Animal Abandonment: A Community Issue

Two cardboard boxes, left on our front step overnight on Friday. The word “cat” written on both in green ink. Inside, a mother cat and two young kittens. No food. No water. No real protection from the elements. Just two taped-up cardboard boxes containing Genevieve, Nook, and Cranny.

Now is a time of great strain for animal shelters across the country. Many shelters are at or near full capacity and are being forced to turn away would-be owner surrenders. However, some are opting to abandon their pets at the doorsteps of shelters. Abandoning an animal endangers its life and further overwhelms an already stressed shelter. It is also a Class 1 misdemeanor in Virginia, punishable by up to a year in jail and a $2,500 fine.
Fortunately, there is no tragic ending to this story. Genevieve and her kittens survived the night. Nook and Cranny just completed neuter surgery, and all three are already available for adoption. It’s easy to imagine the worst-case scenario. The boxes were sealed up with tape, and July 29 was a typical summer day in Hampton Roads with the temperature running in the 80s. With no water, these cats could have perished overnight.
Genevieve, the mother cat, is currently available for adoption. At just 1 year old, she is little more than a kitten herself.
Abandonments can be avoided with communication and patience. Shelters will work with you to find a new placement for your pet if you reach out beforehand. Capacity levels change daily, and a shelter may be able to take in your pet tomorrow even if they can’t today. Plan ahead if you’re moving and cannot take your pet with you. Don’t wait until the last minute and expect a shelter will be able to take in your pet. Your forethought will make life easier on you, your pet, and the shelter you are working with.
Cranny has a stunning set of white whiskers with matching ear hair. He is currently available for adoption.
Caring for a pet can be expensive, but the Norfolk SPCA offers a range of services to ease the cost in the hope that no animal is surrendered due to financial constraints. Our community clinic on 2364 East Little Creek Road provides high-quality and affordable spay/neuter surgeries, vaccinations, and general welfare screenings. Spaying or neutering your pets is the best thing you can do to ease the burden on shelters and avoid unwanted pets. Visit for more information on our community vet services. Also, our Emergency Pet Pantry is open seven days a week 9 a.m. through 4 p.m. Simply check in at the front desk of our Adoption Center at 916 Ballentine Boulevard with a valid ID. No further questions are asked. Go to to learn more about the Emergency Pet Pantry.
Nook looks just like his mother. He is currently available for adoption.
Visit the Adoption Center this weekend to meet Genevieve, Nook, and Cranny. The Adoption Center is open every day but Tuesday between 1 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.