More than 200 animals have been spayed or neutered thanks to a new nonprofit, A Hope for Santa Rosa County.

The organization began in 2017 by partnering with Operation Spay Bay, a Panama City-based organization. Volunteers with Hope help coordinate transportation to Panama City two to three times a month for cats and dogs to be spayed or neutered at discounted rates. In addition to spay and neutering services, pet owners can opt to add vaccinations and mircochip at an inexpensive cost.

According to a press release from Hope, studies show that spaying and neutering is the key to preventing pet overpopulation and keeping your pet healthy. Every pet that isn’t sterilized runs the risk of perpetuating the problem.

Brandi Winkleman, community relations director for Hope, said Santa Rosa County is a "primary focus" because the local area has only one animal shelter and more than 6,000 intakes every year.

"The number of animals isn't running out," she said.

Winkleman said she wants to help "change the mindset" of pet owners and raise awareness about cat and dog overpopulation. Spaying and neutering 200-plus animals feels pretty good, she said.

"It has been phenomenal," she said. "Getting support from the community and knowing that they care is remarkable."

Winkleman and the small team of volunteers behind A Hope for Santa Rosa County are looking ahead to bigger projects in 2018. Alongside coordinating transportation to Operation Spay Bay, Winkleman said she still has her sights set on a low cost spay and neuter clinic in Santa Rosa County as well as Trap Neuter Release (TNR) program for stray cats.

The nonprofit is also looking to partner with other agencies to help reduce animal overpopulation. On Saturday night, Winkleman will be the keynote speaker at the SOCKS Annual Dinner meeting at 6 p.m. at Ramada Inn on Okaloosa Island.

"We want to be a positive effect on neighboring counties," Winkleman said.

For more information about A Hope for Santa Rosa County and how you can support the cause, visit