Happy Tails | Zelda

Every single animal that comes through our shelter has a story. Some are complex, many are sad, but all of them get better the minute they arrive at the Virginia Beach SPCA. Zelda arrived at the shelter last April when her previous owner had to move. Senior cats like Zelda often face extended stays at shelters, but her adoring and vocal nature soon caught the attention of repeat VBSPCA adopters.

Today, Zelda is thriving in the home along with her canine and feline siblings. We recently caught up with Cayley to see how Zelda has added even more love to her home.

How did you know Zelda was the one for you?

We were just looking around the shelter and came across her. She looked right at us, snuggled us, and immediately started purring. We spent like an hour just petting her, and she was just so loving and trusting that I knew she would fit right in.

How is Zelda doing in the home?

Zelda is doing great! She loves grooming and cuddling all our animals and us. Whenever we wake up, she’s laying on us or meowing at us to get up. She loves sunbathing at our window in her bed from the shelter. When we have company she always greets them with some loud meows then gets on their lap and demands pets. She has just bloomed and always wants to play and have zoomies.

What sort of activities do you do together?

Whenever I’m lying down or sitting on the couch she always likes to lie on me and get face rubs and belly rubs. Her favorite toy is the laser pointer, which is what we mostly used to get her active to help her lose some weight. 

Does Zelda have any funny quirks?

Zelda is a very, very vocal cat. She will let you know when she wants attention. It’s mostly when we wake up. Every morning she climbs on the bed – if she’s not already cuddling me – and meows at us until we finally wake up. 

Whenever we stop petting her, she will rub her face on my hand until I start petting her again. Her loud purrs are just irresistible!

How has Zelda enriched your lives so far?

Zelda has helped me in many ways. She calms me, she is the best alarm clock I could ask for, and she lays on my chest and helps me fall asleep. Her connection with our other animals just shows how much love she has to bring into our home. People always want to come over to say hi and give her love.

Her meows light up my world, and my phone has thousands of pictures of her cuddles and funny memories that I cherish everyday.

Meet VBSPCA Board Member Dr. Leigh Hofmeister

A veterinarian with over a decade of experience practicing in Virginia Beach, Dr. Leigh Hofmeister has always been passionate about animal welfare. She now aims to spread that passion throughout the community by serving on the VBSPCA Board of Directors.

“I love the VBSPCA’s mission to find a loving and lasting home for animals,” Dr. Hofmeister said. “The Humane Education program is important to me as educating the public about animal welfare is one of my passions. I believe the earlier we are able to do this, the more change we will see.”

By the age of four, Dr. Hofmeister knew she would be a veterinarian, just like her uncle. She studied animal science at Clemson University and continued on to Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine and Oklahoma State University College of Veterinary Medicine. In January 2023 she opened her own practice, Coastal Vet.

Dr. Hofmeister has supported the VBSPCA in the past by attending events and helping both friends and clients adopt animals from the shelter. She believes everyone can contribute to the organization in their own way.

“The VBSPCA has many opportunities for every community member; whether it is volunteering, donating, or adopting an animal,” she said. “I love that there is something for everyone.”

We are happy to welcome Dr. Hofmeister to the VBSPCA Board of Directors. It takes involvement from caring people in our community to make a difference in the lives of homeless animals!

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

Compassion in the Community | June 2024

The days are heating up, and so are the pet-friendly activities in the area. On tap for June are pool parties, outdoor markets, and so much more. Here’s a look at how you can have fun while giving back.

Little Learners – TCC/Joint Use Library – June 21st
Join the VBSPCA for its newest humane education offering, Little Learners. Children ages 3-5 and their caregivers are invited to join us at the TCC/Joint Use Library on Friday, June 21st from 10:00am to 10:45am to learn about kindness, compassion, and empathy through stories and activities. Participants will also meet a small animal. A donation of $5 is suggested to attend with all proceeds going back to our shelter. Click here to learn more and sign up.

Yappy Hour – Pups and Pints – June 22nd
The next Yappy Hour is set for Saturday, June 22nd from 2:00pm until 5:00pm at Pups and Pints. The theme is Bring Your Own Pool Party – and Pups and Pints also has a splash pad! The afternoon will feature a variety of games and contests, including the Most Unique Pool competition. Bring a pool for your canine companion and decorate it for your chance to win!

Additionally, our friends at Pups and Pints will donate 10% of all food and beverage sales during the event to the VBSPCA. Guests can also take advantage of a $5 day pass to the off-leash park. A donation of $10 is suggested upon entry. Click here to learn more.

Woofstock – Afterglow Brewing – June 29th
Visit us at Afterglow Brewing between noon and 6:00pm on Saturday, June 29th for Woofstock, an all day market with live music and vendors to raise awareness for local shelters and rescues. All collected donations will be divided among the rescue organizations in attendance.

All Year Long – Sustainable Support

Black Dog Real Estate LLC
Looking for a new home? Try Black Dog Real Estate. A total of 5% of each sales commission will be donated to the VBSPCA. Click here to learn more.

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.

Jennifer Brickhouse Realtor
Realtor Jennifer Brickhouse of the Real Estate Group is turning housewarmings into homecomings. She is sponsoring the adoption fee of one adoptable animal at the VBSPCA for each house sold. Click here to learn more.

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.

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 | Lucy

Every single animal that comes through our shelter has a story. Some are complex, many are sad, but all of them get better the minute they arrive at the Virginia Beach SPCA. Lucy was surrendered to the VBSPCA in August 2023 when a member of her previous family developed allergies. A shy cat who valued her space, Lucy struggled adjusting to life in a shelter. As the months went by, Lucy received very little interest from potential adopters.

Unbeknownst to Lucy, she had a secret admirer named Emily. She had been searching local shelters for adoptable cats in advance of her move to the area. Emily finally completed her move to Virginia Beach, and Lucy was adopted in January 2024 – ending a five-month stay at the VBSPCA. We recently caught up with Emily to hear about Lucy’s transformation at home.

How did you find Lucy?

I spent months looking at adoptable cats on the VBSPCA’s website prior to moving to Virginia. I saw so many cats get adopted and removed from the page, but Lucy stayed up there. I knew once I got to Virginia, if she was still in the shelter, she was coming home with me. Five months later, I had finally moved and visited the shelter. She was very shy and protective of her space, but I knew as soon as I saw her I could give her a quiet place to be herself and have all the love she deserved! 

How is Lucy doing in the home?

Lucy adjusted so well and so quickly! To my pleasant surprise, she has gone from being very shy to being attached to my hip. She’s extremely talkative and loves to curl up next to me for head scratches.

What sort of activities do you do together?

Lucy and I love watching birds and squirrels run around. She enjoys playing with toys that have feathers or are on strings. Lucy also likes to spend her days guarding the house for us by growling at neighbors as they come and go past the windows.

Does Lucy have any funny quirks?

Lucy enjoys waking me up well before my alarm every day by staring me down and gently pawing my face. The second I show signs of being awake, she will loudly run laps through the house to ensure I stay awake and go feed her.  

Lucy will sit in my window waiting for me to get home everyday. The second she sees me, she runs to the front door to greet me and tell me all about her day. I also give her a treat when I get home. If I take too long, she will bring me the package and run to her treat pad to wait for it.

How has Lucy enriched your life so far?

Lucy ensures I never sleep through an alarm, reminds me to stop and enjoy the nature around us, and has brought so much love into my home. She truly is my perfect companion.

I will be forever grateful to the VBSPCA staff for showing Lucy love and kindness as she awaited her forever home. Adopting Lucy was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. The staff made the process extremely easy and ensured I was prepared to care for her.

Meet VBSPCA Board Member Christine Gustafson

Christine Gustafson believes each person has a duty to be the voice for animals in need. The Vice President of Marketing & Public Relations at The Breeden Company, Gustafson is amplifying her voice through service on the VBSPCA Board of Directors.

“The VBSPCA offers a plethora of community resources and programs,” Gustafson said. “As a Board Member, I am honored to serve as a voice of the organization.”

Gustafson oversees the marketing and corporate communications for The Breeden Company, a nationally-recognized real estate development firm based in Virginia Beach. The Breeden Company is the VBSPCA’s 2024 Miracle Medical Spay/Neuter Annual Partner, and company founder Ramon W. Breeden Jr. and his wife Lucy are major supporters of animal welfare – one of the many reasons Gustafson loves working for the company.

“I am fortunate to be a part of an organization that believes one of the pillars of community stewardship is focused on animal welfare,” Gustafson said.

Gustafson hopes to use her position on the board to spread awareness of adoption and the various ways the community can support the VBSPCA.

“I am a tried-and-true proponent of adoption,” Gustafson said. “Financial gifts and acts of service in support of organizations like the VBSPCA are never wasted. No matter what it is, it benefits the animals who need us.”

We are happy to welcome Gustafson to the VBSPCA Board of Directors. It takes involvement from caring people in our community to make a difference in the lives of homeless animals!

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

VBSPCA Receives $10,000 Grant from Petco Love

The Virginia Beach SPCA (VBSPCA) is set to receive a $10,000 grant investment from national nonprofit Petco Love in support of their lifesaving work for animals in Hampton Roads.

Petco Love is a national nonprofit leading change for pets by harnessing the power of love to make communities and pet families closer, stronger, and healthier. Since its founding in 1999, Petco Love has invested $380 million in adoption and other lifesaving efforts. And Petco Love helps find loving homes for pets in partnership with Petco and more than 4,000 organizations — like ours — across North America, with 6.8 million pets adopted and counting. 

“Our investment in the Virginia Beach SPCA is part of more than $15M in investments recently announced by Petco Love to power local organizations across the country as part of our commitment to create a future in which no pet is unnecessarily euthanized,” said Susanne Kogut, president of Petco Love. “Our local investments are only part of our strategy to empower animal lovers to drive lifesaving change right alongside us. We launched Petco Love Lost, a national lost and found database that uses patented image-recognition technology to simplify the search for lost pets.”

“Every year the Virginia Beach SPCA spends more than $400,000 to provide medical care for the pets who enter our shelter,” said Derby Brackett, CEO of the Virginia Beach SPCA. “Petco Love’s lifesaving investment will help adoptable pets get necessary medical care so they can enter their new homes healthy and pain-free.”

This $10,000 grant will be directed to the VBSPCA’s Miracle Medical Fund.

VBSPCA Clinic Construction Update

The Virginia Beach SPCA Clinic renovations are now in their final phase. Beginning Thursday, May 2nd, all clients must check in via our new lobby entrance. Due to space constraints during this phase of construction, clients will be asked to bring their pets to check in at the front desk and then wait outside or in their vehicles. While exam rooms will not be available to clients, veterinary consultations will be completed after the exam either outside the building, in the lobby, or via phone call.

We will provide updates about any other changes to operations as necessary. Thank you for your patience and cooperation during this major renovation project, which is expected to be completed in July. We look forward to expanding access to our low-cost veterinary services in the coming months!

Happy Tails | Love

Every single animal that comes through our shelter has a story. Some are complex, many are sad, but all of them get better the minute they arrive at the Virginia Beach SPCA. Love and her five puppies were transferred from the Eastern Shore to the VBSPCA in late April 2023. Love had not had the best start to life. She was malnourished, covered in fleas, and required treatment for heartworm disease.

Several months passed, and Love was still searching for an adopter. This timid shepherd mix was struggling with the shelter environment and needed a relaxed home to begin heartworm treatment. Up stepped Rachel, a Veterinary Assistant in the VBSPCA Clinic who had slowly formed a bond with Love in the weeks prior. Rachel agreed to foster Love during her heartworm treatment before finalizing the adoption in October 2023. We recently caught up with Rachel and her brother, Nick, to hear about Love’s transformation in the home.

How did you find Love?

I happened to be working the shelter surgery shift in the VBSPCA Clinic the day she was spayed. She was so nervous and shy but very sweet. She caught my interest for one reason or another that day, as we spent the whole day together. Then I started visiting her kennel almost every day for a couple of weeks. At first, I’d bring treats that she’d nervously sniff but not take, and she had no interest in being touched. So I’d just sit in the opposite corner from her and hang out for 10 minutes or so. Eventually, she tolerated a small pet or two. It was obvious she was pretty distrusting of people. 

How is Love doing in the home?

Now she’s doing great! She has sooooo much personality, and I always joke that her “puppy energy” has come out. It was a pretty slow process getting to where we are today. She didn’t know how to “dog.”

What sort of activities do you do together?

She’s mostly a couch potato, so we potato together most days. She’s a big snuggler and spends most of the time by my side. We love going on walks, and we just spent a weekend with friends in the Shenandoah Valley. She impressively toughed out a four hour drive and thoroughly enjoyed a 5 mile hike. She did really well with all the humans and doggos we interacted with along the way.

Does Love have any funny quirks?

My favorite thing is when I first get home. She’s so incredibly excited to see me and full of zoomies and play bows. She’s even gotten so excited she’s jumped clear over the couch! She’s a really silly girl and is full of love and secret wild energy.

How has Love enriched your lives so far?

Prior to Love, we just had our three cats – Smokey, Bandit, and Remy. Love has definitely encouraged a more active and adventurous lifestyle. She’s also provided so many sweet snuggles and laughable moments.

What would you say to anyone considering adopting a heartworm positive or timid dog?

The biggest thing is patience. I wouldn’t consider it an easy undertaking by any means. The first couple of weeks with Love in the home were hard. She was slow to warm up to interaction, and it was stressful to observe. It took a couple of weeks before she accepted laying on the couch with us. 

The treatment process was also hard on her. She was in pain after each injection, and it made me sad. Her first couple months in the home, I actually slept downstairs on the couch with her. I also found that it was important to develop a bond with her.

So once again, patience is the biggest thing. The adjustment is hard, the treatment is hard. Be kind, understanding, and give them all the sweetness they’ve never had the luxury of knowing.

2024 VBSPCA Compassion Award Recipient: TowneBank

From day one, investing in the community has been a central part of TowneBank’s philosophy. As the bank has grown, so has TowneBank’s philanthropic footprint. Today, hundreds of local charities representing a wide variety of worthwhile causes proudly call TowneBank their partner. This includes the Virginia Beach SPCA, which receives support for its mission from TowneBank in a number of ways. 

“Giving back to the communities we serve has been part of our mission from day one,” said TowneBank Vice President and VBSPCA Board Member Leila Bradley. “We are committed to serving others and enriching lives by supporting hundreds of local charitable organizations through donations, scholarships, and grants.”

TowneBank has been a driving force for good in the Hampton Roads community since its founding over 25 years ago, contributing more than $100 million to local charitable organizations in that time. Since 2021, the company has partnered with the VBSPCA to support humane education, a program Bradley describes as an “important initiative that teaches children about kindness and empathy through innovative learning and activities appropriate for various ages.”  The VBSPCA’s Humane Education Program offers young animal lovers a variety of educational opportunities, from in-shelter and classroom programs to newsletters and virtual activities. After an interruption to in-person programming due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the VBSPCA is now returning to local classrooms with the award-winning Listening Ears program after a long hiatus and expanding with new offerings such as Kids Night In and Little Learners.

TowneBank will receive the 2024 Compassion Award at this year’s VBSPCA Wags & Whiskers Gala on Saturday, April 27, 2024. Signature events like the gala and the Puttin’ for Paws Charity Golf Tournament also benefit from TowneBank sponsorships. These events are eagerly anticipated each year and serve as vital fundraisers for VBSPCA while also spreading awareness of the organization and its mission.

“All of these great events that TowneBank has supported over the years bring smiles for the memories we made and gratitude for the lives of pets and humans that were changed,” Bradley said. “The VBSPCA is a big part of what makes our region a great place to live.”

Members of the TowneBank family have also taken a hands-on approach to supporting the VBSPCA, none more so than Bradley. She began volunteering for the VBSPCA in 2017, joined its Board of Directors in 2018, and recently served as Board Chair. Following Bradley’s lead, TowneBank employees often choose to support the VBSPCA during the annual United Way Day of Caring, including a sizable cleanup effort of the VBSPCA Memorial Garden and other outdoor public spaces in 2023.

Bradley (far right) with fellow TowneBank employees after a 2023 volunteer project

Bradley views the 2024 Compassion Award as a tremendous honor because it recognizes TowneBank’s culture of caring that has been carefully cultivated throughout the years and demonstrated daily throughout the community.

“We take to heart our role to serve others and enrich lives. Showing compassion for all living creatures is the first step in making our region an even better place to live. When there is a need in the community, the TowneBank family is quick to respond.” – Leila Bradley

Interested in attending this year’s Wags and Whiskers Gala? Click here for tickets and more information.

2024 VBSPCA Lifesaver Award Recipients: Barbara Taylor Creech and Mary Donnan Harrison

Mary Donnan Harrison and Barbara Taylor Creech have been best friends for what feels like a lifetime. In the 50-plus years they’ve known each other, the two have shared countless memories and a deep love for animals and the Virginia Beach SPCA. Their collective impact on the organization is so immense that it is no exaggeration to say the VBSPCA would not be what it is today without them.

Harrison with Diego

The companionship of animals has been a lifelong constant for both Creech and Harrison. Creech grew up in Virginia Beach surrounded by sprawling farmland and fondly remembers her family’s cattle, horses, and dogs. Likewise, Harrison spent her formative years in the company of canines. Her Richmond home always had at least one dog, and her parents taught Harrison that “a lover of animals treats them like a member of the family.”

A summer job brought a young Harrison to Virginia Beach, and she never left. She met Creech through mutual acquaintances, beginning a friendship that now spans three generations. Creech was the first of the two to become involved with the VBSPCA, visiting the shelter’s previous location to adopt a puppy. Creech recalls that it was little more than a “shack,”, and she left there with two equally important things – a dog she loved for 15 years and the realization that “there needed to be something better” than that shack. Creech took that realization to heart and began volunteering for the organization before later joining the VBSPCA Board of Directors.

Creech with Zeke

Something better did come. Not long after, the VBSPCA launched a capital campaign for a new shelter, and the Holland Road location opened in 1989 – the front lobby named in honor of Creech’s mother, Doris Malbon Taylor. The inaugural Celebrity and Pet Fashion Show coincided with the opening of this new shelter. Creech helped plan the event and was a participant alongside her poodle mix. Harrison also had her Cocker Spaniel in that first show.

The Celebrity and Pet Fashion Show paved the way for what is now the VBSPCA’s annual Wags and Whiskers Gala. It is only fitting that Creech and Harrison will receive the 2024 VBSPCA Lifesaver Award at this year’s event, which takes place Saturday, April 27.

After planning the fashion show for seven years, Creech handed responsibility over to Harrison, who worked diligently for eight years to continue to elevate the event. Harrison recalls two aspects of her time in charge – plenty of long nights perfecting every detail and the companionship of co-planners Shelley Giordano, Bruce Rader, and Kathy Thomson. “The four of us worked so hard together,” Harrison remembers. “We would stay up until two o’clock in the morning in my kitchen. We did it for years. They really deserve this honor with me.”

Sharing in Harrison’s humility, Creech was likewise quick to acknowledge the impact of former VBSPCA Board Members Judge Tom Ammons and Joe Waldo on the continued growth and success of the organization.

Creech and Harrison both took step backs from active participation with the VBSPCA after their time with the fashion show, but both have remained steadfast in their love of animals and support of the organization. That passion made it an easy sell when current Chief Executive Officer Derby Brackett reached out to see if they would be interested in serving the VBSPCA once again. The two friends are now working together on major gift projects to fund the continued growth of the organization.

“It’s been fun to get back involved again, and I’m back in the groove of helping the VBSPCA” Creech said. “To see how far the VBSPCA has come is very rewarding.”

Creech views receiving the 2024 Lifesaver Award as a tremendous honor, one made even sweeter by the inclusion of her longtime friend. “It’s so incredibly special and just means a lot to me,” she said. “Receiving it together is very special.” Like a true best friend, Harrison was in total agreement, saying “I think it’s absolutely wonderful. It’s a huge honor. I have always loved the VBSPCA. It’s meant so much to me.”

“I think every town needs an SPCA and I think we’ve got one of the best ones.” – Mary Donnan Harrison

Header Photo Credit: Don Monteaux Photography

Interested in attending this year’s Wags and Whiskers Gala? Click here for tickets and more information.