Our Manager of Admissions, Laura Palin, made a 600-mile round-trip journey by herself this week to come to the rescue of 34 cats in desperate need. It may sound like an exemplary act, but her work to help these cats is typical of the dedication Richmond SPCA staff members show every day because of their deep personal connection to our mission. This is not the first time that Laura has done noble and self sacrificing work to save animals’ lives.
The cats who returned with her to the Richmond SPCA had been seized by Smyth County Animal Control on May 27 after officers responded to a complaint of extreme neglect. They found more than 100 cats in the custody of Terri Blevins, the former director of Appalachian Animal Refuge, an organization that disbanded more than a year ago. Officers described the cats as suffering from severe neglect and malnutrition. Following an appeal from Blevins of the charges against her, the cats had been kept for weeks in miserably inadequate spaces in the County animal shelter, further lengthening their suffering. But, Blevins’ failure to post a required bond allowed the county to take title to the cats this week, and the Virginia Federation of Humane Societies began networking across the state to help find private agencies that would transfer them to safety and insure permanent loving homes for the cats, a plea to which the Richmond SPCA responded immediately. We offered not only to take a group of the cats, including nursing mothers and litters, into our own care but also to transport cats to other private organizations state-wide who offered to assist in the life saving effort.
Wednesday’s transport of 34 cats was done in collaboration with a number of other reputable no-kill shelters that will be taking the Smyth cats into their care. On her way to our Robins-Starr Humane Center, Laura transported cats to the Lynchburg Humane Society and the Charlottesville/Albemarle SPCA. A few more spent a night resting at our center before traveling to Homeward Trails and the Norfolk SPCA. There are 13 cats who will remain at our Robins-Starr Humane Center to be rehabilitated, restored to health and adopted to loving, lasting homes.
The cruel treatment the cats from Smyth County have suffered over a long period of time has left them frightfully thin, and the neglect of veterinary care has resulted in many upper respiratory infections that will need to be treated. However, their spirits are remarkably undamaged by what they have endured. The resilience of these cats comes across in the affection they’ve immediately shown to our staff who returns the attention with loving care for their needs.
In local media reports, Blevins had described these cats as “old, unwanted and undesirable.” To the contrary, we and a network of other no-kill Virginia shelters organized by the Virginia Federation of Humane Societies do not find them, or any other animal for that matter, unwanted or undesirable. We see the nobility and courage in their spirit and the love in their eyes and, with the help of the animals lovers in our communities, we will save their lives.
Tabitha Frizzell Treloar is the director of advancement of the Richmond SPCA. To read her biography or that of our other bloggers, please click here. Before posting a comment, please review our comment guidelines. Please note that our comment policy requires both your first and last name to be used as your screen name.