PALM HARBOR, Fla. — On any given day, you can bet Suncoast Animal League's Rick Chaboudy is on a mission to care for a dog, cat or maybe even a deer.
"We want to do things, we want to help," said co-founder Chaboudy.
The volunteers go above and beyond to make sure their call of service is taken of care. From rescuing dogs and cats who can't be treated by local shelters to driving out of state to help other shelters who may be faced with a hurricane.
The Suncoast Animal League started in 2006 and continues to grow. Chaboudy ran an animal shelter in Pinellas County for more than 20 years and afterward, started the non-profit.
"Well, I think in general, you know, there's a lot of animal lovers out there. And I think that it's grown. I've been doing this for over 30 years, and it's keeps growing and growing, growing," Chaboudy said. "I mean, you can't watch a commercial on TV without seeing a dog or a cat in the commercial, and they become such a part of our life, such a part of our family. And so we need to treat them that way. And as you mentioned about all these difficult cases, not everybody does. So then it's up to us. And it's up to our supporters and such to, to follow it through."
Their reach, especially on social media, continues to grow. Oftentimes their vet bills are more than $20,000 a month.
"Normally we wouldn't be able to do something like that if it wasn't for the public stepping up and backing us," said Chaboudy.
The non-profit also runs a thrift store in Palm Harbor to help generate revenue, so much so, they've expanded.
"It's really helped us a lot, cut down on some of the expenses and everything that we're having, because those vet bills still stay up there. And that's even with the, you know, the veterinarians giving us discounts on that. It's just we had a lot of difficult cases. It's really amazing how many times we take a cat or dog into a vet's office and they go we never seen anything like this before," said Chaboudy.
COVID-19 has impacted the Suncoast Animal League, too. They had to stop many of their fundraisers and they saw a drop in volunteers. So right now, they could use help with volunteers at the thrift shop and the shelter.
They've also brought back dog adoptions at the Petsmart at Countryside every Saturday. In Dunedin, they will have their DogTober Fest in November, followed by a golf tournament.