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
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Tue. - Fri. 12 p.m. to 7 p.m.
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Sun. 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.

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Tue. - Fri. 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
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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

March 2005

Dear Fellow Animal Lover:

I enjoy writing this column because it allows me to communicate with our supporters about the big picture. It gives me a chance to let you know how I believe the work of the Richmond SPCA, and the humane cause in general, is progressing in our community. I usually sound pretty positive and up beat here and that is honest because I am very proud of how far we have come in a very few years in Richmond in the care of homeless animals. We have made enormous strides toward a no-kill community.

But, there are some things that still trouble me deeply about our community, and I think that you should be aware of them. Chesterfield County is still killing homeless animals at its pound in a gas chamber. While use of a gas chamber is, strictly speaking, in compliance with state regulations, there are few counties in Virginia still using this method of euthanasia, and it is widely viewed as archaic and inhumane. Most of the ones who still use a gas chamber are rural and impoverished which is not true of Chesterfield County.

To make matters worse, Chesterfield County has admitted to having utilized the gas chamber in ways that are not in compliance with the state regulations. They have acknowledged these transgressions that resulted in inhumane euthanasia but there has been no action taken to discipline the responsible staff members.

We at the Richmond SPCA have offered on numerous occasions to provide the Chesterfield County pound with the assistance of our staff veterinarians to teach their staff how to properly euthanize an animal by intravenous injection. This is the swiftest, most humane way to euthanize an animal and is the method that your private veterinarian would use for a pet that is too old or too ill to have any further life of quality. Chesterfield County has consistently refused our offers of help. I have had a number of discussions on this subject with representatives of Chesterfield County. I am always told that things will change; but so far they have not.

There is a book of which I am very fond. It is called Dominion and was written a few years ago by Matthew Scully, a speechwriter for the first President Bush. I have copies of it both at my office and at home since I reread it often. The situation that continues to exist in Chesterfield County reminds me of one of my most beloved passages from that book – one that brings clarity to things for me. It says:

“Such people are a reminder that animal welfare is not just a moral problem to be solved in statutes, but a moral opportunity to fill our own lives with acts of compassion. Kindness to animals is not our most important duty as human beings, nor is it our least important. How we treat our fellow creatures is only one more way in which each of us, every day, writes our own epitaph bearing into the world a message of light and life, or just more darkness and death, adding to the world’s joy or to its despair.”

I believe that it is our responsibility as members of this community to insist that Chesterfield County officials treat homeless animals with compassion. I hope you will call or write Lane Ramsey, Chesterfield’s County Manager, and tell him what you think about their continued use of a gas chamber to take the lives of homeless animals. His phone number is 748-1211 and his e-mail address is ramseyl@chesterfield.gov. I am very grateful for your concern.


Robin Robertson Starr