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Animal rescue expansion completes in April for increased care

After four years of progress, the expansion at Nate's Honor Animal Rescue in Lakewood Ranch nears completion.

Rob Oglesby, the development director at Nate's Honor Animal Rescue, is thrilled to see the nonprofit's expansion project nearing its end. The project is expected to be complete in April.
Rob Oglesby, the development director at Nate's Honor Animal Rescue, is thrilled to see the nonprofit's expansion project nearing its end. The project is expected to be complete in April.
Photo by Liz Ramos
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Karissa Mayer, a veterinary technician at Nate's Honor Animal Rescue, carefully assessed one of the 53 dogs rescued from a hoarding situation in Miami. 

She was looking for any health issues that needed to be addressed urgently. 

Once a preliminary assessment was complete in the nonprofit's intake building, Mayer gave the dog to a volunteer for grooming and bathing. 

Mayer and volunteers were moving quickly but being gentle around the scared and shaking dogs.

Nate's Honor Animal Rescue is able to take in more rescued dogs and nurture them back to health as a result of the rescue's expansion, said Rob Oglesby, the development director for Nate's Honor.

The 53 dogs brought in Dec. 13 were split for care among Nate's Honor, Underdog Rescue of Florida and Canine Castaways.

Oglesby said the rescue was able to keep 20 small dogs and six large dogs at Nate's Honor for assessment, grooming, bathing, vaccinations, and spay and neutering. Once they were ready, the rescue had them available for adoption.

When the new welcome and adoption center is complete in April, families will be able to start the cat and dog adoption process in the newest part of the rescue's expansion. 

The 23,000-square-foot facility is the final part of the rescue's Journey Home Capital Campaign, which is an expansion of the nonprofit's facilities and services, under construction.

Oglesby said the lighting, flooring, cabinets and other materials have been ordered and that Benderson Development is finishing the framing before work on the drywall begins. 

"It's getting ready to completely take off now," he said. 

The welcome and adoption center will include a veterinary clinic, education center, maternity ward, parvo ward, event space, two-bedroom apartment for students on a veterinary externship and catios. The seven catios are screened-in areas with ceiling fans so cats can be inside or outside.

Oglesby said the end of the project has been a longtime coming. The nonprofit broke ground on the project in December 2019. 

Since then, the COVID-19 pandemic, supply shortages and inflation have made progress on the now $14 million expansion slow. The project originally was estimated to cost $10 million. 

"Everything that could go wrong did go wrong," Oglesby said. "But it's looking great. Everything is aligning to be full steam ahead."

Although the expansion has been four years in the making, Oglesby said he's grateful for the slow progression as it allowed staff to adjust to the new facilities in phases. 

Nate's Honor Animal Rescue is ready to help a puppy that can't be more than two or three weeks old after it was saved from a home that had more than 40 dogs in it.
Photo by Liz Ramos

The rescue completed its approximately 5,000-square-foot intake building in October 2021 followed by its 4,300-square-foot training facility in January 2022. The meet-and-greet pavilion was completed in May 2023.

Oglesby said hearing people's reactions to the progress of the expansion renews his excitement for the project.

Throughout the project, Oglesby and the Nate's Honor staff have been working with Benderson Development to ensure the design and construction of the new facilities and features of the expansion meet the rescue's needs. 

Mark Wesoloski, a superintendent for Benderson Development, said the expansion project is one of the more unique projects he has worked on with Benderson Development.

"The whole design and concentration of everything is for the wellbeing of the animals," he said.

Oglesby said it's the "miniscule details that make a huge difference down the road."

"It's an animal rescue, a hospital and everything else. It's not like a normal build. It's very detailed and intricate, and there's a reason for everything," he said. 

For example, there are fans installed in each of the 17 cottages so the dogs will remain cool in the summer. There will be a ledge in every catio so the cats can lay down and play with the butterfly toys hanging from the planters resting on the ledge.



Liz Ramos

Liz Ramos covers education and community for East County. Before moving to Florida, Liz was an education reporter for the Lynchburg News & Advance in Virginia for two years after graduating from the Missouri School of Journalism.

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