49,157
pets' lives saved since becoming no-kill in
January 2002

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Richmond SPCA

Robins-Starr
Humane Center

2519 Hermitage Road
Richmond, VA 23220
804-521-1300

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

May 2006

Dear Friend and Supporter:

If there is any issue in the field of animal welfare that inspires a host of differing views, it is feral cats and trap, neuter, return programs. A feral cat is a cat that is not domesticated and has returned to a wild state. Abandoned by their human families or simply lost, cats band together in colonies. Without human contact for a prolonged period, the colonies become feral. They make homes wherever they can find food. Mothers teach their kittens to avoid humans to defend themselves. The number of feral cats in the U.S. is estimated in the tens of millions. In response to the demands of residents, cities and counties often round up and kill ferals since they are unadoptable to home environments.

It is my view, and that of the Richmond SPCA, that the lives of feral cats are of value and deserve respect. The reasons given for killing them are without merit. There is absolutely no evidence for the claim that they cause significant reduction of the songbird population. They avoid human contact to the greatest extent possible and so will not behave aggressively toward people. They may walk across your car or go into your garbage, but the death penalty for that behavior is not reasonable or morally acceptable. In fact, if colonies are managed through effective TNR programs, even the minor problems are resolved.

Trap, neuter and return is a program model that is widely used across the country and has been promoted and explained by the national organization for feral cats, Alley Cat Allies. We have such a program here at the Richmond SPCA. Under the program, volunteers trap the cats in feral colonies on a weekly basis and bring the trapped cats to our clinic to be spayed and neutered. We perform this service without charge. We also provide some basic health care while the cat is under anesthesia, including rabies shots. Then, the caregiver picks the cat up again in the trap, watches the cat over night and, if no problems develop, returns the cat to the colony the following day. The neighborhood caregiver continues to care for and feed the colony throughout its existence. This process reduces the numbers of feral cats without resorting to killing. Problem behaviors associated with breeding, such as the yowling of females or the spraying of tom cats, are virtually eliminated. Disease and malnutrition are greatly reduced. The cats live healthy, safe, and peaceful lives in their territories.

The long-standing rationale for rounding feral cats up and killing them is that, otherwise, they may be hit by a car or attacked by a dog or other predator or otherwise suffer a bad fate. Those things are certainly possible. However, they are far from certain and it is hard to comprehend the logic of killing all of the feral cats now in order to eliminate the chance that some of them may be killed in the future. Generally, feral cats are remarkably good at taking care of themselves and many of them will live a long life. Problems also result from the old and ineffective catch and kill model. First, when cats are removed from an attractive habitat, generally new cats will simply move in to take their place. With no effective birth control program, there will always be plenty more to do this. Secondly, many communities have found that, after feral cats are rounded up and removed, the place where they once lived is then overrun with rats and other vermin.

This is simply one more example of humans having created conditions that animals have had to cope with and then our resorting to the easy answer of killing them as a solution for the situation. With time, patience and support of TNR programs, we can gradually reduce the number of feral cats to a minimal level. It is our moral responsibility to do so. They do us no harm and they deserve to live.

Sincerely,



Robin Robertson Starr
Chief Executive Officer