Key Volunteers

VOCAL is not your typical animal welfare group. Our dedicated staff of volunteers (that’s right we are a volunteer run organization!) set the pace for efforts to help the local pet population. We all work together for the betterment of the animals in our community. To learn about our key volunteers, please continue reading.

Denise Burroughs

Adoption Counselor

Denise was born in New York and learned at a very young age to love animals. She remembers feeding the stray animals around her apartment building as a child. Her family moved to South Florida where she began her career with BellSouth that spanned almost 31 years. She spent many years fighting for animal rights and continues to stand up for animal lives. While in South Florida she was an animal rights activist with AARF and participated in many demonstrations protesting animals in entertainment, cosmetic & medical testing,  the inhumane treatment of farm animals and many other issues. When Denise and her husband moved to Rainbow Springs, she followed her passion and continued to help animals through her volunteer work with a local shelter. She happily learned about VOCAL’s mission and began helping with adoption events and now functions as one of the Adoption Counselors on the Adoption Team. Denise is so grateful to have the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of animals through her work with adoptions.

Debbie Carney

Adoption Counselor

Debbie grew up in Upstate NY with horses, cows, dogs and cats. Fast forward to 1995, Debbie and her husband noticed a calico cat hanging out around the tennis courts where they were renting at the time.  They befriended her, got her fixed and made her a Carney.  She was the first of 40+ cats they’ve fixed and cared for.  The Carney’s home is a sanctuary for some of those “feral” cats and 3 rescue dogs, Mulligan, Mojo & Ralfie.  Debbie and her husband, Rob, are very thankful to be able to assist VOCAL in their mission.

Ann Marie Roberts

Adoption Counselor

Ann Marie has had a lifelong love for animals. She grew up with both cats and dogs in her home and her first rescue experience was at age 5 when her family took in a kitten who was thrown out of a car window on Interstate 95 in South Florida. That experience led to a lifetime of love for animals and rescue of those in need. Growing up in CT she moved to Maine in 2000, where she continued her rescue work on her farm. Her family made the move to Ocala in 2015, where she found a true need for helping homeless animals unlike any she’d experienced before. While living in Ocala, Ann and her family added two kitties and a fun-loving dog to their pack. Although family circumstances recently led to her family’s return to Maine she continues volunteering remotely, working on both adoptions and behind-the-scenes administration work.

Kathleen Medjuck

Adoption Follow-up Team Leader

Kathleen is from Nova Scotia and splits her life between there and Salt Springs. She worked in medical administration previously but always wished she had done something that involved dogs. If Kathleen sees a dog, she has to say “Hi!” After the passing of her beloved furbaby, Max, Kathleen and her husband decided they wanted to foster while they recovered from their loss. They found VOCAL by chance, started fostering their current furbaby Ellie, and bonded almost instantly. It was a foster failure. After adopting Ellie, Kathleen reached out to VOCAL to see what else she could do to help animals in need. She started helping out with our adoption follow ups and is now one of our Adoption Follow-up Volunteers. Being able to be part of the follow-up process and help someone while they are bonding with their new furbaby is so rewarding to Kathleen.

Mimi Buendia


Mimi has been a successful law professional for many years, but her love for animals moved her to pursue a career in their behavior and well-being.

She is an Animal Behaviorist Counselor certified by ABC College, specializing in dogs and cats. She has been with animals all her life, and she has witnessed how frustrating is for humans to be unable to communicate with their pets, or to have a broken relationship with them, due to lack of understanding. She solves this issue by using the concept of positive obedience training. Through her work, Mimi’s goal is to make your dog trust, respect, and love you.

Charlotte Merle-Smith

Office Administrator

Charlotte was born in Vermont and moved to Ocala in 2015, when her parents purchased a farm there. She comes from a very animal friendly family and has been around horses and dogs her entire life. Charlotte is a paraplegic as a result of being involved in a traumatic ATV accident in October 2007. She considers herself super fortunate to be able to continue her riding pursuits, with the ultimate goal of being considered for the U.S. Paralympic Team. Charlotte’s personal experience with having a second chance at life is what incentivized her to want to work with VOCAL. She is not able to work one-on-one with the animals, but instead, puts her knowledge of administrative procedures to good use in the VOCAL office.

Kari Thompson

Office Administrator

Kari Thompson has been an animal lover her whole life. She even let her daughter bring home some odd pets over the years, praying mantis, box turtles and baby birds were just a few. She was a foster home for Rottweiler Rescue and Akita Rescue in IL. She enjoyed training the dogs to be pets and to know humans can be your friends. Kari had a few careers over the years, but in 2011 Kari retired early and she and her husband, Lee, packed up and moved to Ocala, FL. After moving to FL, Kari needed a purpose. She tried being part of various clubs and organizations but it just wasn’t for her. She found VOCAL and it’s been a great fit. Kari works out of the office a couple days a week.  She meets the new intakes and writes bios for them and sometimes takes their photos. She also creates the flyers for the dogs going to adoption events. Kari really likes seeing the lost or broken dogs or cats come in and see what love and proper care can do for them. Then most of all, seeing the happy ending for both for the person/family and the animal when they get adopted. Kari and Lee currently have a rottweiler named Princess Phoebe and a Maine Coon named Meeko both who are spoiled rotten.

Lynn Keeney

Spay-Neuter Coordinator

Lynn has always been a lover of dogs. From the dogs of her childhood to her 6 current furkids, she has had the pleasure of sharing her life with some 23 dogs. In 2007 she and her husband Rafe began to volunteer with a beagle rescue and by September of 2016 had fostered approximately 125 beagles and beagle mixes. Lynn says fostering has become a very happy addiction! In 2016 she said goodbye to her good friends in the beagle rescue and joined VOCAL. She has become an active and key volunteer with VOCAL where her main role is coordinating the community spay neuter program. In addition to working so diligently with VOCAL’s spay-neuter recipients, Lynn also actively fosters for VOCAL and heads up the Adoption Follow-ups.

Tracy Watt

TNR/Community Cat Coordinator

Tracy got involved with VOCAL in 2016 when she contacted us about an animal concern. Tracy remembers VOCAL was the only group who cared to return her call on a  Saturday morning.  After two of Tracy’s dogs went missing and were sadly never returned, she decided in their honor she wanted to do something more so she began fostering a pitbull with cropped ears who was waiting for his rescue day at the county shelter. It didn’t take long for Tracy to fall in love with her foster Joey. She says that fostering and bonding with Joey is what got her through the loss of her two beloved dogs, Spencer & Zoey.  After fostering and finally adopting Joey, Tracy decided she wanted to help more animals and began fostering cats. Since then she has had 45+ cats fostered through her home and then adopted into wonderful forever homes.  While fostering is a big part of Tracy’s role with VOCAL, she also helps lead our Trap, Neuter & Return program. She enjoys being part of our organization and knowing that she is making a difference, one animal at a time.

Keep learning about VOCAL and how it’s different from your average pet organization by contacting us today!