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Richmond SPCA

Humane Center

2519 Hermitage Road
Richmond, VA 23220

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.
Closed December 24-25.
Lora Robins Gift Shop Hours
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Sat. 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Sun. 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Closed December 24-25.

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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.
Closed December 24-25.

Susan M. Markel
Veterinary Hospital

Mon. - Fri. 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Closed December 24-25.

Admissions Hours
Mon. - Fri. by appointment.
Closed December 24-25.

Administrative Hours
Mon. - Fri. 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Closed December 24-25.
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June 2009

Dear Fellow Animal Lover:

Dougie - survivor of starvationWould you starve the dog in this picture to death? No, I am sure that, if you are reading this column, you would not. But, there is someone who would and who almost did. His name is Cary Longest and he starved the eleven hounds that he used for hunting. Four of them died from his cruelty. The other seven barely survived, including Dougie the dog pictured here who is now in the care of the Richmond SPCA. They were taken by the King William County animal control agency. Longest was found guilty of seven counts of animal cruelty and was sentenced to 1 year of jail time for each count. Here is the kicker - all but 10 days of each of those sentences were suspended by Judge McGinty, meaning that Longest will spend no more than 70 days in jail out of a seven-year total sentence. He has to pay $250 for each of the seven license violations and is on probation for 5 years and not allowed to own a companion animal for 5 years. Big deal. Who would believe that he would ever be allowed to own an animal again?

Immediately after the trial was over, King William animal control announced that the dogs must be removed from their kennel that same day or they would be killed. They said that they had housed the dogs since April 4 awaiting Longest’s trial and would not pay to care for them any longer.

This situation encapsulates some of the most persistent problems we have with addressing animal abuse in Virginia. The most profound hindrance in dealing with animal cruelty is our courts and judges. More often than not, they minimize the significance of animal cruelty and seem to be more sympathetic with the defendant than the poor victims of his cruelty. Just like the judge in this matter, they reduce sentences on cruelty cases so much that the clear message is that you can abuse animals and get by with it in Virginia with relative impunity. Just think about Michael Vick who never got any time whatsoever on any Virginia law animal cruelty charges because the prosecutor in Surry County had no interest in prosecuting him but only in protecting him.

Secondly, the General Assembly has no interest in enacting statutes that address animal cruelty issues. They see it as not worth their time (the notable exception here is the Animal Fighting Bill which came on the heels of the Vick case). If they ever do pass any measures for the protection of animals, they are usually so watered down by the time they pass that they are of little value.

And, lastly, there are the hound hunters. Whenever any sort of legislation or regulation that would force hound hunters to comply with reasonable rules requiring that their hounds be treated decently, we are told by the hound hunters that they “love” their dogs and do not abuse them. Letters to the editor of the Richmond Times-Dispatch from hound hunters take exception to what I have written by claiming that there is a great code of ethics on the part of hound hunters - these claims become ludicrous when you see what Longest did to these dogs. That is not my definition of love or of ethics.

And, so, yet again, it is the humane organizations that spend the money and the other resources to save these wonderful and innocent animals in the end. The seven remaining hounds were not killed but were taken by the sincere folks with humane organizations including the Richmond SPCA. Think of what we could do with those same resources to save other animals in need if our legal system would actually get serious about stopping animal cruelty.


Robin Robertson Starr
Chief Executive Officer
Richmond SPCA

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