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

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Richmond SPCA

Humane Center

2519 Hermitage Road
Richmond, VA 23220

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Mon. 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.
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

October 2006

Dear Friend and Animal Lover:

Last month, a VCU student made a posting on MySpace.com saying that he was planning to kill a pug named Oscar on live TV at a specific time. People from all over the world were deeply upset about this posting. We were inundated with voice and e-mail messages by the thousands. I shared their concern and spent considerable time with City and VCU officials trying to get to the bottom of it. The bottom of it was that an assignment had been given by a professor in the VCU Ad Center to make the professor’s dog, a pug named Oscar, famous. The professor clearly cautioned that the students’ ideas should not hinge on threatening his dog’s welfare or life in any manner. The perpetrator of the hoax was not a student in the class that received the assignment but heard of the assignment and decided, for reasons that remain inscrutable, to threaten the dog’s life publicly.   

He added new threatening messages as the days passed. Each time he did, we got more messages of concern. Then, the day after the threat was supposedly to have been fulfilled, he added a new posting indicating that he had never really planned to injure a dog but did all this because of some strange notion that his actions would impress upon people how animals may suffer at the hands of humans. This last posting obligingly provided us with links to the PETA and ASPCA websites. This stunt convinced people to consider how animals suffer about as much as John Hinkley convinced Jody Foster to notice him by trying to kill President Reagan.   It would be nice to dismiss this as the antics of a crazy kid but, if you believe him, he says that he is 30 years old. That is certainly in chronological, not mental, years. 

I got interviewed on the news about the impact of such a highly irresponsible act. I said the obvious: that it took much valuable time and resources away from our work to actually save the lives of real animals who need us, not to mention the valuable time of police and VCU officials.  And, that is true. But, I think that there is another and perhaps even greater cost and that is the disparagement of the value of the lives of animals that results from treating their lives like a plaything we can bat around.

No one, not even someone who professes to care about animals, should ever joke about an animal’s loss of life. We would not find it funny to hear human loss of life treated as the butt of a joke or a prank and the same should be true about the animals that we love. It is a matter of respect for their dignity and worth.  

People who really care about animals and want to alleviate their suffering work with true commitment over many years for their benefit. These people do not grandstand but rather have the courage and the backbone to express their belief in the importance of the humane cause clearly and with dignity. They win others to our cause with their reason and integrity. We see lots of short term players in this field; people who profess passion but are gone quickly. The ones who truly care and truly make a difference stay focused and go the distance, such as Anne Grier, Emerson Hughes, Dr. Bill Clark, Betty Case, Michelle Welch, and Karen Gammon, to name just a few. None of them would ever pull a stunt and none of them would ever treat an animal’s life lightly.  


Robin Robertson Starr