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Slipek's Vision Is ConvincingKudos to you for having the insight to include Edwin Slipek's article on what to do with the vacant former Thalhimers site on Broad Street downtown ("Arc de Triumph," Arts & Culture, March 1).

Mr. Slipek makes a convincing case for contextual architecture and urban design. By creating a mirror image of the U.S. Courthouse, Richmond could finally have a grand public realm worthy of citizens' and visitors' affection. Public spaces need to function as great outdoor rooms where people feel compelled to dine, stroll, shop, sit and people-watch.

Without a good public realm, citizens cannot experience fully the important institutions that sustain our society. The elaborate exchange of knowledge, ideas, art, history, science and sociability cannot occur in a vacuum. Nor can they be experienced solely through the filtered reality of television and media.

Only by creating physical arrangements where the individual is able to be anonymous yet central, where the power of impromptu democracy and gossip is able to flourish, where children can easily and informally learn the essence of citizenship, and where social institutions are accessible can community and culture be sustained.

Good urban design with a focus on the public realm is exactly what downtown needs and is precisely what Mr. Slipek so vividly portrayed in his article. Please do not let his ideas get swept away or be forgotten.

Jonathan W. Brown

SPCA's Numbers Don't Tell Whole StoryI find it interesting that the SPCA claims a 99.5 percent save rate in their rebuttal letter to the editor ("SPCA's Save Rate Is High," March 22).

The reason that they claim this is that they leave all the animals they deem "unadoptable" at the shelters run by the municipalities to kill. The public is no longer able to take a stray or unwanted animal to the SPCA. They are initially referred to the city or county animal shelters and given a list of local volunteer nonprofit animal rescue organizations.

One dog the SPCA pulled from the Richmond City Animal Shelter to "save" was returned to the pound to be euthanized because even after their extensive pretesting at the shelter, it was deemed "food aggressive" (not vicious, which they claim is a reason to euthanize an animal). This dog was transferred out by a smaller, nonprofit all-volunteer animal rescue organization and has a wonderful, loving home with another dog and family.

This is only one example of many. Shouldn't the term euthanasia not only encompass the termination of a life, but the fatal abandonment of a life?

Lisa Markow

People who relinquish their pet to the SPCA have the right to know that there is a possibility their pet will be sent to a local shelter and eventually euthanized. I have been at the Richmond SPCA when someone(in tears) was relinquishing their dog, and they were assured that they would find a good home for their beloved pet. At no time were they told that the animal would go under extensive behavior testing and that "failing" would result in their dog being sent to a government-sponsored animal shelter which is not a "no kill" shelter.

In the same vein, but on a financial note, people who donate to the SPCA are not told that their definition of "no kill" means that they personally won't euthanize an animal on their premises, but instead send animals to the local shelter, where they could be, and are, euthanized. In essence, people donate to the SPCA to save the life of a pet that they inadvertently also pay (in taxes) to have euthanized at the local shelter.

Cindy L. Harris

Other Animals Need SavingThank you a hundred times for including a story about the euthanasia of Richmond area homeless pets ("Richmond's Other Death Rate," News & Features, March 8) in conjunction with your story of the Maymont bears. Richmond is on the right track, but we have still not achieved no-kill status. Many rescue groups work tirelessly to save as many unwanted pets as possible. But many are still euthanized and disposed of at the landfills. If people want to feel better about losing the Maymont bears, they should go down to their local shelter and rescue a homeless pet.

Stephanie Cimillo
Glen Allen


We misidentified the Richmond RiverDogs hockey club ("Coliseum Asks City to Pay Debts," Street Talk, March 22). Also, we reported the size of the Coliseum as 23,760 square feet. Rather, that's the size of the arena floor. The facility is 74,855 square feet.

In our "16 Under 16" (Cover Story, March 22), we misspelled the first name of Aurelia Denise Pierce. Also, Jenna Holton's age is 13. Style regrets the errors.

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