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Tapping nostalgia for 2002 as we celebrate 20 years no-kill in 2022

Posted on Thursday, March 03, 2022
An early 2000s photo taken at the corner of Hermitage Rhoadmiller and Rhoadmiller Street identifies the building as the "Future home of the Richmond SPCA." Image is overlayed with a current view of the Richmond SPCA's humane center and the text "Throwback Thursday: tapping nostalgia for 2002."

As we settle into 2022, we’re throwing back to 2002. That’s the year that the Richmond SPCA took the bold step to adopt a no-kill operating model and pledged to save the life of every healthy and treatably sick or injured homeless animal in our care. The Richmond SPCA led this community in embracing a philosophy and vision that had first been demonstrated effective in San Francisco but had yet to be replicated in any city of our size on the East Coast.  

In the last 20 years we have  

  • Found adoptive homes for 63,814 pets 
  • established transfer relationships with sheltering organizations across Virginia and beyond 
  • introduced progressive programs of pet retention to keep dogs and cats with their families 
  • pioneered low-cost, full-service veterinary care 
  • performed more than 132,408 sterilization surgeries for pets and unowned community cats alike 
  • and much, much more 

Looking back

Of our current staff, 72% were not yet eligible to vote in 2002. Only a few of those who are well-known parts of the organization today were involved at the time.  

  • Geraldine Thornton was already well known to other employees and volunteers in her 21st year on the staff.  Affectionately known as Ms. Gee, she retired as an animal care technician in October 2018 before returning the next year in a part-time capacity.
Left: Geraldine Thornton holds two cats in this photo from our archives. Top right: Her namesake Geraldine found a loving home this February. Bottom right: Ms. Gee is a dog we transferred into our care from Henrico County Police Animal Shelter on January 25. She’s currently in a foster home while she recovers from surgery.
  • Robin Starr was four years into her tenure as executive director, having led a successful capital campaign to fund the construction of the new humane center at 2519 Hermitage Road that the Richmond SPCA would move into late in 2002. The Campaign for a Compassionate Solution was chaired by her mentor and friend Claiborne Robins, and our Robins-Starr Humane Center bears both of their names. Today Robin is on our Board of Directors, having retired as chief executive officer in 2019.
Left: Robin Starr taking part in one of our earliest Dog Jogs. The event was first held on Brown’s Island in the early 2000s. Right: Namesake kitten Robin Starr was adopted in January after we transferred her into our care from the Hopewell Animal Shelter.
  • Sarah Babcock had just been hired as director of education and training the year before. She continues to lead our education initiatives today as chief of education and training.
Upper left and right: Sarah Babcock and her dog Crosby perform training demonstrations in this file photo from the opening of our humane center at 2519 Hermitage Road in 2002. Lower left and center: Namesake kittens Sarah and Babcock both found homes this January. Their adopters have both provided happy updates with photos of the kittens snuggled in their laps.
  • Tamsen Kingry would join the staff as an intern while completing her communications degree at VCU and be hired after graduation. She went on to lead our development department and serve as chief operating officer before becoming our chief executive officer in October 2019.
Upper left: Tamsen Kingry hugs her beloved dog Diesel, whom she adopted near the end of her internship in 2002, in a photo from our archives. Surrounding photos: Her namesake Kingry is a kitten who was adopted in January after we transferred him into our care from the Hopewell Animal Shelter.
  • Em Hughes, founder of Holiday Barn Pet Resorts, was chairman of our Board of Directors. Now as chairman emeritus, Em remains a voting member of our Board, and the company he founded 50 years ago remains a dedicated corporate supporter, sponsoring events such as our Dog Jog and 5K Run.
Left: Em Hughes speaks at an event for the Campaign for a Compassionate Solution in this file photo from 2002. Right: His namesake Em Hughes is a dog who is available for adoption. We transferred her into our care from Chesterfield County Animal Services.

You can look forward to many more throwbacks as we celebrate 20 years no-kill, including our new adoption kennel cards, which play homage to early social media.


Tabitha Treloar and Roux (dog)
Tabitha and Roux

Tabitha Treloar joined the Richmond SPCA in 2005 as an admissions counselor and has been our director of communications since 2010. She and her husband live in Richmond with four Richmond SPCA alumni – two cats and two dogs.

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