pets' lives saved since becoming no-kill in
January 2002

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Richmond SPCA

Humane Center

2519 Hermitage Road
Richmond, VA 23220

Adoption Hours
Mon. 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Tue. - Fri. 12 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Sat. 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Sun. 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Lora Robins Gift Shop Hours
Mon. 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Tue. - Fri. 12 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Sat. 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Sun. 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Donation Drop Off Hours
Mon. 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Tue. - Fri. 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Sat. 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Sun. 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Susan M. Markel
Veterinary Hospital

Mon. - Fri. 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Admissions Hours
Mon. - Fri. by appointment.

Administrative Hours
Mon. - Fri. 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
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ceo purrspective

January 2005

Dear Fellow Animal Lover:

For many decades, almost every community in this country took the lives of tens of thousands of homeless animals every year because there were more of them than there were available homes. Little or nothing was done to control their reproduction and, consequently, the only option appeared to be killing them in massive numbers. This came to be called “euthanizing” them because that word made us feel not quite so bad, even though the animals were healthy for the most part. In the 70’s and 80’s, it was the only way anyone knew to do things. By the time I began working in this field in 1997, the use of the word “euthanize” was well ingrained and was always explained to me by saying that death was a kinder fate for those animals than the life that they would face “on the street” or in the home of an abusive owner. I often wondered if anyone had asked them whether they saw it that way too.

Now, in 2005, we have all the tools to control animal population numbers through spaying and neutering. Although we have the tools, most cities and counties still fail to use those tools usually based upon the excuse that it is too expensive. I believe that the real reason has as much to do with unwillingness to change ingrained and comfortable behaviors as it does with expense. Here in the City of Richmond, however, we are putting a great deal of our resources into spaying and neutering. The Richmond SPCA is spaying and neutering 9,000 animals annually and most of those surgeries are done for free. Two other clinics are also spaying and neutering thousands of animals each year. This organization has been no-kill for three years and we have seen the numbers of animal deaths city-wide drop drastically. Nonetheless, the neighboring counties continue their decades old behavior. Chesterfield County even subjects homeless animals to death in a gas chamber and calls that “euthanasia”. They say it is too expensive and too complicated to do any better. I am giving you the blunt, unvarnished truth here.

I find it difficult to sit still and maintain my polite silence these days when faced with the continued use of the explanation that our homeless animals are “better off dead.” What I am still told that this means is “better than a life of misery on the streets or with an abusive owner.” Are those really the only alternatives we can provide to them? Or is it just an assumption we choose to make because it lessens our guilt about not doing what is in our power to do for them. What about the option of controlling their numbers through spaying and neutering and working to get the ones we have into loving and responsible homes? What about helping and teaching people to be good pet owners instead of just writing them off as being bad? Every time a shelter or rescue organization refuses someone an adoption of a pet, they consign another animal to die in a shelter or pound somewhere.

The bald assumption that our companion animals are better off dead is, in my view, horribly demeaning to the value of their lives. Their lives are deeply meaningful and valuable. They are sentient beings who treasure life just as we do. They deserve to have us to do everything, and I mean really everything, that we can do to give them a full life. It is not just they who deserve it. Our communities and our children deserve it too because, if we don’t do every thing we can to give our wonderful companions a life of quality, then we sacrifice a large piece of our morality and our honor as humans.


Robin Robertson Starr
Chief Executive Officer