By Christy Wideman – WUFT contributor
Small acts of kindness by the Citrus County community’s Humanitarians of Florida are making big differences for animals and owners traveling from all over Florida, especially Hernando, Marion and Levy counties.
The Humanitarians of Florida make it possible for any cat or dog with or without an owner to receive clinical assistance, regardless of funding or county-line restrictions.
The Humanitarians of Florida (HOF) operate in The Manchester House clinic, located at 1149 Conant Ave., in Crystal River. Founded in 1980 by Guila Manchester, the clinic follows a simple mission: to serve anyone. HOF is an all-volunteer, non-profit, humane organization dedicated to relieving the suffering of animals, according to the organization’s website.
“Basically, we serve anyone,” said HOF Treasurer and Director Donna Schmid. “You do not have to be low-cost. You do not have to be low-income. If you walk in here and want services, we will give them to you.”
The HOF is chartered to go anywhere in the state, and it treats and provides walk-in programs to animals from any Florida county. They especially receive a large amount of clients from Levy and Marion counties.
HOF offers several services to the community, including examinations, vaccinations, and the spay/neuter program. The staff also keeps a food pantry called Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard, which allows anyone to receive free pet food once a month.
“We are trying to accomplish many things for the community through our spay/neuter clinic,” said Morgan Rees, the clinic’s customer service employee.
Private donations from the community fund these direct-help programs. Pet foods are also donated when the Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard runs low. Still, the Humanitarians fund the clinic and all of its insurances, and the organization does not receive any federal, state or county funding.
“It’s really what they call a grass-roots organization. Everything that is done here is done by a volunteer through the Humanitarians,” Schmid said. For example, maintenance costs come out of donations provided by the Humanitarians.
The organization also has money set aside for clients with no funding. An animal gets treated even if the clinic doesn’t get paid, Schmid said.
Also a program of HOF, and located next to The Manchester House clinic, is Hardin Cat Haven & Adoptions. Although the organization does not take in stray animals, they do adopt cats out to the community.
Upon adoption, these cats are up-to-date on all of their vaccines, micro-chipped, dewormed, treated for fleas, spayed/neutered and tested for feline leukemia/AIDs, according to the website.
“Our adoptions are exceptionally affordable and allow people with low funds to take home healthy cats or kittens,” Rees said.
Still, despite the adoption program, the organization’s main mission is to provide assistance with spay/neuter services. This mission is important because an unspayed female cat and her offspring produces around two litters a year, which can total up to 66,088 cats in just six years.
Schmid said the number of animals being euthanized has not decreased in the last 20 years, leaving animal control killing approximately 5,000 animals every month.
“The population has grown tremendously,” she said. “I think if we weren’t here, there’d be a lot more animals being euthanized out there.”
Members of the Humanitarians of Florida can help the clinic, community and animals, said Rees. There are two types of membership: general and patron. Both pay yearly dues, but patrons receive discounts on non-prescription products at the front desk.