VOCAL is a pet organization made up of board members who are passionate about helping the animals in their community. Read on to learn more about each of our board members.
Linda is our board President and co-founder. Linda is a CFP and an owner of the financial planning firm, Norman and Furlong, Inc. Previously, she and her husband Gary owned an Allstate Insurance agency, and she was recognized by the Ocala/Marion Chamber of Commerce as the Small Business Person of the Year in 1996.
Linda is well-known in the community as a passionate animal advocate and was recognized as the Governor’s Volunteer of the Year in Marion County in 2014 for her efforts on behalf of chained and neglected dogs.
Lauren is an Ohio native who moved to Ocala in 2012. Since living in Ocala, Lauren and her husband, Brice, have rescued several stray animals.
Even though Lauren received her business degree with a focus in human resources from The Ohio State University, she found her passion for helping homeless animals after adopting a pair of dogs, Brooks & Claire. Both of these mixed breed dogs would have become a “statistic” without the assistance of a rescue. She is passionate about educating people on the importance of the “adopt, don’t shop” concept. Sadly, many people have a stigma that pets available for adoption, especially older ones, don’t make good pets because of their “unknown background.” Lauren’s three dogs, especially her Great Pyrenees Samantha who she rescued as a stray at 6 years old, are proof that homeless animals make wonderful, loving pets. She is passionate about helping other homeless pets in Marion County find their forever homes.
Stephen, our Secretary/Treasurer, received his undergraduate degree in Management from Case Western Reserve University and his Juris Doctorate from Florida State University College of Law in 2009. He is a local attorney who moved to Ocala in 2010. Stephen’s passion for animals, dogs in particular, began as a child with his first dog, Sadie.
When Stephen met his wife, Kate, in college, she exposed him to the crisis that shelter animals face, and his passion for helping animals continued to grow. The couple has had many rescued dogs and cats come through their home, either as temporary fosters or forever family members. Stephen’s goals are simple: He wants to shed light on the struggles that unwanted animals face and spread the word that every animal, regardless of their past, is deserving of love.
Rob graduated from Purdue University with an engineering degree and subsequently opened his floor-covering business, then known as Foxy Carpet, later as Foxy Carpet One. You may recognize Rob by his beloved canine star, Miss Shelby, who was in all of his commercials. Together, they sold a lot of floor covering!
Rob is the current owner of Foxy Rug & Furniture Galleria and is a past president of Ocala Business Leaders. Rob and his wife, Debbie, have many four-legged children. Rob and Debbie have a strong passion for animals and have tried to help clean up the feral cat population in Marion County. They have personally trapped more than 60 cats and after spaying and neutering them, have found them forever homes.
Rob’s goal is to educate the public on the importance of spaying and neutering pets so that no animals will have to suffer being alone, hungry and left to fend for themselves, a situation that is completely avoidable.
Carrie, a true native Floridian born in Auburndale and moved to Marion County as a teenager. Carrie has over 30 plus years’ experience as a successful Mortgage Banker. In 2015 Carrie founded Prime Mortgage Group, LLC where she currently serves as CEO, located in Ocala, FL and services all of Florida. Carrie’s goal is to rescue abandoned, strayed and neglected animals and provide a sanctuary for them. As a child, Carrie would capture all the roaming dogs in her neighborhood, and put them in her fenced yard until the neighbors came to claim them. Carrie, her husband, 2 daughters, and 2 grandsons all share a deep love for animals. Carrie and family currently own 1 Giant Schnauzer and 1 Miniature Schnauzer, and take care of her dad’s dog.
Bill, a Chicago native, worked for the Bell System for 25 years and “retired” at age 42 after they made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. This provided the impetus to make the decision to go into business for himself. He and his wife, Lori, a senior executive with a Chicago medical center, decided that becoming McDonald’s franchisees was a perfect fit for them.
In 2004, they had the opportunity to move their business to Ocala and one week later were welcomed by the infamous four hurricanes that hit that year. Bill and Lori now own several local McDonald’s restaurants and love the Florida weather despite the occasional hurricane. They also love their animals!
Currently, there are 13 cats that reside at the Findlay household! On any given day, you may also be greeted by a cat or two at their office. Bill is concerned about the high rate of euthanasia of cats and wants to get the word out that spaying and neutering saves lives!
Patti is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) and is presently the Planning & Zoning Manager for the City of Ocala. She has worked for the City of Boca Raton and spent twenty years in a highly responsible and visible position with a large private company developing many square miles in the Cities of Coral Springs and Parkland.
Patti, and her husband, David, fell in love with Marion County in 1995 while visiting family here. They purchased some acreage in 1999 and were able to relocate from South Florida in 2007. Their dogs are rescues from here in Marion County and are living the good life (as all dogs should). Patti met Kate and Linda after becoming involved locally in animal welfare matters and is honored to be a member of VOCAL.
Rick is a local body shop manager and retired U.S. Marine. After serving as an avionics technician in the Marines, Rick, with his wife, Erin, now works tirelessly to improve the health and welfare of animals locally and across the country. Rick has worked with the Humane Society of the United States and the ASPCA in two of the largest cat-hoarding situations ever discovered, providing his skills as a veterinary technician, problem solver and adoption counselor to help 1,400 cats find care and forever homes.
Rick has volunteered countless hours helping local trap-neuter-return programs to reduce the number of cats being euthanized daily. He has also helped transport dogs, cats and rabbits across the country for HSUS and local rescue groups. During his travels, Rick has visited many rescue facilities including Best Friends, Peggy Adams Rescue, Dallas SPCA and Dallas Animal Services. He hopes to take what he has learned from these successful organizations and apply them to VOCAL
Are you interested in becoming part of our pet organization? Learn how you can give some of Your Time to VOCAL!