Tampa Bay Veterinarian Featured in People Magazine's Heroes in Hard Times

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Hospital Gave Away $1.2 Million in Free or Discounted Care

Everyone is facing hard times right now and pet parents bear the responsibility of an additional family member with unique health care needs

People Magazine featured Dr. Neil Shaw, chief medical officer and internal medicine specialist of Florida Veterinary Specialists (FVS), in their latest issue as a "Hero in Hard Times." Shaw met with People Magazine to talk about the charitable work that takes place at his referral-based veterinary specialty hospitals including Frankie's Friends, a charitable pet foundation, and its mission.

"Everyone is facing hard times right now and pet parents bear the responsibility of an additional family member with unique health care needs," says Shaw. "Our charitable work at the hospital also extends itself to helping wildlife brought in by Good Samaritans."

Shaw founded the FVS in 1996 and quickly recognized the need to help pet parents with financial constraints. One of his first memories of helping a pet parent with limited funds was when Slade, a Seeing Eye guide dog, was brought to the hospital and was diagnosed with cancer. Shaw knew then how difficult it can be for families facing major financial constraints to pay for their pet's health care costs.    

After several years of the hospital doing all it could to help clients in need of financial assistance, Shaw founded a charitable pet foundation in 2004 to raise funds to help care for pets and wildlife, as well as conduct veterinary clinical trials and community education efforts. Wildlife, including birds, squirrels, possums, egrets and turtles are brought in by Good Samaritans and then cared for by a veterinarian at the hospital. After medical care is provided they are released into the wild or turned over to licensed wildlife rehabilitators.        

Over the years the hospital, along with Frankie's Friends, has provided free or discounted care to more than 400 client-owned pets and provided medical care to over 20,000 wildlife at a cost of more than $1.2 million.

A recent pet parent received help from Frankie's Friends when her cat was brought in for emergency medical services because he was hit by a car. Catherine Hartill, a flight attendant, brought her pet cat Louie to FVS who faced many medical complications. After maxing out her credit cards, FVS provided her with discounted care and medications saving her almost $15,000.    

"Our dedication to the pets and wildlife in our community is second to none," says Shaw. "Resources are sometimes limited, but we do what we can to the best of our ability to see to it that every animal gets a second chance."

"You're not just helping someone's pet, you're helping a member of their family," continued Shaw.

If you would like to make a donation to Frankie's Friends or learn more about the nonprofit organization, please visit http://www.fvs.com.

Florida Veterinary Specialists is a referral-based hospital with 24-hour emergency care services dedicated to providing a superior level of patient and client care through close cooperation with the family practitioner. Their specialized services include Acupuncture, Avian & Exotic, Behavioral Medicine, Cardiology, Critical Care, Dermatology, Emergency Medicine, Internal Medicine, Neurology, Oncology & Radiation, Ophthalmology, Radiology, Rehabilitation and Surgery. Florida Veterinary Specialists is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and is located at 3000 Busch Lake Blvd. in Tampa. In addition to its Tampa location, FVS has satellite facilities in Clearwater and Brandon. For further information, please visit http://www.fvs.com.

Florida Veterinary Specialists is a member hospital of BluePearl Veterinary Partners, along with NYC Veterinary Specialists (http://www.nycvs.com) and Veterinary Specialty and Emergency Center of Kansas City (http://www.vseckc.com). BluePearl Veterinary Partners merged in 2008 and is one of the leading providers of emergency and specialized referral veterinary medicine.

Tajiana Ancora-Brown


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