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Richmond SPCA

Robins-Starr
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2519 Hermitage Road
Richmond, VA 23220
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CEO purrspective

July 2008

Dear Fellow Animal Lover:

After we made our supporters aware of the horrifying steps taken by WRLH Fox Richmond to destroy a colony of feral cats living behind their television station last week, we were overwhelmed with the heartfelt support expressed to us in so many ways. Your swift and powerful backing of our defense of these innocent animals has made a great difference in their prospects for the future. I now want to provide you with an update on their situation.

History
The feral cat colony in question has lived behind the businesses in the 1900 block of Westmoreland Street for at least 30 years and has been well cared for by at least two caregivers. Many had already been trapped, brought to the Richmond SPCA’s spay/neuter clinic for surgeries and given appropriate inoculations. While most of the adults are feral and run from direct human contact, some of the adult cats are sociable and were probably strays that somehow wandered into the colony over the years.

What Happened to Them
We have had confirmation that Critter Control, the pest control company that was hired by Fox, trapped and killed three adult cats before we were ever aware of Fox’s efforts to destroy the colony. Critter Control wisely decided to cease its trapping activities. That was when Fox undertook to bulldoze the habitat in which the cats have lived for decades. When I heard from the station manager that the bulldozing was underway, we asked local media to come to the scene. They filmed the destruction in process and, I assume due to the discomfort of conducting this brutality in front of television cameras, Fox decided to stop after having destroyed about half of the cats’ home.

What is Happening Now
Since that time, Fox has continued to tell the story that they are working with local humane groups to trap and remove the cats but they have never contacted the Richmond SPCA nor any other humane organization of which I am aware for such assistance. Henrico County has said that they are investigating the matter and whether criminal charges will be brought. We are working in a strong partnership with SOS, Somebuddies and other humane organizations and volunteers to care for and manage the colony in the proper way through a trap-neuter-return (TNR) program.

Kind volunteers are trapping the cats and taking them either to Prevent-A-Litter or to the Richmond SPCA for spaying and neutering and for basic veterinary care and inoculations. The cats that are not truly feral but exhibit sociable behavior will be adopted to responsible and loving homes and the same will be true of the kittens that are small enough to socialize. The feral adults will be returned to the colony to live there and be managed under our ongoing partnership trap-neuter-return program. That is, unless Fox takes further steps to remove or kill them.

Our Approach
Relocating a feral colony is a difficult proposition that is usually not in the best interests of the cats. The cats are usually very frightened and disoriented and will not stay in the new location unless they are provided with a large condo unit to keep them there until they recognize it as home. This often takes a long time. If they are not kept in such a unit, they will run away and find themselves in a location where they do not know how to take care of themselves. The well recognized best practice is to allow the colony to remain in place and be managed in a TNR program. Since there are a number of other feral colonies in the area, relocation is likely to be totally unproductive since the other cats will probably just move into the vacated territory.

We have released a joint statement with our partner organizations working on this matter explaining our approach to the public. Click here to read the statement >>

What Happens Next
We do not know what Fox plans to do next. If any further steps are taken to hurt the cats or destroy their habitat, you may be assured that we will be there to do all in our power to protect the animals. And, we will ask for your help. If you are interested in adopting one of the kittens or sociable adult cats from the colony, please contact SOS or visit their website for pictures and adoption information (http://www.saveourshelters.com/ or http://www.sos-penpals.com/).

Your compassionate response to this situation through your massive numbers of outraged calls to the media and to WRLH, signing of online petitions, blog postings, and expressions of your heartfelt support to us has been incredibly powerful. I have received copies of numerous messages from local businesses saying that they will be pulling their advertising from WRLH because of their treatment of these innocent creatures. Because of your support for the Richmond SPCA and your deep caring concern for the companion animals that share our world, we are a force for animals.

Gratefully,



Robin Robertson Starr
CEO

Related links:
Joint Partnership Statement >>
Feral Cat FAQ >>

  • Click here to learn more about Robin and the Richmond SPCA's executive management team.
  • To view previous messages from Robin, please click here.
  • To provide feedback to Robin's column, please click here.