Moving to the Portland, Oregon area in 1988, Dr. Speede soon became a partner in Pacific Veterinary Hospital, a successful southwest Portland practice. She sold her interest in the veterinary practice in 1995 so she could commit her time to animal activism.
She co-founded the Feral Cat Coalition of Oregon, a non-profit organization dedicated to humanely reducing the population of feral cats through spaying and neutering. As Northwest Director of In Defense of Animals, a non-profit organization based in Mill Valley, California, Dr. Speede advocated for companion animals, as well as victims of biomedical research, factory farms and circuses. In addition, she was able to provide veterinary care to animals in sanctuaries, including primates in Cameroon, Africa. Her two trips to Cameroon in 1997 soon changed the course of her life.
Since 1998 Dr. Speede has lived in Cameroon. With a mission to ensure that endangered chimpanzees survive in their natural habitats, she founded the Sanaga-Yong Chimpanzee Rescue Center and In Defense of Animals-Africa (IDA-Africa). At the Sanaga-Yong Chimpanzee Rescue Center, located in Cameroon's Mbargue Forest, Dr. Speede and her staff provide sanctuary for chimpanzees orphaned by the illegal ape meat trade. In collaboration with the government of Cameroon, she leads IDA-Africa in a public education, sensitization and social marketing campaign aimed at preventing the extinction of chimpanzees and gorillas.