Local dealership helps pay for animals finding forever homes

Regional News

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (WAVY) — It’s a tradition of giving 11 years strong for Priority Automotive.

“I’m a pretty blessed person, so to be able to give back to this community that’s done so much for us is something I think we all should have to do,” President of Priority Automotive Dennis Ellmer said.

Ellmer says more than a decade ago, he decided to donate money to shelters to help cover adoption fees.

He says the idea actually came to him while spending time with his family.

“I’m watching a Christmas show, a Hallmark show called ‘A Dog Named Christmas.’ And I’ve got my daughters and my wife — we’re watching this show, and when the show ended, my wife starts to cry and says ‘We’ve got to do something to help these dogs during the holidays.’ So, that’s where the idea was born,” Ellmer explained.

In Hampton Roads alone, Priority Automotive has committed $40,000 to the effort. The funds go to help animals get homes at the Virginia Beach, Norfolk and Peninsula SPCAs, as well as Chesapeake Animal Services.

The money will pay for half of the adoption fee for the animals.

Last year, the program helped 415 Hampton Roads pets find their forever homes.

Norfolk SPCA Shelter Operations Director Melissa Heard says almost 70 animals have found homes at their shelter alone since the promotion began.

“We’ve had lots of traffic coming in just to take a look around [to see if] they can find their new family member. With a promotion going on, it’s just an extra incentive to come on in and look around,” Heard said.

She says it’s even encouraged others to lend a “paw.”

“We have some other families who pay that forward and pass that on to another animal in need, so they’ll pay that other half to sponsor another animal in our care,” said Heard.

Heard says there’s only about $4,000 left of the donated funds, which shows just how many furry friends are getting families.

Ellmer also helps out shelters in Roanoke, Charlotte, and Northern Virginia.

The Norfolk SPCA is pushing their last adoption initiative before Christmas. It’s called Snuggle Sunday.

They’ll be open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. to see as many furry friends out the door as possible.

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