MILTON — A HOPE has closed on a 25-acre piece of property off Pine Blossom Road and started the next step in their goal to build an affordable spay/neuter veterinary clinic for the county.


The non-profit animal advocacy group now faces fundraising for the new clinic to collect the $500,000 needed to complete the project. They have re-branded the organizations name to A HOPE. The name stands for Animal Health Outreach Prevention Education.


“Our mission is to educate our community on responsible pet ownership of companion animals and proper care of community cats through providing low cost spay/neuter, vaccine services, rescue support and community outreach programs leading to the prevention and unnecessary euthanasia,” said Page Cary, vice president and chairman of the board for A HOPE.


When complete, the clinic will allow the group to provide affordable spay/neuter services in the county by a veterinarian and staff that will be hired before the clinic opens. Currently the organization drives a van full of animals to and from Panama City twice a month to have those services completed.


The property is shaped is like an upside down “L” and is densely wooded.


“We plan on clearing two acres for the clinic and parking lot,” Carey said. “The facade will be in keeping with home construction in the area.”


An additional 400-foot patch of land will be cleared from the entrance of the property to the two acres where the clinic is to be located.


“We want to maintain the integrity of the property,” Cary said.


The additional acreage will remain wooded as it is now.


The group is looking for a civil engineer and making sure permits and inspections are in order. A Hope is talking to a company in Alabama that specializes in modular construction to build the clinic.


“It is not a trailer home. It will have a concrete foundation and be hurricane rated,” Cary said.


A HOPE received conditional approval from the County Commission in December of last year. The approval means they can use the land to build their clinic and have three years to complete the project.


The county is not providing A HOPE with any funding. The group‘s fundraising efforts will include applying for grants from various humane organizations, both local and national, sponsorships from businesses, Florida license plate sales and local fundraising events.


Initially, A HOPE received a $25,000 grant from Florida Animal Friends to fix 1,000 cats at $25 each. They met the goal, which helped the county animal services department to drop euthanasia rates in cats from 90 to 40 percent in a two-year period.


They plan to reapply for the grant this year.


No animals will be housed at the clinic.