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A Tribute to the Lifesaving Care at UF’s Veterinary Medicine Hospitals

Kristin Zupancic and Hank at the UF Small Animal Hospital.
Kristin Zupancic and Hank at the UF Small Animal Hospital.

At around 3 a.m., Kristin Zupancic, marketing coordinator in UF Health Communications, woke up to her dog acting strange. Hank, a senior Yellow Labrador who Kristin had rescued in 2018 from the Labrador Retriever Rescue of Florida, was not moving and had white gums. He refused to use the restroom, eat or drink anything. Kristin and her husband instantly knew that something wasn’t right.

Kristin recalls having to throw Hank in the car and race from her home in Newberry to the University of Florida Small Animal Hospital as she didn’t know how much time he had. At first, the doctors shared that it was most likely a ruptured tumor causing internal bleeding, specifically a hemangiosarcoma. Immediately, multiple blood transfusions were needed to stabilize him.

This instilled panic in Kristin and her husband, causing them to quickly decide on emergency surgery. In a few short minutes, Hank went from sleeping at home to having an urgent splenectomy. This emergency surgery consisted of removing Hank’s entire spleen, along with adhering his stomach to the abdominal wall. His results came back and the cluster that caused the internal bleeding was benign. This surgery ended up saving Hank’s life.

Hank recovering from his urgent splenectomy.
Hank recovering from his urgent splenectomy.

Without the quick decision-making and direct feedback from the vet team, this story could have had a different ending. Kristin’s praise for UF Veterinary Medicine’s incredible treatment and loving care is what matters in times of uncertainty.

The most comforting part for Kristin was that her neighbor, Amanda Baldwin, CVT, works nights as a veterinary tech and was able to be there. In this instance, the services of the veterinary emergency and critical care team at the UF Small Animal Hospital went beyond their normal functions — Baldwin spent the night comforting Hank, which allowed Kristin and her husband to finally get some sleep.

However, the work done in the UF Veterinary Medicine hospitals is not limited to just small animals. The UF Large Animal Hospital treats patients ranging from pigs to goats to horses and everything in between.

Lindy McCollum-Brounley’s horse, Soho, is an example of another success story. Lindy, a marketing manager in UF Health Communications, noticed one of her foals going lame on her front leg. After arriving at the hospital, they were able to do a radiograph of Soho’s shoulder. The scans showed that she had a greenstick break, which can cause muscle wasting around the injury if recovery is not managed correctly. This diagnosis came with a treatment plan focused on rest.

Lindy McCollum-Brounley’s dog, Django.
Lindy McCollum-Brounley’s dog, Django.

Lindy’s experience with the UF Vet Med hospitals does not end there. As an avid animal lover, her animals range from dogs, cats, horses and, at one point, chickens and geese.

On another occasion, Lindy’s dog Django had to visit the UF Small Animal Hospital when he got bit by a snake. Django’s face blew up like a balloon, but after a few days on antivenin and exceptional care from the veterinary emergency and critical care team, he survived the bite and his face returned to normal.

Lindy has a big heart and could not waiver from the fact that “animals enrich a person’s life.” A unique aspect of her story is that she volunteered as an equine neonatal tech for the UF Large Animal Hospital during her college years. As someone who had a behind-the-scenes view, she saw firsthand the amazing work that happens. During her time as a tech, she watched the team at the UF Large Animal Hospital care for a baby giraffe, a baby elephant and a camel.

“I have confidence that I can take my pets there and they can identify what is wrong,” Lindy said.

After being on both sides, Lindy trusts that the staff can take care of all her animals, big or small.

About the author

For the media

Media contact

Peyton Wesner
Communications Manager for UF Health External Communications (352) 273-9620