Founded in 1907, the Winchester SPCA has been advocating for animals for over 100 years. The SPCA was founded by a small group of concerned citizens wanting to make a change for animals and their communities.
In 1951, the first shelter was built. Located on Highland Avenue in the backyard of the animal control officer, Mr. Ervin S. Cleveland. Its function was to house stray dogs.
Eventually, the shelter facility moved to 115 Featherbed Lane. On June 16, 1986, the Winchester SPCA entered a contractual agreement with the City of Winchester to provide safe housing for animal victims of abuse, stray, and owner-surrendered animals. This agreement is still in effect and has been expanded by the SPCA to include medical and behavioral rehabilitative support. As space allows, the Winchester SPCA will also accept owned animals from residents of Frederick and Clarke. In an effort to support the Virginia Federation of Humane Societies goal for Virginia to become no-kill, they pull pets from at-risk shelters throughout The Commonwealth.
In 2012, the SPCA made a public declaration and announced its commitment to save the life of every adoptable animal. By 2014, they saved 90% of the animals entrusted to their care. Today, those lifesaving efforts continue. In 2021, the shelter ended the calendar year with a 99% live release rate. This SPCA has been a no-kill facility since 2014.
In 2013, the adjacent property at 111 Featherbed Lane was purchased to serve as an adoption center. With the help of a generous donation from the Elizabeth C. Clark Foundation, the Rockaplenty Adoption & Education Center opened on April 12th, 2015, and now strictly houses adoptable, vaccinated, spayed/neutered, and micro-chipped pets, with the original shelter building at 115 Featherbed Lane becoming an admissions & rehabilitation center.
In 2018, the SPCA Thrift Shop was relocated to the campus at 1944 Abrams Creek. The thrift shop is the SPCA’s largest funding source. Each dollar generated from the shop goes directly into the SPCA’s operating account. Each year, this results in about $100,000 in generated funds.
In 2019, the SPCA of Winchester, Frederick, and Clarke Counties developed a new long-range plan. View Plan here. One of the key components to come out of the plan was a desire to expand the SPCA’s Pet Food Pantry to a full-fledged pet retention program. In March of 2020, the SPCA’s Pets for Life program was launched. View the article here. The agency is dedicated to this new program and will continually apply for grant funding, and host targeted fundraisers to ensure the Pets for Life program is fully funded and accessible to ensure that loved animals are able to stay in their homes and out of the overcrowded shelter system.
In 2021, thanks to a generous investment from the James L and Mary J Bowman Trust, a surgical clinic was added to the campus. A full-time Licensed Veterinary Technician became the shelter’s Medical Services Manager. The addition of the surgical clinic and access of a full-time LVT allowed the Winchester SPCA to become more efficient in animal care. It also reduced the need to outsource veterinary treatment. This allows for shorter shelter stays and increased adoptions.
In 2022, the SPCA of Winchester, Frederick, and Clarke Counties re-branded and officially became Winchester Area SPCA (WASPCA). The new name and look were created to celebrate the agency's commitment to growth and community service. This change was the next step in the shelter’s long-range plan and the #comegrowwithus campaign.