By Erika Webb
When DeLand Animal Hospital became a 24/7 treating facility in 2012, people in need of emergency pet care discovered a level of service that went beyond round the clock availability.
People were comforted by the compassion, attentiveness and skill they may not have encountered during previous urgent care experiences, Hospital Director Jim Locascio said in a phone interview.
Fear and dread gave way to feelings of safety and confidence in pet owners to the extent that they wanted to use DAH for routine veterinary services as well.
"Clients as far south as New Smyrna Beach who traveled to DeLand for their 24 hour needs said they wished they lived closer, Mr. Locascio said.
As of Dec. 5, those clients do live closer.
DeLand Animal Hospital Port Orange is now open at 3855 S. Nova Road.
"We would like to have a day practice in all areas of the county," Mr. Locascio said. "This (office) was the first of interest to us based on location."
While the Port Orange facility is not open nights and weekends, clients have access to anytime care in DeLand, which makes hospital stays easier on patients and their owners.
Mr. Locascio explained that in the past clients who had to leave their pets at emergency clinics overnight would have to pick them up by 7 a.m. and transfer them to their regular veterinarians. If the animal required more time in the hospital, owners would have to transport them back to the emergency clinic when their regular vet closed for the night -- an ordeal for both owner and ill or injured pet.
Or in some cases, pets stayed at their regular vet's office, but may have had to be left there unattended throughout the night.
"We're very fortunate and thankful for DeLand and the surrounding communities to be so thankful for the 24-hour (clinic) that we wanted to extend that service to other communities," Mr. Locascio said.
And since the veterinarians and staff from DeLand also will work in Port Orange, he said pets and their owners alike will have the comfort of seeing the same faces at both locations.
"It's about ease of transition and continuation of care," Mr. Locascio said. "We all -- staff and doctors -- truly love what we do."
Mr. Locascio has spent 22 years in the veterinary medicine field. He's been a technician and has managed several practices.
"I've been everything but a doctor," he said.
When DAH's husband and wife owner-operators Drs. Deborah Ulbrich and Tom MacPhail took over the 56-year-old practice, they brought updated modalities and courage in treatment along with them.
"We continually find ways to keep current in the veterinary field," the DAH website states. "Therefore, continuing education is of importance to us. Our veterinarians and staff regularly attend conferences in order to continue the education process."
When the veterinarians began to explore the idea of treating exotic animals, Mr. Locascio told them he knew the right man.
Dr. Frank Beazlie was only four or five years old when he found a snake that had been hit by a car. It had a wound in its side and its intestines were prolapsed. But even that early in life the determined healer would not turn away from hope.
"I tried to treat it with Band-Aids," Dr. Beazlie said. "I've been rescuing wild animals since then and trying to rehabilitate them."
The doctor, who is in the process of micro-chipping 150 venomous snakes, has a particular affinity for reptiles.
"Reptiles always held a special place in my heart because not too many people work on them," Dr. Beazlie said. "They can be difficult to have, as patients and pets."
Who exactly is going to pick up that venomous snake and take it to have its microchip scanned?
"In Florida, the state has a new law," Dr. Beazlie explained. "All non-native venomous snakes kept in captivity have to be micro-chipped. Florida has given owners a year to get it done."
The procedure, he said, is not something easily done at home and not too many owners are willing to put themselves in such a precarious position.
Port Orange resident Katie Bauwens did not have a clue how interesting her life was about to get when she met Dr. Beazlie while he was in the area for the interviewing process with DAH.
The two met, hit it off and endured the long-distance relationship experience before Dr. Beazlie moved to Port Orange.
But with the doctor came some accoutrements.
"Tori," a Sulcata tortoise, "was about the size of a quarter" when Dr. Beazlie acquired him five years ago, Ms. Bauwens said.
Now he stretches about a foot and a half across and weighs around 30 pounds.
"I don't know what it is about (reptiles) he likes 'cause I can't imagine anyone liking them, personally," she said.
But Tori has grown on her.
"He follows us around the house like a dog and if you rub his shell he rubs into you," she said.
The couple also has three dogs and a kitten which had a rough start in life.
Possibly the result of premature weaning, Ms. Bauwens said, "Toughy Junior" or TJ for short, suffered from a condition known as mega colon and was in an oxygen chamber for a while.
She went to the office twice a day and fed TJ from her finger.
"She's still on meds but she's gonna make it," Ms. Bauwens said. "She's the cutest kitten in all of America, I swear."
Dr. Beazlie earned a bachelor's degree in animal and poultry science from Virginia Tech University and his Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.
Try as she might, Ms. Bauwens cannot pin him down to a favorite animal.
The man who worked with sea turtles, seals, sharks, otters, fish, crocodiles, alligators, "many species of birds" and Komodo dragons at the Virginia Aquarium; on sheep in Scotland; and with raptors during an internship at the Wildlife Center of Virginia, simply loves them all.
Komodo dragons were one of his favorites to play with, he confessed.
"Most (reptiles) have personalities and some will keep eye contact. Their intelligence was not always recognized, but there wasn't any research out there," he said.
Meet the DAH vets
Dr. Deborah C. Ulbrich graduated with honors from Ross University and completed her clinical rotations at the University of Missouri. She practiced in the Hudson Valley area in New York where she focused on internal medicine and oncology. She is certified to perform veterinary Stem Cell Therapy.
Dr. Thomas W. MacPhail earned a Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from Ross University and gained invaluable practical experience during his clinical rotation at the University of Missouri-Columbia. Dr. MacPhail has taken a special interest in soft-tissue and orthopedic surgery.
Dr. Sandra Murton received her Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from Colorado State University in 1993. Since then she has worked in mixed animal practice for six years in Nairobi, Kenya, East Africa before completing a residency program in reproduction at Louisiana State University. S
Dr. Becky Rhoades received her Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from Colorado State University. Dr. Rhoades is an experienced veterinarian who has spent most of her career focusing on shelter management to improve the welfare of animals.
Dr. Gary Johnson has practiced veterinary medicine for more than two decades and continues to have a passion for the highest quality care. Since 1984 he has been a Diplomat of the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners, Specialty of Canine and Feline Practice,
Dr. Hector Diaz graduated from Cornell University in 1991 and has been in private practice since. He served for seven years as state veterinarian for the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. For the last nine years, Dr. Diaz has been involved in emergency and critical care.
Dr. Raul L. Perez graduated from the University of Florida in 1976 with a bachelor's degree in zoology, then attended the National Autonomous University of Mexico where he received his Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine and Animal Husbandry in 1981.
For information visit: delandanimalhospital.com.