top of page

About SPCA Florida

SPCA Florida is an independent 501(c)3 non-profit organization in Lakeland, Florida, founded in 1979. Dedicated to improving the lives of pets and people in the community, SPCA Florida provides care, compassion, and hope to several thousand homeless pets every year.

Open to the public, our Medical Center is a state-of-the-art veterinary facility that heals and helps 20,000 patients annually. Thousands more pets and people are served through our community outreach and education programs.

SPCA Florida is a No-Kill organization and will only euthanize an animal when we cannot resolve suffering and pain or when an animal is a proven danger to the community.

SPCA stands for Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. We are an independent non-profit organization and not affiliated or associated with any other organization with SPCA in its name.


SPCA Florida exists to eliminate animal suffering and to engage the entire community in the welfare and well-being of animals.

We accomplish this by advancing model programs to promote the adoption of healthy animals, prevent dog and cat overpopulation, provide veterinary medical services for animals in the community, and keep animals in homes through relinquishment intervention strategies.

Our Work in Numbers


3,685 Lives Saved

6,831 Spay/Neuter Surgeries


4,282 Lives Saved

4,523 Spay/Neuter Surgeries


3,488 Lives Saved

8,071 Spay/Neuter Surgeries


3,958 Lives Saved

4,188 Spay/Neuter Surgeries


4,394 Lives Saved

10,082 Spay/Neuter Surgeries


3,777 Lives Saved

6,339 Spay/Neuter Surgeries

SPCA Florida Logo.png

Annual Reports


Board of Directors

SPCA Florida's Nominating Committee considers candidates for its Board of Directors on a rolling basis. 

Candidates with expertise in business, finance and accounting, marketing, public relations, engineering and construction, and fundraising are being sought to help shape and guide the future development of SPCA Florida.


Karen Mitchell


Karen’s animal welfare journey began over 30 years ago in Southeastern Wisconsin where she volunteered with the Wisconsin Humane Society three nights a week. After relocating to Lakeland, Florida, Karen connected with SPCA Florida where she has served in all capacities including sanitation, surgical technician, and interim Executive Director. She is currently serving a two-year term as Chairman of the Board. Karen resides in Lakeland with her husband James, her son, cats “Bella” and “Kitten” and her Yorkie, “Yoshi”.

Marion Smith_edited.jpg

Marion Smith

Vice President

Marion was a former Partner of B.M. Smith Chrysler Plymouth, Dodge, and Jeep until 2001. She then became President at the Greater Plant City Chamber of Commerce where she retired after 15 years of leadership. She is passionate about saving the lives of animals and serves on SPCA Florida’s Board of Directors as Vice President.

Marion currently serves on the Executive Committee for Plant City Photo Archives, as Chairman on the Plant City Library Foundation, as Financial Secretary at First United Methodist Church, and as President of the Aston Woods Homeowners Association. Marion resides in Plant City with her family of cats.

Chris Warnock.jpg

Chris Warnock


Chris has spent over 10 years in public accounting and the financial services industry. His primary focus is assisting clients with state and local taxation, including compliance, controversy resolution, and financial reporting. He’s a member of the Florida Bar and licensed by the State of Florida as a Certified Public Accountant. Chris and his wife Michela have two dogs. Minnie, an 11-year-old Jack Russell Terrier mix, and Freckles, a 9-year-old Australian Cattle Dog mix. Over the years they have fostered many dogs looking for their forever homes.


Stacy Walsh


A lifelong resident of Central Florida, Stacy has spent over two decades working as a mission-driven community advocate and fundraiser in nonprofit development and marketing. Stacy serves as the Vice President of Resource Development at United Way of Central Florida, where she leads United Way Worldwide’s Number 1 Global Corporate Leader campaign, Publix Super Markets, Inc. As a seasoned

non-profit professional, Stacy has a proven track record in leading successful fundraising campaigns throughout her career. Stacy has a passion for helping others and cultivating relationships in the community. Upon graduating from Florida Southern College, she knew that she wanted to dedicate her life to community initiatives and outreach, specifically in animal welfare. She has served on a number of local boards, including SPCA Florida. She is a graduate of Leadership Lakeland (Class XXXIV) and Leadership Polk (Class XIII). In her spare time, Stacy enjoys traveling, photography, cheering on the Denver Broncos, and spending time with her husband Ryan.


Dawn Diaz

Executive Board Member

Dawn has supported SPCA Florida for nearly 10 years, first as a volunteer and now as a member of the Board of Directors. She focuses on sponsorships and donors for the organization’s two largest fundraisers. Dawn has 20 years of B2B sales, networking, community involvement experience, and building relationships with civic communities. Dawn is a Member of Women in Business and owner of her own in-home animal-sitting service. Dawn and her husband Dennis have rescued dogs from SPCA Florida.


Katrina Barcellona

Board Member

Katrina is licensed to practice law in the State of Florida and the Federal Middle District of Florida. She has spent the last 23 years as a criminal defense trial attorney for the Public Defender of the Tenth Judicial Circuit in Bartow, Florida. Katrina has a passion for indigent defense and always treats her clients with dignity and respect which has gained her a superior reputation amongst her colleagues and clients. Her long history working in the Tenth Circuit has given her the unique opportunity to work with all members of the current judiciary, many local law enforcement personnel, the local Bar, and the public. Katrina has been a member of the Board since 2020. She brought with her prior experience in non-profit organizations including leadership roles in a Lakeland-based Boy Scout Pack and Troop, and the Polk Association for Women Lawyers. She is using her fundraising skills, honed while volunteering at a local private school, to chair the 2023 Auction for Animals, SPCA Florida’s largest fundraiser. She enjoys jumping in and lending a hand whenever one is needed, wherever it is needed. Katrina resides in Lakeland with her husband Greg. They have one son and Katrina says their home is filled with love provided by the family’s two rescue cats, Cleo and Petey.


Katie Norvell

Board Member

Katie’s career spanned 36 years as an International and Domestic Flight Attendant for two major airlines where she developed skillsets of teamwork, conflict resolution, nurse, psychologist, and the most important asset, thinking on your feet and solving problems. In 2013, she joined the board of Silver Wings International as Vice President. This International Social Organization consists of over 1,000 members of current or retired Flight Attendants and meets each year for a convention. Katie currently resides in Sarasota, FL with her family of 4 cats. Misty May and Abigail are rescue girls. ZANE and Jamison are both 8-year-old Abyssinians.

Dr. Linda Silver.jpg

Dr. Linda Silver

Board Member

Linda is a senior HR/OE professional with over 30 years of experience in organizational effectiveness, HR management, business partnering, executive coaching, and management development. Her expertise includes talent management, strategic planning, organizational redesign, and process improvement. Linda has a great love of animals, especially cats. She served on the advisory Board at Cat Depot in Sarasota, FL, and on the Board of St. Vincent Animal Rescue in Venice, FL. While at Cat Depot she started a program for senior cats called SOS (Save our Seniors) which boosted the adoption rate of senior cats. At SPCA Florida, she is sponsoring the adoption of senior cats and has sponsored/named a cattery called Linda’s Lovelies. Linda resides in Lakewood Ranch, FL with her kitty Lilli Ann.

Bob Sullivan.jpg

Bob Sullivan

Board Member

Bob Sullivan has an expansive career in Financial Services that spans over three decades and includes a comprehensive knowledge of products and services. He joined the SPCA Florida Board of Directors to help the dogs, cats, and people of his community. In his leisure, Bob is engaged in any number of activities ranging from boating, fishing, and golfing to fundraising. Bob uses his love of golf to give back to his community as a member of the Copperhead Charities Board for the upcoming Valspar PGA Championship at Innisbrook Resort in Tarpon Springs, FL. A native of Rye, New York, Bob came to Florida over forty years ago and lives with his family in Clearwater. He graduated from the University of Florida with a major in Finance with a B.S. in Business Administration and was a Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity member. Additionally, he holds the CIMC® and CIMA® designations. Bob Sullivan holds the Series 7, 63, and 65 registrations with LPL Financial.  He also holds his life, health, and variable annuities insurance licenses.

Our History: Saving Lives Since 1979

SPCA Florida was founded in Lakeland, Florida in 1979 by Mary Stephens, Evelyn Meierkord, and Jennifer Lugenbeel.


They saw an enormous need for an animal welfare organization in their community, and it didn't take long before attorney Rick Stephens drafted the Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws. The three founders recruited SPCA Florida's first Board of Directors and served as its first officers.

From 1980 to 1991, volunteers held off-site adoptions every Saturday at Publix in Lake Miriam Plaza on South Florida Avenue. The group raised funds for outreach and a foster care program through a craft group's Christmas sales and an annual SPCA Flea Fair. By 1988 the Flea Fair had grown into the Treasure Chest Thrift Shop in downtown Lakeland which remained open until 1999.


The number of unwanted animals in the community outgrew the foster system. A shelter was needed and a building committee spent ten years seeking a property donation. The hard work paid off in 1990 when SPCA member Betty Thornton appealed to Dr. and Mrs. E.L. Kinsinger, who left a bequest in excess of $200,000. The money was used to purchase land and build SPCA Florida's shelter in 1991.

Having a place to keep cats and dogs wasn't enough; the overpopulation problem must be remedied, and a low-cost spay/neuter clinic was built in 2001, thanks to a grant from the city of Lakeland, county funding, and widespread support from private donors. The clinic expanded to wellness services in 2003.

Today, SPCA Florida's shelter takes in over 6,000 pets annually and the clinic has been expanded to a full-service medical center. Thanks to a contribution of eight acres of adjoining property by Reva McClurg, SPCA Florida will continue to expand its Campus of Kindness and its community impact.

Shelter Grand Opening 1991

Shelter Grand Opening 1991 - SPCA President Eugene Roberts and Mayor Frank O'Reilly

Groundbreaking of SPCA Florida's Spay/Neuter clinic

Groundbreaking of SPCA Florida's Spay/Neuter clinic

Spay Neuter Clinic Ribbon Cutting by May

Spay/Neuter Clinic ribbon cutting by Mayor Buddy Fletcher, 2001

What We Do

Adoption Program

There is no greater joy than witnessing the excitement of an adopter who has fallen in love. In 2020, at the recommendation of our National Animal Organizations, we placed homeless cats and dogs in foster care for nearly two months. Despite that break in adoptions, a total of 4,297 cats and dogs were placed in loving homes. In 2021, the goal is to help 5,000.

Volunteer Program

Volunteers are the backbone of every non-profit organization. They are the heart, hands, and support that drive success of the many programs offered at SPCA Florida. They haul, tote, set up, and break down events, print letters, answer phones, clean cages and runs, walk dogs, feed everyone, comfort the injured and timid, and provide much needed love.

The help of these valuable friends allows us to reach our goals and maintain our mission.

Foster Program

Fosters are life savers. They rise early, maintain rigid schedules, sacrifice sleep, and provide endless love.

In 2020, our Foster Parents saved 2,373 kittens, puppies, dogs, and cats. Without their dedication, little hearts would not be beating. Their love reaches out to those with medical issues, special needs, seniors who need additional care, bottle babies, and shy or shut-down animals who need an extra dose of love to adjust and heal.

Compassion Funds

SPCA Florida has always made it a mission to help animals and people who are suffering or in pain. In 2018 we became the recipient of donor funds and were for the first time able to provide financial assistance to help with general care as well as catastrophic injuries. Today, veterinarians throughout Polk County refer emergencies and illnesses to SPCA Florida's Medical Center.

The original funds were depleted after a few months, but we continue through generous donors whose hearts and mission revolve around ending animal and human suffering, through keeping pets with the people who love them. Since 2018, the families of 365 cats and dogs have found assistance through $97,093 in donated care.

Transport to Safety

SPCA Florida has partnered with no-kill humane animal shelters in Illinois, Ohio, Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Virginia, and through Central Florida. Our mission - to save lives. When local shelters, including ours, are filled to capacity, we reach out to our partners who have the ability to house and find homes for more animals. Typically, these shelters are in northern states, or areas that have strong spay-and-neuter programs and high save rates.


To keep their hearts beating, devoted volunteers drive and fly moms with kittens, cats, and dogs to partner locations where they are safe and will find responsible loving homes. In 2020, 385 animals were transported to safety. For 2021 our goal is 1,000.


Saving lives works both ways. We transport animals that are in abundance out, such as cats and kittens, and transport animals that are in shortage in, such as small dogs. Our current partners are in Puerto Rico and Georgia; two locations where there are too many small dogs and they are at risk of euthanasia.

Spay and Neuter Program

We cannot adopt our way out of overpopulation, but must increase our spay and neuter efforts to reach a no-kill equation for Polk County. Fortunately, we have donors with generous hearts who help fund these efforts. Their mission is to end the suffering of unwanted kittens and puppies and no program is more critical or important than this humane endeavor.

bottom of page