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

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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.
Lora Robins Gift Shop 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.

Donation Drop Off Hours
Mon. 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
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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Charity Navigator: Four Star Charity

July 2010

Dear Fellow Animal Lover:

Recently, we successfully airlifted 24 Chihuahuas and small dog mixes from California to Richmond, saving their lives and giving them the chance for a fresh start with loving families on the east coast. The crazy Chihuahua fad in California (thanks to Paris Hilton and other celebrities) has caused thousands of these small dogs to be relinquished in west coast shelters and put their lives at risk.

When the first group of the pocket-sized dogs arrived, there was a great deal of media interest in the story. Reporters from the local news outlets met us at the airport when the first group of tiny dogs reached Richmond and they came back to our humane center with us to watch the California transplants get settled in. As the reporters and camera people all trained their interest and their cameras on the little Chihuahuas, I could not help but notice the dog in the kennel right next to where they were all clustered. Her name is Agatha and she is a short and rather plump beagle.

Agatha sniffingAgatha has not missed many meals and she is very affectionate. She tried in vain to get the news crews’ attention and clearly was perplexed at why all of the focus was on the tiny little dogs next to her and none on her. She wagged and licked and then started baying in that great way that beagles have of combining a bark with a howl. Agatha’s efforts were for naught – the reporters were only interested in the Chihuahuas. A great picture of the tiniest Chihuahua named Santa Barbara was on the front page of the newspaper the next morning. If you could have seen a wider shot of that picture, you would have seen Agatha next door looking frustrated.

I gave Agatha some attention when I could and so did others of our staff members. Agatha’s obvious play for attention and annoyance that she could not get much of it during the Chihuahuas’ arrival seemed so very human. It is so clear to me that dogs and cats experience the same depth and range of emotions that we do. They feel joy and fear and sadness and loneliness. They are susceptible to periods of depression and moments of elation. They get jealous of others, just like Agatha was of the little dogs who were getting all of the attention while she was being ignored.

The fact that our companion animals experience the same emotions that we do is probably why we have such an affinity for each other. Anyone who has relied on his beloved pet for comfort in a hard time has known the sense that the pet truly empathizes with your pain and sadness in a way that can only come from being able to relate to how it feels. Anyone who has returned from a trip can see clearly that no member of the family missed you more than your pet.

So, how is it that some people can disregard their suffering and treat it as inconsequential? I will never understand how humans can be careless about the pain, suffering and fear of our companion animals when it is so apparent that they are feeling just what we would feel in similar circumstances. How can you not connect with that and empathize with them just as they do with us? How can anyone think that only human pain and suffering matters? There are many reasons why we should care about the animals who share our lives but there is none more obvious than the fact that they are so much like us. If you came to Agatha for love and attention, you could count on the fact that she would give it to you. That is why they should be able to count on us to love and care for them too.


Robin Robertson Starr
Chief Executive Officer
Richmond SPCA

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