All current members of the Texas Animal Control Association are entitled to vote for the Board of Directors that leads the Association. Ballots must be submitted by 11:59 PM on Friday, November 5th to be counted. Validity of any questionable ballot will be determined by the Nomination Committee of the Texas Animal Control Association Board of Directors and their decision is final.
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Vice President Candidate
Board of Director Candidates (Three Positions Available)
My name is Edward Cruz and I work with the City of Grand Prairie as the Field Supervisor. I have been with the TACA Board for nearly a full term and in that time I feel like I have learned a lot about how the board works, what it means to be a board member, and have been listening to some of the feedback our members provide about how they would like us to improve their experience with our Association. It has been an honor and a privilege serving on this board. I would like to continue to serve the Members of TACA and help our Association continue to move forward. I do not just want to be on this board for the sake of being on this board I would like to continue to make a difference in how not only our membership sees this Association but the rest of the world. I appreciate your vote and look forward to seeing you all at the conference. Respectfully, Edward Cruz
My career in animal welfare began in 2001 as the Animal Care Supervisor of a primate sanctuary here in Texas. After that I took positions in wildlife rehabilitation, exotic animal care and within a receivership with the Texas Attorney General before moving on to be a primate zookeeper for the Houston Zoo in 2012. In 2018 I entered the public service sector when I accepted a position in Pearland, Texas as Humane Officer. A year later I was promoted to Shelter Supervisor and 10 months after that I was promoted to the Animal Services Manager. I serve on the Animal Advisory Board for the City of Pearland. In 2020, for the first time in our city's history, we received a live release rate over 90%, I received the Professional Supervisor of the Year award and more importantly our unit earned the Unit Citation from our Chief of Police. I believe Officer safety is the single most important issue facing our industry and have implemented changes within our unit to protect our Officers. Animal Control is changing, and I am excited to be a part of ensuring that the focus remains on the men and women that have chosen to serve.
Alexandra "AJ" Johnston
Alexandra has been in law enforcement for over 14 years, and a peace officer for most of those years. She has worked many years as part of the animal crimes unit of her local agency. She is an accomplished animal cruelty investigator and has a high conviction rate.
AJ has worked with the Texas Humane Legislation Network for the last two legislation sessions, to pass important animal welfare bills through the Texas House of Representatives. She is a citizen lobbyist for animal protection legislation.
Animal protection is very important to AJ due to what she has seen working as a Peace Officer. She has worked many cruelty cases through their entirety, from the outcry to the conviction. She has supervised many large-scale seizures, and many small scale seizures of abused animals. She has worked with many federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies to ensure that their cases are handled the most effective way. She is also a licensed Peace Officer Instructor, and is very active teaching police officers how to pursue cruelty cases.
Alexandra also teaches all the animal outreach programs and events for her department. She has also volunteered with Animal Investigation and Response as an instructor, investigator, and animal handler. She was deployed by Animal Investigation and Response to assist with Hurricane Harvey. She assisted with the relief efforts at Houston Humane Society as a volunteer with Animal Investigation and Responses and The Humane Society of the United States. She also serves as part of the ASPCA Field and Investigation Team and has been deployed with them on cruelty cases. AJ is now the Assistant Manager of All American Dogs, a private animal control company that serves 30 municipalities, and is a major force in the fight for animals to be treated humanely and to educate her peers in how to effectively stop animal cruelty.
Rhonda McLendon has been serving as Director of Pflugerville Animal Welfare Services and Pflugerville Animal Shelter since 2013. She has worked in municipal government for over 33 years, and in the Animal Services field for 18 years. She retired from the City of Lufkin after serving 25 years in different capacities, including Communications Operator, Police Officer, City Marshal, Municipal Court Administrator, and ten years as Director of Animal Control and Kurth Memorial Animal Shelter.
McLendon worked with K-9 Officers early in her law enforcement career, and began learning canine body language at that time. She saw more than 65,000 animals come through the shelter in her tenure as Director with City of Lufkin, and learned much more about feline and canine body language. She was daily exposed to feral dogs and cats, fearful and fractious animals, and animals with behavior issues and began fine tuning her knowledge with thousands of hands on experiences and observing interactions between animals. She has her Master Peace Officer’s License and Advanced and Administrative ACO Certificates. Pflugerville Police Department carries her peace officer’s license, and McLendon teaches police officers and police cadets Canine Encounters-Defensive Tactics as well as teaching Canine and Feline Body Language and Communication locally and at conferences and training seminars across the state. She serves on the board of Texas Animal Control Association.
Vanessa Scarbrough grew up in Southern California where she participated in her local 4-H club from the age of 5 until aging out at 18 and was a member of her high school’s FFA chapter. She showed rabbits, chickens, dogs, and horses, and competed in horse judging, parliamentary procedures, hippology, horse bowl, and extemporaneous speech through-out the state of California as well as in Arizona, Colorado, and Oklahoma. At age 19 she moved to Houston, Texas to train horses, and eventually moved to Corpus Christi where she began working as a kennel technician for Corpus Christi Animal Care Services in 2018. In the past three years of working at Animal Care Services Vanessa has worked as a kennel technician, field officer, cruelty investigator, and is now the field supervisor. Vanessa is currently enrolled at Texas A&M- Corpus Christi and is a Senior obtaining a Criminal Justice degree and plans to continue her education by attending law school and becoming a prosecutor specializing in animal cruelty cases.
I began my animal career as a zookeeper working with large mammals (elephants, gorillas etc), then worked in customer service for several years before becoming an animal control officer in Arizona. I moved to Texas to continue my career in Mesquite; progressing from field officer to senior to my current position as field supervisor. I would love to contribute to the animal care and control community by joining the TACA board to share my unique background as well as continuing to learn from other leaders in the field.
Kelly Thyssen has over 15 years experience in the animal welfare field. Her responsibilities included working as an Animal Control Officer for City of Cedar Park, City of Pflugerville and City of Georgetown, as a Veterinary Technician for Pflugerville Animal Hospital, as a Kennel Manager for Humane Society of Williamson County, and as a Public Health and Prevention Specialist for Texas Department of State Health Services Zoonosis Program.
She has experience in giving lectures for multiple organizations including Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) Zoonosis program, Williamson County Probation Office, the Georgetown Police Department and at the Intertel and Mensa Regional Conferences. She built contacts throughout the State of Texas while working for DSHS and has been called upon by DSHS to teach "Capture and Restraint" for the Basic Animal Control Officer certification course as a guest instructor.
Throughout her six years with Georgetown Animal Services, Kelly received several Teamwork awards from the Georgetown Police Chief, including in 2013 for her extreme effort in rescuing a dog suffering from heat stress, as well as for the development of an emergency first aid heat stress response kit designed for animals. She was named Police Civilian Employee of the Year in 2014.
She is a member of Pflugerville Police Association, Pflugerville Community Emergency Response Team, and Citizens on Patrol. While working for DSHS, she was a member of the Region 7 Central Texas Wildfire Response Team in response to the Bastrop County Complex wildfire of 2011. Kelly was the Chairperson for the Georgetown Animal Shelter Advisory Board from 2014 to 2018.
Arlington, TX 76016