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08/28/2017 03:57:16 PM


by Laura Davidson

I think my children, Liz, 27 and Sarah, 24, were genuinely concerned about how I would occupy my time when Sarah left for college. I managed – supplementing my hobbies (mostly sewing) with more volunteerism. An important part of my life is volunteering for Richmond Animal League, as both a foster parent and as an adoptions counsellor. Richmond Animal League is the area’s oldest no-kill shelter. I’m extremely proud of our shelter and everything we accomplish in an aging and too-small space. RAL partners with area animal controls to reduce their kill rates by pulling animals in danger of being euthanized. We also bring animals to our shelter who have medical needs that regional animal controls do not have the budget to address. We provide whatever medical care is required and do not screen for illness before pulling an animal. Annually, we find homes for over 2,000 cats and dogs out of a shelter which was designed to handle 200 to 300 per year. Our Loving Spay/Neuter Clinic has done more than 40,000 low- or no-cost spays and neuters since it opened a few years ago. We also have a Trap, Neuter and Release program for feral cats to reduce their numbers in the region. Through our division Gracie’s Guardians, named for one of Michael Vick’s dogs which we rescued, we reach out to owners of pit bull-type dogs in lower income areas to improve the dogs’ living conditions by providing vaccines, spays and neuters, fencing and dog houses. We also help with rehoming when necessary.

As an adoption counsellor, I help visitors to the shelter find a pet which will be a good match for their home. It is heartwarming to see the joy on the faces of the adopters when they take home their new pet. They may be unaware that the road the pet has taken to get to that moment can be long and sometimes difficult. For puppies and kittens too young to come to the shelter, that means being fostered in someone’s home (like mine) until they are old enough or sometimes healthy enough to be adopted. Many dogs come to us heart worm positive, requiring four weeks of treatment (paid for by RAL) and confinement. Caring for all the animals which come into our shelter requires hundreds of hours of volunteer work per week to supplement the paid shelter staff. Every person working there, whether paid or unpaid, is motivated by their love of animals. Our reward is seeing those animals become healthy and find their “furrever” homes.

I have recently joined RAL’s Capital Campaign Committee to help raise money to build a much needed new shelter. I believe this will be my most rewarding work of all. If you love animals, I’d be happy to give you a personal tour of the shelter and tell you how your donation will make a difference to homeless animals in the Richmond region. For those of you who think visiting an animal shelter is sad, here is what I tell everyone: animals at Richmond Animal League have won the lottery of life.

Editor’s Note:

This is part of a new series written by and about the members of Beth Ahabah. If you would like to submit an article about a friend or family member at Beth Ahabah, or your own adventures, avocations or interesting career, please contact Lori Allen in the Temple office at

Sun, June 26 2022 27 Sivan 5782