Humane Society addresses ‘misperceptions’

Published 7:32 pm Saturday, March 21, 2015

In keeping with Suffolk Humane Society’s mission as an educational and advocacy organization, I would like to clarify a few points relative to recent comments made in regard to our application for a conditional use permit for property located at 412 Kings Fork Road.

I welcome this opportunity to address some of the misperceptions of us as an organization and what we do.

Since our formation in 2007, we have dedicated ourselves to animal welfare, and we view our role of advocacy and humane education as a critical community service. We operate primarily as a group of volunteers, with two paid employees who work to advocate for companion animals in our community.

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We take seriously our responsibility to provide accurate information, listen to others, answer questions and respond to concerns.

First, I need to make a distinction between a “shelter,” which we are not, and an advocacy group, which we are. By definition, in general terms, a shelter is a “facility operated for the purpose of impounding or sheltering seized, stray, homeless, abandoned or surrendered animals.”

This is not our practice or purpose. Nor does this fall within the definition of “home-based rescue’ or “foster care provider.”

Suffolk Humane is an incorporated, nonprofit animal welfare organization providing educational and advocacy services. We work with Suffolk Animal Care Center (formerly Suffolk Animal Control), the city’s municipal shelter, and the Chesapeake Square and North Suffolk PetSmart locations to promote adoptions and place adoptable animals into permanent homes. We work with the Virginia Beach SPCA to offer low cost spay and neuter and other services.

Our mission is to promote the human-animal bond, reduce pet overpopulation, advocate for companion animals, and provide affordable and accessible spay/neuter programs to the general public.

Since our formation in 2007, our primary objective has been to provide education and programs aimed at fostering a compassionate, educated community of responsible guardians for companion animals.

The proposed King’s Fork location would allow us to expand our central office from our cramped Driver location and allow for additional storage of donated supplies. The location is centrally located in the middle of the city, providing equal accessibility for all Suffolk residents.

The approval of Suffolk Humane’s request would not change the current physical characteristics of the community, nor would it in any way impact the residents’ quality of life. The city’s code does not provide a specific designation for incorporated animal welfare organizations, which would best be characterized as general office use.

I would like to invite the public to visit Suffolk Humane at its current location at 4300 Nansemond Parkway in Driver to see our daily operation. We are extremely proud of the services we provide, and we are grateful for the tremendous support the public has shown us.

We have co-existed in harmony and goodwill with our current neighbors, and our goal is to ensure the welfare of our furry best friends and their human companions.

As the Humane Society’s new executive director, I hope the points made here will serve to remove any ambiguity and misperceptions about our plans. I welcome all questions, emails, phone calls or visits, and Suffolk Humane looks forward to your continued support.

Eileen Gizara is the executive director of the Suffolk Humane Society. Contact her at or at 538-3030.