your videos help these organizations? Speaker 5: 08:08 So happily? Uh, we have a couple of organizations that did see an uptick in, um, uh, outreach. Uh, they were able to put together zoom outreach programs. I have found that I've been assisting a couple of organizations with their, um, their it issues and just some of the technical challenges they have in terms of posting videos, posting photos, how to communicate with the public about what they do, because these people are very busy working with animals and they're very busy while they were hoping to be very busy working with the public, but now they find that they need to do that pandemic pivot and learn how to reach out to the community virtually. So I'm helping, um, a couple of organizations with that as well. Speaker 1: 09:06 Well, now the kids are back in school, just society sort of opening up again. Do you see a bright future for these animal rescue groups? Speaker 5: 09:17 I do. Um, I, I think that I'm actually far more aware of so many different organizations in there in our community organizations that I had no idea existed. And I feel very fortunate that I'm in a position to be able to continue doing these videos, reaching out to organizations that are within San Diego County, but are pretty far out. And so by posting these videos and giving people an opportunity to, um, access that information in a much easier way that will encourage them to actually, um, hopefully wet their appetite and want to go out and have those one on one experiences with animals. Instead of just through video. Speaker 1: 10:09 Do you find it easy to make these videos with all different sorts of animals? What are the challenges? Speaker 5: 10:18 Yeah, it is a lot of work, um, but I love it. I love it. I love the animal community. I love the people in that community. It's, it's such a great opportunity for me to be able to give back to the community. Speaker 1: 10:39 Well, I've been speaking with Annie Peterson, founder of animal bond Academy. Annie, thank you so much. Speaker 5: 10:45 Thank you so much, Marine. I appreciate it. Speaker 3: 10:53 [inaudible].

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COVID-19 was great for dogs and cats, but not all pets fared as well and local animal advocates hope to keep those animals in the spotlight.
KPBS Midday Edition Segments