Human kindness and compassion

Published 8:09 pm Saturday, February 23, 2013

In recent years, Suffolk has taken great pains to lose the bumpkin image it has long held for many of the folks located throughout greater Hampton Roads. State-of-the-art medical facilities, advanced technology corridors, first-class restaurants, lush golf courses and planned communities and even high-end government buildings have all helped the city begin to overcome what was always an unfair assessment, anyway.

But the heart of a city is its people, and the attitudes of those people have much to do with the perception outsiders have of the city as a whole. One way to measure those attitudes is to examine how people treat their animals and, perhaps more important, how the city allows animals to be treated.

Suffolk has been making great strides forward in this regard in recent years. The establishment of the Suffolk Humane Society was one big step, as the organization gives those who love animals a way to coordinate their efforts on behalf of the four-legged creatures that tug at the heartstrings of so many but have no voice in their care.

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A concerted effort by Suffolk’s law enforcement community and its commonwealth’s attorney’s office to find and prosecute those who abuse animals in the city has been another great step in the campaign to improve the city’s image.

In the same vein, a decision by Suffolk City Council this week to pursue a new city ordinance that would limit the tethering of dogs will also remove some of the negative associations others throughout the region might have held about Suffolk, however incorrect those associations might have been.

More importantly, though, the anti-tethering law being drafted by the city attorney provides further evidence that folks in Suffolk care about those who have no voice, who cannot vote, who depend entirely upon the grace of people for their very lives.

Human kindness, compassion and grace are the first measures of what makes a city great. By those standards, Suffolk will take a great step forward among the cities of Hampton Roads when it passes this new anti-tethering ordinance.