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 tree 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 that 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 of in 1990 when SPCA member Betty Thornton appealed to Dr. and Mrs. E.L. Kinsinger, who left 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 - SPCA President Eugene Roberts and Mayor Frank O'Reilly
Groundbreaking of SPCA Florida's Spay/Neuter clinic
Spay/Neuter Clinic ribbon cutting by Mayor Buddy Fletcher, 2001