Building Trust – Keeping Kids and Pets Safe

The home should be a safe environment for everyone, including children and pets. Whether you’re welcoming a new baby, adopting a new pet, or having young visitors in your home, it can take some time for everyone to adjust. By being proactive you can create a harmonious environment for humans and animals alike.

For the Kids:

  • Monitor children and pets who don’t know one another. Introductions should always be done under close adult supervision. Make sure your child knows to ask an adult for permission before approaching or touching any animal they don’t know.
  • Teach kindness and respect. Simple things like showing children how and where to pet the animal, letting them know that animals have feelings too, and asking them to not to touch your pet’s food or toys can go a long way.
  • Talk about how animals communicate. Let your child know that if your cat or dog is growling, hissing, cowering, or trying to get away from them, they need to leave the animal alone.

For the Pets:

  • Create safe zones for your pet. Make sure your pet has a place to eat and an area to sleep and relax where children know he should not be bothered.
  • Allow your pet to decide whether to interact with children. Some animals are leery of kids since they tend to move fast and can be noisy. If their go-to response is avoidance, respect your pet’s wishes and try to create trust between the pet and the child over time.
  • Intervene when play gets out of control. It doesn’t matter if it’s a child or a pet who gets a little too rambunctious – quickly calm the situation down so no one gets hurt.

Interactions with pets and other animals can be very beneficial to children. Caring for a pet can teach children empathy, kindness, and responsibility. Pets also provide companionship and even boost confidence and lower stress levels! By setting your children and your pets up for success, everyone will be able to enjoy their time together safely.

To learn more about our humane education programs visit vbspca.com/education.

Dr. Kimberly Key, DVM | In Service to the VBSPCA Since 2019

Dr. Kimberly Key began serving on the Virginia Beach SPCA Board of Directors in 2019. As a veterinarian, she wanted to see firsthand how the VBSPCA helped homeless animals in our community. “I was curious about the operations of the shelter and wanted to offer my assistance in any way I could,” she says.

Dr. Key’s passion for animal welfare is evident in all aspects of her life, both professionally and personally. While attending Old Dominion University for her undergraduate degree, she worked at the Virginia Aquarium. Dr. Key received her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine before returning to Virginia Beach in 2003. She then started at Bay Beach Veterinary Hospital as an associate veterinarian, where she later became the owner in 2014. In 2017, Dr. Key expanded the practice and opened Bay Beach Veterinary Emergency Hospital. 

In addition to serving the community, Dr. Key’s practices assist the VBSPCA in handling wildlife emergencies – a role she says is very fulfilling for both herself and her staff. Dr. Key also has plenty of animals to care for at home. She, her husband, and her two daughters live in Virginia Beach with their three pugs and two cats.

Dr. Key encourages people to get involved in helping homeless animals in our area, noting that there are many ways to help. “I have been so impressed with the many ways the VBSPCA interacts with the community. It is clear that there is a philanthropic heart within the VBSPCA community.”

Dr. Key’s involvement with the board strengthens the VBSPCA’s dedication to providing compassionate care for every animal who comes through our doors. Thank you, Dr. Key, for donating your time and expertise to our organization, and for providing loving care to all of your patients.

If you are interested in serving on the Virginia Beach SPCA Board of Directors, please email Derby.Brackett@vbspca.com for more information.

A New Year’s Message from Our CEO

After all that we have been through together in this year 2020, the act of being grateful may be challenging for us. But at this time and on the cusp of our new year, it is exactly where I want to be- with an attitude of gratitude. I am so grateful for the thousands of people that came through our doors wanting to bestow love and care on our animals. For the hundreds of donors that gave their gifts to help us sustain our mission. For the many clients that honored our clinic by allowing us to keep their pets healthy. For the multitude of partners that trusted us with their animals, knowing we would find loving homes for them. And for my VBSPCA family that continues to serve the community by taking care of the animals every day. For these reasons and so many more, I am filled with gratitude and a sense of justice that the pain of 2020 will not last.

Indeed, the world would be dreary without our pets. They have brought us joy throughout this year with every interaction. Throughout the myriad of tests 2020 has brought, the happiness of connecting people with their pets conquers all. We were honored to be able to be open every day this past year to serve our community and their animals. I am filled with anticipation that the new year will bring even more good our way. As we will still be operating under the “new normal”, 2021 will have its own set of challenges walk through our doors and we will embrace these too as we continue our work. Because as we clearly saw this year… we humans need the animals as much as they need us.

So for every Rambler, Jed, Donald, Ray Ray, Ben, or Reeses in our lives, we celebrate. And for all of the people that experience the unconditional love of their pets from our VBSPCA, we know how that feels. Thanks for allowing us to be the connection that brought you joy in the darkness of 2020. I will be forever amazed that you all walked alongside me through the misadventures of 2020 and never abandoned our mission.

Our 2020 year in Review is below, please take a look and see what you helped make possible. Thank you again, and we look forward to seeing you on the bright side of 2021.

Happiest of New Years to all-


Selecting Safe Pet Toys For Your Furry Friends

‘Tis the season for holiday shopping, and that includes gifts for your pets! Pet merchandise is expected to be one of the top gift-giving categories for the 2020 holiday season. According to one survey by Deloitte, Americans plan to spend an average of $90 on pet products this year. 

Pet toys will undoubtedly be on the holiday shopping list of any animal lover. The good news is there are plenty of options when it comes to entertaining your pet. But while it can be fun to pick the cutest or silliest toy you can find, it is important to consider your pet’s safety when you are buying toys.

Size Matters
When you are buying toys for your pet, be sure to think about the size of your animal. Small toys can be a choking hazard for larger pets, and large toys may be hard for a smaller pet to carry around.

Look Closely
Even appropriately sized pet toys can be hazardous because of the way they are made. Common hazards include “eyes” on soft toys, strings, ribbons, or any part of a toy that can easily be chewed off and ingested. 

When in Doubt, Test it Out
Whenever possible, it is a good idea to supervise your pet with new toys. You’ll quickly realize whether your dog has a tendency to tear the stuffing out of soft toys and eat it or your cat often gets string or feathers stuck in his mouth. You may find that you have two categories of toys in your home: ones that can be left for your pet to play with at any time, and others that are put away and only used when under your close supervision to prevent any safety issues.

Choose Your Chews Wisely
Dogs naturally like to chew, but edible chews can be extremely dangerous. As your pup chews off pieces of the treat, it can get lodged in his throat or digestive tract. Carefully choose the size and shape of any edible chew, and only let your pet have it when you can watch them. 

If you’re looking for something you can leave with your pets when you are not home, treat-dispensing toys can be a great option. You may also want to consider chew toys made of hard rubber, which are much less likely to become a choking hazard.

By thinking through your pet’s play behaviors and closely looking at the toys you buy, you’ll be able to enjoy playtime and worry less about unexpected trips to the veterinarian. 

Tom Sheppard | In Service to the Animals Since 2015

Tom Sheppard has been serving on the Virginia Beach SPCA Board of Directors since October of 2015. He attended a number of VBSPCA events prior to joining the organization, but it wasn’t until attending our annual gala in 2015 that he was compelled to support the mission in a larger capacity. “I remember being quite impressed with the event, its attendees and the lengths the organization went to raise money for the animals of the community,” Tom says.

Tom with his family, Mrs. Paws, and recently adopted VBSPCA pup Wilbur

Tom Sheppard is currently the Managing Attorney at Sheppard Law, P.L.C. He earned his undergraduate degree from Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem and then obtained his law degree from the University of Baltimore School of Law, graduating with honors in 2008. Prior to his entry into private practice, Tom worked as a law clerk on the Court of Appeals of Virginia (2008-2010) and as an Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney in the City of Norfolk (2010-2013).

Tom has served as co-chair on the VBSPCA Puttin’ for Paws planning committee for many years, and he has been a committed participant in the tournament ever since he joined the board. Tom encourages members of our community to experience the VBSPCA mission through event attendance, as it provides a great opportunity to learn more about the organization and meet the team members that are so devoted to its mission.

Tom is also a strong advocate of the humane education component of the VBSPCA. He believes that the more positive experiences we can provide for the youth of our community, the closer we come to achieving our mission of eliminating animal suffering while increasing human compassion.

Tom Sheppard’s voice on the board is important as he represents the many members of our community who share in his experiences, interests, and passion for animal welfare. Thank you, Tom, for so generously sharing your time and talents with our organization, and thank you for giving VBSPCA pup Wilbur a forever family.

If you are interested in serving on the Virginia Beach SPCA Board of Directors, please email Derby.Brackett@vbspca.com for more information.

Thank You for Making a Difference on Giving Tuesday

Every year on the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving, organizations around the world join together to encourage people to do good and give back for Giving Tuesday. The Virginia Beach SPCA asked our community to support our Miracle Medical Fund on this day of kindness, and you delivered!

A generous donor agreed to match all donations made on Giving Tuesday up to $12,500, so our official fundraising goal was $25,000. Thanks to our supporters, we raised a total of $39,815! That amount is enough to cover the medical expenses for our animals for an entire month!

Here’s a look at Giving Tuesday 2020 by the numbers:

– $39,815 Raised
– 298 Individual Donors
– 13 Social Media Fundraisers Created

Every dollar donated on Giving Tuesday will go directly to our Miracle Medical Fund, which provides all necessary medical treatments for the animals of the VBSPCA. This fund relies entirely on community support and pays for everything from simple vaccines to lifesaving surgeries.

We could not care for our animals without your support. On behalf of the staff and the animals of the VBSPCA, THANK YOU! Your outpouring of generosity is truly life-changing for homeless pets.

Compassion in the Community – December 2020

The holiday season is here, and the Virginia Beach SPCA has a lot of exciting ways to celebrate while helping our animals! We’ve got the ultimate gift guide for all of the animal lovers in your life – both the VBSPCA and members of our community have a wide variety of gifts that give back to the shelter pets. Youth are invited to participate in a fun reading event, and a local business is collecting donations on our behalf all month long. Plus, we’re very thankful that our shelter feels like a winter wonderland thanks to some donated decorations! Thank you for your support of the VBSPCA throughout 2020!

#GivingTuesday 2020 – December 1st
Mark your calendars – #GivingTuesday is December 1st! The VBSPCA is joining organizations around the world to encourage people to do good. This year all of your #GivingTuesday donations will be used for our Miracle Medical Fund, which provides the VBSPCA animals with the medical treatment they need. And thanks to a generous donor, all funds donated that day will be matched up to $12,500!

Our goal is to raise a total of $25,000 this year. Every dollar counts, so please save the date for #GivingTuesday and donate here.




Home for the Holidays Adoption Event – Begins December 5th
Priority Automotive is back again with the 12th annual Home for the Holidays adoption promotion. Beginning December 5th, Priority Automotive will cover half of adoption fees for canines and felines at the VBSPCA and three other local shelters. This partnership aims to find all of the animals in our shelter system a home for the holidays. Discounted adoption fees run through New Year’s, or when funds run out.




Math Story Time with Mathnasium – December 6th
Learn a little about math and some of the adoptable animals of the VBSPCA with Mathnasium! During this virtual event, participants will enjoy the story of “Measuring Penny” and meet some of the VBSPCA animals. The event will take place on December 6th at 1:00pm. Proceeds will benefit the VBSPCA. You can register for the event here.

Team Eddie’s Auto VB – All Month Long
All December long, Team Eddie’s Auto is collecting donations for the VBSPCA. You can drop off food, toys, blankets, or cash donations at the auto repair shop at 5040 Virginia Beach Blvd, Unit 103B.

Caroline’s Prints for Paws
Young philanthropist and artist Caroline is creating prints to raise money for the animals of the VBSPCA. For a donation of $5 or more, 8-year-old Caroline will send you a unique drawing and the digital version of the print. Learn more about her fundraiser and the available prints here.

Community Gifts that Give Back

Holiday Light Boxes
Steven Kabath’s custom light boxes make great gifts and give back to the VBSPCA. You may recognize his work as he donated wooden light boxes for our Mutt Masquerade costume contest winners. Steven can customize the design and color of your light box. To purchase a light box, text Steven at 540-589-0716. Light boxes start at $35, and 25% of sales will be donated to our shelter animals.

Send a Holiday Gift Box through Puppy Love
Looking for the perfect present for your pooch? Puppy Love has a variety of gift boxes for the canine in your life. Select the VBSPCA at checkout and a portion of the proceeds will be donated to our shelter animals. Check out the gift boxes here.

VBSPCA Gifts that Give Back

Visit our Retail Store
Our retail store has something for every animal lover on your holiday shopping list! Proceeds from each purchase go directly back to the VBSPCA animals. We have VBSPCA calendars, gift cards, apparel, pet toys, and more! Stop by the shelter today to wrap your holiday shopping up early!

While you’re at the shelter to pick up your holiday gifts, be sure to check out our beautifully decorated building courtesy of Outdoor Lighting Perspectives!

Sponsor a Day in Honor of Your Loved One
Looking for a more meaningful gift idea? Consider giving the joy of helping the animals in our care by honoring your loved one on a day that is special to them with the Virginia Beach SPCA’s 365 Days of Compassion Fundraiser. Their name will be displayed on our Wall of Compassion both in our shelter and on our website. Click here to sponsor a day to support our animals!

Gift a Membership
Giving the gift of VBSPCA Membership allows the recipient to become part of our mission. That means your loved one will be part of every adoption, every pet we treat in our clinic, and every child we reach with our human education initiatives. For an affordable monthly donation, members receive exclusive perks and discounts. Learn more about our membership levels here.

All Year Long – Sustainable Support

Kroger Plus
You can help homeless animals anytime you buy groceries at Kroger! Simply sign up, swipe your Plus Card when you shop, and a portion of the sale will be donated back to the VBSPCA! Sign up to participate here.

Host a fundraiser through Bonfire
Create a t-shirt to benefit the animals of the VBSPCA! Bonfire makes it easy – upload your design, select the VBSPCA as the nonprofit, and they take it from there. This is a great way to support the animals while also putting some style out there in the community. Learn more here.

Paypal Giving Fund has partnered with Nextdoor in order to bring charities a new way to gain support from their communities. With Nextdoor’s Sell for Good, neighbors can support charities by simply buying and selling items on the For Sale & Free marketplace. Sellers will now have the option to donate proceeds to benefit nonprofits like the VBSPCA through the PayPal Giving Fund. Click here to get started today!

Become a Member
As a VBSPCA Member, every adoption we complete, every wildlife animal we rescue, every child we reach, and every pet we treat in our clinic connects back to you. YOU make our mission possible, and all it takes is $10 a month. Plus, VBSPCA members receive exclusive perks and discounts in gratitude for their dedication to sustaining our mission! Interested? Click here to become a VBSPCA Member.

In solidarity with our two legged and four-legged community, VBStrong T-shirts and tanks are available at the VBSPCA shelter, located at 3040 Holland Road. 100% of the proceeds from these VBStrong shirts will go to families of those who were lost on May 31st, 2019.

The Virginia Beach SPCA is incredibly grateful for the continued support from our local community. If you are interested in hosting a fundraiser or event supporting the VBSPCA, please contact our Outreach Department at outreach@vbspca.com.

Happy Tails | Rambler

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, our November Happy Tails highlights an adopter for whom all of us at the Virginia Beach SPCA feel a tremendous amount of gratitude – our very own Derby Brackett. Derby has been serving the VBSPCA since September 2017. She first joined the organization as a board member, then she stepped in as Interim CEO 6 months later, and she took the official CEO position in March 2019. However it wasn’t until January 2020 that Derby adopted VBSPCA pup Rambler, and together they represent one of over 2700 happily ever afters from this past year.

Rambler’s Story
Rambler and his 8 littermates arrived at the VBSPCA on December 26, 2019. They were barely 6 weeks old, motherless, and all of them in need of medical care for serious parasitic infections. After the puppies were treated in our clinic, our shelter team placed the puppies in foster homes where they would be able to rest and recover until they were ready for adoption. Placement for all 8 pups was secured in less than 24 hours, and our Director of Philanthropy, Emily Peck, had signed up to take Rambler and his brother home on foster. However, Emily was out of town for the holiday weekend, so Derby stepped in to foster Rambler and his brother until she returned.

This was Derby’s first foster experience, and her weekend with the puppies was both challenging and rewarding – but mostly rewarding. Resident pet Rainey Storm warmed to the pups’ presence in the home, and her nerves shifted to curiosity. Everyone was friendly in no time. A few days of fostering turned into a few weeks of fostering, and when it was finally time for Derby to bring the puppies back to the shelter, Rambler was already home.

His First Year with Derby
At the end of this year, Rambler will celebrate his one year anniversary with Derby and her husband Doug, and what a year it has been. Despite the chaos us humans were experiencing throughout 2020, Rambler experienced a year of chasing waves at the beach, digging holes in the backyard, walking in the park, and playing with his big sister, Rainey Storm. He spent much of the year taking up too much space in the bed, being startled by the vacuum, and harmonizing with the sirens. He made a few appearances in Zoom meetings and ruined a few shoes, but overall he brought immense joy and unlimited entertainment to his humans. For Rambler and all of our animal friends, 2020 was a year of being loved by their human companions, and that love is central to everything we do at the VBSPCA.

In Thanks
We offer our thanks to Derby for providing Rambler with a loving, forever home, and we thank her for the compassionate leadership she uses to guide the entire VBSPCA team every single day. Derby leads with compassion and dedication – and, as 2020 has taught us – when nothing goes as planned, compassion and dedication matter most.

Brad Kuether | In Service to the Animals Since 2013

Brad Kuether has been serving on the Virginia Beach SPCA Board of Directors since 2013. His initial involvement with the organization began through our volunteer program, through which he donated his time and energy to both our kennel and foster programs. Eventually he was approached by leadership to join the board as a representative of our shelter volunteers, and he has been in board service ever since.

Brad’s professional life has been a mixture of military service in the US Navy and working in private industry. He spent 24 years as an Officer in the US Navy, starting out flying A-6E Intruder aircraft, as an Instructor at the Naval Aviation Schools Command, and completed tours at a Tactical Air Control Squadron, CINCLANTFLT, MIDLANT, and finally at Second Fleet. Brad also worked as the Training Development Manager for Coastal Training Technologies and as a Contractor working on several training development projects including developing the first computer based SCUBA knowledge training. For the past 13 years, he has worked for General Dynamics Information Technology as a Project Manager. He has managed projects for various customers including the US Navy, NATO, FAA, and currently to develop F/A-18 Pilot training for the Finnish Air Force. Brad’s board service has allowed him to remain involved with animal care, and he continues to foster kittens on a regular basis. He has served as co-chair on our Mutt Masquerade planning committee and he has been a committed running participant in the event for years. Brad encourages members of our community to join the VBSPCA mission through volunteerism, event attendance, and donations when possible.

Brad Kuether’s voice on the board is important as he represents the many members of our community who share in his experiences, interests, and passion for animal welfare. Thank you, Brad, for your dedication to the Virginia Beach SPCA.

If you are interested in serving on the VBSPCA board, please email Derby.Brackett@vbspca.com for more information.

Caring for Senior Pets – Wellness in the Golden Years

Sooner or later, age catches up with all of us…. even our furry family members. While senior pets tend to be more mellow and easier to manage, there are a few things to keep in mind to make sure you are providing the best care for your four-legged friend. Read our following tips below, and download our infograph to share with senior pet parents in your community. 

Stay active 
  • Physical exercise is critical at any age, as both mobility and cardiovascular fitness are keys to longevity. Continue to take walks for exercise, but make sure to adapt your route based on your pets ability. If your pet is experiencing joint or muscle stiffness, you can blend gentle massages with short walks around the house to keep the joints mobile.  
  • Brain health is as important as physical fitness, so make sure to provide mental enrichment to aging pets. Take new routes on your walks to expose your pet to different sights and smells. If walks become challenging, try wandering the yard instead. You can also hide treats around the yard or house and encourage your pet to locate them. This provides the opportunity for discovery, which is good for the brain at any age. 
Be proactive with health and nutrition
  • Senior pets often have special diet and nutrition needs, and these needs can vary depending on your pet’s overall health. Whether you’re dealing with obesity or a more complex systemic imbalance, consult your veterinarian to ensure that you’re feeding your pet the right food.
  • Regular vet checkups become increasingly more important as pets age, and it is recommended that senior pets see a veterinarian every 6 months. These regular checkups are key to early detection of common senior illnesses such as cancer, diabetes, and liver disease. 
Know the Signs
  • If you notice any of the following signs, your pet may be in need of additional care: excessive itching or hair loss, changes in appetite or vomiting, incontinence or frequent urination, mouth soreness or tenderness, movement issues or changes in activity levels. If any of these signs present themselves, see your veterinarian. 

Being present for the golden years can provide some of the most rewarding moments of pet companionship. Yes, the medical costs can increase and more tender care may be required, but the bond that exists is extremely special. The end will always be inevitable, but as compassionate, attentive pet parents – we can provide a final chapter that is rich in the moments that make living worthwhile. We are their whole world. 

If you are looking to welcome a senior pet into your home, visit our adoptable animals page here.