Service dog recovering after getting injured in a hit-and-run crash

Funds being raised to cover vet care
Posted at 5:07 PM, Jun 22, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-22 17:07:47-04

Zephyr is a sweet 7-year-old German shepherd mix. He's spent a lot of time crying since he's been in the ICU at Blue Pearl Veterinary Partners in Tampa.

Tuesday morning, he and owner Paul Kostora were going through the crosswalk at Third Street South and Fifth Avenue South in St. Petersburg when Zephyr was hit by a car and left for dead.

"The car just gunned it right over Zephyr, and I watched Zephyr roll like 10 times under the car, and then he got dragged about 15 feet," Kostora said.

Paul thought his beloved Zephyr might die, and that scared him because Zephyr is his service dog, helping him cope with the daily effects of PTSD.

"He's everything to me. It's like having a child and best friend all at the same time," Kostora said.

Thankfully, Zephyr's going to be OK. He underwent successful surgery at Blue Pearl on Wednesday afternoon to repair the severe damage to bones in his leg and pelvis area.

"I can get him back where he needs to be, and the things he's used to doing, and helping those he helps," said Dr. Nicole Salas, small animal surgeon at Blue Pearl.

But the surgery and vet care will cost at least $8,000, and that's money Paul doesn't have. That's why nonprofit Frankie's Friends is stepping up, raising money to help get Zephyr back on his feet.

"Zephyr is certainly special to his owner. He's definitely important in providing the comfort and companionship his owner, Paul, needs," said Danielle Martin, executive director of Frankie's Friends.

Zephyr goes everywhere with Paul, including to work at Palms of Pasadena Hospital.

"He's a special dog," Kostora said.

He's such a friendly pup, Paul wants to get Zephyr certified as a therapy dog for hospital patients. But that will now have to wait several weeks, until Zephyr can fully heal from his injuries.

If you'd like to help, you can visit and click the Zephyr fund donation banner at the top of the page.

Any money raised over and above the cost of Zephyr's care will go toward helping other pets in need.