Virginia Mayor Sets Example for All Municipal Shelters by Mara Hartsell

Levar Stoney, Richmond’s youngest mayor, actively transforms the potential many see in government animal shelters, elevating them from simple “animal control” agencies to effective animal adoption facilities.

In 2016, Stoney’s leadership enabled Richmond Animal Care and Control in Richmond, Virginia to reach an 89 percent save rate, up from its previous 63 percent save rate. The shelter’s dedication to increased animal adoptions place it within the rising No-Kill camp gaining traction across the nation–a camp that places emphasis on compassion and possibility, not convenience. Humane facilities that work tirelessly to place adoptable pets into homes, saving them from needless euthanasia, are the new model. Richmond decided to pursue this model, and they succeeded.

Stoney’s efforts in his own city illuminate the potential in other small towns that feel like their suburban enclaves are too isolated or under-staffed to accomplish a dramatic boost in adoption statistics.

Stoney does not claim to be the only agent of change involved, however. Christie Peters, Director, credits the wide-scale collaboration initiative that local nonprofits, volunteer groups, and political figures all participated in equally. When the entire community decided to come together and advocate for disadvantaged and abandoned shelter pets, they reached what once appeared to be an unattainable goal. Local news outlets voiced their support for the change as well, lauding their reorganized efforts and showcasing their innovative fundraising events.

Even with this level of success, Stoney insists that his expectations for Richmond Animal Control are higher. A 95 percent save rate is a better number, according to the mayor, who is not shy about his city’s progressive ideals.

The city of Richmond, VA shows us that accountability, passion, and perseverance are important components of job well done when it comes to saving the lives of shelter pets. Public officials who prioritize all of these qualities in themselves and in their municipal team ensure a friendly, open environment that welcomes collaboration and sees it as a key instrument to success. These individuals also look to the future, building their idea of a compassionate society that prioritizes animal welfare. By defining a vision and working to create a new reality through partnerships, Richmond Animal Control sets an example other shelters can follow.

In each of its kennels, Richmond Animal Control sees a conscious being deserving of a quality life, not just an intake number.


Photo Credit: Ned Oliver, Richmond Times-Dispatch



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