Happy Tails | Savannah

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. Savannah came to the VBSPCA along with her six young puppies in January 2023. The family of Terrier mixes had been transferred in from a shelter in rural North Carolina. In addition to being a mom, Savannah had heartworm disease and needed treatment.

Once Savannah’s puppies were healthy and strong, they were quickly adopted. Unfortunately, Savannah had to wait longer for her second chance. That opportunity came when she met a woman named Colleen at the VBSPCA Wags and Whiskers Gala in April 2023. We recently caught up with Colleen and her husband, Ben, to hear about how Savannah finally found a home of her own.

How did you find Savannah? 

Colleen met Savannah at the VBSPCA Wags and Whiskers Gala. It was love at first sight. The deal was sealed when Colleen brought Ben to meet Savannah at the shelter and she crawled right into his arms. We weren’t looking to make the addition to our family at the time, but after learning that Savannah was one of the longest residents, that she already had puppies at just two years old, and that she was heartworm positive, we knew we could provide her with a nurturing, loving home. We adopted Savannah on May 23, 2023.

How is Savannah doing in the home?

Savannah is doing great. She loves her big back yard, cuddling up on the couch, and trying to play with her sister, Bailey Rae, a 16-year-old Jack Russell Terrier/Beagle mix. 

Savannah had another big sister, Anna, who unfortunately passed away suddenly due to lung cancer in November 2023. Anna showed Savannah the ropes on how to be a good girl, how to catch treats in the air, and, most importantly, that “ball is life.”

What sort of activities do you do together? 

Savannah continues to play ball in her big back yard – her favorite being her soccer ball, which tracks seeing as her dad played soccer in college. She also loves her squeaky balls but finds they serve no purpose after she has successfully retrieved the squeaker. Savannah also loves to go on walks around the neighborhood and curl up by the fireplace, but she always makes time to remind the Amazon drivers whose turf this is. 

Does Savannah have any funny quirks?

Savannah loves to show off her new toys to anyone who comes for a visit. She also quickly learned to let herself out the back storm door (when unlocked) to use the bathroom and chase squirrels in her backyard. 

How has Savannah enriched your lives so far?

Savannah has enriched our lives by keeping us on our toes and making us laugh with her puppy mannerisms and charisma. She was the perfect addition that we never knew we needed.

Happy Tails | Groceries

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. In October 2022, a tabby cat was found as a stray and transferred to the VBSPCA from another local animal shelter. She was so thin when she was found that someone remarked that she needed some groceries – and thus Groceries became her name.

Groceries had an open wound behind one of her front legs. The VBSPCA Clinic worked diligently to help her heal, but it took nearly a year for her to be medically cleared. In the meantime, Groceries made herself at home with the shelter team and was even promoted to join them in the cattery office during the day. She was even unofficially promoted to cattery manager.

It was bittersweet when Groceries was finally made available for adoption as she had become a staff favorite, but an animal shelter is no place for a cat to live permanently. It seemed like fate when a woman named Stella ended up adopting Groceries exactly one year after she had first arrived at the VBSPCA. We recently caught up with Stella for the rest of the story.

How did you know Groceries was the cat for you?

I had been looking at cats for quite some time and had finally picked a couple out from two shelters in Virginia Beach. I meant to go to a different shelter but I typed in the opposite one on my maps app and didn’t realize it until I was looking for the other cats. I noticed that Groceries (the only one I picked out from VBSCPA) was there. Immediately, I saw her and knew that she was my cat.

I had broken my left hip a year ago and it has taken me a year to get to a manageable level, whereas she had a deep wound on her left leg which took her a year to heal from as well. She took to me and brushed against my legs. While I was [waiting for my adoption to be approved], I would come by each day and stay with her for about two hours. I did this for two days until the [adoption] day came and we went home!

How is Groceries doing in the home?

She is doing fantastic. Considering the fact that she is a 6 year old lady, she plays like a kitten. Her favorite toys are a ball of yarn, a pickle, and a worm on a string. She currently has at least two beds in each room, as well as heaters right next to them. Bird feeders were promptly installed so that she has constant entertainment as well.

What sort of activities do you do together?

I would say that we really do any activity together, with Groceries’ part taking place from a distance. She’s a very curious cat and loves to watch me do just about anything, whether that is cooking a homemade meal, tending to my plants, painting/drawing portraits, and watching Scarface and Donnie Brasco together.

Does Groceries have any funny quirks?

There are endless quirks with this cat. The first that comes to mind is the fact that she squeaks but cannot meow – and most of the time nothing comes out at all. Every time she stands up she has to walk over to a scratching post and get the scritches out. She has a bit of RBF but don’t let that fool you as she loves belly rubs and head scratches and warms up as soon as she gets either.

How has Groceries enriched your life so far?

To be honest, little miss Sylvia Groceries Garland (though she still mainly goes by Groceries) has saved my life. I was going through an extremely hard and lonely time when I got her with lots of life changes happening. I felt like it was finally time to get a cat again after my childhood cat of 18 years passed two years ago. She gave me a reason to wake up at 6:00 am (to feed her) and a reason to fall asleep (with a cuddle next to me).

I want to add that the VBSPCA staff had been nothing but amazing to her. Her second family is one she will never forget, as she sleeps on the blanket [they] handmade for her. While the “cattery manager” has been relieved of her post, her supervisory tendencies have not ceased in the slightest as she watches over her new domain.

VBSPCA Clinic to be Renovated Thanks to PetSmart Charities Grant

The Virginia Beach SPCA Clinic will undergo a major renovation in 2024 thanks to a $1.1 million grant from PetSmart Charities. The funding is part of PetSmart Charities’ “Accelerator” low-cost veterinary care grant program, which aims to improve access to veterinary care in communities across the nation.

The expansion of the VBSPCA Clinic will increase its capacity as well as provide additional staffing and equipment upgrades. This project is an effort to provide pets and families in the area with more access to low-cost veterinary care including urgent care services, case management of long-term issues, and everyday wellness and illness visits.

“We’ve seen an increase in the number of pet parents in Hampton Roads who are unable to afford veterinary care, forcing them to make the difficult decision to surrender their pets to the Virginia Beach SPCA and other local shelters,” said Derby Brackett, CEO of the Virginia Beach SPCA. “The expansion of the VBSPCA Clinic will ensure that pets get the medical care they need and allow them to stay in homes with the people who love them.”

Construction will begin mid-January and is expected to be completed in June.

A Message from the CEO

It is so hard to think that the year 2024 is here – time has a way of standing still and passing quickly in tandem. While the Virginia Beach SPCA remains dedicated to the animals in our care on a constant basis; we evolve to grow, learn, and collaborate to do even more. There is always more to do.

This has been particularly evident this year. The most recent data from Shelter Animals Count shows that there are 245,000 more animals in the system this year versus last year. The result of overbreeding, economic hardships, and residual pandemic effects have created an increase in the number of animals in need of care and shelter. We are seeing a bold mix of puppies and kittens, popular breeds, and pure breeds along with our “regular” shelter animals. We are working hard with our shelter partners in the area to transfer in animals whenever possible to help with overcrowding. We are constantly promoting our residents to qualifying adopters. Adoption floors are full and our hope is that 2024 brings in more animal lovers to experience the love and joy that is part of our adoption process.

The veterinary shortage crisis has also impacted our ability to do more. As area clinics struggle to keep their doors open and provide services to help keep healthy pets in their homes, we have striven to fill the gaps and ensure affordable care for those most in need. We have learned much over the past year about staffing, best practices, improved methodologies, and use of data to be positioned well for an expansion in 2024. As a grantee of PetSmart Charities Accelerator Grant, we are excited about our clinic renovation that will begin mid-January. This project will increase our surgical and clinical capacity to care for a greater number of pets in our community while allowing us to take even better care of our beloved shelter animals. As we begin renovations, there may be slight interruptions and changes in operations, so please watch for ongoing communications.

The continued delivery of our mission of compassion in 2023 was only possible because of the dependability of our community and the generosity of our donors. Whether through annual sponsorships, attendance of our gala and golf tournament, contributions to our Miracle Medical Fund, or time spent volunteering; the gifts from our supporters allow us to give back more to the animals. We know that 2024 promises even greater engagement with ALL of our friends through multiple opportunities to spread joy and give hope.

Our progress in 2023 is a result of the hardworking team members who have banded together for a common purpose: the animals. Our staff has endured difficult staffing times, contentious customers, challenging cases, and leadership changes. These challenges only make us better equipped to be successful in our vision of connecting people and their pets in 2024. We all owe them our gratitude.

As we blink our eyes to 2023, we celebrate the good, learn from the bad, and envision a future that we know includes more deserving shelter animals, greater health in our community of pets, more hard work, but even more rewards for all of us.

With many thanks and a bright outlook for 2024,

Happy Tails | Bodie

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. Bodie found himself at the VBSPCA in March 2023 after he was struggling with changes in his previous home. The one-year-old Australian Cattle Dog mix needed a home where he’d get plenty of attention and exercise. Lucky for Bodie, it wasn’t long until a family who had experience with his breed came in to meet him. We recently caught up with Cassidy to get an update on Bodie now that he’s happy in his forever home with her and her boyfriend, Nathan.

How did you know Bodie was the one for you?

I searched all the shelters in the area for months, fantasizing about getting a dog. We knew we wanted a dog and were waiting for the right time to pull the trigger. Nathan had a heeler for most of his life and he was getting up there in age (16 years old), and I had an elderly cat who had just passed away so we were ready to welcome a younger animal into our lives. I was perusing the VBSPCA website on a Sunday and saw Bodie. We almost immediately went to the shelter to go meet him. We fell in love with him at first sight, but what sealed the deal was a shelter staff member saying, “This is the calmest I’ve ever seen him.”

How is Bodie doing in the home?

Bodie is doing great. He is definitely a menace, but we love his antics and are up for the challenge of keeping him constantly entertained. Cattle dogs are not for the faint of heart! We have worked with a trainer and have come a long way with him. He has some anxiety that we work through, but overall, he has settled into our routines very well and seems extremely happy.

What sort of activities do you do together?

We try to take Bodie with us wherever we go as much as possible to show him everywhere is fun. He adores going to First Landing, where we play fetch and swim. He has almost daily playdates with his little girlfriend Maya, an island dog who lives in our townhome complex. He loves to go to Pups and Pints to get soaking wet standing in the splash pad. I take him to work with me occasionally and he runs around playing with his most prized possession, his Jolly Ball. He loves the car and tries to get in whenever we so much as walk by it.

Does Bodie have any funny quirks?

Bodie is very quirky, so it’s hard to think of specific things that he does that stand out more than others. The biggest one to point out is now that he has figured out he loves water, his new favorite game is trying to jump in the shower or bathtub whenever the water is running. He is very sweet and whenever you sit down around him, he will walk up and put his head on your shoulder as if he is giving you a hug – but he does expect you to scratch his legs and belly while he stands there. He is very unaware of his size. He isn’t a large dog, but he isn’t small either and insists on napping on top of us. He has herding tendencies, of course, so he is a Velcro dog and does not like it when his people are in two separate rooms. His main goal in life is to keep us together at all times. Bodie almost always sleeps on his back with his legs up in the air and will sometimes use walls to prop himself up so he can stay upside down.

Behind the Scenes with the VBSPCA Neuter Scooter Team

Have you ever wondered what it is like to work at an animal shelter? Here at the Virginia Beach SPCA, we have more than 60 employees who connect people and pets. Our team members serve in a variety of roles, and each individual is an integral part of working towards the mission of ending animal suffering while increasing human compassion. This month we want to take you behind the scenes with the VBSPCA Neuter Scooter Team.

Interested in the Neuter Scooter’s services? Click here to see upcoming stops, book your spay/neuter appointment, or learn more about our walk-up vaccine clinics.

You Made Giving Tuesday a Success

Every year on the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving, people around the world join together to give back to causes they care about for Giving Tuesday. This year, animal lovers in the community once again showed their kindness and delivered for the animals of the Virginia Beach SPCA.

Together we raised $15,000 for the animals. These donations give the gift of a second chance to animals in need and provide critical funding to the mission.

We can’t help homeless pets without caring members of the community like you. On behalf of the animals and Team VBSPCA, thank you for your generosity!

Gifts That Give Back

Tis the season to support the animals! If you have pet lovers in your circle of family and friends, consider giving gifts that give back to the animals of the VBSPCA. 

  • Include some extra love in your holiday cards by making a donation in someone’s honor.  Stop by the shelter, make a donation, and receive a holiday gift acknowledgment to put inside your greeting card. This is a great way to share compassion while celebrating the joy of the season. There is no fee for the acknowledgement card.
  • Purchase pet toys or VBSPCA apparel as gifts for friends and family. The VBSPCA has a great retail store located inside the shelter that carries a variety of different gifts for both your favorite animals and humans! Plus, all retail proceeds go directly back to the animals of the VBSPCA. 
  • Purchase a VBSPCA gift card that can be used for adoption fees or retail items. Give the gift of compassion with a VBSPCA gift card! Gift cards can be used for retail purchases and adoption fees, however all adoption policies and procedures still apply.
  • Sponsor a kennel, condo, or cabin in someone’s name. These very important sponsorships contribute to the cost of shelter and care for shelter animals providing a unique opportunity to directly support animals in need. A personalized plaque will be placed on your chosen kennel, condo, or cabin for an entire year, and sponsors receive quarterly updates on the animals who have benefitted from your kindness. Gifting a sponsorship to a loved one is a great way to show you care. To learn more, click here.

Finished shopping but still want to find a festive way to help the animals this holiday season? Beginning December 1st, when you make a donation of $5, you can purchase a personalized ornament and place it on our holiday tree in honor or in memory of a pet or loved one. Ornaments can be purchased at the VBSPCA front desk.


Happy Tails | Sadie

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. Sadie came to the VBSPCA in December 20222 when her previous family was moving and couldn’t take her with them. The laid-back lap cat needed treatment for a flea allergy to get her feeling and looking her best.

While Sadie waited for her forever home, she got to know a volunteer named Margaret. One of her cats had recently passed away, and she took a special liking to Sadie. We recently caught up with Margaret for the rest of the story.

When did you adopt Sadie?

We adopted Sadie on February 2, 2023.

How did you find Sadie?

I first met Sadie as I was feeding and cleaning her condo [while volunteering]. When I first met her, she had a flea allergy and was missing a lot of fur. One of our senior cats, Midnight, had passed away at Thanksgiving, and our other cat, Nicky, was in need of a feline companion. Sadie was noted to have lived with other cats previously, and even had some physical similarities to Midnight. When I took Sadie into the visiting room, she climbed on my lap for attention and became playful. My husband, Richard, came with me to meet her and the decision was made.

How is Sadie doing in the home?

Sadie made herself at home on the second day at our house. She walked around from room to room exploring, and our other cat followed behind as if he was the realtor and she was the house hunter. Every day the two cats got friendlier and very quickly they were grooming each other and sitting side by side. This happened much quicker than I expected. Now they race around, play with each other, and entertain each other.

What sort of activities do you do together?

When Sadie is not playing with Nicky, she enjoys looking out the window, chirping at birds, or playing with my socks or cat toys. She sleeps at the foot of our bed and tries to claim her space on the living room recliner.

How has Sadie enriched your lives?

Sadie has become part of our family. She has rejuvenated Nicky and added to our lives with her playfulness and curiosity.

Mark Your Calendars for Giving Tuesday 2023!

This year Giving Tuesday will take place November 28th, and the animals of the Virginia Beach SPCA are counting on you! This year we hope to raise $20,000 to help care for the thousands of animals who come through our doors each year. Your donation allows you to become part of the mission – every dollar counts!

Here’s how you can help with this year’s fundraising efforts:

  • Set a reminder to make a donation Tuesday, November 28th! You can make your gift right here on our website or through our Facebook or Instagram pages.
  • On Giving Tuesday, be sure to share our social media posts and encourage others to support the homeless animals of the VBSPCA. 
  • Create a social media fundraiser of your own.

With supporters like you, we know we can reach our goal on this global day of giving!