Helping our region’s homeless pets is one of the greatest gifts you can give

Amid this holiday season and your search for gifts to suit family, friends and pets, we hope you will consider supporting animal shelters, SPCAs and animal rescue organizations here in Hampton Roads. To find out more about local shelter needs, we reached out to the founder of a specialized rescue group and a community engagement professional with a long-time SPCA nonprofit to see what they have on their wish list to keep their operations stocked and solvent in the days ahead.

Madison Rankin, and her partner Lacey Lopez, both work in the veterinary field. They know first-hand the trials owners undergo when facing expensive medical treatment and surgeries or long-term medical conditions. They started Compassion for Canines to help make life easier for dogs who are surrendered due to extenuating circumstances and medical needs.

As founders of the 501(c)3 nonprofit, Rankin and Lopez facilitate the surrendered pet’s medical care by working with a network of local veterinary providers, who often provide the service at a reduced rate. Then, they place the dogs in homes with screened foster care volunteers who help with their recovery until the pets are adopted.

“We work primarily with senior and special-needs dogs that have more problems than most,” said Rankin. “We have relationships with shelters in Hampton Roads and in rural areas of North Carolina. If a shelter dog is not a candidate for adoption due to a medical reason, the shelters give us a call.”

Outside of monetary contributions, which Rankin said is always helpful to offset the costs of veterinary care, present needs include high-quality dog food, dog crates, new or gently used blankets, collars, leashes and gift cards to pet stores for when they need a specific food or comfort item for a dog.

An easy way to give is to order items from Compassion for Canine’s online “wish list” at this link. Geared toward dogs recovering from various illnesses or surgeries, products include everything from Purina Pro Plan dog food for sensitive skin and stomach, to pee pads, probiotic supplements, orthopedic pet beds, dog toys and products for laundering and cleaning.

“It feels like each year the need for owner surrenders or transfers is greater than the previous year, and we are on track to have a higher intake number than we had last year,” said Rankin.

Compassion for Canines can accept pets, so long as they have qualified foster homes in the wings. “This is a need too,” said Rankin. For those interested in learning more about fostering pets the organization, please call 207-318-8125.

Dog walkers, shelter helpers and HOPE Fund donations needed!

One of the country’s oldest animal welfare organizations, the Norfolk SPCA has been helping animals in need since 1892. Founded to address concerns about the mistreatment of horses, today it shelters, treats, rehabilitates and rehomes household companion animals. It operates two veterinary clinics, providing the public affordable access to spay/neuter, vaccinations, exams and surgery services for pets.

All these services require a robust staff.

“We are experiencing staffing shortages, just like every rescue group and shelter in the area,” said Tammy Lindquist, Norfolk SPCA community engagement manager.

For that, volunteers are always welcome—and needed more than ever at their facility.

With renovation of the operation’s indoor dog kennel and outdoor run area underway, they have scaled back their intake of pets for a few weeks. To keep the dogs exercised during construction, they need volunteer dog walkers, Lindquist said. In addition, they welcome people who can foster pets, lend a hand in their laundry room, volunteer as a customer service helper at their clinics, and pet and play with cats and kittens.

For those interested in dropping off pet supplies, Lindquist suggested enrichment toys to keep anxious pets calm and engaged. The list includes lick mats with suction cups, gravity pet feeders, Kong wobblers, tether balls and animal-friendly essential oils and diffusers to help keep frazzled fur babies calm. For more ideas, visit their wish list at:

In addition, Lindquist says donations are always welcome. For Giving Tuesday, Nov. 28, they will earmark all online or in-person donations for their HOPE Fund, dedicated to covering the cost of specialized medical care for pets who have little chance of survival without significant emergency intervention. The fund pays for costs of diagnostic testing, specialist consultations, treatment plans, advanced and difficult surgeries, heartworm treatment, eye care, dental care, physical therapies, and behavioral modification. For details visit:

Suggested donations to gift local shelters

Suggestions for donations …

  • Cleaning supplies

  • Gently used blankets and towels

  • Gift cards to pet supply stores

  • Enrichment toys to keep pets busy

  • High-quality dog and cat food

  • Office supplies

  • Pee pads

  • Pet beds, including orthopedic beds

  • Pet feeders

  • Pet collars and leashes

  • Pet treats

  • Monetary donations

  • Sponsor a pet’s boarding and/or medical costs

  • Your time as a foster pet parent

  • Your time as a volunteer in a shelter

Please drop items off at AVCVA
520 Constitution Dr, Virginia Beach, VA

Monday through Friday 9am – 5pm
First Saturday per month 11am – 2pm

Saving animal souls one pet at a time

The founder of the Virginia Beach-based Saver of Souls Pet Rescue, Dr. Turkan Ertugrul she is slowly, but surely, making a dent in the number of homeless pets that cross her path. Specializing in small breed dogs, the 501(c)3 non-profit identifies canines in need and pairs them first with foster families and then compassionate owners who will love them for a lifetime. No dogs under her watch will be euthanized. When she’s not working tirelessly for her charity, Dr. Ertugrul, DVM, is a full-time veterinary with Hope Springs Veterinary Sajo Farm in Virginia Beach.

Like other shelters, Saver of Souls is always looking for funds and foster families to handle the number of pets they see.

“Monetary donations are always helpful to pay the bills. We have needs for fosters and adoptive homes. If you can’t adopt, foster. If you can’t foster, then network to let people know about us,” said Ertugrul. “If you can, come to some of our adoption events. We try to attend all the big local events in Hampton Roads, and we host events of our own. Just coming out to meet the dogs and help get them socialized is great. Anything is something.”

Donate to a giving tree!

In addition to these organizations, there are others that provide much-needed services to homeless animals in our Hampton Roads area. From December 1-31, 2023, the staff at Animal Vision Center of Virginia invites you to drop off pet gifts at Animal Vision Center of Virginia at our Pembroke Manor House location. We will make sure these reach local shelters in need in our region. For your time, we will place your pet’s name on our “giving tree” and provide them with a small treat of their own!