SPCA leader began as a dedicated volunteer

Community Portrait
By: Michael Kirby
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Leilani Vierra is currently the chief executive officer of the Placer SPCA, a non-profit organization dedicated to bettering the lives of animals in Placer County. Founded in 1973, the center is located in Roseville near the Placer County Fairgrounds and aids individuals wanting to adopt a pet, placing adoptable animals in permanent, loving homes. Placer SPCA also has spay-and-neuter pet services now done on-site. Foster animal parenting, guardian angel programs, pet behavior and training and lost and found assistance are a few of the many programs the Placer SPCA offers to make life richer for pets and pet owners in our county. As CEO, Vierra’s duties include administration and community relationship development. She also heads up funding, a important part of the SPCA’s existence, as the center is a 501 (c) non-profit relying solely on donations, grants and fees for services to fund their programs. Born in Hawaii, her first name means heavenly flower. Vierra was raised in Canada and she moved to Sacramento at age 23 to start a life on her own. “I decided that when I became a young adult I wanted to live near the ocean and palm trees and I ended up here,” she said. Selling most everything she owned to get here, Vierra took her first job in West Sacramento at El Rancho Hotel, leaving there as sales manager to take a job with the Woodland Police Department as a crime prevention officer. She held that position for 10 years. “When I first started at the police department, I bought my first house and acquired my first dog from the Sacramento SPCA,” Vierra said. “I knew nothing about dogs, just that I had always wanted one since I was a kid. I went in looking for a white, female dog to match my carpet, and I ended up with a black and tan male German shepherd.” Vierra learned a lot from the experience at the SPCA, including the fact that she loved and appreciated animals and wanted to volunteer with the organization. Discovering her passion, volunteering soon turned into a paid position with the Sacramento SPCA, and she resigned from her job with the police department. In May of 2002 the top job at the Placer SPCA became available. Vierra was asked to interview with the board and was offered the CEO position, which she currently holds. Since accepting the job, services including humane education programs, on-site spay and neutering and expanded animal care areas have been added. Vierra’s future goals include establishing SPCA satellite locations throughout the county. Looking for a personal challenge outside of work, Vierra entered a figure bodybuilding competition in Chico in 2008 at the urging of her trainer. “I had never even worn a two bathing suit before that competition, and I thought that preparing would give me something to focus on outside of my work that would also be healthy,” Vierra said. She placed third in her division and is currently training for another competition in June. Vierra lives in Roseville and trains two hours a day, six days a week. Between two residences shares four dogs and two cats with her boyfriend, Steve.