Beth and Tom Assessor always considered pets a part of the family. When they moved to Richmond nearly nine years ago, they brought along their 4-month-old daughter, Victoria, and their cat, Buzz. Since then, a son, Christopher, joined the family, but sadly, Buzz the cat died when it was twelve. “To say we were devastated is an understatement,” Beth said. “We weren’t sure if we would ever be ready to adopt again.”
Then the family discovered the Richmond SPCA, a no-kill humane organization dedicated to the principle that every life is precious. At first, trips to the Richmond SPCA’s Robins-Starr Humane Center facility were a way to spend time together. Beth and the kids visited the adoption center to look at the dogs and cats, most of whom had been surrendered by guardians who could no longer care for them or rescued from municipal shelters where their lives were endangered.
Then, to celebrate Victoria’s ninth birthday, the family scheduled a party at the local nonprofit. That’s when the Assessors first spotted Geraldo, a playful black cat keeping himself entertained in his enclosure while party guests toured the adoption center. The next day, the family returned to begin adoption proceedings. By popular vote, Geraldo was renamed Mars and the rest of the story is history.
“We feel like it was kismet that we found him when we did. It feels as though he has always been destined for our family,” Beth said. And Mars adjusted to the family similarly, “The first day, he hid under our couch for a few hours, but to our surprise he came out and has never looked back.”
Mars is one of more than 3,500 homeless cats and dogs who the Richmond SPCA will match with lasting, loving homes this year. Like approximately 80 percent of the pets the local humane organization saves, the sleek black cat was at a municipal shelter operated by a nearby county before being taken into the care of the Richmond SPCA, where he was given the veterinary care needed to prepare him for adoption.
Founded in 1891, the nonprofit is one of the nation’s oldest humane organizations. Although the name, Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, or SPCA, is a common one for animal welfare organizations of that era, it is the Richmond SPCA’s commitment to the no-kill movement under current chief executive officer Robin Robertson Starr that has established it as an industry leader in animal welfare today. Lifesaving programs for animals – rehabilitation and adoption, pet retention, behavior and training services, spay and neuter programs, and low-cost veterinary care – represent only one part of the group’s progressive approach. The organization also touches the lives of animals by educating the minds of humans.
Richmond SPCA’s birthday parties and summer camps offer children age-appropriate lessons about animals that emphasize both safety and compassion. Kari Hosack, who heads up humane education at the facility, calls these efforts invaluable.
“These events and programs allow children and families to make a difference in their community while showing the importance of compassion and kindness toward animals,” Hosack said. “The interaction can even open doors to potential adoptions and volunteering opportunities.”
This was true for the Assessor family on both counts, who not only adopted Mars, but also plan on volunteering at the Robins-Starr Humane Center in the future. “We are so very thankful to the Richmond SPCA for giving my daughter such a memorable birthday and for allowing us to give Mars a home and family,” said Beth.
Schedule a Birthday Party at Richmond SPCA
2519 Hermitage Road
Richmond, VA 23220
Richmond SPCA birthday parties are fun for kids and easy on parents with games, decorations, invitations, and party favors. There’s animal interaction, too, with parental approval.
Book at least six weeks in advance for best date availability.
To schedule a party, call 804-521-1327.
Visit richmondspca.org/birthday for more information.