BRADENTON -- As the only high-volume, low-cost spay and neuter clinic in Manatee County, the Humane Society of Manatee County has outgrown its clinic.
In September, the nonprofit will open a new 10,000-square-foot Pet Health Center to expand its low-cost spay and neuter surgeries and wellness services to more pet owners.
"The need is just there," Humane Society of Manatee County board president Rebecca Neal said. "We knew that we needed to expand that but add wellness services for the pet owner. We are really proud of our center and services we are able to offer."
The center at 2415 14th St. W., Bradenton, just north of the existing shelter, will allow the nonprofit to double the number of spay and neuter surgeries they perform. Next week, the nonprofit will move all the equipment, as well as new gear, into the center and the first surgeries will be performed Sept. 8 to shelter animals at Humane Society of Manatee County. The center will open to the public Sept. 9.
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Since April 2009, when the Humane Society opened the spay/neuter clinic, more than 35,000 surgeries have been performed, according
to a fact sheet. In this fiscal year, there have been more than 5,000 surgeries.
"The idea was always to expand and offer more," Neal said.
In addition to the three wellness examination rooms and the surgery room, other amenities include a training center for volunteers and staff. Also, a feral cat porch is planned to be ready by the end of the year.
The public will have a chance to see the Pet Health Center from noon to 6 p.m. Tuesday and from 7:30 a.m. to noon Wednesday during an open house that coincides with the 2015 Giving Challenge. The nonprofit's goal is to raise $10,000 for its Angel Fund to be able to provide medical care for animals in need.
"We are really trying to build those funds," Neal said. "We want to get to the point where we don't have to turn any medical case away."
The $1.4 million Pet Health Center -- which was funded through donations, grants and the Humane Society of Manatee County's reserve fund -- allows the nonprofit to further remove any barriers to getting a pet spayed or neutered, Neal said. PetSmart Charities also helped fund the center and equipment.
"In order to reach those goals, we have to make it accessible," she said. "We are just expanding to offer more in this beautiful new building at the same time."
In November 2013, the nonprofit purchased the building, which was the former Salvation Army Thrift Store. Construction on the Pet Health Center began this January and the architect was Bacon Group and the contractor was J.E. Charlotte Construction Corp.
The Humane Society of Manatee County does an average of 25 surgeries a day, five days a week. With the new center, staff members will be able to do more surgeries, including spay and neuter surgeries every Saturday.
"We are increasing the access for people," Neal said. "I think Saturday will be great."
While the Pet Health Center will allow the nonprofit to expand, they hope to expand with even more services in the future, said Amy Van Dell, the nonprofit's executive director.
"This is our soft increase," she said.
An X-ray machine and low-cost dental services are among the nonprofit's future expansion plans.
"Low cost dental is critical to an old animal's health," said Terri Romano, the veterinary practice manager. "It is not a luxury. It is a necessity. We hope to be able to offer that at our nonprofit prices."
As the existing dog recovery room moves to the new facility next week, the area will be transformed into a place for cats.
"That's an area that is going to be transitioning into a wonderful, more natural habitat for cats," said Van Dell, the executive director.
Van Dell expects the new cat area to be built by the end of the year, adding that they want to "build a new shelter, but that's two to three years down the road."
With the opening of the Pet Health Center, the nonprofit will continue to work to help reduce or prevent the number of homeless animals, according to a fact sheet about the center.
"Today we are a limited service provider of vaccinations, heartworm and flea medications for animals in the community," Romano said. "Others need reasonably priced services for animals to keep them well and out of shelters. That's our growth plan."
Claire Aronson, Manatee County reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7024. Follow her on Twitter @Claire_Aronson.