Every year in Citrus County, 5,000 cats and dogs are put down because there are not enough people to take them into homes. An estimated 30,000 feral cats live in Citrus County.
Last year the Humanitarians of Florida Inc., a nonprofit volunteer organization dedicated to helping animals, received more than 600 requests for services. More than $40,000 was spent to assist residents with spay, neuter and other medical expenses.
For 23 years the Humanitarians have been helping people with their pets. In August, the group opened a new facility.
The Manchester House clinic enables people to have their animals spayed or neutered for a nominal fee. The clinic used to be a residential home. Remodeling the home into a facility to treat animals was expensive. The building cost $90,000. The equipment cost $60,000. After 20 years of planning, it took another three years to obtain the permits needed to open.
"The opening day (Aug. 14) was great," said Donna Schmid, the Humanitarians' president. "We did 14 spays and neuters on that day. It was a wonderful feeling; everything had finally come together."
Schmid said the facility, which was named for Guila Manchester, who founded the Humanitarians in 1980, can do as many as 60 spays and neuters per week. The procedures are done each Thursday, but the group hopes to soon offer services two days a week.
The clinic will have its grand opening Saturday.
The goals of the Humanitarians are to provide medical care to cats and dogs; to educate their owners; and to eliminate the population problem by spaying and neutering cats and dogs in Citrus and surrounding counties.
The clinic's first priority is to help animals in Citrus County, Schmid said, but the group is available to help animals in other rural areas. The group hopes to open its next facility in Levy County.
Heather Foster, 13, is in seventh grade at Citrus Springs Middle School.