Rick Yocum, executive director, the Humane Society of Manatee County

by | Mar 15, 2023

Rick Yocum–executive director of the Humane Society of Manatee County (HSMC), established more than 50 years ago, and now a truly multifaceted operation—traces his career path to his current job, which he’s held for seven years. In answer to a question of mine, Yocum allows that it makes perfect sense he holds this job, noting that his experience includes many years of working with animals, as well as a business background and a stint as an elected official. He adds the important distinction that while the HSMC is a nonprofit organization, it’s important that it not be nonprofit, that it be run as a successful business operation, with a sharp eye on the bottom line. Yocum explains the key challenges in leading this increasingly complex entity, quickly pointing to the ways COVID affected their shelter operation, including those that differed from those at other shelters. He outlines the services provided at HSMC’s 10,000 square foot, modern veterinary hospital, mentioning that it’s open to the public, and the costs there are about 50% of those at a private vet hospital. Yocum also extolls the virtues of operating a low-cost spay-and-neuter clinic on the same grounds as the hospital—they perform 25-45 such procedures per day. Yocum discusses administering their very active Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) program for feral cats, aka community cats, and HSMC’s rationale for it. And, indicating HSMC relies on various means to underwrite these services, including grants and individual donations—and their Bradenton Spring Festival (previously known, for many years, as Paws in Motion), happening March 25, 11am to 2pm, at Caddy’s in Bradenton, offering a slate of activities, including kite flying, a race course for dogs, pet photos, food, music, games, and more. (https://www.humanemanatee.org/, https://www.facebook.com/humanemanatee, https://www.instagram.com/humanemanatee/)

ALSO: I spoke briefly with Dr. Lori Marino, a neuroscientist and expert in animal behavior, as well as founder of the Whale Sanctuary Project. Dr. Marino has been a previous guest on “Talking Animals” for full-length interviews, including one in 2020, primarily about the Whale Sanctuary Project. I’d invited her to return for a brief conversation acknowledging the passing of Kiska, an orca who’d long been residing at Marineland Canada, much of the time by herself—she’d been dubbed “the loneliest orca in the world,” because she’d lived there without an orca companion for a dozen years. Dr. Marino laments Kiska’s life and death, while providing an overview of the Whale Sanctuary Project, saying she expected it would be open and ready for its first residents (belugas &/or orcas) in 2024. (https://whalesanctuaryproject.org)

COMEDY CORNER: Laurie Kilmartin’s “In Retrospect, I Should’ve Gotten A Dog” (http://www.kilmartin.com//)

MUSIC: Rebekah Pulley’s “Talking Animals Theme,” instrumentals

NAME THAT ANIMAL TUNE:  The Beatles’ “Rocky Raccoon”


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