Culture / Newsy

Houston SPCA’s New Campus Helps All Animals — and Plenty of People, Too

$25 Million in Donations are Making a World of Difference

BY // 06.26.19

When it comes to giving, supporting and protecting animals, the Houston SPCA goes far beyond a mere pet project. Houston’s first and largest animal protection organization operates independently to rescue and care for thousands upon thousands of animals every year, from companion, small pets, horses and farm animals to native wildlife and even exotics.

The 100-percent-donation-funded nonprofit has been growing from the generosity of donors, grants and animal lovers for almost 100 years. The Houston SPCA works tirelessly to free animals of all sizes from suffering, abuse and exploitation.

Now, with the help of altruistic Houstonians, the Houston SPCA’s campus is growing to help even more animals and provide more services to the community than ever before.

A two-phase construction and renovation project to create the Campus for All Animals is underway, more than tripling the Houston SPCA space at 7007 Old Katy Road’s size from 50,000 square feet to an impressive 150,000 square feet.

The first phase of the new campus, made possible by $25 million in donations, included the creation of six new areas, ranging from an education center to an equine center and membership-only dog parks.

Campus for All Animals’ second phase, which will wrap in November, will create residences for Texas A&M veterinary students and an animal hospital. As of right now, the Houston SPCA is $8.5 million shy of its $15 million goal for phase two.

Animal lovers celebrated the new campus at a grand gala starting in the Evelyn H. Griffin Adoption Lobby, featuring a true menagerie of rescued animals, followed by guests enjoying a three-course dinner catered by City Kitchen, seated under a canopy of twinkling lights reminiscent of a starry night sky in the brand new Carruth Education Center.

The event was chaired by Zane and Brady Carruth, and co-chaired by Brittany and Adam Clark.

The Carruths not only hosted the event, but made a generous $1 million pledge to the Houston SPCA’s Animal Medical Center campaign through the Carruth Foundation.

But that was merely one dazzling surprise of the evening. The incredible, well-deserved gift of a Purple Heart Honor was presented to the Houston SPCA by the Military Order of the Purple Heart for the nonprofit’s kindhearted and determined work with veterans.

The very first honor of its kind in the entire country for an animal rescue and protection organization. Fittingly, veterans were in the audience — and these heroes received four grateful standing ovations for their service.

“We have been placing some of our rescue dogs with veterans through Wins for Warriors to be trained to help veterans with PTSD. Actually one of the dogs was a special guest at the gala. Her name is Emily. She and her person were our special guests,” Houston SPCA President and CEO Patti Mercer tells PaperCity.

That loving human-animal connection is part and parcel to the Houston SPCA’s mission, and it always has been.

Animals and People

When the Houston SPCA launched back in 1924, it was created as a service for animals, children, women and families. From food distribution to locating medical care, the Houston SPCA rallied around the Houston community.

Their mission was restated in the 1950s to hone in on animals in need, but their steadfast commitment to people never faded.

“From the beginning, it’s been about people and animals. We’re about people, because you can’t separate the animal problems and animal issues from the people who care about them,” Mercer notes.

The new campus is only enhancing their system that has proven excellent for decades.

“Certainly the new campus allows for us to provide more and better care for animals. The expansion, renovation and repurposing of some of our facilities here allows us to provide an incredible gift for our community,” Mercer says.

“We have a lot of challenges in the sheer number of animals in our community that need homes and care. We are a large city, and as a result we’ve got many challenges. We are always evolving to meet the needs and better serve the animals and people of our community.”

Animals come to the Houston SPCA from individuals who can no longer care for them, cruelty investigations and their injured animal ambulance, which runs 24-hours a day, 365 days a year to save and heal the creatures. It is the only one of its kind in the city.

A Life Saving New Home

New, state-of-the-art facilities from the first phase include the Ann Slemons Young Adoption Center, a 28,000-square-foot space that features pets like dogs, puppies, cats and kittens, a Kitty Clubhouse, play areas and rooms where people can get acquainted with companion animals. A number of the suites are 50 percent bigger than the ones in the Houston SPCA’s old adoption center, allowing for multiple animals in one area.

The Annie White Graham Wildlife Center is dedicated to serving the 11,000-plus wild animals that come through Houston SPCA’s doors annually, comprising hundreds of species.

houston spca wildlife custom habitat
Wildlife will be cared for in a spectacular new space.

The 9,000-square-foot center has plenty of room, from a 7,000-square-foot flight space with 20 bird enclosures, 10 turtle habitats, 150 incubators and an area designated for wild mammals, like baby squirrels and opossums.

“This is a busy time of year with lots of babies coming through the door. Last year we cared for 360 species, everything from bobcats to bald eagles,” Mercer says.

The Dr. Amy Alexander Equine Care Center has 25 stalls. “Here, our staff veterinarians and equine team provide critical care and rehabilitation for horses and farm animals,” Mercer says.

Houston SPCA’s new Rescue Arena awaits an official name while the donor is determined.

“That is where our equine staff can train and exercise the horses we are rehabilitating. All the horses that come to us are coming from cruelty investigations. These horses had a terrible start to life. But this is the place where they get a second chance,” Mercer says.

The Equine Center comes in at 23,000 square feet and has a triage area, a rescue arena and seating for up to 300 guests.

The 14,000-square-foot Carruth Education Center is the site of all volunteer training, education camps and potentially special events.

“We have a great camp called Critter Camp that takes place in the summer. Spaces are available, but it’s filling up fast, especially our vet camps. It’s engaging curriculum that’s age-appropriate for third through 10th grade,” Mercer says. The seasonal camp runs in the summer as well as spring break and over the winter holidays.

The Fast Fred Cemo and Ranger Peabody Dog Parks — named for two beloved dogs — will open to the public soon, and will be available for public events. Behind the building there are even playgrounds specifically for the rescue dogs. The pups that are waiting for forever or foster homes have three parks to themselves.

Phase two additions include the Animal Medical Center, slated for a Spring opening, and the residences, which will total at roughly 15,000 square feet, for students participating in the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences Partnership.

The Campus For All Animals is furthering Houston SPCA’s noble goals, and they are eternally grateful for the people who helped make it happen.

“I’m immensely proud of the wonderful, generous donors who have stepped forward and committed themselves to this project,” Mercer says. “It’s been a labor of love.”

For more information on Houston SPCA and how to donate, click here.

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