On February 25, we celebrated the opening of our amazing new Susan M. Markel Veterinary Hospital and this week the Times-Dispatch provided great coverage for the community in an article and gallery of photos. This is the culmination of years of work for many people who have believed deeply in this project. I could never thank Stuart Siegel, who chaired the capital campaign, and Allen King, who chaired our Board during the campaign and kept the organization focused and energized, enough. We are immensely grateful to Claiborne Robins who not only was the honorary chair of the campaign but also was enormously generous to it. There is no way to adequately express our gratitude to Tony Markel who gave the lead naming gift in memory of his beloved wife Sue who was a great animal lover. These acts of devotion and generosity have given an asset and resource to the pets and people of our community that is not offered in any other community of which I am aware. It is a landmark achievement in the history of this 125-year-old organization.
I can remember when I first started working in animal welfare 18 years ago. The standard refrain at that time was that people of low income should not have pets because they could not provide them with the veterinary care they needed. That heartless and inadvisable viewpoint still prevails in isolated parts of our field of work. This has always seemed so unreasonable and unkind to me. People of modest means can provide a homeless pet with a wonderful, loving home for life and they themselves need the companionship and joy that pets bring to our lives just as anyone else does. And, homeless pets need more possible homes not fewer. We need to find the ways to expand the numbers of possible homes in our community and providing access to low cost veterinary care is one of the most effective and important ways we do that.
I am grateful, proud and rewarded that the Richmond SPCA and all of the wonderful people who support it and lead it have worked so hard to make this veterinary hospital a reality. People of low income and people who adopt from the Richmond SPCA may use this great resource to obtain full service, high quality veterinary care for their beloved pets. This is an absolutely essential piece in achieving a no-kill community. Much data confirms that many pets are relinquished at shelters because they are suffering from a medical condition that oftentimes is totally treatable but their families lack the financial resources to provide the needed care. Sick and injured animals are often those whose conditions worsen and who end up getting euthanized in shelters around the country. In our community, that no longer need be the case. We have made Richmond one of the safest cities in the country for homeless animals. Last year, the Richmond citywide euthanasia rate for homeless animals was 7 percent, a stunning achievement. The euthanasia rate at the Richmond SPCA’s no-kill shelter in 2015 was less than 1 percent of the more than 4,000 animals in our shelter that year. Our community is an example of the fact that no-kill cities and communities are achievable. No longer is this a debatable issue. Richmond is to be emulated nationally for saving animal lives and that is because of the wonderful love we have for our animals. The opening of the Susan M. Markel Veterinary Hospital at the Richmond SPCA is a great moment for every animal lover in our community.
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.