PALMETTO -- The Palmetto-based Southeastern Guide Dogs, Inc. will soon open its doors to a new veterinary center that is 10 times larger than their current facility.
The $1.75 million vet center is 5,892 square feet, while the existing one is only 550 square feet, said Jennifer Bement, media relations manager for the nonprofit organization. The expansion will allow the organization to provide far more services for the guide dogs.
"There's a lot more room to make sure the dogs are getting recovery time and are comfortable," said Bement.
The new center has been 1 1/2 years in the making and includes a surgery room, ultrasound, special procedures room and pharmacy.
The facility will provide ongoing services to more than 400 puppies and dogs, including dogs residing in their kennels, puppies at local Puppy Raiser homes and dogs in Breeder Host homes.
Donor Isaac Barpal, a retired engineer, and his wife Margaret Barpal were instrumental in getting the larger facility built. The new center was named in their honor. Barpal said he loves what Southeastern does for the visually impaired and disabled and wanted to do whatever was in his power to further its mission.
"I have to pay back and pay it forward. My wife and I have been involved in charitable work for long time," said Barpal, who has been working with the Palmetto foundation for the past three years.
The Sarasota couple asked the organization's leaders
what was most desper-ately needed and learned the small vet center needed to be rebuilt and expanded.
"I kept asking what else can I do? " Isaac Barpal said.
Bement said they'd outgrown their veterinary center before it was even completed in 2010, but it was what they could afford to construct at the time.
Through many financial contributions, including a large amount from the Barpals, the vet center will host a private grand opening celebration Aug. 22 at the Palmetto facility.
Official opening date: Aug. 26.
To donate or for information on the Southeastern Guide Dogs organization, visit www.guidedogs.org.
Janey Tate, city of Bradenton and Palmetto reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7041. You can follow her on Twitter at Janey_Tate.