Virginia is a Leader in Saving Animals' Lives

Jul 3, 2019


Brittany Pierri, with the Richmond SPCA, is pictured with Jake Roos of Norfolk Animal Care Center. The Norfolk facility transfers animals to the Richmond facility.
Credit Courtesy of the Richmond SPCA


Across Virginia fewer dogs and cats are being killed at shelters than ever before. In fact, 88% of dogs and cats in shelters now avoid euthanization. But animal welfare advocates want more. 

At the Richmond SPCA thousands of animals find homes annually. And many, says Tabitha Treloar, come from southwest Virginia or the Shenandoah Valley. 

“Our last fiscal year we had 55 shelter transfer partners, all over Virginia, as well as a couple outside the state,” says Treloar, who works for the SPCA. 

The animals are transferred from smaller shelters to larger humane societies, that have more resources and are located in areas with larger populations. 

Learn More: Pets Available for Adoption at the Richmond SPCA 

“The networking that happens for animals who need to get moved from one part of the state to the other, who need medical intervention, that network is the key to saving their lives,” explains Treloar.  

In addition to increasing transfers, more lives are being saved by a change in practice that affects so-called “community cats.” 

Laura Palin, manager of admissions, at the SPCA.
Credit Courtesy of Richmond SPCA

Debra Griggs, with the Virginia Federation of Humane Societies, says cats are the most likely to be killed in shelters. So as much as possible they should be left in the community. 

“Someone’s probably feeding it. It’s healthy, it’s happy,” Griggs explains. “So it’s really not in their best interest to take them to a shelter where the odds of their surviving are very poor.” 

Instead localities should round them up, fix and vaccinate them, then return them with a small tip in the ear -- to show they’ve been taken care of. 

These practices have made Virginia a regional leader. According to the Petco Foundation, Virginia has raised the animal survival rate by 5%, to 88% overall. Advocates say they’ll keep pushing until they get to a hundred.


This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.