Va. Beach SPCA appeals permit suspension by Dept. of Game and Inland Fisheries

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — The Virginia Beach SPCA is facing a permit suspension from the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.

On May 17, the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) sent three letters to the Virginia Beach SPCA, suspending their rehab program. But folks at the SPCA say it was just an honest mistake.

It happened nearly two weeks ago: Camellia the bald eagle that had been shot was brought to the Virginia Beach SPCA. There, employees worked to treat Camellia, but eventually had to euthanize the eagle. The DGIF says the SPCA didn’t follow proper procedure with Camellia.

The SPCA admits they made a mistake.

“It was a timeline issue and calling an incorrect phone number,” said Lacy Kuller, the Vice President and Chief Financial Officer for the Virginia Beach SPCA.

The DGIF says it comes down to three violations: The SPCA did not call the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service within 24 hours, the SPCA did not immediately report the wounded eagle to the wildlife crime line and they did not notify the DGIF itself within 24 hours.

Eagle On Alliance Founder Carol Senechal says this decision is a “death sentence” for animals in the area and it creates an overload for other rehabbers.

“They do an outstanding job and once their doors are closed, there is an unbelievable impact on the rest of the rehabbers,” Senechal said.

On Wednesday, the SPCA appealed the suspension in Richmond. They’re hopeful it will be reversed so they can get back to caring for animals.

Kuller said, “We feel so horrible for this mistake and the impact that this has on the community and on wildlife. That’s really what eats away at us, you know, this punishment or this suspension coming down on us. We understand that we made a mistake, but it’s how it’s affecting our wildlife program that really hurts us.”

If the appeal is not granted, the suspension for the SPCA will stay in place until the end of January 2018.