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SPCA Decries Letters as Examples of "Vitriol"

Recent letters ("SPCA's Numbers Don't Tell Whole Story," March 29) contain blatant falsehoods about the Richmond SPCA that require correction since they clearly were not fact-checked by your publication. The accurate information is set forth below.

The Richmond SPCA accepts more than half of the animals in its care directly from members of the public. The Richmond SPCA has never accepted an animal from an owner and then sent that animal to another local shelter or pound to be euthanized or for any other reason for that matter. Once the Richmond SPCA accepts a pet into our care, we make a commitment to care for that pet for so long as it takes to find the pet a loving and responsible home. We temperament-test dogs prior to accepting them from owners seeking to relinquish their pets. If we believe that a dog's aggressive behavior presents a serious risk to human safety and that it would not be responsible for us to place that dog in another home, we let the owner know upon the initial consultation that we will not accept the pet. No one's pet has ever been sent by the Richmond SPCA to a government animal shelter for having "failed" a temperament evaluation and never will be.

The Richmond SPCA is utterly truthful and forthright with its donors and with our community at all times. The spreading of falsehoods by these letter writers about a charitable organization that has done enormous good for our community, that has saved the lives of hundreds of thousands of animals and that has achieved national recognition for its accomplishments is not only despicable but also seriously reckless. The Richmond SPCA's programs are treated by the ASPCA as a national no-kill model for others to learn from.

The letters that Style chose to print and the falsehoods they contain provide yet more examples of the tragic inability of certain people and organizations in the animal-welfare field to treat each other respectfully and to conduct themselves with civility. Despite our efforts to raise the standards of behavior in this field, there continue to be people who are so malicious that they spend more time trying to damage others than helping the animals who need us. Their continued vitriol is an embarrassment to our field but, much worse, an enormous disservice to homeless animals.

Robin Robertson Starr
Chief Executive Officer
Richmond SPCA

Some Junior Leaguers Are Left Wondering

It is unfortunate that the Junior League's "dirty laundry" is being aired in public before the membership itself has been fully informed of both sides of the issue ("Out of Their League," News & Features, March 22).

Many members are unhappy with the board's decision to remove Leisha LaRiviere from the office of president-elect. Several have petitioned the board, as permitted in the JLR bylaws, to call a special meeting that would allow for a balanced, professionally mediated review of recent actions.

JLR members are not interested in gossip or hearsay revolving around or passed on by anyone. The board should have first done everything possible to work toward resolution of the conflict. We are concerned that the board began with a vote to remove her from office. There was no committed attempt at dialogue or fact finding, and now we are left with divisiveness and controversy.

It is important to note that no laws or JLR bylaws have been broken and that none of the allegations accuse Ms. LaRiviere of doing so.

The board claims it has chosen to keep the issue confidential "to protect the privacy of the individuals involved." If the board had acted in good faith toward conflict resolution, then the privacy of individual members and the reputation of the Junior League would have been protected. Instead, the board chose to issue a missive to the entire membership that never addressed the reasons behind the board's decision. It included language and innuendo that are at best inappropriate and at worst, defamatory.

Ms. LaRiviere has not acted in any way that would dishonor the Junior League of Richmond in the community. She is a committed team player, a consensus builder, a collaborator. Her strength lies in creating partnerships with other nonprofits to maximize the League's impact on the Richmond community. The list of Ms. LaRiviere's accomplishments and awards during her eight-year tenure with the JLR speaks volumes about her character. In addition, she serves on numerous boards within the Richmond area and is a respected member of many local charitable organizations.

As an organization of 1,400 women, we all have different values that we hold dear. The one singular "value" that we do hold in common is the mission of the Junior League — to develop the potential of women as effective leaders in our community and to provide services to Richmond families and children.

Because our League is functioning without a president-elect, we propose that the Board reconsider their decision and reinstate Ms. LaRiviere, who had been unanimously nominated and elected. It is certainly our hope that the rifts within the JLR will be healed, and that members will be consistently shown the same care that they demonstrate when volunteering in the community.

Lisa Bedell
JoAnn Adrales Ruh
JLR members

We misidentified the former band of one of the Tres Chicas, Lynn Blakey ("Indie Chicks," Arts & Culture, March 29). The correct name is Let's Active.

We mistakenly said the comments of Mike Sarahan were omitted from the official audio recording of a School Board meeting. ("Candidates Clash, Sarahan Drops Out," Street Talk, March 15). School Board officials provided Style with a copy of the tape on which Sarahan's comments are audible. Style regrets the errors.

Send letters to: letters@styleweekly.com.

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