Updates related to COVID-19

In mid-March—in response to the COVID-19 pandemic—the Richmond SPCA began making operational changes in accordance with recommendations from the Virginia Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control to minimize risk. Our objectives:

  1. To protect the health and well being of our staff, volunteers and the public
  2. To prevent a simultaneous crisis for animals from developing in our community as a result of the pandemic
  3. To ensure continuity of care for the homeless cats and dogs sheltered at our humane center

Since this public health emergency started impacting our region, we have remained open to provide the programs and services most crucial to the well being of our community’s companion animals as well as those in our care. And, we’ve done so while limiting foot traffic in our humane center and veterinary hospital, accelerating disinfection of common surfaces, practicing social distancing and asking our team as well as visitors to wear masks.

As the City of Richmond entered Phase One of reopening on May 29, Phase Two of reopening on June 12 and Phase Three of reopening on July 1, you might have been wondering what would change about our modified operation starting on each of those dates. The changes we put in place over the past several weeks remain in effect currently. We will continue to make adjustments as necessary to deliver our programming as safely and smoothly as possible in this new environment—but you can expect things to look very similar to the way they’ve looked since the middle of March.

Below is a list of updated procedures in each of our departments.

All departments:

  • Staff members, volunteers and visiting members of the public are wearing masks and practicing social distancing.
  • Because all of our current programming is being delivered by appointment only, the main entrance doors to our humane center are locked. When you arrive for your scheduled appointment, you will be buzzed into the center after our receptionist has greeted you over the intercom.
  • Shared surfaces are regularly disinfected throughout the day.
  • Staff members, volunteers and visiting members of the public are routinely washing their hands. All bathrooms are stocked with hand soap, and hand sanitizer is available elsewhere in our facility.
  • Individuals experiencing acute respiratory illnesses or who have been exposed to positive or presumed-positive COVID-19 patients are staying home.


  • We miss our amazing volunteers and look forward to having you back in the facility when it is safe to increase the number of people onsite. Available shifts are temporarily restricted to Green Team, Blue Team and Running Buddies.
  • Procedures for some essential jobs have been updated to further enforce social distancing guidance.

Adoption Center and Retail

  • Adoptions are by appointment only. Please email or call the adoption center at 804-521-1307 to schedule to visit a cat or dog. The majority of counseling will take place over the phone before you come to the humane center to spend time with the pet you are interested in adopting.
  • You will be asked to have household members who are present for your appointment (ages 3 and older) to wear masks during the visit. Our adoption counselors will be wearing masks as well.
  • Personal shopping with curbside pickup of pet supplies is available from our Lora Robins Gift Shop.
  • Offsite adoption events have been canceled.
  • Many adoption appointments are occurring in our large, open Track & Training Center or outdoors (for dogs).

Donations of items

  • Please do not drop off donated items to our humane center without contacting us first to schedule an appointment. We are only accepting a limited number of items at this time – primarily dog and cat food (both canned and dry food) to be used for our Pet Pantry, and linens (towels, sheets, blankets and comforters). Please email us or call 804-521-1308 to learn if we can accept your generous donation, and to schedule a time when you may drop it off at our center. We’re so grateful for your thoughtfulness!
  • Our Amazon Wish List and Kitten Registry both have much-needed items that you may send directly to our facility.
  • We appreciate your patience in regard to receiving acknowledgment letters for mailed contributions. Many members of our staff are teleworking, and it has caused a short delay in our sending of letters acknowledging your lifesaving support. If you have questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact our Director of Development Carol Anne Baker Lajoie by email or by phone at 804-521-1321.

Foster Care

  • We have placed many pets in temporary foster homes with volunteers who have completed our Meet the Fosters training.
  • New fosters can now complete Meet the Fosters orientation online.
  • To ensure continuity of care, we are preparing for a scenario in which foster care placements may need to be made with healthy households on short notice.
  • We ask all foster care providers to wear a mask or other face covering when they come for any foster appointment. Our staff will be wearing masks as well and will conduct appointments curbside when possible.

Education & Training

  • Canine Manners and puppy classes are being offered online. Learn about our virtual training classes.
  • Agility classes are resuming in person, starting the week of July 27. Masks or other face coverings are required for all class participants and instructors.
  • Behavior consults and private lessons are available in person as well as virtually.
  • Birthday parties are available to be scheduled with reduced capacity. Only one party will be scheduled per day to allow for thorough cleaning between party groups. All parents and guests over 5 years old are required to wear face coverings, which may be removed only while eating or drinking. Face coverings are recommended, but not required, for children 3-4 years old.
  • Children’s tours and visits have been canceled.
  • This summer’s Critter Camp has been canceled and refunds are being issued.
  • Workshops will be rescheduled.
  • Animal Brigade service club is suspended.
  • School for Dogs is open. New drop-off and pick-up procedures are in place.


  • Emergency surrenders of owned animals are being prioritized.
  • Transfers of pets in the care of municipal shelters and humane groups in need of assistance are continuing and being conducted in a contact-free manner.
  • Surrenders are by appointment only, and curbside procedures are in place for those appointments. You will be asked to have household members attending your appointment wear masks. Our admissions counselors will be wearing masks as well.

Susan M. Markel Veterinary Hospital

  • We are scheduling wellness visits on a limited basis and continuing to see patients for sick and urgent appointments.
  • For the safety of our clients and our team, we have implemented curbside service.
  • For your convenience, we are now offering telemedicine via phone consultations. When you call to schedule an appointment, a team member will provide this as an option and can explain how this works.
  • Prescription refill payments will be taken by phone. Clients may also use MyVetStore Online to have prescriptions verified and shipped directly to their homes.

We are deeply grateful for your support of the Richmond SPCA during this tough time. You are our allies in lifesaving, and we appreciate you and all that you do for your own pets and for homeless pets throughout our community. If you have any questions or concerns about any of the updates contained on this page, please email Chief Operating Officer Lisa Rivadeneira at lrivadeneira@richmondspca.org. Thank you—and stay healthy and well.

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