By Katherine Parker
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — Although Sean Popp is new to daily doggie drool, barking and mayhem, he is not new to helping others. Second Chance Animal Sanctuary took a chance on motivated, high-energy Popp and hired him as its shelter director in December.
So far, getting to know the animals at Second Chance has been the best part of the job, but those puppy dog eyes can be a double-edged sword when tough decisions have to be made. Popp could hardly deny he has favorites as a shepherd mix licked at his hand.
Yet, Popp said business is his foremost thought in every action he takes, so the best decisions are effectuated and those drooling messes of love and fur continue to find homes.
Bouncing back and forth between non-profit work and the private sector, Popp has experience working with the homeless, Meals on Wheels, drug rehabilitation and the Salvation Army. Most recently, Popp was the manager of Wild West Promotions in Arizona, a company that focused on event coordination and worked with the University of Arizona and its Greek life.
Popp grew up in Pleasant Prairie, Wis. He’s been married for 17 years to Donna Popp, who works as a commerical relationship officer at Arvest Bank. Their son, Nicholas, is a junior at Norman High and a member of the varsity wrestling team.
Sean’s love of all things furry began as a child, cleaning kennels for his dad who raised champion Labrador Retrievers. Popp said his desire to help others has always been one of his important life values.
“We moved to Oklahoma for my wife’s job, and after some discussion, I decided to get back into nonprofit work,” he said. “Giving back has always been important to us.”
When Popp initially applied for the shelter director position, he thought he was applying to work for a homeless shelter.
“I saw ‘shelter director’ and assumed ‘homeless shelter,’ but after the interview, I knew it was a good fit. Even though I haven’t worked with an animal organization before, I knew I could bring my business experience and streamline the shelter’s business to make things better for the animals.”
Since starting in January, Popp has been quick on his feet, learning all the ins and outs of the animal shelter. Popp said it’s been a challenge to get things rolling, but he’s setting goals and working round the clock to do his best work for Second Chance.
“Animal welfare is very emotionally driven, and sometimes that can cause organizations to suffer on the business side. Emotions can blind better business decisions,” he said. “I plan to look past emotions with a business mindset, so that we can provide high quality services and make the best overall decisions.
“One of my goals includes additional community outreach, really getting involved beyond the walls of this shelter and networking. I also want the shelter to run more efficiently and to reestablish some of our events, like Dog Day Afternoon, as a prominent go-to event.”
Every day the checklist of Popp’s accomplishments grows longer. Thus far, he’s cut the shelter’s food costs by 50 percent by working with Ellison Feed & Seed. He also has cut the shelter’s bleach cost by 30-40 percent by working with Atwoods. Second Chance’s website is being updated by Levant Technology LLC. and Popp is working to cut veterinary costs.
The numbers aren’t the only thing that has changed since Popp’s arrival. Physical renovations have shaken things up.
“We used to have two cat rooms, but we cut it down to one,” Popp said. “It was a tough decision, but we refigured the cat room so that it could hold more cats, as well as built a partition so that it could hold kittens. We’re going to turn the other previous cat room into a really nice meet and greet and adoption area. Right now, we’re using the building entryway, and we can do better.”
Additionally, Popp knocked down a wall, with the help of his dad, to expand and refigure the laundry room that was previously more like a narrow hallway.
“It’s more accessible now. And that’s really important because we wash every linen every day,” he said.
Second Chance Animal Sanctuary is a nonprofit, no-kill shelter. The shelter does not receive city, state or federal funds and runs only on donations. Its mission is to give abandoned dogs and cats a second chance at a forever home and emphasizes that every adoption saves two lives, that of the adopted pet and the rescued animal that will take the pet’s place.
The shelter does not accept abandoned pets from the public. All rescued animals at Second Chance come from other shelters. Any cat or dog available for adoption will have been vet checked, spayed/neutered, micro-chipped, vaccinated, dewormed and given flea and tick medication.
In 2013, the shelter accomplished about 650 adoptions. So far this year, the shelter has succeeded with 150 adoptions. Currently, 11 cats and 37 dogs are available for adoption. Popp said the shelter would like to have more than 700 animals adopted by the end of this year.
Second Chance Animal Sanctuary, 4500 24th Ave. NW, is open noon to 6 p.m. Wenesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. For more information about adoption, foster work, volunteer work or making a donation, call 321-1915.
Second Chance Animal Sanctuary will host a benefit sale from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, March 27 to 29, at All Pets Veterinary, 4601 W. Main St. Dr. Nancy Harrington provided the office space for the sale.
The benefit sale will feature an assortment of items including electronics, coffee makers, glassware, books, health and beauty products, food products, dog food, printers, scanners, paper towels and more. All items were donated to Second Chance and all proceeds will directly benefit the shelter.
Popp said he hopes to make the benefit sale a quarterly event that will eventually feature pet adoptions. For more information about the benefit sale, call 321-1915.
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