Molly Statue Unveiled In Ocala

Molly, the longtime ambassador for the Marion County Animal Abuser Registry, has been immortalized in a marble statue that was unveiled June 7 in downtown Ocala.

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Posted June 7, 2023 | By Susan Smiley-Height/Ocala Gazette
Photos By Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette

If all dogs go to heaven, then Molly, the longtime ambassador of the Marion County Animal Abuser Registry, who died in February, must have been smiling down on the crowd gathered in her honor on June 7 in downtown Ocala.

Beneath a bright sun and with a minimal breeze, those gathered withstood the heat to celebrate the life of the beloved canine whose history of abuse helped lead to the creation of the registry, also known as Molly’s Law. They were all there to witness the unveiling of the marble statue of Molly created by award-winning sculptor Nilda Comas.

The statue sits upon a granite base designed by Alberto Comas, the artist’s brother, in front of the city of Ocala’s Citizen Service Center at 201 SE 3rd St., near the Downtown Market. The block from which the figure of Molly emerged was mined in Italy from Carrara marble, from what are known as the caves of Michelangelo. Comas, who recently was inducted into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame and whose works have been featured in solo and group exhibitions in museums and galleries in the U.S. and abroad, recently created a statue of Mary McLeod Bethune for the National Statuary Hall in the Capitol in Washington, D.C. She is a frequent visitor to Ocala, when not working in her studios in Italy and Fort Lauderdale.

Her brother, Ocala resident Tito Comas, introduced her to Molly and Lilly Baron, president of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) of Ocala, who became Molly’s human companion after the mixed-breed dog was stabbed and beaten in 2014. Her accused attacker spent time in prison.

Leading up to the unveiling of the statue Wednesday morning, Ocala Mayor Kent Guinn introduced numerous elected officials, followed by comments from County Commissioner Kathy Bryant, State Rep. Stan McLain, Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods, attorney and animal activist Peggy Hoyt, along with Baron and Nilda Comas.

The majority of them talked about making the registry a statewide priority. Several offered kudos to former county commissioner David Moore for leading the charge, with Baron, to implement Molly’s Law locally.

Of the push for a statewide registry, McLain said “we have been working on it some. A good friend of mine, out of Polk County, Sam Killebrew, has been the animal advocate in the Florida House since I’ve been there in 2016. Sam has agreed to file this legislation and to work on it this next session and obviously I’ll be there in support of him.”

Speaking to Baron, he said, “Lilly, this is the midpoint of a journey.”

When it was the sculptor’s turn at the microphone, she spoke about the process of securing the marble block for the statue. She said sculptures serve as monuments that “make us see and notice things that we probably normally would not think about.”

“But I’m hoping that every time that people go by here and they see Molly, ambassadors from other places come to the city of Ocala,” she added, “they get close to Molly and they say, ‘Ambassador Molly. Wow!’”

Numerous donors and sponsors helped bring the statue to fruition.

“There were so many involved,” Comas said. “I really thank you for that responsibility to do this sculpture, especially Lilly.”

When it was Baron’s turn to address the crowd, she said, “Our Sunshine State will shine brighter when we can get an animal abuser registry passed statewide.”

With her voice breaking, she continued, “Hopefully Molly’s story will bring that change that we need. It’s hot, so let’s do this!”

And with that, the black drape was removed from the snow-white statue of Molly, to the gasps and cheers of everyone there.

When asked she felt now that the statue was on display, Baron, replied, “It’s just so emotional.”

After posing for photos with several others, Guinn asked the crowd to not leave. He returned to the podium and announced, “Let me just say one thing in closing. First, thanks for everyone being here today for this honor. We tried to find the perfect spot and I think we found it. But let me say this, if anyone, anyone, damages that statue, they will be punished under the worst, strictest law that we can find. We’ve got cameras everywhere—we will hunt you down, like a dog.”

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