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Celebrating Our Community

Houston SPCA Opens First Phase of $42 Million Campus Expansion

The new lobby at the Houston SPCA

Houston SPCA Opens First Phase of $42 Million Campus Expansion

Photos provided by the Houston SPCA.

 

Cadence Bank is proud to support the Houston SPCA

 

The Houston SPCA knew they had a success on their hands.

 

Patricia Mercer, president and CEO of the Houston Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, has worked for more than a dozen years to raise funds, organize and oversee the construction of a 100,000-square-foot expansion of the organization’s shelter and rehabilitation facilities. It is the biggest change to the campus in 25 years, adding five new buildings and renovations to several others, at a cost of $42 million. While the formal grand opening is not scheduled until October 18, 2018, the “soft opening” took place in August.

 

“There were 25 adoptions that first Wednesday,” Mercer says. “On Saturday there were 92. We’re rocking and rolling, adopting out more than 200 animals in a week.”

 

But even before that, Mercer knew there was something magical about the new environment.

 

“Even the contractors are adopting,” she says. “The furniture company down the street donated furnishings for the new center, and one of their workers adopted a dog while he was here making the delivery.”

 

He adopted a little mixed-breed dog named Sonny. It appears she will have access to all the furniture she will ever need.

 

Saving pets when disasters strike

 

The timing of the soft opening wasn’t planned, but it was poignant, coming almost exactly a year after Hurricane Harvey hit the Gulf Coast as a Category 4 storm. Before the storm dissipated, more than 60 inches of rain had fallen across portions of southeastern Texas, causing catastrophic flooding, killing at least 88 people and causing an estimated $125 billion in damage.

 

In the weeks after the storm, the Houston SPCA and its volunteers managed hundreds of tasks, including rescuing 2,300 animals, coordinating with other Texas shelters, transporting animals to other cities (some as far away as Washington, D.C. and San Diego), collecting and distributing 120 tons of donated pet food and supplies for hard-hit areas, and reuniting 300 pets with their owners.

 

“We are very devoted to disaster work,” Mercer says. “We were involved in helping the SPCA in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Three weeks after Katrina, Rita hit the Texas coast, and we were the lead shelter helping Beaumont recover. Then in 2008, Hurricane Ike totally destroyed the Galveston Humane Society. We set up on Galveston Island and supported them with staffing and supplies through December of that year.”

 

Mercer fell silent for a moment. “You see something that seems like the very worst, but it also brings out the best in people,” Mercer says. “We were overwhelmed by the good will inside and outside our community.”

 

Working together: Houston SPCA & Cadence Bank

 

The Houston community also responded to the animal welfare organization’s most recent effort, making donations and pledges for its expansion and renovation. So far, the Houston SPCA has raised $30 million of the total $42 million needed for the project.

 

One of their earliest needs was a bank that could handle the Houston SPCA’s growing financial footprint. They found that ally in Cadence Bank, which handled the bridge loan needed for construction.

 

“We had a long-standing relationship with another bank,” Mercer says, “but they couldn’t meet our needs for this expansion, so we interviewed a number of other banks. We felt that Cadence wanted to help the Houston SPCA, to work with us. We moved our entire banking relationship there.”

 

Cadence makes a point of working with a number of nonprofit organizations in the Houston area. “A good majority of Cadence Bank employees grew up either in or around the Houston area, and come from all walks of life,” says Nicholas Bruce, Vice President for Private Banking. He says that by partnering with nonprofits and local communities, “We are helping to make our city better and stronger for generations to come.”

 

Bruce is one of those who has lived in Houston all his life. He’s driven by the Houston SPCA many times. He remembers what it looked like before the expansion began.

 

“Before, it was just a one-story white office building and the adoption center was around the back. Unless you lived in Houston, you really did not know it was there. Now when you are driving up and see the new building, the adoption center is front and center, with easy access to the building.”

 

The new facilities

 

Houston SPCA Opens First Phase of $42 Million Campus Expansion

 

Today the public sees a long, low-slung, welcoming building of stone and metal called the Ann Slemons Young Adoption Center (which houses adoptions), the Houston SPCA’s Wildlife Center of Texas (where injured animals are rehabilitated to be released back into the wild), and administration offices. The building sits adjacent to the Carruth Education Center, which has three convertible multi-media rooms that can also be used for conferences or special events. When finished, the campus will include a 25-stall horse barn, two dog parks, a flight center for injured birds and a multipurpose arena.

 

The existing animal shelter, which includes rehabilitation for animals brought in through cruelty investigations, will be overhauled into a 40,000-square-foot medical center, including dorm space for rotating Texas A&M University veterinary students.

 

Mercer has been with the Houston SPCA for 35 years, which gives her a lot of perspective on the expansive new presence of the organization. “It’s a gift to animals, but it’s also an incredible gift to the entire community,” she says. “People are absolutely blown away by how wonderful it is.

 

“We want to dispel all of the notions about animal welfare facilities being sad, gray places. When people visit us, we want them to find that we are the exact opposite of that.”

 

Cadence Bank supports our communities

 

Cadence Bank is proud to have played a role in helping the Houston SPCA campus expansion come to life, and we applaud this organization and its commitment to animals. Learn more about our mission, vision and values.

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