The morning after Election Day in 2005, I got a call in my office from a staff member in our adoption center. She told me that Tim Kaine, Anne Holton and their kids were in an adoption center living room meeting dogs. I was incredulous since he had just been elected Governor of Virginia the night before. But, sure enough, I went downstairs and there they were. Tim had done many great things for our organization over many years and we knew both Tim and Anne well. They told me that they were fulfilling a promise to their kids that, regardless of outcome of the campaign, their family would adopt a dog as soon as the campaign was over. That morning, they adopted a precious little terrier mix who we had named “Baby Girl” but the Kaines renamed her “Gina” in honor of Anne’s childhood dog, Gina Lollabrigida.
Tim Kaine has recently been chosen as the running mate of Hillary Clinton and may become our next Vice President. While the rest of the country will be getting to know him in coming weeks, many of us in Richmond have known him well for many years. Tim and Anne have been active participants in our community and deeply dedicated public servants. What others may be less familiar with is that Tim has been a great friend to the Richmond SPCA over many years and has helped us to make our community one of the most progressive and life saving ones in the country for homeless animals.
Our early relationship with Tim included his helping us to make a TV commercial promoting pet adoption that featured his pant legs and shoes walking along next to the adorable John Henry through our adoption center. He led the support when he was on City Council for us to create a working partnership between our private Richmond SPCA and the City of Richmond Animal Control agency. It was a fairly contentious issue at the time but Tim was such a dedicated consensus builder that he got Council to approve it. That partnership survived for years and achieved great success in life saving until its continuation was rejected in recent years by the current Mayor’s administration.
As Lieutenant Governor, Tim chaired our highly successful Community Campaign to raise money for the renovation of the Hermitage Road building into our current adoption center. As Governor, he strongly supported the animal fighting bill that was passed by the General Assembly in 2008. This bill made our state a national leader in aggressively addressing the horrendous cruelties of animal fighting. Tim came to the Richmond SPCA for a ceremonial signing of that animal fighting bill and spoke movingly about its importance.
Tim Kaine has chaired our Fur Ball twice, speaking at each of them affectingly about the importance of animals to our lives. Every time I have asked Tim for help for the Richmond SPCA, he has generously given it and he has repeatedly used his great skills at consensus building to achieve progress for animals.
Like many folks in Richmond, we are so very proud of Tim and deeply grateful for all the quiet but important work he has done for the Richmond SPCA and for animals over many years. He has been a great friend to us and a committed friend to homeless animals in our community. This essay is not a political statement nor an endorsement but simply a statement of appreciation for a compassionate and unpretentious man whose dedication to animals and to our organization should not go unnoticed.
Robin Robertson Starr is the chief executive officer of the Richmond SPCA. To read the biographies of our 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.