TAMPA, Fla. — In 2018, the founder of Harmony Vet Care, Dr. Stephanie Sabshin, wanted to open an affordable veterinarian clinic for everyone.
Sabshin says she operates the non-profit to streamline its processes to perform exams and surgeries on pets using an assembly line technic that would make Henry Ford jealous.
"We created Harmony Vet Care so we could maximize efficiency so that we can minimize cost," Sabshin said. "Sometimes we have two doctors doing surgery so we can have 60 surgery patients in at one time, and that's still the surgery side. We have exams; we have one to two exam doctors going on, and they are doing 20 to 30 appointments a day."
During the pandemic, Sabshin says they shifted all of their services to curbside. All of the animals slated for surgery are dropped off between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. Some dogs were barking and pulling away to avoid going into the waiting room, while cute, shy puppies were apprehensive taking their first steps in the parking lot. Others stopped in the middle of the sidewalk when mother nature called to relieve themselves.
"It is controlled chaos, but the key to that is to have enough staff so that we can control the chaos, and really like I said, the best thing to do is to maximize our efficiency, so getting everyone in within an hour is the best way to start our day," Sabshin said.
We got to the clinic located at 5420 Webb Rd in Tampa at dawn to watch the show. Then got a tour of the clinic. In one room, techs prepped the animals for surgery. In another room, the doctor was ready to receive. Neuter takes about seven minutes to complete, while a spay is a little more complicated, taking about 15 minutes. Sabshin says their prices are competitive.
"Spays right now run from $50 to $140," Sabshin said. "I've seen them go up to $1,000 for a spay. I just hope that they see there are resources for them. Not everyone can afford a $1,000 spay, and it doesn't mean that animals should go without that medical care. That's what we are here for. We are here to bridge that gap to make sure these animals are able to receive the medical care that they need."
"Spay and neuter on two dogs for $200; that's a great price," Brett Yerkey said.
We caught up with Yerkey as he dropped off his dog Lambert for surgery.
"It's more affordable, especially with I'm unemployed. I haven't had a job since I got laid off in PA in November with COVID and I'm down here trying to find a job now."
Sabshin says the pandemic created so many hardships for so many people she doesn't want to see animals lose out on medical care because their owners can't afford it. Her model is catching on, and she says she is busier than ever.
"We are still growing. We opened our second location a year ago, and it's already fully booked, and we need a third," Sabshin said. "The best day for me is saving lives. If I can get a sick or injured dog, get it on my table, fix it and send it home to a loving family, that's the best day."