Marion County Florida has twice the national average intake of homeless and unwanted animals. This statistic is an issue in and of itself, but when you next consider that the current euthanasia rate in our county is around 50 percent for dogs and 80 percent for cats, the facts tell a very concerning story indeed.
Overall, the highest numbers for euthanasia in Marion County are pit bull dogs and feral cats. As a 501c3 nonprofit organization, VOCAL believes that if animal welfare groups and individuals work together, Marion County can become a no-kill county. We have broken this mission down into 12 key steps. Some of these steps build upon one another, some can be worked in parallel, but all require contributions from people like you.
Step 1: Community Involvement & Support
VOCAL is looking for help from people like you! We can only make the no-kill mission a reality by support within our generous and caring community. There are many ways to get involved in helping to solve the problem in our community. Some of these ways include:
• Adopting – Choosing to adopt a pet instead of buying animals helps address the animals in our community that are already looking for homes. There are many sweet, loving animals with absolutely nothing wrong with them, available for adoption through our local shelters and rescue organizations. Buying from the pet store promotes “backyard breeding” and does nothing to solve the problems in our community.
• Spay & Neutering – Choosing to spay and neuter your own pets is an easy and effective way to keep down the population of unwanted animals.
• Volunteering – There are so many ways to volunteer your time to help the pets in our community. It doesn’t matter your skill level or the amount of time you have, we will find a way to cultivate your talent and have fun at the same time.
• Fostering – We are always looking for loving and committed fosters who can open their homes to homeless animals in our care. Our fosters will tell you that it’s the most rewarding experience to see an animal flourish in a foster home and go to their forever home.
• Donating – If you care about the animals in our community but do not necessarily have the time to volunteer and/or foster, your monetary donations go directly toward helping animals in need in our community. You can also help by donating food, beds, and other pet care items for the animals in our care.
• Sharing & Participating – If you are unable to help in any other way, just simply sharing our social media posts, showing up for events, or wearing a VOCAL shirt around town helps get our message out and spread the word about pets in need in our community.
Be part of the solution!
Step 2: Open a Low-Cost Spay Neuter Clinic
The cornerstone and most fundamental component of this No-Kill equation is prevention. VOCAL’s number one initiative is to open a Low Cost Spay & Neuter Clinic at our property on SW 52nd Street in Ocala, FL.
The checklist to open the clinic is as follows-
- (Complete) Don’t reinvent the wheel. Partner with Humane Alliance, a program of the ASPCA, to develop a business plan.
- Click Here to Learn More about Humane Alliance, including how they have successfully mentored over 140 clinics.
- (Complete) Develop Clinic Floor Plan.
- Click Here to See Our Concept Floor Plan
- (Complete) Determine Location and Secure Property.
- (Complete) Raise $75,000 for phase two of fundraising towards clinic
- (In Progress) Begin capital campaign for clinic
- Click Here to Donate and help us start saving lives
Step 3: Grow Foster Care Network
We currently have a growing group of committed foster parents who take all of the homeless animals that come into our care directly into their homes. Fostering is much less stressful on the animals than a kennel environment and helps us learn more about each dog or cat’s personal likes and dislikes, as well as teach skills like crate training, socialization with kids and other pets, and other important skills that ensure success in their forever home. We provide the vetting, food, and supplies, while fosters provide plenty of love and time. We cannot continue to rescue animals without the amazing foster parents in our network. If you are interested in fostering, please apply today!
Step 4: Medical Assistance for Low-Income Pet Parents
Many families who love their animals want to have them spayed and neutered, but simply can not afford the procedure. VOCAL believes that access to extremely low-cost services is absolutely imperative to help keep the local pet population at a reasonable level. Additionally, we receive calls almost weekly regarding pets that are in desperate need of medical care that their owners are simply not prepared for. Very often this leads to either surrendering their animals to a shelter or unnecessary euthanasia. Part of our mission is to be able to help low-income families provide care for their pets in crisis.
Step 5: Work with Landlords & Insurance Companies to End Breed Discrimination
One of the most common reasons that pit bull type dogs are surrendered is due to breed discrimination by landlords and insurance companies. Often, pet owners will contact VOCAL when they do not see any way out of their situation except to surrender their pets. Our team has a goal of working with landlords to approve these type of dogs based on their temperament, not their appearance, and to offer canine good citizen testing to pit bull type dogs. We also help advise people on insurance companies who are non-discriminatory, and allow pit bulls and pit bull type dogs to live in the homes that they insure.
Step 6: Offer Canine Good Citizen Classes to Spayed or Neutered Pit Bulls
VOCAL will offer Canine Good Citizen classes to spayed and neutered pit bulls in our community. As the most highly surrendered “type” of dog, we want to promote responsible pet ownership, and continue to encourage and promote a positive image for these dogs in our community.
Step 7: Free Training for Puppies Adopted from VOCAL
We see a common and very sad trend when it comes to dog surrenders. Very often, adopters see a cute puppy that they think will be the perfect fit for their family. Due to lack of experience, these new puppy owners will not put the time and effort into training their new puppy, and as they grow, their “cute” puppy habits lose their appeal and become bad habits that many owners will not tolerate. At around 8 months – 1 year, dogs are surrendered to shelters due to bad habits that could easily have been avoided with proper training. At VOCAL, we want to ensure puppies are ready for success, and therefore offer local families with training classes to prepare both the puppy and their new family for success.
Step 8: Humane Education in Schools
As we’ve stated previously, prevention is key to our mission. VOCAL knows that it is so important to start with our community’s future: our children. Humane Education in schools not only promotes positive pet ownership but also teaches children responsibility and strong core values. We want to see children grow into kind, competent pet owners, and humane education is one of the best ways to ensure that
Step 9: Work with Shelters, County Facilities & Rescue Groups
VOCAL knows our mission cannot be achieved by working alone. Working with other animal welfare organizations in our community is the key to preventing unnecessary euthanasia in our community. Together we are all stronger and can make a bigger difference through support, partnership and cooperation.
Step 10: Breeders Licensing & Registration
In order to prevent so many puppies and kittens from being born into homelessness, we must fight for legislation to end “backyard breeding” in our community. With thousands of animals being born in our community every year, we must hold breeders accountable, and allow for only safe and responsible breeding.
Step 11: Trap, Neuter & Release Support for Community Cats
Cats are, by far, the most at risk for euthanasia in our community. TNR is the only safe and effective way to save so many cats that are being needlessly killed in our community. Our current legislation must be changed, and new policies need to be put in place to ensure that cats have a chance in our community.
Step 12: Open Sanctuary & Adoption Center
At the end of the day, we know that with all of the preventative measures we put in place, there will still be animals that need sanctuary, and need to be re-homed. We hope to see VOCAL, one day, be a safe place for pets that truly have nowhere else to go. Here at VOCAL, we know that we cannot adopt our way out of the current situation in our county. We must first lower the number of animals being born in our community, and then focus on the animals that can be saved, while promoting positive and lifelong pet ownership. We pride ourselves in being an organization that takes in the animals that other groups have turned away, and we will continue to advocate for those who have no voice in our community. If you believe in our mission, please join us!