The fall air makes my mind turn to all of the animals in shelters across East Texas in desperate search of forever homes. Maybe, it is because I can remember receiving a pet or two for Christmas that brought joy to my heart, or maybe, it is because of the approaching cold winter that I want each of them to find forever homes. I reached out to the SPCA of Polk County to get an update about animal adoptions in our area and found an amazing, new talent hard at work.
The SPCA of Polk Coutry provides an invaluable service to the animals and people of Polk County. This year, they have a new Executive Director that has a passion for fur babies and modernizing the operations of the animal shelter. His name is Ron Hornsby, and recently, I had the great privilege of doing a question and answer session with him for All About East Texas Magazine.
Ron, thank you for doing this interview about the SPCA of Polk County. Tell me a bit about how you started there and what your role is with the shelter?
I started helping the SPCA in April 2020, At first, it was to offer my help with business transformation or wherever they needed me. I was offered a place on the board about a month later working within communications. At last year’s annual meeting, I was voted to serve an additional year on the board and was elected as the Executive Director for 2021.
What drew you to volunteer and then, work full-time at the SPCA?
I have a big passion for animals, and I knew that I wanted to help a non-profit animal shelter through volunteer work. The SPCA of Polk County was an ideal location for me, and the potential is endless. I enjoy challenges that put my skills to use. In addition, it has helped me immensely in learning new skills and areas of a business, such as Animal Welfare. It is very rewarding to see all our hard efforts pay off when the animals find loving homes.
What are the biggest challenges that the SPCA faces today?
The SPCA of Polk County, like most other non-profit animal shelters, faces many obstacles, mostly to do with funding or lack thereof. There is a certain challenge in finding new ways to engage with the community and business leaders, as well as educating and drawing attention to the difficulties faced by an animal shelter that operates a no-kill facility. Funding will always be an issue, and we have a fantastic family of supporters who have big hearts. But, every month we face financial hardship, which forces us to cut costs in order to keep the lights on or send an animal to the vet for treatment. We have lots of plans, but limited resources. Volunteers are also in short supply and hard to retain. We do our best every day, despite the challenges.
What is your biggest successes and transformations since taking the helm?
To date, we have made many changes in less than a year. We have managed to reorganize and restructure the operations of the facility to be more streamlined and communication orientated. Through our control methods, we have saved roughly 25% of funds and redirected them towards more animal welfare services. A new website had been designed and setup with a new donation platform that makes donating easier and quicker. Our new, internal IT infrastructure allows access to dozens of key services that makes working easier and is at no cost to the shelter. We have also installed a lower cost telephone system that is more automated, making communications better overall. In addition, we have improved the branding of the organization to become more consistent and standardized through our marketing efforts. Finally, we are half-way through the building of a new quarantine space, funded by a grant from Petco. This effectively triples the space and improves the conditions overall.
I am guessing you have the support of a great team behind you. Care to brag on them a bit?
Our improvements, organization efforts, events, fundraising and more could not be possible without all those who dedicate each and every day to the SPCA of Polk County: our staff, volunteers and board members. Our team efforts have produced some exciting and meaningful changes that improve functionality and services to the public and animals welfare.
What resources do you need most from the public in this amazing work that you do?
We are always in desperate need of monetary donations. From $5 to $500, whatever people can afford, is always very much appreciated, allows us to save lives and provide loving homes for the dogs and cats most in need. The funds help us run a facility of our size, purchase supplies, equipment and medications to help the animals. It’s all essential and could never be possible without the generous donations from our supporters. We have also made it easier for people to donate to us.
They can donate via our website at www.spcapolk.org or on their phone by texting “SPCAPOLK” to 44321. If they donate by phone, they will be sent a link to follow a process on their phone. It’s very simple. They can also mail donations to us by sending them to SPCA of Polk County, PO Box 1403, Livingston, TX 77351 or drop by, in person, at 802 S. Houston Avenue, Livingston, TX 77351.
They can also call us at (936) 755-3020, and we would be glad to help.
Have you personally adopted an animal you knew needed a good home?
I have adopted previously, two cats, when I was living in the United Kingdom. They were in a non-profit animal shelter, which was my very first introduction to animal shelters and some of the challenges that they face. The process ignited a passion in me. I currently have two Rhodesian Ridgebacks, which may seem good for now, but I will never say never. All of our precious animals melt my heart. I know of people who have dozens of cats and dogs at home, and I can quite see myself doing the same given half the chance. Adoptions from a rescue or shelter help the neediest, and you couldn’t find a place to fall in love with your next family member that is more filled with variety and unique personalities.
If you would like to donate, texting SPCAPOLK to 44321 is very simple, as are many of the other options they offer. I wish Ron all the success in his new position, and from our interview, he is proving that the board of the SPCA of Polk County made an excellent decision in utilizing his talents.