Gift will help pet hospital build lodging for owners

By Jackie Ripley, Times Staff Writer
Published February 13, 2008

TAMPA - Frankie died of cancer last year. But the 12-year-old greyhound, beloved pet of sports and real estate magnate Eddie DeBartolo Jr., left behind more than happy memories.

Frankie also inspired a cluster of guest cottages planned for the campus of Florida Veterinary Specialists.

The 24-hour animal hospital at 3000 Busch Lake Blvd. has a cancer center and 50 veterinarians on staff.

The complex, to be called Frankie's House, will be made available to clients from out of town who want to be nearby while their pets undergo treatment.

"People bring their pets from all over and sometimes they fly their pets in when they can't be here," said Cari Saddler of Florida Veterinary Specialists.

The pets comefor specialized services, including CT scans, MRIs, rehabilitation, hydrotherapy and outpatient cardiograms.

Overnight stays also might be necessary for cancer treatment, which can require consecutive treatments and overnight hospitalizations.

DeBartolo's daughters, Lisa, Tiffanie and Nikki, donated $125,000 to the hospital, where Frankie was treated. The money will help build the six cottages.

The hospital likens Frankie's House to Ronald McDonald houses, lodging for parents whose children are hospitalized.

"The cottages will have kitchens, a shower and computer hookups," Saddler said. "All the different things in a hotel room, but more affordable, and they won't have to go so far."

The hospital is asking the county to rezone 3 acres for the housing. The petition goes before the county March 13.

Stays typically would be one to three nights. Saddler said it has not yet been determined what, if any, costs pet owners would face.

Jackie Ripley can be reached at ripley@sptimes.com or 813 269-5308.

If you can help

To donate to Frankie's House, call (813) 933-8944 or write Frankie's Friends Charitable Foundation at 3000 Busch Lake Blvd., Tampa, FL, 33614.