History

Saving Lives Since 1979

SPCA Florida was organized in Lakeland, Florida in 1979 by Mary Stephens, Evelyn Meierkord and Jennifer Lugenbeel who realized the enormous need for an animal welfare organization in their community.

Attorney Rick Stephens drafted the Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws, and the three founders recruited the SPCA’s first Board of Directors and served as its first officers.

From 1980 to 1991, volunteers held off site adoptions every Saturday at the Publix in Lake Miriam Plaza on South Florida Avenue. SPCA members were recruited and foster animals found forever homes. Funds for the outreaches and for the foster care program were raised through a crafts group’s Christmas sales and an annual SPCA Flea Fair. By 1988, the Flea Fair grew into the Treasure Chest Thrift Shop in downtown Lakeland which eventually closed in 1999.

As the number of unwanted animals grew, volunteers realized that a shelter was needed. After a Building Committee spent ten years seeking a property donation, the hard work finally paid off in 1990. 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 the land on which the SPCA shelter was built in 1991.

On May 8, 2001, through a grant from the City of Lakeland, county funding and widespread support from private donors, more than $500,000 was raised to build and equip the low cost spay/neuter clinic.

In 2003, the spay/neuter clinic expanded to include wellness services for animals in need of vaccinations and other healthcare. Now, the SPCA shelter takes in over 6,000 animals 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.