When Stephanie Fox leaves her office for the day, often she isn’t heading home. Instead, she pulls into the SPCA of Texas‘ Jan Rees-Jones Animal Care Center in West Dallas. Stepping inside, Stephanie feels right at home doing what she loves most – caring for animals. “I’ve always loved volunteering and I’ve always loved animals. I was that kid who took home strays – actually, I’m still that person,” Stephanie gladly admitted. Volunteering for the SPCA of Texas has given Stephanie the opportunity to spend quality time with dogs who have been abandoned or rescued from abusive situations.
After earning a masters degree in accounting from SMU and finishing law school, Stephanie began her career as a lawyer for the Dallas County District Attorney. Then after a stint with JP Morgan and the Community Foundations of Texas, Stephanie settled into a job at a small Dallas investment firm. Her flexible schedule allows her to spend plenty of time volunteering at the SPCA of Texas. Stephanie started volunteering just one day a week, but now she spends as much time as possible with her favorite pups.
Walking through the halls of the Animal Care Center, each dog is contained in a clean and spacious pod with the perfect mix of toys and blankets. “People tend to think that volunteering at an animal shelter would be sad and depressing, but it brings me so much joy,” said Stephanie. “The more you see the animals, the more you care about their well-being.” Stephanie has been trained by the SPCA of Texas staff in four levels of animal handling and behavior techniques. Her volunteer hours include taking dogs for walks and giving each one a little TLC. On quiet days, Stephanie will even bring her laptop into a pod with an anxious dog and just work alongside him. “Moose is missing a paw and has high anxiety. I can tell he is more calm when I sit with him,” said Stephanie.
There are many ways to volunteer with the SPCA of Texas. As the leading animal welfare agency in North Texas, the non-profit organization operates two shelters, three spay/neuter clinics, two mobile spay/neuter clinics, a mobile adoptions unit and an animal rescue center, all located in Dallas and Collin Counties. They also maintain a team of animal cruelty investigators who respond to thousands of calls in seven North Texas counties. In 2017, 2,217 pets were rescued from abuse or neglect. And, of course, adoption is the goal for every pet. “The SPCA of Texas is dedicated to providing every animal exceptional care and a loving home,” shared Madeline Yeaman, Communications Specialist for the SPCA of Texas. “It is such a happy place to be and it is so rewarding to see dogs and other pets go to happy homes.”
The focus on high quality care spills over into every area at the SPCA. Staff behavioral specialists design enrichment programs to ensure animals will not be bored during their time at the shelter. Dogs are given puzzles, special treats, and even parties! During the summer months, volunteers plan a pupapalooza water camp for dogs to run and splash through the large outdoor play area. Specific guidelines are in place to keep dogs and volunteers safe. When a pet is taken in by the SPCA of Texas it is evaluated, vaccinated, treated by a vet, and then undergoes behavior rehabilitation. Then the pet is ready to be adopted! From rescue to adoption, Stephanie is passionate about her volunteer work, knowing that it makes a difference each day in the life of many animals.
Stephanie’s love for Dallas runs deep. Her mother, also an SMU graduate, serves on the board of the Salvation Army DFW while also running a successful interior design business. The model of career and service is one that Stephanie has followed well. Any free time that isn’t spent with her favorite canines is set aside for a movie date at the Inwood Theater, but Stephanie will always prioritize her volunteer family. “The unconditional love I have received from the animals of the SPCA of Texas I take with me everyday, but I have also cried countless tears over the cruelty that those animals have suffered at the hands of humans,” Stephanie said. “Animal welfare is such an important cause in our society today and thankfully it is gaining more momentum.”
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