After a year of high demand for pets, area animal shelter is suddenly at capacity

Video and article by Chase Downey, contributor

The Rockingham/Harrisonburg SPCA has a problem, the scope of which it hasn’t had to deal with in a couple years. 

The organization has already received more than 70 animals than it did in all of 2019, and believes there are more on the horizon as “kitten season” (as the shelter staff call it) continues. 

“‘Kitten season is from April to October where outdoor cats — which we have a lot of in this area —  like to go outside and breed prolifically, and that offspring is brought into the shelter,” said Tiffany Corbin, the shelter’s marketing and fundraising manager.

Here’s a look inside the animal shelter — and at some dogs and cats awaiting adoption or fostering — as well as some of the reasons for why the shelter is at capacity:  

In June, the organization took in 250 cats and kittens, doubling the number from May. Cats aren’t the only ones coming through the doors. Corbin said the organization has taken in more stray and surrendered dogs this year, but the source for that increase is unclear.

“We have been super fortunate to where we have not seen an increase in returns” of adopted animals, Corbin said. 

Most of the animals for which the SPCA found homes during the pandemic were staying in those homes. 

“We did have an increase in our foster program during COVID last year…but since we are seeing a huge number of intakes now… we are needing more fosters now more than ever, more fosters than we have in our program,” she said. 

Corbin said many of the Rockingham/Harrisonburg SPCA fosters are college students, and the organization saw an increase in fosters in 2020. But with fewer students in Harrisonburg over the summer, the shelter needs more community members to enroll as fosters. 

As for adoptions, the RHSPCA has held a few “Adoption Specials” in which adoption fees are decreased to encourage people to bring home a new pet.  

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