The SPCA Cincinnati Today: Through the Pandemic

by Nyketa Gaffney, Public Information Officer, SPCA Cincinnati

State of Emergency

We have been living in an unprecedented time, one certainly made for the history books. In mid-March of this year, Ohio residents received word from Governor Mike DeWine that our daily lives would be changing. With a high sense of urgency, state and local government immediately moved to protect citizens all over the region—particularly those young, old, and with compromised health—from an invisible enemy that we now know as COVID-19. The implications to our jobs, schools, businesses, and the safety of our families were unknown. The country has since taken notice by praising Governor DeWine for his bold leadership and the people of Ohio for their overall compliance in the war against the COVID-19. It hasn’t been easy, though.

In the midst of the crisis, the City of Cincinnati has remained brave and vigilant. We’ve watched our communities come together in extraordinary ways— looking out for one another with whatever resources we have and inspiring each other through acts of kindness. At the SPCA Cincinnati, we’ve also become beneficiaries of this special brand of compassion. Because of the outpouring of support from our community, we are able to continue our mission of saving lives and serving homeless animals.


Almost immediately, the calls came flooding in with one sentiment: How can I help? The SPCA Foster Coordinators worked diligently to respond to all 625 online applications we received in March and April. While awaiting adoption, fosters provide individualized care that helps with pet socialization, behavior, cognitive and emotional stability, and overall wellbeing. In turn, our shelter pets provide our fosters with joy and reduced stress. Our ambition was to clear the shelter and we came extremely close to that goal, temporarily homing nearly 200 animals since the onset of this crisis! The SPCA Cincinnati is proud of the 21 “foster failures” that have resulted during this period, an instance where failing is completely OK. 

A “foster failure” is a courageous foster who has fallen in love with their foster animal and decides they simply cannot part ways, so they adopt! Longtime SPCA volunteer and foster, Lori Raser, had this to say about her foster dog back in April, “We brought Lionel home from SPCA Cincinnati on March 20th… and we adopted him! He is hanging out with his other SPCA rescue buds and loving every minute of it. We had to keep him!” Our organization is grateful to Lori and the 100 new fosters who have chosen to go above and beyond with helping our shelter thrive at a critical time.  

Kennel Expansion

The K9 Kennel Expansion Project began a year ago, long before the pandemic. The urgency to expand our dog kennels is now, and our commitment has not changed! This project is designed to meet the changing needs of our community and to provide a second chance for abandoned animals. Efforts toward the July completion have not skipped a beat since groundbreaking in the Fall of 2019. Construction workers have pressed forward, adhering to every regulation required by our state government. 

What does the expansion mean for homeless dogs in Greater Cincinnati? “This new addition will increase our canine kennels by more than 50% and include a dog behavioral kennel, a dog-training center, three training yards, Volunteer Service offices and a Volunteer Activity Center.”  Says SPCA Cincinnati’s President & CEO, Jake White. “It’s cutting edge and state-of-the-art!” The improvements will allow for more comfort for dogs while they wait for their forever homes. 


The SPCA Cincinnati highly values its community partners. Since March, IAMS™, Pet Valu, Local 12, and many others have helped spread our message and garner support through donations. Numerous businesses and municipalities, such as the city of Sharonville, have shared and reposted the essential needs of the SPCA via social media. From pet food to cleaning supplies, our community has shown up! 

The family of Trooper the dog exceeded $5,600 for Beefcake between their Facebook page and collective online plea, providing financial and medical assistance to the injured dog brought to the SPCA during the crisis. When it comes to our social media engagement, we have kept it fun and creative with new fundraising activities, such as: the SPCA Virtual Yoga Class taught by Jen Painter, Digital Pet Portraits created by artist Dana Kline, and our exclusive Mosaic frameable artwork that highlights 740 former SPCA adoptable pets by individual tiles. The Mosaic is a beautiful way to make a contribution to the SPCA Cincinnati at the low cost of $25, while brightening up your home! To learn more about how you can help homeless pets in our region during the pandemic and beyond through online giving, log-on to spcacincinnati.org!

Sponsor an SPCA animal through a virtual tile picture – $25 a tile. Each tile purchased gets you a poster!

Innovations: Looking Ahead

They say crisis breeds innovation. The SPCA Cincinnati has utilized this time of “social distancing” to move the organization forward through the use of technology. Since March, the SPCA has: 

  • Created a simplified online foster application process
  • Switched to paperless adoptions with virtual processing
  • Utilized virtual conferencing as a means for safe internal communications

Not only has technology allowed the SPCA to continue its essential business, it has also allowed us to connect with our community in a sophisticated way. For instance, our LIVE broadcasts on Facebook, led by Senior Operations Manager Denise Jones, have generated tons of positive engagement, reaching thousands of people! The SPCA stands on the adage: we succeed because of our community. The pandemic may have slowed us down as a city, but it could not stop the love for life and the human-animal bond. There is hope in the days to come. The people of Cincinnati have proven it through each foster family, with every donation, and the outpouring of support of the SPCA Cincinnati. Thank you!

Nearly 12,000 animals enter the SPCA Cincinnati’s shelters on a yearly basis. The featured mosaic image is made up of 740 pictures of the SPCA Cincinnati’s adoptable pets as a reflection of the number of animals who find comfort at the SPCA Cincinnati on a given day until they find their “furever” homes! 

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