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Lifelong animal lover puts off retirement for low-cost clinic

Veterinary technician Jessica Stewart, left, holds a canine patient at Planned Pethood as technician Jessica Gelser injects an immunization.

Photo by Lilly Ostrander

Veterinary technician Jessica Stewart, left, holds a canine patient at Planned Pethood as technician Jessica Gelser injects an immunization.

ZEPHYRHILLS — After Cindy Evers received an inheritance from her father and sold a service business she and her husband owned in Tampa, she considered retirement. But the idea was fleeting. Instead, the lifelong animal lover decided to start a business that catered to her passion.

"I have always been a big supporter of spay and neuter as a way to control the (unwanted pet) population," said Evers, who admitted, "I was one who was always taking in strays. It always bothered me to see stray, unwanted dogs and cats."

So instead of using the inheritance to retire, Evers used it to open Planned Pethood in February 2010, a family-owned, nonprofit clinic for dogs and cats.

"In my opinion, spay and neutering must be affordable," Evers said, "or people won't or can't do it."

Planned Pethood began as a clinic similar to PetLuv in Brooksville, a nonprofit, low-cost clinic that offers vaccinations and spay/neuter services. Initially, it was open just two days a week. Evers said she turned to PetLuv's executive director and cofounder, Richard Silvani, for guidance in setting up her clinic, and Silvani has become "a big supporter of ours."

Evers, now 66, originally planned to work only part-time. But the demand was great, and she learned quickly that the clinic needed a full-time commitment. In fact, offering low-cost wellness and spay and neuter services wasn't enough.

"We needed to do more," she said.

Today, Planned Pethood is a full-service veterinary clinic, open six days a week with a staff of 13 employees and three veterinarians. The clinic offers low-cost dental, X-ray, surgical and even grooming services. Evers has also formed a good relationship with a network of rescue groups to help find homes for unwanted pets.

There are three generations of the Evers family working at the clinic — including Evers' husband, Joe; daughter, Amber Burgess (who is also a local schoolteacher), and granddaughters, Lauren Burgess and Lilly Ostrander.

"It's a good thing I have them," Evers said. "Because we are always busy, busy, busy."

Since it opened seven years ago, Planned Pethood has helped more than 21,000 customers and has spayed or neutered more than 30,000 animals. The clinic also alters about 100 feral cats each month as part of Pasco County's trap-neuter-return program.

"I'm very proud of my clinic," Evers said.

.If you go

Planned Pethood

Planned Pethood is at 37815 State Road 54, Zephyrhills. Office hours are from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., with walk-in clinic hours from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Call (813) 779-7000. Information and prices are available at Planned Pethood welcomes financial assistance, and, as a nonprofit organization, all donations are tax-deductible.

Lifelong animal lover puts off retirement for low-cost clinic 02/09/17 [Last modified: Friday, February 10, 2017 2:22pm]
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