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Lake City Humane Society now has spay/neuter facility onsite

By Tami Stevenson

Adopted pets can be the most rewarding companions anyone could hope for. Many adopted pets from shelters are famous working animals in the film industry today and even used in law enforcement. Animal shelters across the state are filled with dozens of abandoned dogs and cats other humans left behind for one reason or another. When visitors walk into the area where they keep the dogs, the entire facility can hear the excitement of the dogs barking as they hope this visit is for them. With wagging tails, the adoptable dogs hope this visitor will be their special someone come to pick them out and take them to their forever home. The cats are a little more aloof and much quieter about it than the dogs, but no less hopeful.

Funded mostly by their respective counties for the necessities like a few paid salaries, the facility, utilities and food, there is not much left over for anything else. These county shelters mostly rely on donations from the community to afford to be able to do anything extra like spay and neuter, for instance.


Tom Barritt, Facility Manager for the Lake City Humane Society, a no-kill shelter in Columbia County, is excited to be able to now have a spay/neuter program at the facility. Funded mostly by community donations, he said they spent around $18K for the equipment.

“It kind of drained the bank. However, the way I looked at it, at the time, was ...okay, we’re spending this amount of money by paying someone to spay and neuter, but if I can cut the cost by two-thirds, then I’m bleeding, but I’m not bleeding as bad,” Barritt explained.

The biggest issue they have are the cats because they breed so fast. But Barritt says if they spay and neuter them, they can release them back into the community. The cost is about $30 per cat. He said, “Ferrel cats are community cats and are used to being on their own and not normally adoptable. They get rabies shots and all their vaccines and an ear tip. They then release them back. They (the vet) just snip a top portion off the ear.”

Doctor Denoff is their veterinarian and comes in on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. He takes care of all the shelter animals and the feral cats. They hope to be able to offer some veterinary services for animals for the public soon as well.

They have applied for a number of grants but so far they are getting no results. One came back and said one of the reasons they denied the grant is they felt the county should be paying for that. But Barritt said if the county could be doing it, they would. He has nothing against the county commissioners and said they have been great to work with.

They have submitted to Tallahassee to get a clinic license and spay/neuter for the public. “However, as I’ve told the veterinarians around here, I am not trying to get your business. I want to help the twenty percent of the community that is at or below poverty level.” They also offer micro-chipping. Every dog that is adopted automatically gets chipped, Barritt stated.

Volunteers play a vital role for these organizations to successfully maintain happy and healthy adoptable pets. Barritt said, “I have just enough staff here to get all my kennels cleaned and that sort of thing. There is nothing left. We really need volunteers.” They don’t necessarily have to come in and clean cages. Barritt said they have volunteers that come in and just sit with the animals or take them for a walk. They have what they call an Ambassador program where they come in and take a dog out for a walk, by the lake, for example. They can even take a dog home for a day to spend the night with their family and bring them back the next day. Barritt said this is a very good tool to help the animals become adoptable. It is all about socializing for the dog.

There is a program online called It is a pet facial recognition program that searches data bases from local shelters to see if a lost pet was found by anyone in the Finding Rover community. It is free to register pets and to use. Anyone can download the Finding Rover App on their phone for free.


To help raise money for the shelter, last week the Lake City Humane Society held a New Year’s Flea Market from donated items. They will be holding it again this Saturday, January 12, 2019, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the shelter. Pet lovers are encouraged to come and shop the market as all proceeds go to getting homeless dogs and cats ready for adoption through spay and neuter. They are also raffling off a beautiful hand crocheted quilt made by Toby Strawder. The shelter is located at 1392 NW Shelter Glen in Lake City.

Lake City Humane Society regular hours are Tuesday thru Friday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Closed Monday, Sunday and holidays. For more information, call 386-752-3191 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Ashley Gerondale and Roy Armstrong are the friendly faces there to assist the community and animals that come into the shelter.
-SVT Photo by Tami Stevenson

Above: Denise Byrnes takes care of all the cats. This cat, above, is recovering in the sick room and Denise is checking on its progress. -Photo by Tami Stevenson


Lake City Humane Society Facility Manager Tom Barritt. -SVT Photo by Tami Stevenson


Volunteers Linda Fleming, left, and Toby Strawder were outside greeting people as they came for the Flea Market sale last Saturday. They are raffling off a hand made quilt made by Strawder. The raffle will extend to this Saturday as well during the January 12 yard sale at the shelter. -SVT Photo by Tami Stevenson

The operating room and equipment at the Humane Society in Lake City. -SVT Photos by Tami Stevenson