pets helped since 2011
pets rescued in 2021 through Empty the Shelters
annual events across the U.S. and Canada
"The Upwork platform is really intuitive … we’ve found success across the board.”
Cathy Bissell
Founder, Bissell Pet Foundation

In 2011, a gentle six-year-old black lab named Bear became a hero.

His legacy began in 2008, when Cathy Bissell brought him home from the shelter. While Bissell had other pets, Bear was her first rescue. He changed her life.

“Bear’s family gave him up because they got a new puppy,” said Bissell. “They didn’t have time for him anymore. He was a gorgeous, regal dog who fit in beautifully with my family and our other animals.”

The wonderful relationship Bissell developed with Bear inspired her to do more for animals in shelters. While she couldn’t open her doors to all pets in need of a home, Bissell knew she could work to ensure they found loving forever families.

Three years after Bissell brought Bear home from the shelter, she formed the BISSELL Pet Foundation (BPF) in his honor. While he never knew it, Bear’s love and devotion to Bissell directly helped to improve the lives of over 445,000 pets across North America—and counting.

BISSELL uses Upwork to find local talent during periods of high demand

The BISSELL Pet Foundation operates in all 50 U.S. states and Canada. They have a small core staff, and while they often need specialized help, hiring more full-time employees isn’t always an option.

“Like many foundations, we have a limited budget. We’re always looking for ways to do more with less,” Bissell said.

One of the ways that BPF helps animals is through the coordination of at least four nationwide “Empty the Shelters” adoption events every year. The foundation not only promotes the events but actually covers most adoption fees.

The foundation team was preparing for an Empty the Shelters event when they realized they needed to find professional photographers to photograph adoptable pets in multiple states. They turned to Upwork for help.

“Hearing and understanding what Upwork did was just amazing,” Bissell said. “We needed someone to follow us to different shelters. We were able to see a lot of different people that could interest us at different price ranges, and we found talented photographers.”

Virtual Talent Bench™ helps the BISSELL team to work more efficiently 

The team was so happy with their first Upwork experience that they began to create a Virtual Talent Bench of professionals they trust. Now, when the team needs help photographing dogs in Louisiana or cats in New York, they know exactly who to ask.

“The Upwork platform is really intuitive. I don’t feel like I have to struggle to find the right person,” said Bissell. “I just give the talent lots of details and we communicate openly, so they know what’s expected. We’ve found success across the board, to the point that we’re still reaching out and using the same people on the platform.”

Upwork has also helped the BPF team revolutionize their administrative processes. 

“We found a woman in Thailand who has been helping us with data entry. She is extremely fast,” said Bissell. “When we first started, it took us months to get information about each Empty the Shelter event into our systems. The volume of data is staggering, and our small team is very busy. The first time we worked with our Upwork freelancer, she had it done in 24 hours.”

This speed allows BPF to pay adoption fees back to shelters quickly after each event. And because the foundation team can trust Upwork talent to take care of essential data processing, they’re able to focus on making sure that adopted pets are settling into their new homes nicely.

Finding new ways to work means BISSELL can save more animals in need

When the BISSELL Pet Foundation looks toward the future, they see Upwork talent as an integral part of their growth. 

While Empty the Shelter events have a strong impact on pet adoptions, the BPF team isn’t content to stop there. Through Upwork, the foundation is now working closely with a web development agency in India. Together, they are creating a digital platform that will help even more animals find forever homes.

“We’re creating an application for transporting animals between shelters,” Bissell said. “We like to highlight our partners in the southern part of the U.S. that have a lot of animals, and then invite shelters in the northern part of the country, with capacity, to select dogs or cats to transfer up to their shelters.”

BISSELL Pet Foundation has more plans in the works, many of which will require the help of other talented professionals on the Upwork platform.

“I see our relationship with Upwork continuing. In the future, we may need project managers, web designers, and perhaps even IT support. The faster we expand, the greater the impact we’ll have in reducing the number of homeless pets,” said Bissell. “And we’re going to be able to do that thanks to the help we get through Upwork.”

Design & Creative, Admin & Customer Support, Development & IT
Join the world's work marketplace

Recommended success stories

Join the world's work marketplace

Find great talent. Find great work. Are you ready to move your business or career forward?

Find talent
Find work
Get Started