BRADENTON -- Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Longboat Key, told the Humane Society of Manatee County that he wants to work more with them on animal welfare issues.
Buchanan made his first visit to the Humane Society of Manatee County on Monday. During the nearly hourlong visit, Buchanan met with staff and board members and toured the nonprofit's facility at 2515 14th St, W., including the Pet Health Center.
"I wanted to get more of a sense of what they are doing here in Manatee County," Buchanan said. "I was very impressed with the amount of animals that they provide health care for and a lot of the different services they provide at a reduced cost here in the community and also work with a lot of the animals in terms with finding them homes, which I think is the most important thing."
While working with the Humane Society of the United States in Washington, D.C., Buchanan said he wants to work more with local humane societies.
"We have a lot of different legislation as it relates to animals and we are going to work closely with them and get their thoughts and ideas," he
said. "We have a national Humane Society organization but the goal is I would like to have our local humane societies weigh in even more on a lot of the issues that are important to the citizens of this area in terms of their animals."
But since Buchanan works on the federal level, there is a limitation of what he can do to help in Manatee County, said Rick Yocum, executive director of the Humane Society of Manatee County.
"We are able to give him a clear picture of exactly what we do and who we are as the Humane Society of Manatee County," Yocum said. "It was very nice on his part to take the time to be here. The congressman is very supportive of animal and animal-based legislation and it was important for us to be able to have this time to speak with him today."
The visit to the Humane Society of Manatee County comes just a couple weeks after the Humane Society of the United States named Buchanan as its 2015 Legislator of the Year.
"It is pretty prestigious," Buchanan said of the award. "I'm excited about that. We just try to work and do the right things for animals in this country as well as locally."
Yocum said they were "very, very proud" that Buchanan received the award.
"It meant a lot to us too as the Humane Society of Manatee County for him," Yocum said.
Claire Aronson, Manatee County reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7024. Follow her on Twitter @Claire_Aronson.