Humane Society of Marion County expands footprint
After 60 years of serving homeless and neglected animals, the nonprofit organization is opening a new clinic with low-cost veterinary services to the general public.
Kim Bice, the clinic manager, talks about some of the features in the ICU with a pre-op area shown behind her inside the new 5,700 square-foot clinic at the Humane Society of Marion County in Ocala, Fla. on Tuesday, April 11, 2023. The new clinic, which will fill a void for low-cost veterinary care in Marion County, is expected to open in May. [Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette] 2023.
The Humane Society of Marion County (HSMC), is expanding its footprint to offer low-cost veterinarian services such as vaccines and spay and neuter to the public.
The organization’s new 5,700-square-foot clinic was primarily paid for by donations. The building includes a spacious lobby, intake and treatment rooms, a pre-op room, surgical suite, ICU unit, offices, a kitchen for staffers and a multipurpose room.
The new building will house all of the shelter felines that are not available for adoption as well as those that are hospitalized, waiting on surgery or recovering from surgery. The clinic at the main shelter facility will “pretty much see to the needs of all the adoptable cats in the shelter and then all of the dogs we intake,” said Clinic Practice Manager Kim Bice.
“This has been a vision of our Executive Director Eddie Leedy for quite a while. He and the board of directors got together and planned this building out. This is going to fill a void for low-cost veterinarian care in Marion County. We want to offer services to the public of low-cost spay and neuter, wellness and sick appointments, vaccines, the whole nine yards,” said Bice.
“This will be 100% full service,” added Shelter Operations Manager Austin Burnett.
“We are extremely excited to be able to provide much-needed medical treatment for so many animals that otherwise may not see a veterinarian,” said Leedy. “And we are humbled by the generous donors that allowed us to make this dream a reality.”
“During the ribbon cutting on the 19th, at 10 a.m., we will have our donors who made this happen, along with staff and volunteers. At 1 p.m. we’ll have an open house for anyone in the public come in and tour and we’ll have hors ‘d’oeuvres,” Burnett said.
Bice said there will be a soft opening sometime in May and they hope to offer services to the public by the first of June. She estimated the clinic would be open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and said that while there is no contingency at this time for emergency services, “we hope to offer that in the future.”
Bice said veterinarians Dr. Martha Zimmerman and Dr. Kate Papp, four technicians and an assistant from the main HSMC facility nearby will be moving to the clinic.
Bice has been a veterinarian technician for five years and came to the HSMC in 2021.
“I found a passion in shelter medicine. I came from GP (general practice) but I love working at the shelter and knowing we’re truly making a difference in the lives of animals that have no owner. It’s just a very rewarding experience,” she said.
While giving a tour of the new building, Bice and Burnett pointed out that the surgical unit, pre-op room and ICU/treatment areas are connected by large glass walls so the doctors and assistants can easily see from room to room.
Three of the largest rooms in the clinic will be used to house felines in various stages of care.
“We hope to have 20 kennels per room, each of which will have a specific purpose, such as a feline hospital, feline healthy room and housing/intake. We hope cats will stay no longer than up to 14 days here and then go to the shelter for adoption,” Bice outlined.
“There is an epidemic in Marion County of strays and colonized cats that are birthing multiple litters a year. These cats are giving birth as young as 7 months, which is why we also want to help with TNR (trap, neuter and release) in the future, as it is very much needed,” Bice said.
Veterinary services such as dental care, nail trims, ear cleaning, X-rays and much more will be offered in the new clinic.
“And we will still provide X-rays to Marion County Animal Services as we do now. They come to us when they have animals in need of X-rays to help them make decisions or a diagnosis,” Bice said.
The “Ocala Gazette” reported in October 2019 that the Ocala City Council had unanimously approved to waiving the site plan review fee and related fees for the HSMC expansion. The report noted that the expansion was projected to cost around $1 million.
Tallen Builders, LLC, is the general contractor.
Since 2009, the HSMC, which is a no-kill shelter, has facilitated more than 24,000 adoptions of animals. Longstanding programs include a thrift store at 110 NW 10th St. in Ocala and educational outreaches such as the Magic Bark Bus and DogGone Good Reading Program. Many of the components involve volunteers.
Bice and Burnett said the new clinic could still use more volunteers, financial donations, and donations of goods such as towels, washcloths, bleach, paper towels and laundry soap.
“People can still support the clinic through our Raise The Woof program, or buy a brick in memory of someone or a lost pet, or in other ways,” Burnett said of monetary donations.
And people who can foster animals are in great need as well, Bice added.
“We always need fosters. Sometimes people don’t understand how important that is. It’s imperative that we have people who able to help get these animals get well after they are sick or get them to a healthy weight so we can perform surgery. Fosters are very, very important to us,” she noted.
And, she went on the say as she showed off the clinic’s large kitchen area, the people who work at and volunteer with HSMC are important to each other.
“We are very close at the Humane Society. We work together as a family and we spend more time with each other than we do our own family,” she said. “Our number one priority is taking care of the animals, but we also take care of each other.”
The Humane Society of Marion County is located at 701 NW 14th Road, Ocala. To learn more about ways to help or to adopt an animal, visit thehsmc.org or call (352) 873-7387.