VBSPCA Pet Academy

If you’re dealing with challenging pet behavior and considering relinquishment, please contact our Behavior Support Line for guidance and support. We want to ensure that you have access to any and all resources you need before deciding to surrender your beloved animal.  Please email your contact information to behaviorsupport@vbspca.com and a certified companion pet trainer will be in touch. 

The Virginia Beach SPCA Pet Academy offers pet training programs designed to strengthen the bond between pets and pet parents. With puppy training, dog training, specialty workshops, private training, and pet talks covering a variety of canine and feline topics, the VBSPCA Pet Academy offers the opportunity to improve the life of your own pet while also supporting the animals of the VBSPCA. We update our schedule every month, so check back each month for new classes and training events!


Meet the Pet Academy Training Team

Jonathan Horwitz 
Jonathan is the newest addition to the VBSPCA Pet Academy. Born and raised in Virginia Beach, he graduated from Frank W. Cox, and traveled to Israel to participated in a 9 month long youth leadership building program called Nativ. While there Jon took college classes and volunteered as an educator in a childrens’ school in the town of Yerucham.When Jon returned to the United States he graduated from the University of Maryland with a B.S degree in Criminal Justice. He returned to Virginia Beach and found his passion with working with animals. While working as a handler at a local dog daycare he began doing research to help maintain a safe environment for the dogs. From this thirst for knowledge came the introduction to Crystal Partain, a professional dog trainer with the Freckled Paw. From their first conversation Jon came to realize his methods to maintain a safe environment was based on learning theory and animal behaviors. After a few more meetings Crystal decided to take Jon under her wing, and under her tutelage Jon has realized his passion for dog training. Now working for the Freckled Paw as a professional dog trainer, Jonathan is excited to join the VBSPCA family and help new parents learn how to better the lives of their puppies!


Shana Ness
Raised in a small town in Pennsylvania, Shana has always had a love for animals. In her youth (age 14-18 years old), she volunteered at a nearby zoo where she learned about conservation, animal husbandry, positive reinforcement, and clicker training. Shana moved to Jacksonville FL where she began volunteering at her local animal shelter. It was there she found her passion for dog behavior. Shana attended the Animal Behavior College where she received her ABC-DT certification. While attending the Animal Behavior College, Shana began working at the local animal shelter and began practicing what she was learning. At the shelter she helped create and implement various behavior modification plans for not only dogs but for cats as well, helped owners work through challenging behavior issues by giving them the tools to help their pet, offered monthly training lectures, and ran daily playgroups. Shana is currently working towards her Certified Professional Dog Training – Knowledge Assessment (CPDT-KA) and is looking forward to working with helping clients learn how to work their dog through challenging behavior issue.


Tips from our Trainers

How to Reduce Leash Pulling   |   Preparing Your Puppy for Class



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