Retiree Makes a Difference in the Lives of Texas Animals One Paw at a Time

Daily Point of Light # 7840 Jun 24, 2024

Meet Daily Point of Light Award honoree Shannon Smock. Read her story, and nominate an outstanding volunteer or family as a Daily Point of Light.

To her fellow volunteers and the staff of SPCA of Texas, Shannon Smock is the heartbeat of their community. Smock serves the longest-serving animal welfare agency in North Texas by volunteering in a multitude of roles across three shelters. Whether Smock is orchestrating mobile adoption events or ensuring every pet has access to vaccines and essentials, the retired 68-year-old finds the truest of joys as a SPCA of Texas volunteer.

Smock joined the agency in 2017 when hurricane Harvey resulted in a big need for both volunteers and space to temporarily hold animals in her community. Her previous employer helped house the evacuee’s pets, and Smock never turned back from helping care for all animals.

What inspires you to volunteer?

I’ve always loved animals, since I was a little girl. I worked full time, I had kids and I loved my job; I poured myself into those things. But I would go by the SPCA at its old location on my way from work, and I thought: I’d really like to do that one day. Fast forward to 2017, they put out a shout out for volunteers because of hurricane Harvey. They were going to set up a mega shelter. At the time I was still working, but they contacted my employer to see if they could use some property when they set up the mega shelter; a temporary fencing location to walk these dogs being taken in from Houston.

After setting up, they streamlined the process to be a volunteer. I went ahead and signed up. Getting to watch these people work together was amazing. The evacuees from the hurricane could come stay at the shelter and bring their pets; they stayed at the convention center nearby and we took care of their pets. I gave out treats and helped set up curtains so that the cats would have privacy. We also collected clothes and stuff like that to give to the evacuees. So that’s how I got started, and I’ve been here ever since.

Shannon Smock spends, on average, 29 hours a month with the SPCA of Texas after her retirement in 2019.

Tell us about your volunteer roles with SPCA of Texas?

When I went in for training, I was just blown away. They offered training in everything. I got to be around people who cared deeply around animals like I did, and it was just such a pleasant joy. Back then, I started off doing ten hours of cleaning windows, pods, kitty litter, doing dishes and laundry – stuff that always needs to be done. We did that volunteerism before animal handling. I was trained to handle the happy-go-lucky dogs and the rowdy ones. I also took behavioral training where I could help with the ones who were really fearful and get them ready to be up for potential adoption. I did all of this while still working full time. I loved it. I also joined the sewing group

After 30 years of working at a really wonderful company, I had the chance to retire in 2019. My boss and his wife made a gift to the SPCA and named the adoption lounge for me and my family. It really is the best. Then COVID-19 hit, and the world shut down. The SPCA actually had to close to volunteers just to keep things going with restrictions, how many people could enter the building and keeping space between everyone. Before COVID, I joined the sewing group and we had all sorts of projects. But during the pandemic, we made masks and curtains for the reactive dogs.

My absolute passion is to get animals adopted. I’m also an adoption counselor. That’s really the main thing that I do. I just love it so much. I do counseling, mobile adoption events and I’m also a foster mom. I also help with vaccines and spay neuter clinics. The big thing that the SPCA of Texas does that I’m involved in is the SPCA’s Ellis County Strut Your Mutt – The Race to End Animal Cruelty event. It’s a big fundraiser, and I was asked to serve on the committee. It’s a 3K in a beautiful historic park. Things are given away for animals and for their owners. We also do a big adoption event between Thanksgiving and Christmas, so I volunteer then too. I average around 29 hours a month.

What’s been the most rewarding part of your work?

Honestly, it’s when I can get an animal into a loving home. A lot of our animals come from cruelty cases; we have a whole cruelty investigations team who are amazing. In fact, I adopted our dog Ranger.

What have you learned through your experiences as a volunteer?

So much from my training. It’s incredible. Now I know so much more. When I look back now, I apologize to my former pets for not knowing these things. I’ve learned about dog behavior, cat behavior and heartworm disease; that if a cat gets infected, there’s no treatment and no cure. I learned that people working together can really achieve amazing things, for animals and for people in our community.

Do you have any advice for people who want to start volunteering?

Just go for it. Just show up. If you have a heart for getting involved, it’s the most rewarding thing. It almost feels selfish because of the joy you get out of doing it.

Tell us about future partnerships, programs or events that you are excited about.

We’ve got our Fur Ball in October. It’s a really fun fundraising event. And of course, in November or December, we have the holiday adoption event.

Do you want to make a difference in your community like Shannon? Find local volunteer opportunities.

Madi Donham