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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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.
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

November 2007

Dear Fellow Animal Lover:

A great step forward for the well being of animals and the safety of people occurred on October 22. Richmond City Council voted unanimously, with two abstentions, to adopt an ordinance prohibiting the chaining of any dog for more than one hour, cumulatively, in any 24-hour period. Now, animal control officers in Richmond will have a real tool against those people who would relegate a dog to a life of misery on the end of a chain as well as against dog fighters who use chaining as a technique to encourage aggression. It is our hope that the Boards of Supervisors in the counties will adopt similar measures to protect the dogs and the people who reside in their counties.

The dangers posed by the chaining of dogs for extended periods of time are becoming better understood. Dogs are intensely social animals with strong affiliative needs. They crave contact with humans and, when they are denied it, they become under-socialized. Life on a chain alone in a backyard is a lonely and frustrating existence for a dog (or anyone, for that matter). The dog can see people, animals and objects that he wants to reach but cannot, and this produces great frustration over time. Frustration leads to neurosis, which in turn produces aggression and territoriality.

Dogs that have been chained have severely injured and killed many innocent people and animals. Most famously, an elderly woman, Dorothy Sullivan and her small dog were both killed by a chained pit bull in Spottsylvania County, and Claire Ward was seriously hurt right here in Richmond in the effort to save her beloved dog, Barney, from being killed by a neighbor’s dog that had broken his chain. She was not able to save Barney, but Claire lived to tell her moving story at the Richmond City Council meeting.

Many excuses are offered for chaining. Some people find chaining an easy answer to keeping a dog without permitting him to live in the house with his human family. They claim that the dog “wants” to be outside and that chaining does not cause any ill effects to his temperament. While dogs, of course, enjoy some time outdoors and benefit from exercise, no dog desires a life in solitary and all dogs need and deserve time and attention from humans. Most shocking are the people who say that they want a dog on a chain in their yard for protection. An aggressive chained dog prevents not just criminals but also police, emergency medical workers and even the mail carrier from reaching the house safely. Live animals simply should not serve as security devices. It is dangerous for the innocent and wrong to be so callous about depriving dogs of any quality of life.

I am deeply grateful to our many supporters who helped us achieve this great step forward for the well being of animals and people. Many people were at the City Council meeting to speak in favor of the ordinance and I have had innumerable people let me know how delighted they are about our success in getting it passed. Councilman Doug Conner did a wonderful job as the patron of this effort, and I hope you will help us make clear our gratitude to him for his compassionate initiative.

Robin Robertson Starr

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Related links:

  • Anti-chaining legislation passes in Richmond
  • Find Alternatives to Chaining
  • Support anti-chaining efforts in the Richmond Community