Best in Show September Staff Picks

While there is certainly something that every single SPCA animal can win “Best in Show” for, we’ve decided to narrow it down to four contestants. These extraordinary contestants are vying for the ultimate prize: a spot in your family! Find out why Vladimir, Mac, Trudy, and Jennifer are our “Best in Show” picks!

vlad-webValdimir – Nominated for being the best nurse and kitten-caretakervlad1-web(3)

Dr. Scheller absolutely loves Vladimir because he helps her take such good care of her patients. Vlad came to the SPCA with severe injuries, but now that he’s healthy, he wants to take care of others. He’s very concerned about the well-being of other cats, especially kittens. Vlad will let kittens knead on him and cuddle up next to him. He’s even tried to help Dr. Scheller check out her other patients! Dr. Scheller describes him as her cat clinic supervisor. Vladimir is only a cat nurse though, no dogs please.

jenn-web(2)Jennifer – Nominated for best supportive exercise buddy

Tiffany says if you need some workout motivation, Jennifer is your BFF! Jennifer loves to go for walks and explore, and if you start lagging on the walk, she’ll also give you lots of kisses and lovin’ to keep you moving and inspired. Jennifer is great at giving puppy-dog eye contact and paying attention to her special person. She loves to sit on or near you, and enjoys munching on some dog cookies. Jenn doesn’t mind other dogs, but she she’s definitely more of a people-person.

Trudy – Nominated for the best bird call and for the best swaggerTrudy-web

Sarah says Trudy is the cutest because she always coos and chirps (hence the best bird call), and due to previous rear-limb fractures prior to coming to the SPCA, Trudy has quiet the wiggle wiggle wiggle in her step. Trudy can often be seen running around and playing with her toys – when she plays, she does an adorable flop-down on her back! She also doesn’t let the non-players get her down. If another cat gives her a swat, Trudy doesn’t let it bother her and instead just keeps going! This peppy, fun-loving cat is sure to put a smile on your face.

mac1-webMac – Nominated for being the best America Ninja WarriorMac-web

Joey thinks Mac is the obvious candidate because Mac is just a lovable goofball who is excited about everything life has to offer. Mac’s energetic, playful, and puppy-like and also incredibly wiggly and full of kisses! Because Mac’s so exuberant and happy, we had a tough time getting a still photo of him, but he’s handsome and adorable nonetheless. This athletic guy loves peanut butter Kongs (peanut butter is a great snack after all the working out he does!) and knows how to sit politely.

Back-to-School Buddies

These popular pooches are vying to be part of all the back to school fun! Each one of these canines has something unique and special about them that will help them stand out in any classroom. Find out why staff loves Major, Hershey, Bella, and McCade and why you should, too!

Major_webMajor – The Daredevil aka “James Dean”
Bre’ says Major’s that loveable bad boy. You know, the one who makes all the girls swoon with his good looks and charm! This daredevil loves adventures and is always up to travel to new locations. He can often be seen using his wits and resources to play hooky and explore. Major can be independent, but when he finds that one special person, he’s all yours! Major enjoys peaceful quiet time, some alone time for reflection, and challenges to stimulate his mind. Major’s that mysterious daredevil who everyone talks about and just can’t wait to learn more about!

Hershey – The Ladies ManHershey_web
Chelsea says Hershey is the best guy ever because he’s been through so much hardship in his life, but he’s the happiest, most loving dog you’ll ever meet! Hershey loves to look adoringly into your eyes and give little grunts of contentment. Chelsea always looks forward to seeing Hershey because no matter what, he’s so happy and excited and just puts a smile on your face. We could all learn a little from this heartthrob – face every day like Hershey does: like every day is the best day of your life. This eternal optimist is sure to help you see the treat bucket as half full. Soft, comfy places and any delicious snacks are the keys to this fella’s heart!

Bella_webBella – The Valedictorian
Ashely says Bella’s a smart lady who’s very eager to please! Bella adores people, loves food puzzle toys, and is always up for a roll in the grass. This athletic go-getter is an all-star runner who loves to get her zoomies out. Once you prove that you’re worth trusting, Bella is the definition of loyal. Bella particularly enjoys car rides (I mean fieldtrips!), especially when she gets to go for ice cream – yum! This quick-witted girl would prefer to be your only dog-child – she has more than enough love to go around and to satisfy all your doggie lovin’ needs. Check out her video!

McCade – The Class ClownMcCade
Allison loves McCade because he’s a goofy guy who has an adventurous spirit. This fun friend might possibly skip a class or to and opt to spend some time playing outside. He’s a lady’s man and prefers to spend one-on-one time with his dog girlfriends. His favorite past-times including doing “the happy dance,” taking selfies with his BFFs, and running for prom king (he’s so handsome and photogenic that he makes all the girls go ga-ga!).

August Volunteer of the Month

Steve-webMeet Steve Stearns, our August Volunteer of the Month! Steve volunteers at least 3 days a week with the cats in Rows 1 and 2 (and will often visit the lobby cats, too) and has quickly racked up over 1,000 hours of volunteer time. Steve has a calm, gentle way with the cats and he has helped many cats find new homes. His personal knowledge of the cats helps Steve make wonderful matches between adopters and their new family members. The SPCA cats are lucky to have such a dedicated volunteer!
When did you first start volunteering at the SPCA?
The week after I retired from UVa in February 2013.
Why did you choose to get involved with the SPCA?
I love all animals–especially cats. Their independence and unpredictability endear them to me. I’ve had cats all my adult life (a dog too) so I know of the problems (and controversies) surrounding strays and ferals. Volunteering to socialize cats gives me not only pleasure and fulfillment but also enables me to find homes for strays.
Do you usually gravitate towards a certain type of cat here?
We can always divide the cats in the rows at the SPCA into those that immediately come out of their cages and those too shy or frightened to emerge. I concentrate on the latter. It is they that need the most socialization. I have fond memories of the cats that have gone from cringing in the back of a cage to being self-confident and loving of attention. The best example is Krista. When she arrived just over a year ago, she was terrified. She was frightened by just a touch, much less a pet. Today she peacefully shares a window cage with two other cats and greets me with head butts when I approach her. She can still be startled but is ready to go to a furrever home.
What’s your favorite part of volunteering at the SPCA?
There are two. The first is the pleasure of hearing a newly-arrived cat respond with purrs to my first touch. The second is the elation I feel when one of the cats I’ve helped care for is adopted by a family that I’m confident will lavish attention on their new kitty.
If you could recommend for adoption any cat here, who would it be and why?
Cecily. She arrived at the SPCA in February 2013– surrendered by someone with too many animals already. She’s since been adopted twice but, for a variety of reasons–none of them hers–was returned. She’s very vocal with people she knows. She’s the first cat that I let out upon my arrival and she soon curls up on a cabinet bed, sometimes sharing it with a cat named Amy. Recently, she’s been hopping into my lap when I sit down–this is a new behavior. I conclude she could easily become a lap cat. Her only idiosyncrasy is that she doesn’t like to be picked up. But leave her alone and she’ll soon be lying next to you, purring. She’s been here far too long and deserves a loving home!

Staff Comments:
“Steve is so helpful with potential adopters! If someone’s interested in or looking for a cat, I know I can just leave them with Steve and he does a wonderful job.”

“Steve is amazing with adopters! He always finds the perfect match. He knows just how to help people pick the right cat.”

“He’s very committed to his cats. He knows them all like the back of his hand! And he’s friendly to staff and adopters.”

They Make Us Melt Like Pup-Sicles on the 4th of July

These puppy dog and kitty cat eyes are sure to melt your hearts like Popsicle on the Fourth of July! Each one of these adorable critters has a certain quality that makes them beloved by staff and volunteers. Hurry on over to meet these fabulous cats and dogs – our Freedom Special ends July 13th and you don’t want to miss out!

JigsawJigsaw – if he were a Popsicle… he’s be an ice cream sandwich! Not only does his coloring totally resemble one, but he’s a sweet pint sized guy who’s ready to be grabbed and go into almost any home!

Daryan immediately reached for this sweet treat of a guy! He might be a shy guy at first, but with some sweet talk and cheek rubs he’ll melt in your arms and all over your heart quicker than you can say his name. This kind and gentlemanly cat needs a soft spot on your lap, a fan club to admire his distinguished markings, and a home to call his own.

Freddie Prinze Jr – if he were a Popsicle, he’d be a red, white, and blue patriotic popsicle – he can easily Freddie-webadapt to become cuddly and calm or energetic and playful depending on your mood, plus he’s an old-fashioned favorite!

Karah says Freddie Prinze Jr. is the man…er dog… who has it all! He’s got quick wits and is a real people pleaser who already knows “sit” and can catch treats in the air. He’d be the perfect gentleman to take to training classes since all he wants to do is stare into your eyes and be the best dog he can be. Freddie is also a ball to have around; he can literally play catch and fetch all day if you’re up for it. Don’t worry about keep-away, he’ll always bring the ball right back to you and drop it at your feet – he doesn’t want the fun to end! And he’s one of the absolute best cuddlers around. This sweet boy will wrap his arms around you and give you the best doggie hugs and kisses ever!

BarbBarb – if she were a Popsicle (or ice cream) she’d be Chunky Monkey because even though she’s got some extra fluff, she’s a go-to favorite!

Rebecca is a smitten kitten for Barb because Barb has pizazz! This plus-size model can strut her stuff and she prefers to have all eyes on her. Who needs other cats when you have a bodacious beauty like Barb? Barb recently started a vigorous exercise plan that entails jumping in and out of the kitty door at the SPCA and patrolling the kitty patio. If you have a porch or patio, Barb would love to continue her routine at your home!

Bon Jovi – if he were a Popsicle, he’d be a banana daiquiri Popsicle, because being a rock star, he likes aLaura-web little rum in his frozen treat!

Laura says Bon Jovi is easy on the eyes and will flirt with you when he’s in his kennel. Laura has a special connection to this handsome guy since she’s known him from day one – Laura met him late one Saturday night when he came in as an abandoned dog. She immediately thought of the song “Living on a Prayer,” and so Bon Jovi got his name! He’s just a sweet, fun, easy to please dog who doesn’t ask for much and is patiently awaiting his new home.

Capt OCaptain Octavius – if he were a Popsicle, he’d be a fudge pop because he’s all over you!

Nicole adores Capt. O because he’s just oozing with affection, and hey, who couldn’t love a cat who only has 3 legs? This cuddly fella knows what he wants and isn’t afraid to ask for it! This love bug loves people so much that he’d prefer to be your one and only, but he’ll tolerate other cats if he must. His main game is giving and receive hugs, window watching, lounging on patios, and just plain lounging in general. Perk: he’ll even let you hold him like a baby! ADOPTED!

July Volunteers of the Month

Anne and TomMeet Tom and Anne Wild, two incredible SPCA volunteers. This husband and wife duo have logged over 1,110 hours in the past three years! They’re dependable, outgoing and friendly, and invaluable to our clinic staff. These two are volunteer rock stars and we couldn’t be luckier to have them!

When did you first start volunteering at the SPCA?

We started volunteering in Charlottesville in 2008, shortly after we moved here. We started out fostering, socializing cats and walking dogs, and both of us eventually ended up volunteering in the clinic

Why did you choose to get involved with the SPCA?

We have volunteered at animal shelters for years and loved the fact that this is a no-kill community.

Do you usually gravitate towards a certain type of animal here?

We foster cats and kittens but love dogs as well.

What’s your favorite part of volunteering at the SPCA?

We like that we are always learning something, plus all the wonderful people we have met. We also love fostering, so it is hard to choose a favorite!

If you could adopt any animal here, who would it be and why?

Just about any animal we have ever fostered!

How many animals have you fostered for the SPCA?

Not sure but I’m guessing well over 100.

Staff Comments:

“They’re the best. No, seriously, they’re the best! They’re everything you’d want in a foster and volunteer, they’re extremely compassionate, and they’re willing to work their tails off. And they’re the nicest people to work with! They’re understanding and are willing to work with our schedule to do what’s best for the animals and do what needs to get done. I love them!”

“They’ve saved our butts in the clinic! They’re come in early and help us with whatever needs help with. And they’re always willing to foster the animals we really need good fosters for – the shy cats, the sickly kittens, whoever we need!”

To Infinity and Beyond: A Tale of Two Dogs

Bramble-in-a-car-with-James-TilsonTo Infinity and Beyond: A Tale of Two Dogs

Okay, so New York is a little closer than infinity, but it is still a long haul from Charlottesville. The distance, though, didn’t stop our Behavior Team from arranging a dog transfer with the Southampton Animal Shelter. Why did we need to transfer a dog all the way there, and how did we do it? We’re glad you asked.

Bramble-in-a-lake-with-James-Tilson_webOur Behavior Program

Thanks to a dedicated group of people, the SPCA is committed to exhausting all options to help the homeless animals of our community. This takes a combination of extremely hard work, guts and imagination. Each week, we meet to discuss the dogs and cats who need more help. They may be shy, unsocialized, hard to handle, or struggling in some other way. We try to use our limited resources to tailor help for each animal’s individual’s needs. Sometimes, all a shy cat needs is time in an office. All a high energy dog needs might be a chance to play with other dogs. But sometimes, they don’t know how.

Playing for Life

Several years ago, renowned dog handler Aimee Sadler began arranging dog playgroups in Southampton Animal Shelter. Realizing how play with other dogs offers enrichment opportunities often missing in most shelters, she decided to take her program on the road and teach as many shelters as possible how to use play to help their more difficult dogs get enough exercise and mental stimulation to become appealing options for adoption.

Several of our staff, including our Behavior Coordinator Ashley Litton, had attended Aimee’s Playing for Life seminars and learned the basics of playgroups. We are able to run them at the SPCA, but our level of skill and experience is essentially high school level.


Bramble had been in the SPCA since March. He needed some advance education. He had difficulty with being kenneled – he was bored, smart and strong. Very strong. He liked to dart out of his kennels and “fence fight” with other dogs. (Dogs in shelters or other kennel situations often show a type of barrier aggression called fence fighting. In a home, when not surrounded by other dogs, this behavior dissipates.) Because he was so strong, it was sometimes hard for staff or volunteers to corral him back into his kennel. Also, when staff took him out for walks, he whined a lot and never seemed interested in people. We were nervous about putting him in playgroups, because what if something happened?

We discussed him every week without a solution. We tried to find a foster for him, but it can be difficult to come by a foster with no other animals. Our Director of Operations, Laura Jones, developed quite the soft spot for Bramble. She boarded her animals (two dogs with issues and two cats) and brought Bramble home. Within an hour, Bramble was a couch potato. Clearly, there was a good dog in there. But what kind of family could take him? He was also mouthy. Laura and Ashley felt he would improve with training, but our SPCA doesn’t yet have the resources to do individual training with dogs. But some other shelters do. Thanks to personal relationships developed over the years, Laura was able to successfully reach out to Southampton Animal Shelter, one of those gifted shelters and the home of Aimee Sadler’s Playing for Life program, and they decided to accept Bramble. Usually there is a $1,000 fee associated with a behavior transfer, but Southampton was willing to do a trade with us instead. They knew what we needed – a dog who did well in playgroups who could help us learn and help our dogs learn. Realizing that she could wrangle a mini-seminar out of the trip, Laura decided to drive Bramble to Southampton. Luckily, he was an excellent passenger.


Rocco & Laura

Rocco & Laura


Ten hours after leaving Charlottesville, Laura dropped off a very excited Bramble. The staff at Southampton helped him settle in for the evening and Laura went to her motel to get some rest before the next day. At 8:30 on the dot, she arrived at the Southampton Animal Shelter and was escorted to their playparks to meet Josh, Matt and Kathy who ran playgroups. Bramble was already out in the park with two other dogs, having a great time. “I almost cried,” Laura remembers. Three hours later, the Southampton staff had rotated about 25 dogs through the playgroup and Laura and the team discussed the program and the tools and training Charlottesville needed to grow to the next level. “It was exciting and inspiring,” Laura says.

Rocco was the dog the behavior team at Southampton felt would be a good fit. A play group “rock star”, he could help us develop our playgroup program. Laura watched him and agreed. But would he be a good traveler? There were, after all, 450 miles to go.

Back in Charlottesville

Rocco_webRocco proved to be a champ in the car and sweet as pie. Out staff put him in playgroups the next day and he was a perfect gentleman. A rockstar as promised. And gorgeous.

Want to Help?

We could use more funding and foster families. Transport is not always an option, so we want to develop our program in-house. For that, we need money, and Rocco needs a home. Come visit him, and come visit our playgroups!

Contact Laura Jones or Ashley Litton for more information.