VBSPCA History

Founded in 1966 by Liz Sill and B Lovitt, the Virginia Beach SPCA has been serving the Hampton Roads community for over 50 years. The VBSPCA has received awards and recognition for its Junior Volunteer program, as well as the Virginia Literacy Award for the Listening Ears program. Additional accolades include the American Humane Association’s Excellence Award in the areas of Facilities and Staff, Operating Programs, Community Relations, and Humane Euthanasia. The Virginia Beach SPCA has been recognized as a volunteer service enterprise since 2018, and the organization was also honored with Coastal Virginia Magazine’s Giving Back Award for being an outstanding nonprofit.

The Virginia Beach SPCA opened its first physical shelter in 1969 on Farm Road at the intersection of General Booth Boulevard and Oceana Boulevard. During its first year of operation, the Virginia Beach SPCA shelter cared for more than 5,000 animals. By the early 1970s the Virginia Beach SPCA had expanded its reach to include wildlife and a spay/neuter clinic. Over the next decade the spay/neuter clinic grew to become a full-service low-income veterinary clinic. A Humane Education Center was added in 1978 with a focus on fostering compassion and empathy in children.

The Virginia Beach SPCA’s shelter on Holland Road opened in 1989. A focus on furthering community involvement led to increased impact in the Tidewater area and beyond. During this time, the Virginia Beach SPCA coordinated the development and enactment of Virginia’s first felony animal cruelty legislation, which was signed into effect in 1999. It was also during this decade that the Virginia Beach SPCA’s humane education initiatives began to reach younger students through its Early Discoveries program, which would later become the Compassion Classroom program. The wildlife program also began hosting community forums on ways to humanely handle urban and suburban wildlife conflicts.

Throughout the 21st century, the Virginia Beach SPCA expanded its reach. A mobile Neuter Scooter was purchased in 2007 and now provides affordable spay/neuter and vaccine services through the seven cities, Williamsburg, and the Eastern Shore. In 2010, Second Chance Thrift opened its doors with a portion of all proceeds benefiting the Virginia Beach SPCA. Second Chance Thrift remained open and supported our animals for 10 years until it was forced to close in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2015, the Virginia Beach SPCA Pet Supplies & Adoption Center opened, offering a full line of humane retail products and a lower stress shelter environment for adoptable animals. The Pet Supplies & Adoption Center allowed the Virginia Beach SPCA to find homes for an additional 700 animals each year until closing in September of 2019. Through the Humane Society of the United States’ Sister Shelter program, the Virginia Beach SPCA has worked to provide guidance to shelters in Puerto Rico and continues to support other regional shelters through animal transfers.

The Virginia Beach SPCA continued to expand its mission by welcoming pet training into the shelter. What started as a community initiative to keep pets in homes eventually led the Virginia Beach SPCA to launch its very own Pet Academy in early 2019. With onsite shelter training to assist resident animals combined with public classes to support the needs of the community, the Virginia Beach SPCA worked to ensure adoptions last. While the Pet Academy closed in 2020 due to the pandemic, the Virginia Beach SPCA remains an informational and problem-solving resource for pet parents through its Behavioral Support Line and its online Pet Care Resource Center.

In early 2020, after the initial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Virginia Beach SPCA focused its efforts into the most important aspects of its mission: animal sheltering and adoptions, clinic services, and humane education. This year led to a number of adjustments in how services were delivered and sustained, including curbside clinic offerings and special offerings for youth such as virtual visits and activities. We are proud that these innovations allowed all animal care operations and clinic services to remain open and in service throughout the duration of the pandemic.

During this time of challenges and changes, the Virginia Beach SPCA continued to look for ways to stay connected to its community. In July 2020, A Tale for Two was launched, allowing children to visit the shelter and read to a shelter animal. The Beach Buddies program began in July 2021, through which members of the community can take a shelter dog out on an adventure. Then in September 2021, the Virginia Beach SPCA unveiled VBSPCA Animal Heroes, a fun and interactive online video arcade that teaches children about responsible pet parenting, pet safety, and animal welfare.

The Virginia Beach SPCA vision statement that was established in 2019 will continue to guide the mission for many years to come: We connect people and pets. As a trusted resource for our community, we create lasting adoptions, provide quality veterinary care, and inspire compassionate action through education and awareness. We are innovative, we are passionate, and we are committed. In partnership with our community, we end animal homelessness.