Our Board, Your Pet Organization

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 Norman


animal shelter adoption board member Linda Norman

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.

Kate Rengel

Executive Director/Founder

Kate Rengel is the Executive Director at animal adoption center V.O.C.A.L.

Kate, our Executive Director, has been rescuing dogs since she was 19 years old. After graduating Magna Cum Laude with a degree in finance from Florida State University, Kate and her husband, Stephen, settled in Ocala, Florida with their two dogs, Riley and Reese. Since then, Kate and her husband Stephen have adopted three more rescue dogs, and frequently have a foster or two (of the canine or feline variety) in their home. Kate saw the extreme need for low-cost spay and neuter options in the Marion County area while working with local shelters and was determined to be part of the solution. She believes that Marion County can become a no-kill county with the help of many dedicated people.

Lauren Carpenter

Vice President/Founder

Lauren Carpenter is a board member of pet rescue organization, VOCAL

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.

Rob Carney

Rob Carney, local animal shelter organization board member, with his cat

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.

Mimi Eller

Mimi is a true Florida native, born and raised in Miami. Growing up in a big city, stray cats roamed Mimi’s neighborhood and needed to be fed and cared for. So many were hungry, pregnant, sick and needed a home. That is how her passion and desire to help those pets in need grew.
Mimi graduated from the University of Florida, then pursued a career in advertising design in Miami. A few years later, she and her husband moved up to Orlando, where they spent several years adopting more pets from local agencies while trying to help dogs and cats in their local community.
The past twenty-two years have been spent in Ocala, working both in the advertising field and the car business. When not busy working or raising a family, Mimi devotes time to her very spoiled rescue Corgi and six spoiled, well loved and ungrateful cats, all rescues from one place or another. Mimi’s goal is to educate everyone, but especially children and young adults on the importance of spay and neutering, and that volunteering at VOCAL can make a big difference in the life of these pets.

Bill Findlay

cat adoptions are available at V.O.C.A.L.

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 Hitchcock


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. Patti met Kate and Linda after becoming involved locally in animal welfare matters. Sheis honored and humbled to be a member of VOCAL. Her dog, Jake, is a rescued “Florida Brown Dog” that is living the good life (as all dogs should).

Rick Hughes

Rick Hughes, board member at V.O.C.A.L. local animal shelter

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

Dan Woerner


Dan is a retired bank CEO, having spent 35 years in the financial services industry. He and his wife, Joanne, moved to Ocala in 2013 for their love of horses.  They live on a farm with their five dogs, seven horses and a cat, and they regularly foster VOCAL dogs.  A native of Ohio, Dan has lived in eleven states and  been involved as a board member on numerous non-profits including homeless shelters and organizations dealing with developmental disabilities.  He has most enjoyed serving on those boards where the clientele don’t necessarily have a voice of their own.

Are you interested in becoming part of our pet organization? Learn how you can give some of Your Time to VOCAL!