All for the Animals

Photo courtesy SPCA of Anne Arundel.

Local SPCA Gets Creative to Save Pets 

By Kathy Knotts 

It’s kitten season at the Anne Arundel County SPCA. That means litters of tiny meowing kitties are filling the rooms at the Bay Ridge Road shelter and at their Paws in the Mall location in the Westfield Annapolis Mall. They will all need food, shelter, and medical attention in the weeks to come. It also means a lot of extra pressure for the staff and volunteers trying to find homes for not just kittens, but dogs, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, rats, gerbils, ferrets and birds.  

This is where dogs, humans and pie-eating contests can help. 

After a year of canceled or virtual events, the SPCA Puppy Plunge is back on the schedule for Sunday Aug. 22 at Camp Letts in Edgewater (noon-3pm, $10/car). This light-hearted affair is a day of swimming, contests, socializing and romping at the water’s edge all to raise funds to help cover the costs of caring for animals in the shelter. “The plunge is a change to get families and pets back out,” says SPCA President Kelly Brown.  

Brown says this year’s plunge brings back the fun events of previous years like the popular pie-eating contest, with help from Puppylicious Gourmet, and swimming on Muscle Beach (for big dogs) or Petite Beach (for smaller dogs). Groups will be spread out according to current COVID protocols, and human attendees will need to present proof of vaccination or negative tests to attend. Walk for the Animals will be held in September at Quiet Waters Park. 

If hanging at the beach with the dogs isn’t your speed, then Paws at the Mall is where you can lounge with cool cats and small animals. “At Paws, you can interact with any of the free-roaming cats outside their cages or with the small animals like guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils, rabbits and rats,” says Brown. “Sometimes we even have chinchillas, hedgehogs and sugar gliders. And birds! We have a bunch of parakeets right now. The ferrets are a lot of fun, too.” 

In this unlikely location for an animal shelter, visitors can also shop the retail area for supplies and gifts for both four-legged and two-legged friends. Or say hello to the store cat Chantilly or Gremlin, the store hamster. 

Adoptable dogs sometimes come by on the weekends with their foster families to meet and greet guests. But Paws at the Mall is all about the cats—Brown estimates an average of 20 to 25 cats are hanging around at any given time.  

“It’s a great location which allows the community to come in and browse and enjoy interacting with the animals,” she says. “It’s also helpful in educating the community. We host animal care classes for kids and the library comes in and has storytime with kids there. It’s like a mini-field trip for kids.” 

No appointment required to come in and look at animals in Paws at the Mall or the main SPCA shelter, but if an animal catches your eye and you want to spend some time with it, an online application is required. The adoption process and pricing is the same at both locations. 

And the need for good homes continues to grow. Brown and administrative assistant Kristen Nimmo both said the shelter has seen an uptick in the number of animals being voluntarily surrendered to the shelter. Many were pandemic adoptions and now their owners are going back to work and can no longer provide the necessary support for their pet. 

“Some of the surrenders are definitely pandemic pups, and some people are telling us these animals now have separation anxiety,” says Nimmo.  “Our staff and our volunteers take notice … which animals these are. Some of them may need to go into foster care sooner than later. But it can be very helpful for those animals, especially if we don’t think they will do well in a shelter, because they end up in a home where they find playmates, a buddy.” 

To adopt an animal, visit

To buy tickets to the Puppy Plunge: