Love is a Four-Legged Word

The sold-out, third annual Furball was recently held at the Golden Ocala Golf and Equestrian Club. The black-tie-optional event was hosted by Voices of Change Animal League (VOCAL) for the purpose of raising money to open a low-cost, spay-neuter clinic. A tremendous amount was raised.

This elegant evening for animal lovers included a cocktail hour, dinner and presentation followed by dancing to music by the band Fast Lane Funk. Gaming and raffle prizes were offered in the beautiful Governor’s Room, and the silent auction featured several unique prizes, including an open cockpit plane ride, helicopter rides, original art and much more.

Founders Lauren Carpenter, Kate Rengel and Linda Norman are passionate animal advocates who saw a need to focus on the homeless pet crisis in Ocala/Marion County. This homeless pet crisis means that cats and dogs are needlessly dying in shelters. Their multiple-step approach begins with prevention of unwanted pets being born in the first place, and their focus is on getting a low-cost, spay-neuter clinic open that would serve the needs of the community at every economic level.

Lauren Carpenter, vice president and co-founder, observes, “Working on this project to open our clinic over the past few years has really shown what wonderful support we have from our donors. The issue of pet overpopulation is a county-wide issue and something we must address as a community. Having financial support for the construction of our clinic is the first step in helping Ocala/Marion County achieve the ultimate goal of ‘no kill.’”

Linda Norman, president and co-founder, adds, “We started with zero, and that meant that we had to think outside of the box and work a lot harder. People want to help, and we gave them a way to get involved. Our volunteers work tirelessly to help our animals have a better outcome, and our donors provide the financial support that is necessary to build an organization that is both sustainable and will meaningfully impact the community. VOCAL’s overall mission is to solve the homeless pet population.”

Enormous numbers of animals are being born into homelessness, and the problem is just too large to solve with mere adoption of pets. Marion County 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.

VOCAL continues to advocate for pets that have no voice of their own. Key volunteers include Stephen Rengel, Rob Carney, Elizabeth Ivory, Heather Sulecki, Astrid “Mimi” Buendia and Dr. Maggie Bell. Don’t let another day go by without making a donation on

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