The dogs are howling and the cats are purring over some big news at the SPCA of Martinsville-Henry County: Their friend E.C. Stone recently accepted an offer to become the shelter’s new executive director.
Stone will take his seat on Oct. 21 and replace former director and current interim director Leslie Hervey, who has served for the past several months following the resignation of Nicole Harris.
Stone comes to the SPCA with extensive experience in animal welfare, shelter operations and budget management, including approximately nine years as an animal control officer for the city of Martinsville.
“After reviewing more than 20 qualified applicants nationally and locally, we are elated to announce that E. C. has accepted this position,” said Tiffany Smart, SPCA board president and search committee member. “His existing knowledge of our operations, facility and staff will assist in the transition of duties. E.C.’s experience in humane animal care and his strong ties to the public will undoubtedly provide us with important insight into the challenges faced in our area and how we can better assist families in need.”
Stone is a long-time resident of Martinsville-Henry County and has served for five years on the Virginia State’s Animal Control Board, which is primarily responsible for developing protocol and training animal control officers and shelter workers statewide.
Stone said he looks forward to leading the SPCA.
“The latter part of my career has been spent being a champion for the voiceless animals of our community. I’ve also enjoyed working with the public to serve their needs,” he said. “As executive director of the Martinsville-Henry County SPCA, I will be joining a very devoted team of individuals and supporters and look forward to our growth potential.”
Harris moved to West Virginia earlier this year to be closer to family and now serves as the executive director for the Fayette County Animal Control Center-New River Humane Society in Fayetteville, W.Va. When the news – which the SPCA announced Monday evening – reached her, she expressed elation over the choice. She and Stone had worked closely for years on the animal welfare circuit in Martinsville and beyond.
“I had the remarkable pleasure of working with E.C. Stone for the majority of my 12 years at MHC SPCA, and I can assure Martinsville and Henry County he is without a doubt the perfect person for this position,” Harris said. “He has been a champion for the animals since the day I first met him. This man has always gone above and beyond the call of duty as an animal control officer, and there is no doubt he will excel.
“His passion as an animal advocate will undoubtedly be unmatched. In my eyes he has been an animal hero – without a cape – for the entire time I have known him.”
During his time as an animal control officer, Stone prosecuted upwards of 150 cases involving animal cruelty. In 2017, he was vital in getting a tethering ordinance passed in Martinsville. The ordinance – in short – made amendments for dogs tethered in unfavorable weather conditions, banned tethering during certain hours of the night, banned tethering in situations where the animal could be in danger and altered the number of dogs permitted on a single premises.
He has been honored for his efforts, including as Humanitarian of the Year, SPCA Director’s Award, SPCA Above and Beyond Award, No-Kill MHC Collaboration Award, Kiwanis Club Officer of the Year and Martinsville Police Officer of the Year.
Shelter staff members said they looked forward to working with a familiar face in a different capacity.
“E.C. has a heart of gold for animals, and he has years of experience regarding animal welfare laws,” said Catherine Gupton, facility manager. “I think E.C. is going to bring a perspective and ideas to the table that we, as a shelter, don’t always consider.
“This is a good move because of E.C.’s knowledge and drive and his desire to save animals. He knows our community. He is aware of the problems. He has a visionary mindset matched with a go-getter attitude. He will get the job done – always,” Harris said. “You have to appreciate people as much as you do animals in order to be a successful director and he is equally passionate about both.”
Harris also offered words of both encouragement and advice.
“Love your community – they are the answer to every question. Be blind to judgment. Every person deserves the love of an animal, as well, every animal deserves the love of a human – make that happen. Find joy in every day,” Harris said. “You have the world’s best job – supported by the world’s best staff and the world’s most supportive board.”