From specialized veterinarians to 'luxury' resorts, Gainesville caters to its pets
Published: Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 25, 2013 at 2:15 p.m.
Every dog has its day. Every cat, too—especially if they are fortunate enough to live in Gainesville and Alachua County, which is a regular haven when it comes to services available to care for your pet.
Looking to adopt a special pet?
Petfinder, an online service dedicated to matching the right pet with the right home, is a one-stop shop, providing listings for more than 300,000 rescue animals from 13,000 shelters nationwide, including 15 rescue organizations and listings for thousands of adorable, adoptable pets in and around Gainesville. Type in your zip code or city and state and the website lists all of the animals available for adoption in our area, including breed, gender, medical history and type of home best suited to the animal, along with a photo and contact information for the adoption agency. The website also offers general information about pet adoption, pet care tips, listings of area rescue organizations, and much, much more.
From day spas to vacation resorts to dog parks to pet taxis to photographers and artists who specialize in pet portraits, Gainesville has a bounty of offerings for pet owners and their furry (or feathered or scaly) friends.
“This town is a really good place to be a pet owner,” says Amy Stone, DVM, secretary-treasurer of the Alachua County Veterinary Medical Association (ACVMA) and clinical assistant professor in the department of small animal clinical sciences at the University of Florida's College of Veterinary Medicine.
When it comes to medical services, Stone says, this area can't be beat.
“We have probably more (veterinarians) here (than elsewhere in the state) because we have the university and people decide to stay,” Stone says. She estimates there are from 150 to 200 of veterinarians here, including 100 who are members of the ACVMA.
The area boasts two specialty hospitals, as well: One at the University of Florida, and Affiliated Pet Emergency Service, which provides emergency and trauma services outside of regular veterinary office hours.
UF's Small Animal Hospital, established in 1979, moved into its new state-of-the-art facilities in November 2010, and offers a range of services for dogs, cats, birds and other small domestic and wild animals, including basic primary care and dental services, emergency and critical care, cardiology, oncology and internal medicine. The hospital also offers integrative medicine, which incorporates such complementary therapies as acupuncture, nutrition, and rehabilitation and fitness. Among the cutting-edge technologies housed in the hospital include an underwater treadmill for dogs undergoing physical therapy, and the state's only hyperbaric chamber for animals, which provides a pressurized, richly oxygenated environment to help treat snake bites and aid in wound healing.
Affiliated Pet Emergency Service includes trauma management, intensive care and critical care. The specialty hospital also provides referrals for specialty care.
The array of pet services blossoms from there. For instance, if you're having trouble getting Fido to take his medicine, Wise's Drugstore offers pharmacy compounding services to custom-flavor medications so animals will love them.
Gainesville has plenty of pet groomers, as well, including a few who have groomed champion show dogs, such as Maureen Watson at Claudia's Paws & Claws. Many area dog groomers also now offer such high-end “spa” services as aromatherapy baths, pedicures, doggie massages and organic treats.
Likewise, many kennels, such as Bed & Biscuit, Cat's Pajamas, Pet Paradise, and Vacation Station, provide stimulating activities for pets in a safe, supervised environment. So while you're away on vacation, your pet can enjoy a fun-filled staycation.
“I think it's neat that we have boarding facilities for cats where they have windows where they can look into a fish tank or see a bird through a glass window, so they can have some stimulation and play,” says Stone.
For the working owner, there's no shortage of doggy day care options, where dogs can romp and play with other dogs in a safe, secure and supervised environment, and enjoy a range of stimulating toys and activities, as well.
Stone loves the idea of doggy day care. “You don't have to worry about coming home late from work and having the dog standing at the door with its legs crossed,” she says.
When you want to spend quality time with your dog, you've got at least four public dog parks and one privately-owned park where you can let your dog off-leash to play with you and/or other dogs in a secure, fenced area.
Pet owners wishing to train their dogs to behave properly have a wide range of options, from basic dog obedience to one-on-one trainers that make home visits, to specialty trainers who work with police dogs and other working dogs. Santa Fe College often offers puppy play groups through its community education classes to help you socialize your puppy.
Having difficulty understanding your pet? The vet school has a behaviorist on staff to help you comprehend —and cope with—your pet's hang-ups and problem behaviors. (See “What is my dog thinking?” on page 38.)
Pet care advice can be found on the airwaves, as well. The College of Veterinary Medicine offers pet care tips, health care advice and fascinating animal facts on its one-minute “Animal Airwaves” segments, broadcast weekdays on Florida's 89.1 WUFT-FM. The vet school also hosts an hour-long call-in program, “Animal Airwaves Live,” where listeners can call in or email questions to the show's veterinarian guests on Saturday afternoons from 1 to 2 p.m. (firstname.lastname@example.org or 392-8989)
Looking for a lost a pet? Gainesville Pet Finder, a service available on Facebook, can help reunite you and your pet. The service provides listings of both lost and found pets, and has reunited hundreds of pets with their owners since the Facebook page was created in 2010.
For owners who have lost a beloved pet, the area provides a number of ways to honor the pet's memory. For instance, the vet school offers a pet memorial program in which a gift is made in the pet's name to help support the college. Pet cemeteries and pet cremation services are available, as well, including Crevasses Pet Funeral Home, Cherished Memories Pet Cremation Services and The Prairie Creek Conservation Cemetery, adjacent to the Prairie Creek Lodge in Rochelle. The cemetery offers green burials in biodegradable containers for pets as well as people.
With all of the services available to animal lovers and their pets in Gainesville, it's easy to see how every critter living in Gator Country can have its day in the sun.