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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Susan M. Markel
Veterinary Hospital

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

Admissions Hours
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Administrative Hours
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CEO purrspective

September 2007

Dear Fellow Animal Lover:

This spring and summer have been anything but normal.  The Michael Vick case has dominated the news as well as our professional lives here at the Richmond SPCA.  The public has had a true Ah Ha! moment in their sudden recognition that animal fighting is a huge and horrifying problem in this country.  While all civilized people are outraged at such sadistic abuse of innocent animals, we also are immensely grateful that the Vick case has shown a spotlight on this depravity.  Elected officials and judges have ignored for years the pleas of people in the animal welfare field to take this issue seriously.  They are now recognizing that the concerns were not overstated and that the public is truly horrified by what they are learning. 

I have been long aware of dog fighting as a brutal and widespread activity of organized crime, gangs and thugs in general.  Nothing about these revelations regarding Vick and his cohorts has been any surprise to me.  What has shocked me, however, is the people making excuses for him.  Whoopi Goldberg, Jamie Fox and others of that group of over paid, over coddled and under producing people that we refer to as celebrities have actually been attempting to defend Vick and his ilk.  They say that dog fighting is “cultural” which is code for it is accepted behavior among African-American people.  They also say that he comes from the South and this behavior is believed to be okay in the South.

These suggestions are absurd.  They are demeaning to African American people and to all of the rest of us who live in “the South.”  Many African American people have contacted me about the editorials that I have written for the Times-Dispatch to tell me that they agreed with me and wanted me to know that they think that Vick should be dealt with very harshly.  I do not believe that dog fighting is “cultural” unless you think that sadists compose their own culture.

As far as the location excuse, I am mystified.  I grew up in Portsmouth which is right across the river from Newport News where Vick grew up.  Granted I am a few years older than he is, but no one where I grew up would have ever condoned torturing animals. I do not believe that there were different moral standards prevailing on the other side of the James River.

It is time that we stopped listening to people who do not deserve to be listened to.  It is also time that we stopped believing that immoral behavior may be excused on the grounds that some subset of people accept it as normal.  This is not about black and white and it is very wrong for anyone to argue that it is.  This is about the standards of behavior that we believe civilized people should live by.  This is about cruelty.  We should never tolerate it and we should never allow anyone to get away with defending it. 

Robin Robertson Starr