pets' lives saved since becoming no-kill in
January 2002

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Richmond SPCA

Humane Center

2519 Hermitage Road
Richmond, VA 23220

Adoption Hours
Mon. 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Tue. - Fri. 12 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Sat. 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Sun. 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Lora Robins Gift Shop Hours
Mon. 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Tue. - Fri. 12 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Sat. 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Sun. 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Donation Drop Off Hours
Mon. 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Tue. - Fri. 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Sat. 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Sun. 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Susan M. Markel
Veterinary Hospital

Mon. - Fri. 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Closed Monday, February 18.

Admissions Hours
Mon. - Fri. by appointment.
Closed Monday, February 18.

Administrative Hours
Mon. - Fri. 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Closed Monday, February 18.
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What is the Richmond SPCA?

The Richmond SPCA, founded in 1891, is a non-profit, no-kill humane organization dedicated to the principle that every life is precious. The Richmond SPCA is a national leader in humane care and education, having developed numerous lifesaving programs and services including those dedicated to adoption, rehabilitation, sterilization and education. We save the lives of more than 4,000 homeless animals each year and care for about 350 cats and dogs daily.

The Richmond SPCA is not affiliated with any other private animal welfare organization or SPCA but we regularly transfer pets from local municipal agencies into our care so that they may receive lifesaving treatment and be adopted to loving new homes. Of the 3,600 homeless animals in our care each year, we transfer more than 80 percent of them through these relationships. The remaining 20 percent are surrendered to us by their owners.

The Richmond SPCA operates a low-cost, full-service veterinary hospital; a free behavior helpline and offers pet behavior classes; children's educational programs; a free Trap Neuter Return program to spay, neuter and vaccinate community cats; and numerous volunteer programs.

What is the Mission of the Richmond SPCA?

To practice and promote the principle that every life is precious.

What are the Core Values of the Richmond SPCA?

The standards of conduct that define who we are and guide what we do include: excellence in all that we do, integrity by always acting in a manner consistent with our mission and values, uncompromising care for animals, commitment to the authentic principles of the no-kill philosophy, and leadership in the Richmond community and the humane community nationally.

What are the Brand Pillars of the Richmond SPCA?

At all times and in every way, we are advocates for animals. We provide for their safety and comfort, strive to alleviate their suffering and work to place them in homes that provide a responsible lifetime commitment to them. We speak out publicly to promote and defend their interests. We oppose all forms of animal cruelty. We promote spaying and neutering to achieve and retain a no kill community. We oppose any taking of the lives of healthy or treatable animals and do not participate in such conduct ourselves. We provide services that promote responsible pet ownership and humane attitudes toward all life.

When was the Richmond SPCA founded?

1891 - Find out more about our 125 years of advocacy and protection of our community's animals by visiting www.richmondspca.org/125.

What has the Richmond SPCA accomplished in its most recent fiscal year? 

View our Annual Report for Fiscal Year 2016-2017, which provides a summary of our accomplishments for homeless pets from October 1, 2016 through September 30, 2017. 

Do you accept volunteers?

Yes, we have a very active volunteer program and are grateful to people who donate their time to helping orphaned animals. For more information, please click here or call 804-521-1329.

How does the Richmond SPCA receive its animals?

The Richmond SPCA receives roughly 20% of its animals from people giving up their own pets and 80% from the local government pounds in Richmond City and the surrounding counties. Our staff members visit the local municipal shelters regularly and frequently to transfer animals into our care. Please click here to learn more about admitting a pet to the Richmond SPCA.

What is your admissions policy for the relinquishment of owned pets?

The Richmond SPCA is a no-kill shelter. We never euthanize pets due to lack of space or length of stay, and we save the lives of all healthy and treatable sick and injured homeless pets in our care. For this reason, space is at a premium and we are not able to admit all pets at all times. We maintain a waiting list of both dogs and cats for owner relinquishments. When space does become available, our admissions department contacts those interested in surrendering their pets and sets up an appointment for relinquishment. While pets are on the waiting list, our staff helps the owners resolve behavioral issues, gets the pet fully inoculated and spayed or neutered. Often, this process results in the owner keeping the pet or finding him or her a new home. While we work to increase people’s sense of responsibility about their pets, we focus more of our resources on saving the lives of animals that are in one of the local pounds where their lives are immediately at risk. Please click here to learn more about admitting a pet to the Richmond SPCA.

Why doesn't the Richmond SPCA accept the surrender of strays?

The Richmond SPCA does not admit strays directly into its care for two reasons.

  • First, owners who have lost a pet need a central location to find him, and that is their local municipal shelter.
  • Second, as a private, no-kill agency, we must use our cage space to save the largest number of lives possible, and strays must be held for a period of time during which they cannot be adopted. When a stray is brought to the Richmond SPCA, the good Samaritans who found him are directed to the appropriate animal control facility. Thus, if an owner is searching for the pet, he has adequate time under the “stray period” (a mandatory period of time that the pet must be held under state law) to find him at the government shelter. When the pet’s stray period has ended, we then can transfer the pet to our shelter through our transfer agreements with the government shelters. This policy exists to give stray pets the best chance of being reunited with their families.

For more information about what to do when you have taken in a stray pet, please click here. Please click here to learn more about admitting a pet to the Richmond SPCA.

I have taken in a stray dog or cat wearing a Richmond SPCA ID tag. What do I do?

If you find a dog or cat with a Richmond SPCA ID tag and number, please call our 804-521-1307 so that we may look up the name and contact information of the adopter of the animal. Please note that we will only be able to assist when our phones are staffed, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, and Noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. If you find a pet after hours with a Richmond SPCA ID Tag we would very much appreciate your holding on to the pet until we open so that the pet may be reunited with his or her owners. If the animal is wearing a tag with his owner's information, we would encourage you to place a call to them so that they may come pick up their pet. Please click here for additional information and resources.

I have taken in a stray dog or cat not wearing any identification. What do I do?

There are several steps that you may take in this case. Please click here for additional information and resources.

I have lost my pet. What do I do?

There are several steps that you may take in this case. Please click here for additional information and resources.

There is a cat stuck in a tree in my yard. What do I do?

There is a website with tips for getting cats out of trees, and it also lists a directory of tree services that will assist in getting cats out of trees by state and locality. In addition, a Richmond-area tree climber named Patrick Ryan may be able to assist you. His number is 540-718-0996. The Richmond SPCA and most Richmond-area animal control offices and police and fire departments are not able to assist with this type of call due to lack of equipment, time and resources. A tree specialist will be your best option as they have the equipment for hire that will allow the cat to be safely rescued while preserving the safety of its rescuers.

My pet is sick or injured and I can't afford to see a veterinarian or pay for his care. What do I do?

The Richmond SPCA's Susan M. Markel Veterinary Hospital provides low-cost, full-service veterinary care to pets of income-qualified guardians as well as some other eligible groups. 

What is the difference between a public animal control agency and a private humane organization?

Public animal control agencies are legally charged with enforcing animal control laws and the laws protecting animals from abuse or neglect. They respond to citizens’ complaints about animals and impound stray animals (thus the name “pound”). They are responsible for investigating instances of animal abuse or cruelty and are supported entirely by government funds.

Private humane organizations receive no government funds and carry no legal authority. The role of a private humane organization, such as the Richmond SPCA, is to provide resources to save healthy, treatable animals from death, to treat animals with more compassion and understanding, and to help people have happier, more fulfilling relationships with their pets.

I adopted a pet from the Richmond SPCA but can no longer care for him. What should I do?

Adopters are not required to return a pet adopted from the Richmond SPCA back to our shelter in the event that they can no longer care for the animal. However, adopters must be responsible and humane in the steps they take to find a new home for their pet. We can assist with rehoming your pet into a responsible, loving home if you are unable to do so on your own. In the event you cannot keep your adopted pet, you have the option of returning your pet to the Richmond SPCA within six months of the date of the adoption. If you return your pet to the Richmond SPCA within 30 days of the adoption, you will be issued a refund less a modest processing fee in check form within 30 days.  If you return your pet to the Richmond SPCA after 30 days, you will pay a modest surrender fee. You must schedule an appointment to return your pet and failure to do so will result in forfeiture of any refund for which you might qualify.  If you consider returning your pet to the Richmond SPCA more than six months after the date of the adoption, please contact the Admissions Department at 804-521-1306 for more information.

Additionally, we provide a myriad of pet-retention resources to pet guardians throughout our community, which we urge you to explore. These programs and services are designed to keep pets in homes and out of shelters.

What do you mean when you say that the Richmond SPCA is a no-kill humane organization?

By “no-kill”, we mean that once we admit an animal into our care, we treat that animal no differently than we would expect a loving pet guardian to do. If our veterinarian determines that a pet in our care requires veterinary treatment for a sickness or injury, we provide that care so as to return that pet to a healthy or a manageable state. We only euthanize a pet if our veterinarian determines that the pet is too severely sick or injured to ever recover to a life of quality and is suffering or if a pet is so behaviorally aggressive as to present a material danger to human safety.

What role has your Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) program played in reducing the number of pets being euthanized in our community?

It has played a crucial role. There are many feral cats, meaning they are unsocialized to people, in the Richmond area that are accustomed to living independently outdoors. These cats are not behaviorally capable of becoming a pet in a home because they have survived on their own in an outdoor envionment and have learned to avoid any contact with humans. Feral cats typically live in colonies and these colonies will continue to grow in size unless the majority of the cats in the colony are spayed and neutered through an organized program to trap and sterilize them. Feral cats are not dangerous to humans. We believe that their lives should be respected and that their colonies should be managed by feral cat caregivers who will feed them and care for their health.

Efforts to trap and kill feral cats are not only brutally inhumane but are also largely unsuccessful for a number of reasons. Consequently, we have a TNR program through which we teach people who care about feral cats to trap them safely and bring them to us for spaying and neutering. We will spay and neuter them, as well as provide basic shots and vet care, without charge so long as the volunteer will return the cat to his colony and provide care for the colony for so long as it exists.

To learn more about TNR, visit the Susan M. Markel Veterinary Hospital's webpage or call 804-521-1330.

Does the Richmond SPCA sell dog licenses?

The Richmond SPCA is a licensing location for the City of Richmond only. You may purchase your pet’s license in our Lora Robins Gift Shop for $10. Accepted forms of payment are cash and credit/debit card. You will need to provide proof of rabies, and if your pet has been altered please bring proof of spay/neuter. While it is not required that your pet be spayed or neutered to be licensed, we recommend that you do so. If you are interested in scheduling a spay/neuter appointment, please click here or call 804-521-1300.

For information about other local licensing locations, please use these links or check with your local animal control office:

City of Richmond Animal Care & Control
Chesterfield County Animal Control Office
Goochland County Animal Control (PDF document)
Hanover Country Animal Control Department
Henrico County Animal Protection Unit

I want to report animal neglect or abuse. Who should I call?

Each locality's Animal Control Department has officers who are hired and trained by the government to investigate cases of cruelty and neglect. Please contact your local office immediately if you suspect that an animal is in danger.

City of Richmond Animal Care & Control - (804) 646-5573
Chesterfield County Animal Control Office - (804) 748-1683
Goochland County Animal Control - (804) 556-5302
Hanover Country Animal Control Department (804) 365-6485
Henrico County Animal Protection Unit - (804) 652-3360 or (804) 501-5000 nights, weekends and holidays

I want to report a puppy mill or other illegal or inhumane breeding operation. Who should I call?

Each locality's Animal Control Department has officers who are hired and trained by the government to investigate cases of cruelty and neglect, including puppy mills and breeders. Please contact your local office immediately if you suspect that an animal is in danger.

The Humane Society of the United States also has an active puppy mill investigative unit. To report your story or ask questions about puppy mills, please visit their website.

What is the Richmond SPCA’s spay/neuter initiative?

The Richmond SPCA launched one of the most aggressive high-volume spay/neuter initiatives in the country in October 2004. We pledged to perform 9,000 surgeries annually for three years in order to drastically reduce the number of additional homeless animals being born in our community each year. We also pledged to provide free surgeries to pets of low-income families and full-time college students, to pit bulls and to feral cats. Our organization performed 10,000 surgeries in the first year of the campaign and a growing number in each subsequent year. From 2004 through 2010, the Richmond SPCA provided free surgeries to more than half of its surgical clients. We continue to operate one of the highest-volume spay/neuter clinics in the country and have performed in excess of 95,000 surgeries since opening our clinic’s doors. We continue to provide free surgeries to feral cats in our service area of the City of Richmond and the Counties of Hanover, Henrico, Chesterfield and Goochland and low-cost surgeries to clients of our Susan M. Markel Veterinary Hospital and pets belonging to local government shelters.

My pet was recently neutered at your hospital. What is the green line close to the incision?

The green line is a tattoo that is placed there so that if there is ever any question whether your pet was neutered or not, the tattoo will show that a surgeon had been there. It makes it easier for vets to determine if an animal had already been spayed or neutered.

Does your appointment-based admissions policy result in more homeless animals going to the local pounds?

No. The total number of animals entering the private shelters and public pounds in our community has actually declined by more than 30% since 1999. The Richmond SPCA’s focus on providing aggressive spay/neuter and pet-retention programs to our community has led to this substantial decline in the overall homeless animal numbers. We admit dogs and cats into the Richmond SPCA shelter in two ways. We go to the government facilities in our area on a weekly schedule to transfer animals from them, and we admit owned pets on a space available basis by appointment. Through Project Safety Net, we provide resources to pet owners to help them address their pet-related challenges, such as behavior assistance and re-homing advice, so as to assist them to retain their pets.

If you and the government facilities are taking in fewer animals, where have all the others gone?

The birth rate has declined dramatically through our aggressive spay/neuter and Trap-Neuter-Return programs, and pet owners have taken advantage of our pet retention resources and worked cooperatively with us to resolve their problems with their pet. As a result, there are fewer unwanted litters of puppies and kittens entering shelters and more and more pet owners in our community are working to resolve their problems satisfactorily so that they are keeping their pets rather then surrendering them to a shelter.

When you say that you have saved the lives of all of the healthy animals in Richmond and Hanover, what has happened to the old, the sick and the injured?

We have saved the lives of thousands of them as well. We do not regard age as a consideration in determining whether a pet is healthy. Older pets may be in great health and are usually wonderful companions. The Richmond SPCA treated about 3,000 sick and injured animals last year and spent more than $450,000 to rehabilitate them. Now that we have achieved an end to the killing of healthy animals in Richmond and Hanover, we will be able to save the lives of a larger percentage of the treatable animals every year until we save all of them too.

What programs and services that you offer contribute to the creation of a no-kill community?

The Richmond SPCA has developed and implemented a number of highly effective pet-retention, spay/neuter, and humane education programs and services which have directly contributed to the reduction of homeless animals in Richmond and its surrounding areas by offering pet owners alternatives to relinquishment, access to free and low-cost spay/neuter surgeries for their dogs and cats, and responsible pet ownership learning opportunities. Pet-retention programs include our Project Safety Net, which provides resources (such as behavioral assistance in the form of telephone- and Web-based help lines, “manners” classes, full-service, low-cost veterinary care, foster care, re-homing services, in-shelter consultations, and a pet-friendly housing guide) to pet owners as an alternative to relinquishing their animals to the Richmond SPCA or to any other shelter.

Spay/neuter programs include high-volume, free and low-cost surgeries in our Smoky’s Spay/Neuter Clinic. Those who qualify for free spay/neuter surgeries include feral cats brought to us by community caretakers in the City of Richmond and the Counties of Hanover, Henrico, Chesterfield and Goochland. Our clinic performs surgeries at a low-cost to pets of clients of our Susan M. Markel Veterinary Hospital along with pets belonging to local government shelters. Humane education programs, including (for children) summer camp, birthday parties, inbound tours, outbound visits, junior volunteer activities and (for adults) training classes and seminars on pet learning and responsible pet ownership, were created to further develop the bond shared between people and their pets.

What is the difference between the terms "healthy" and "adoptable" when used to describe pets in a shelter?

"Adoptable” is a term used by many people and organizations in the animal welfare field to refer to an animal that is capable of being immediately adopted into a home because he is healthy and free of legal impediments to adoption. The term has been the subject of considerable disagreement because some people believe that it is highly subjective.

We prefer to use the word “healthy” which is more simple and clear. A healthy pet is one that is free of any significant physical or behavioral problems. We do not consider the lack of a limb, eyesight or hearing or the age of a pet to be a problem that makes a pet unhealthy. We accept pets that are healthy and also pets that are not healthy but are treatable (meaning that they have an injury or ailment that we will treat to return them to a healthy condition for adoption). We also offer pets for adoption from the Richmond SPCA that are not healthy but are manageable, meaning that they have a chronic ailment that will require ongoing care but, with that care, they can live a life of quality.

Have a question not covered here? Please send an e-mail to info@richmondspca.org or contact a specific department.