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.
Closed December 24-25.
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.
Closed December 24-25.

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.
Closed December 24-25.

Susan M. Markel
Veterinary Hospital

Mon. - Fri. 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Closed December 24-25.

Admissions Hours
Mon. - Fri. by appointment.
Closed December 24-25.

Administrative Hours
Mon. - Fri. 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Closed December 24-25.
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CEO purrspective

July 2005

Dear Friend and Supporter:

My first pet was a Wire Haired Fox Terrier named Teddy Bear (I was only 8 when I picked that name, so please understand). She was a tough little dog as is often true of that breed. She did not like any other dogs and she was a huge challenge to housebreak. She would snap at you in an instant if you made a move for her food or toys or if you just did something that displeased her. Despite all of these “behavioral issues,” as we would call them these days, my mother and I loved her with all our hearts (my father was not so much her fan). We fell in love with her intelligence, her fierce determination and her loving nature (most of the time). She was my best friend and confidante for 15 years and died in my arms during my second year of law school. I thought I would never recover. She was my first experience with how much our animal companions bring to our lives and how hard it is to deal with their loss. Her many quirks are now the subject of our family lore.

Our staff members counsel people against adopting a dog with such “behavioral issues” if there are children in the home. I realize that this is the wise and safe thing to do but I also think that sometimes we over intellectualize the whole adoption process. Please understand, I am not suggesting for a minute that anyone should adopt a dog or cat that presents a real danger to human safety. But, folks come here with long lists of requirements and exclusions for the pet that they want to find. Others tell me how they have done enormous amounts of research on the Internet about the kind of dog or cat they want to get. They know all the attributes of some arcane breed and have decided it is the one for them. If they have children, then they often want a puppy believing that they will be more able to bend its personality to their will.

Where is the magic in all this? There is an unexplainable connection that you can have with a particular animal, just like a person. I have seen it happen many times: someone looks at a dog or a cat and an obvious electrical current passes between them. When that happens, I know that pet is going home, no matter what. I saw this most recently when Mayor Wilder came to the Richmond SPCA for a tour, his eyes fell on Hampton and the current passed. In no time, he was Hampton Wilder. That is always how I have chosen pets too. Our staff members will tell you that I am a sucker for terrier mixes – in fact, they have come to call that little Benji type of terrier mutt a “Robin dog.” All four of my dogs are variations on that theme, all of them mutts, all quirky in their own ways.

When you allow yourself to just fall in love, you find that you somehow cope with the challenges and the shortcomings. Every member of our family has them and we love them nonetheless. Why should our pets be any different?

Teddy Bear showed me that the relationship that we have with a beloved pet is all about coming to know each other’s quirks and feeling safe in the fact that those quirks are loved and accepted. The real reason that we want pets is to have that wonderful unqualified love and acceptance that our pets give us. Real love always has to be given in spite of blemishes. If we stop for a moment with all the requirements and the intellectualizing and just let the magic happen, let our heart go out to one little four-legged creature, we may find that he or she is actually willing to love us back despite our own shortcomings too. They are very good at that.


Robin Robertson Starr