VOCAL is not your typical animal welfare organization. Made up of our board and run largely by volunteers, VOCAL was founded by three passionate animal advocates, Linda Norman, Kate Rengel, & Lauren Carpenter, who wanted to bring an end to the homeless pet problem in our community. This means working with county residents and other organizations to help Marion County, FL become a community that values and cares for its pets. From the beginning, our goals and mission have been based solely on the needs of the Marion County area. We looked directly at the statistics in our county when formulating our business plans. We believe the solutions we develop should be focused on solving the problems in our community and then branching out into other counties, states and areas who need help.
The first step to addressing the homeless pet population is having affordable and accessible low-cost spay neuter in Marion County. Without focusing on spay-neuter and preventing countless numbers of animals being born into homelessness, the problem continues to escalate and is simply too large to adopt our way out. Since our founding year in 2015 we have been assisting low-income pet families by providing funding for spay and neuter surgeries. While operating this fund, we simultaneously began fundraising to build our clinic. The clinic’s initial goal was to offer low-cost spay and neuter surgeries to our community; throughout our fundraising and construction efforts, we realized spay-neuter was a large component of addressing the homeless pet problem but it wasn’t the only facet that needed addressed. Low-cost pet wellness services were also identified as a key piece of keeping pets in their homes and preventing homelessness. Our newly built clinic has been constructed to not only address spaying and neutering but it will also have a focused wellness component to provide affordable routine vet care for low-income pet families. Again, helping to keep pets healthy and in their homes!
Beyond the goal of opening our clinic, we have created other programs to assist pets in our community. Our programs were developed to focus on the animals at risk for reproducing, becoming homeless or potentially entering the shelter system. The programs were designed to help keep animals happy and healthy in their homes. As mentioned above, spay-neuter assistance is a critical fund utilized by many within our community. Our other key programs include our pet food bank and a quickly growing trap-neuter-return program focused on addressing the overwhelming feral cat population in Marion County. Rescue and adoption are also a piece of what we do, but we always work to see if we can keep an animal in its home by providing opportunities through our outreach programs. Sometimes, we understand though that this is not possible for all cats and dogs and those are the animals we intake into our adoption program. All of the pets available in our adoption program come from Marion County.
All in all, VOCAL’s fundamentals are community-led, positive, and purposeful. We are different because we are focused on solving problems and coming up with solutions rather than continuing and accepting the current circumstances of homeless pets in Marion County. We started our mission with a goal to end pet homelessness, although we have not reached this yet, we know it is entirely possible to achieve our goal not only in Marion County but, down the road, in communities beyond our county line. All things are possible with cooperation from the community, other animal welfare organizations, and of course, with the passion, teamwork, and creativity we value and strive for here at VOCAL every day.
Please join us on our mission, and make a difference for the homeless pets in our community today.
Help Us Reach Our Goals