VIRGINIA BEACH -- Tens of thousands of animals are surrendered every year to shelters in Hampton Roads. Many of them are turned in by people who say they can't control them or can't deal with them.

In hopes of trying to lower that number, three private animal shelters joined together to open a new pet training center. Happy Paws will work to strengthen the bond between companion animals and their families.

The shelters will subsidize some classes for low-income owners struggling with pet behavior issues.

Classes will be humanely taught with positive-reinforcement methods, says Tim Molina, a certified dog behavior consultant who will manage the center.

Happy Paws is a collaborative effort of the Chesapeake Humane Society, Norfolk SPCA and Virginia Beach SPCA. Their collective vision is for all pets in Hampton Roads to live in loving forever homes.

Happy Paws was made possible by a $162,736 grant from the Alfred L. Nicholson Fund of the Hampton Roads Community Foundation.

"Since 1998, the community foundation has kept alive the memory of Captain Nicholson, an advocate for better lives for animals, by providing grants in his name to these three shelters. I think Captain Nicholson would be thrilled to see them working together on this training center that will bring joy to both animals and their families," says Deborah M. DiCroce, president of the Hampton Roads Community Foundation.

The grand opening is Wednesday, May 27 at 11 a.m. at 5660 Indian River Road, Suite 118, which is across from Regent University in Va. Beach.

For more information, go to the

Happy Paws Training Website

,

The Happy Paws Hampton Roads Facebook page

or call 757-963-8661.