Some days, it feels like it all comes together. We wait a long time for those days and they are very satisfying. Yesterday was one of those days for me.
In the morning, I got a message from Will Lowery about a dog named Big Willie that we had transferred into our care from Richmond Animal Care and Control the day before. Big Willie is a stocky pit bull mix with white on his chest and nose and a soft gentle demeanor. He looks like he has handled a tough life with equanimity. Big Willie had been found by Will Lowery alone in an alley foraging for food.
Will’s message to me said: “I can't tell you how happy this makes me and how grateful I am that your folks saw the good in him and were willing to give him a chance.” Big Willie had been at Richmond Animal Care and Control (RACC) for many months. It was the Richmond SPCA that gave him the chance for the good life that he deserved, just as we give that same chance to so many other noble and deserving homeless animals from all over this community. Because of the Richmond SPCA and Will’s kindness, Big Willie has a good life ahead of him, rather than the death that he would face in so many other communities across the nation. That can also be said of the 1,336 other wonderful pets that we took out of the RACC shelter in 2010 (we accounted for 84% of their total transfers out) and the 137 that we took from them last month alone.
Later in the afternoon, I was interviewed by Jeremy Slayton for the Richmond Times-Dispatch. They had received a wire story about the significant reduction in the number of deaths of homeless animals that has occurred nationally in recent years. The TD was doing a local piece about the great progress that we have made here in our own community and the leadership of the Richmond SPCA.
Jeremy’s article recognizes the remarkable progress in saving the lives of homeless animals that we have achieved since this organization became no-kill in 2002. That change was not easy, as huge changes usually are not. It took real backbone for our organization to act in accordance with our ethical conviction that healthy and treatably sick and injured homeless animals should not be killed. It has been challenging to operate as we do for all the years since then but our dedication to our convictions has paid off for the homeless animals that need us so. Not only are we a no-kill organization but we have achieved a city in which not one healthy homeless animal has died since 2005. That is not to say that we do not have much more work to be done in order to get this whole community to become fully no-kill but we now have great progress to point to as confirmation that it can be done.
I went home last night and thought about these two occurrences and how they relate. I was struck that the great life saving progress that was the subject of the wire and Times-Dispatch articles is actually accomplished in each individual life we save such as Big Willie. It happens one by one. Each time that the Richmond SPCA saves the life of another wonderful animal like him who would doubtless have died in Richmond in the past and in many other communities currently, we move that life saving needle forward. Each time that we show our community that this life saving progress depends on the individual conduct of every single person, we make forward progress. Each time that someone like Will devotes himself to helping the animals that most need it and works with us to get them to a new life, we get one step closer to the no-kill community and nation that our animal companions deserve.
A couple of decades ago, people said that it was a sad necessity that homeless animals die and that it was our role to give them a kind death. Aren’t we glad now that we did not listen to them?
Robin Robertson Starr is the chief executive officer of the Richmond SPCA. To read her biography or those of our other regular bloggers, please click here. Before posting a comment, please review our comment guidelines. Please note that our comment policy requires a first and last name to be used as your screen name.