Compassion in The Home — April 2020

The Virginia Beach SPCA mission is centered around creating a more compassionate community, and we recognize that compassion is often built and nourished in the home. With this in mind, we’ve put together some activities to help you bring compassion to life without leaving your house and to help make sheltering in place a little more positive.

Writing From The Heart Writing Contest

The Virginia Beach SPCA and the Muse Writers Center have partnered up for a writing competition focused on compassion. Youth ages 7-12 are invited to consider the following questions and submit a song or a short story that brings the concept of compassion to life. Submissions are accepted from March 24th through April 20th. Entries will be judged by a combination of young adult and adult writers, and a winner will be selected in both songwriting and story writing. The winner from each category will receive an educational VBSPCA workshop of choice, classes at the Muse Writing Center, and VBSPCA and Muse swag. Winners will be announced in early May. Click here to submit your entry!

Homemade Pet Toys

There are a lot of different enrichment items that you can create with a very common household item — empty toilet paper rolls. You can make edible treats for your dog, a fun toy for your cat or rabbit and even a toy guinea pig. Click here to watch a video tutorial explaining how to make them and enjoy getting creative!

Support Homeless Pets

The problem of animal homelessness has not stopped. There are many animals at the VBSPCA that are still waiting for their forever homes. One huge way to help is to share our adoptable animal posts on social media to reach more people in hopes their perfect family might see them. You can find our animal posts on our Facebook or Instagram pages.

Get Moving

One great way to boost your mood and stay healthy is to move your body! Join us and participate in our kids yoga challenge to promote indoor exercise. If you have a dog, take them for a long walk at a place where you can practice social distancing.

Be Kind To The Earth

While there may not be group cleanups scheduled for Earth Day this year, there are many ways to fight against waste and make your home more sustainable. Your family can begin to practice Meatless Mondays and find plant based foods to eat…like vegetarian pasta! You can educate yourself on the in’s and out’s of recycling, as many things we think are recyclable are not. You could even make a big impact with the small change of turning off the faucet while you brush your teeth! Check back on our page on Earth Day to find more suggestions and guides to how to be a little kinder to the Earth.

Purchase a Mostly Bad Pet Portrait

For a $10 donation, a VBSPCA employee, board member, youth supporter, or an actual artist will provide you with an original portrait of your pet. Some will be good, most will be bad, but all will provide support to animals in need. They’ll also put a smile on our faces as we navigate these uncertain times. This campaign runs from April 1 through April 30. To participate click here.

Amazon Smile

With so many online purchases happening right now, make sure to select the VBSPCA as your Amazon Smile charity of choice. This is such an easy way to support the animals and you make an impact with every single purchase! These donations help the shelter continue the life-saving care for the animals housed at the VBSPCA. Click here to choose our charity.

BJ’s Membership Fundraiser

From April 6 – May 15, BJ’s Wholesale Club is donating $5 for every application completed. This is a great way to help the shelter while also saving money on groceries. Click here to view the offer!

All Year Long – Sustainable Support

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.

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.

Volunteer Spotlight — Mia

Our Junior Volunteers are superheroes that work thousands of hours every year to make sure the shelter and humane education programs have the support they need. We caught up with Mia, one of our awesome JVs, and she answered a few questions about why she enjoys volunteering at the VBSPCA!

Why did you decide to become a junior volunteer?

I decided to become a junior volunteer because I wanted to be able to help the VBSPCA staff in any way I could. My main tasks are making sure donations are going to the right place, folding laundry and folding newspapers for the puppies. I also decided to become a junior volunteer because I want to help in the effort of getting homeless animals adopted.

Why is it important to get involved in volunteer work as young as possible?

Getting involved when you’re my age means you can learn about what happens at an animal shelter everyday and really get hands-on experience in the animal welfare world. Even if you’re helping with simple tasks like donations or laundry, you learn the responsibility of making sure everything gets done the right way, which ends up having a huge impact on how the shelter runs!

Favorite adoptable animal and why?

My favorite type of adoptable animal is a dog because they are fun to take care of. Puppies are a lot of work to train, but they are so cute!

What is one thing you want people to know about the VBSPCA?

I want people to know that there are many animals in the shelter that need to be adopted. I always feel like the cats and dogs want a safe home so bad and it makes me sad knowing I can’t adopt all the animals in the shelter because I already have pets at home. That’s why I want to encourage the community to adopt from the VBSPCA!

VBSPCA Organizational Updates

Each morning, we greet the day with both gratitude and trepidation, feeling fortunate that we are still able to serve the community, our animals, and our mission, but also saddened and worried along with the rest of our global community. We thank everyone in our extended family for their continued support and we look forward to better, brighter days. 

Both our shelter and clinic are still fully operational. We assess the information that comes in every day and adapt our internal processes to ensure that our environment remains safe. We only have a few updates which can be found below, followed by a snapshot of our current modified operations. 


What’s new 

  • Walk Up Vaccine Clinics are now open to all medical professionals: These clinics are offered on Mondays and Saturdays at the VBSPCA clinic. Please ensure you are practicing social distancing or waiting curbside if you come to these appointments. For the upcoming schedule, click here.  
  • No Facebook Appointments: If you would like to make an appointment to visit with animals or to relinquish an animal, please note that we are no longer accepting appointments through Facebook. All appointment requests must come through email at info@vbspca.com or via phone at 757-427-0070 ext 101. 
  • Masks: All VBSPCA staff will be wearing masks from this point forward. If you have a mask at home, please wear it when you come to our facility. 
  • Pet Portraits: Last week, we launched a Bad Pet Portrait fundraiser to help lift spirits and support the animals, to learn more click here
  • A Message from our CEO: Please read a message from our CEO here. 


Ongoing Modifications to VBSPCA Operations 

      • VBSPCA Clinic:
        • Modified Clinic Client Income Restrictions: The VBSPCA Low Cost Clinic has modified their income restrictions to ensure that veterinary care is accessible to anyone who has lost their job or is struggling financially due to the COVID-19 pandemic. If you have been financially impacted and need medical care for your pet, please visit vbspca.com/clinic or call 427-0070, option 2 to set up an appointment.
        • Updated Clinic Hours: The clinic will now be closing at 5pm on Wednesday and 1pm on Saturday. All other hours remain the same. 
        • New Clinic Appointments Available: The VBSPCA clinic has opened up appointments in their schedule to accommodate new and existing clients as well as urgent care appointments. Call 427-0070, option 2 for more information or to schedule your appointment.
        • Spay/Neuters Temporarily Postponed: All public spay/neuter surgeries are postponed until further notice. All PPE will be used for emergency and critical surgeries only. 


  • VBSPCA Shelter:


        • Adoptions, relinquishments, and visitations by appointment only: We are limiting the number of guests in our shelter to no more than 10, so we are no longer accommodating walk-in shelter guests to our facility unless there is space to do so. To set up an appointment, please email info@vbspca.com or call 757-427-0070 ext 101. If you are late by more than 15 minutes, you will have to reschedule. 
        • Adoption Promotions: The VBSPCA is currently offering half off of the adoption fees for senior animals, long-term residents, and FIV+ cats. Please visit our website to see our adoptable animals. We are also participating in Operation Hero-Animal Bond which offers 100% off adoption fees for all military personnel. 


  • Wildlife: The VBSPCA can only accept INJURED WILDLIFE. We are encouraging the community to review our wildlife page to learn about baby wildlife and when human intervention is actually needed. Being aware of the facts can prevent unnecessary suffering for the animals and preserve critical clinic resources. 
  • Volunteer Updates: We are not accepting or training any new volunteers at this time. Junior volunteer and Community service volunteer opportunities are postponed until further notice. Only experienced adult volunteers are permitted in the shelter. Please email volunteer@vbspca.com if you have any questions.


  • Cancellations: All Events, Neuter Scooter dates, Pet Academy classes are cancelled until further notice. 
  • Annual Gala: The VBSPCA Wags and Whiskers Gala has been postponed to June 20th. 
  • No Used Donations accepted: We will not be accepting any used items at this time. This includes newspapers, towels, and linens. Any donated used items will be taken directly to the trash, so please do not drop them off at the shelter.



Emergency Pet Resources:


Helpful Links


How you can help: 

  • Monetary Donations: Financial donations will be critical as we navigate this time of uncertainty. Our income will be severely impacted if people are unable to adopt animals or utilize our clinic services, however our expenses will not decrease. We will also be greatly impacted by the postponement of our annual gala, a major fundraising event for our organization. Without financial support from the community, we will rapidly find ourselves in a potentially damaging financial situation. If you are in a position to provide support during this difficult time, please consider making a donation here.  
  • Adopt: Animals still need homes. Please visit our website to see a current list of adoptable animals. 


VBSPCA COVID-19 Purpose Statement: The Virginia Beach SPCA shelter and clinic are essential community resources that provide lifesaving care for homeless and owned animals. Our services are dedicated to both the people and pets of our community, and we will continue to provide services in an effort to save lives, complete families, and lift spirits during this time of crisis. With the support of our regional animal welfare and animal control organizations, we can focus on animal-related community concerns while human services organizations can maintain focus on immediate human health needs. We are in this together, and we will continue to do our part in keeping our community healthy and safe.


Happy Tails — Maggie

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. However, as important of a role as our shelter plays in each story, the happily ever after is why we’re here. The second chances begin with us, but the forever is what it’s all about. VBSPCA Adopter Families are an integral part of our mission, and this month we would like to shine our spotlight on the Landons – an adopter family who welcomed sweet Blossom into their home back in 2018. 

How did you find Maggie and why did you choose her?

One Saturday morning our nephew had a lacrosse game and I happened to be browsing the VBSPCA website when Blossom popped up. I guess you could say it was love at first sight. I left early and stopped by to meet this sweet baby. I sat in the visitation room, petting her and talking to her. She immediately rolled on her back for belly rubs and I knew she was mine.

What is her adoption story?

When I met Blossom, now named Maggie, I was told she had a lot of health issues and that someone had donated money for some of her healthcare.  I declined the donation and asked that it go to another animal that could benefit from it. I knew the health issues going in, but I knew we had the means and a wonderful veterinarian.  My understanding of Maggie’s first years was that she was tethered on a porch by a shoestring and there were multiple pets on the property, which explains Maggie’s issues with protecting food. 

How did you help her build confidence and trust?

Maggie had a lot of trust issues when we brought her home. I knew we had to shower this angel with hugs, kisses and lots of love. Thankfully, my mother lives with us so she did not have to be left alone during the day, and I think this helped a great deal. (My mom’s name is Margaret, so she always says that Maggie is her namesake.) Seeing how Maggie has begun to trust, how she interacts with the other pups in the house, how she has really come into her own fills my heart with pure joy. 

How has she been doing in her home?

Maggie has really settled in perfectly with our family. In the morning when it’s breakfast time, I ask Maggie if she’s hungry and she starts running in circles and through my legs. Most Fridays are Maggie at work days. When I’m leaving, I just say, “Are you ready to go to work?” and she goes right to my car and off we go. And she has recently found her voice! When she wants something, she looks us dead in the eye and barks. Most of the time she wants to be on my lap. 

Have you adopted any other pets?

I lost my 8 year old Dachshund unexpectedly 14 years ago and my family was devastated. There was definitely a void. We talked about getting another dog. One of my coworkers told me to look on the VBSPCA website, and there was Callie! Another love at first sight. When I went to meet Callie, I wasn’t quite sure if this was the right decision as I had never adopted an animal. Adopting Callie really was such an awesome experience.  The joy we felt taking this baby from the shelter and welcoming her into our home felt so good. Just knowing somehow we made a difference in this pup’s life. We loved her so much, spoiled her like crazy, my husband refers to her as our “dogter.” This was such a happy and rewarding experience, we came back for Cadie the next year. We have no children of our own, so these girls are our children.

Why should people adopt?

All I can say is in the case of Maggie, she fills our home and hearts with such love. We received so much in return and she is truly a part of us now.

A Message from the CEO

These are troubled times, and our hearts are with all who are struggling. None of us know what tomorrow brings, but what we do know is that we are members of a resilient community and we will get through this together. Brighter days are ahead. 

I want to thank everyone who reads this. Everyone who has ever adopted or supported us, as your choice to support the VBSPCA is part of the reason we are here today. Without your support, we would accomplish nothing. 

However, as important as I know the VBSPCA is to you, now is a time that we all must take care of our families in our homes. Our parents, our children, our sisters, our brothers, and our pets. 

Until we get through the crisis that has been created by the coronavirus pandemic, our families must be our focus. Now is a time we should concern ourselves first and foremost with our own health and safety, and that of those whom we love. 

You can be assured that the work of the Virginia Beach SPCA will continue. That’s because our community is made up of people like you. People who have supported us, trusted us, adopted our animals, and championed our mission. And I know that people like you will remain committed to the animals no matter what. In good times and bad, you’re with us. That’s what makes our VBSPCA community so special. 

We will continue to share updates to our operations on our website, and you can trust that our values of community, collaboration, dedication, and innovation will be guiding us through this challenging time.

But for now, please take care of those you hold dear. We are here to help if you need us.


Derby Brackett, CEO

Emergency Resources for Pets and Pet Parents Affected by COVID-19

The Virginia Beach SPCA continues to adapt to the needs of the community to ensure that all animals have access to medical care, food, and shelter. To this end, we have made the following adjustments to our community services: 

Low-Cost Clinic: The VBSPCA Clinic has modified their income restrictions to ensure that veterinary care is accessible to anyone who has lost their job or is struggling financially due to the coronavirus pandemic. We have also opened up additional appointments in our clinic schedule to accommodate clients with urgent pet needs. If you have been financially impacted and need medical care for your pet, please visit vbspca.com/clinic to set up an appointment. Please know that all pets must be spayed or neutered to access the clinic services. If your pet is not yet spayed or neutered, please visit vbspca.com/clinic to learn about your options.

Vaccine Clinics: Vaccine clinics will still be held at our shelter, but all clients are asked to wait outside or in their vehicle. If you have a clinic appointment, you will be given instructions when we call you to confirm your appointment. If you would like to set up an appointment, please call (757) 427-0070 opt. 2 or email clinic@vbspca.com.

Medication Refill Delivery: If your pet is in need of medication and you cannot leave your home due to CDC guidelines, please contact us at clinic@vbspca.com. Our staff can provide delivery or mail service if needed. 

Pet Pantry: The Virginia Beach SPCA Pet Pantry Program is a long standing program that provides pet food (for dogs and cats) for families experiencing unexpected economic hardship. We have modified our application requirements to be able to serve all who need us at this time. We will provide food for families as long as there are resources available. Please email petpantry@vbspca.com for more information 

Owner Surrenders : We know that many families are experiencing hardship and some are having to make extremely difficult decisions in regards to their pets. As long as we have space available, we will continue to accept owner surrenders. Please note that all surrenders are available by appointment only, and appointments can be made at info@vbspca.com, via facebook messenger, or at 757-427-0070 extension 101. 

Do You Have a Neighbor in Need? If you have a neighbor who may be quarantined due to coronavirus, we have joined the #viralkindness movement to ensure that we support each other through this difficult time. Please download a kindness card here,  then print and share with any neighbors who may need help.

Please note that due to the fluidity of the situation, we encourage anyone who is seeking emergency support services to check our social media and website for the most up-to-date information. We are thinking of our community at this time, and we look forward to helping in any way we can. 


Writing from the Heart: A compassion inspired writing contest for youth ages 7-12

The Virginia Beach SPCA and the Muse Writers Center have partnered up for a writing competition focused on compassion. Youth ages 7-12 are invited to consider the following questions and submit a song or a short story that brings the concept of compassion to life. 

  • What does compassion mean? 
  • How does compassion feel?
  • How have you seen compassion in action?
  • What does compassion look like?
  • Why is it important compassion exists?

Submissions are accepted from March 24th through April 20th. Entries will be judged by a combination of young adult and adult writers, and a winner will be selected in both songwriting and story writing. The winner from each category will receive an educational VBSPCA workshop of choice, classes at the Muse Writing Center, and VBSPCA and Muse swag. Winners will be announced in early May.

Submission Requirements:

  1. Youth must be between the ages of 7 and 12 at the time of submission.
  2. Short stories should not exceed 1500 words.
  3. Song submissions should be submitted via mp4 format or in a word document. Videos should not exceed 2 minutes, and written songs should not exceed one typed page.

To submit your entry, please fill out the following information:

Writing from the Heart

  • Accepted file types: doc, mp4, mp3, pdf.
    Please upload your file submission here. It must be in .doc, .pdf, .mp3, or .mp4 format.

Happy Tails — Maddox

Arrived at VBSPCA on October 8, 2018 | Adopted on January 24, 2019

When Maddox first arrived at the VBSPCA, he caught everyone’s attention. He’d been in an accident and was covered in burn wounds with open sores on his ears and neck. Our cattery staff took delicate care of Maddox in the months that followed, making sure his wounds were cleaned and medicated while also giving him lots of affection. After 4 long but TLC-filled months at the VBSPCA, Nelson was finally adopted. We reached out to his adopters to see how he is doing, and here is what they had to say:

How is Maddox doing in the home?

Maddox is quite the character and even a year later, parts of his personality are still coming out. He makes us laugh every single day. He is the most energetic, playful, feather loving, cuddly little boy who you can always count on having his tongue out. I’m pretty sure he thinks he is just like our dog Scooter because some of the things he does to mimic Scooter.

What was it about Maddox that made you choose him?

Greg and I were looking to add another cat to our family as a companion for our other cat, Oreo.

I was scrolling through the VBSPCA website at the current adoptable animals and that is when I came across Maddox, then known as Nelson. His markings in the picture and his look really intrigued me, not knowing the past he had, at the time. Greg and I chose a weekend to stop in and meet him and it was love at first sight. Learning his backstory about being burned made us want him for our family even more, especially knowing the love and life that we would give him. We had to wait a couple weeks for medical testing before we could take him home and now we can’t remember what life was like before him.

Why do you think people should adopt animals that need a little extra TLC?

Animals who have a rough past have the most love and appreciation to give when they find the right family for them. A quote that I have read that has stuck with me is “an animal might only be a part of your life, but to them, you are their whole life” and I couldn’t agree with that more. It may take some time for them to come around, but when they start to love you back and show you their personality, there is nothing better than that! We feel so blessed to have Maddox in our family and all that he has added to it since last year.

If you are interested in welcoming a pet into your home, view our adoptable animals here.

All Military Personnel Eligible to Receive 100% off Adoption Fees!

The Virginia Beach SPCA is excited to partner with the Humane Society of the United States for Operation Hero-Animal Bond, a program that strives to help veterans and adoptable animals. From now through March 20th, all military personnel or spouses of deployed members are eligible to receive 100% off of adoption fees for puppies, kittens, cats, dogs, and small animals. Please note that in order to receive this discount, you must present a valid military ID.

All of us at the VBSPCA understand the healing power of pet companionship, and we are happy to be able to extend this benefit to our brave military community. For more information on the Humane Society of the United States and the Operation Hero-Animal Bond program, click here.

Helpful Tips to Protect Your Pet Against Poison

An important facet of pet ownership is keeping your pet safe. While some dangers are clear and obvious, many potential threats are not… especially when it comes to what your pet ingests. Please familiarize yourself with the below list of potentially dangerous substances along with some tips on how to safely store items in your home. Being cautious and aware could potentially save your pet’s life.

Outdoor Products and Plants

When exploring a new park or trail, always monitor your dog closely. Pesticides, fertilizers, and insecticides could be fatal, so always make sure they are dried completely before letting your dog roam in the area. Additionally, remember to always store lawn products out of your pet’s reach. Plants can also be dangerous for both cats and dogs. The most common poisonous plants for the Hampton Roads area are yew, azalea, and lilies.

Household and Food Products

Many common household items can be fatal to pets. These include chocolate, grapes, garlic, onions, coffee grounds, alcoholic drinks, homemade play dough, fabric softener sheets, and detergent. Cleaners and automotive products, such as Windex or antifreeze, can also cause side effects ranging from a stomach ache to death. Keep all of these products in a secure place that you know your animals cannot access.


Medications should always be prescribed by a veterinarian, and keep in mind that animals can overdose on medications just like humans. Also, certain flea preventatives can cause bad side effects, so make sure to always consult your veterinarian before purchasing a specific brand. Another common way to poison your pet is by accidentally using products on one animal that are meant for another. A pet medication meant for a dog should not be given to a cat or a rabbit. Keep human medications stored in a secure place. One 500mg tylenol tablet could be fatal to a cat and one 200mg ibuprofen could potentially cause stomach problems in a smaller dog.

Things to remember

  • Keep all products out of your furry friend’s reach.
  • When in a new outdoor place, monitor your dog closely to ensure he or she is not ingesting something dangerous.
  • Medications are species specific and are only to be given after being prescribed or speaking to your pet’s veterinarian.
  • If your pet has ingested something that it should not have, please see a veterinarian immediately.