1 of 18
2 of 18
Dr. Mary Dubelko has many animal family members. She has three dogs named Tootsie, Rocco and Skye. She also has four cats, 2 snakes—including a brightly-colored snake named Eragon—and leopard geckos.
3 of 18
4 of 18
5 of 18
6 of 18
Dr. Tracie Springer sits with her long-haired dachsund named Lily. She also shares her home with a cat named Ash.
7 of 18
8 of 18
9 of 18
Dr. Gary Riggs with two of his many pets—his cat, The Dude, and the Sulcata tortise, Bruiser.
10 of 18
11 of 18
12 of 18
Dr. Steve Scott with his dog, Harley Quinn, and his two cats, Blaze and Ivy.
13 of 18
14 of 18
15 of 18
Emergency room veterinarian Dr. Mike Bridges with his two dogs, Gup and Incus, and one of his three cats.
16 of 18
17 of 18
18 of 18
Animals can be man’s—and woman’s—best friends. They are compassionate companions that, once welcomed into your life, become family. Whether covered in fur, feathers or scales, our pets enrich life and add so much to each day. Many veterinarians in The 330 understand this on a professional and personal level—allowing them to relate to the struggles of the pet parents seeking their help.
Dr. Mary Dubelko
“ I really enjoy what I do and every day is something new and different,” says Dr. Mary Dubelko, the owner of Keystone Veterinary Clinic. Dubelko is very passionate about her work.
Her love of animals is not only expressed in the clinic, but also at her home where she has many beloved pets. The house is a full one, with five humans, four cats, three dogs, two snakes and several leopard geckos. Each of these pets brings something unique to the table. With several boys in the house, Dubelko has a corn snake and king snake under her roof. Though she’s not a big fan of reptiles, Dubelko says that the corn snake, Eragon, is a charmer. “Eragon should really be an ambassador for snakes,” she says. “He’s very friendly and just not a quick-moving kind of guy. He’s very chill.”
Having a full house provides her with perspective at work, she says. “I think it gives me a different perspective when I’m making either diagnostic recommendations or treatment recommendations. I want the best care that is reasonably possible for both my own animals, as well as the clients’ family pets that come in,” says Dubelko.
The bond between animals and their human companions is something that pet owners understand very well. “We know in our family how much we value our pets and I think it’s just keeping that in the forefront when we’re working with clients,” says Dubelko. “These animals are very special to someone and we hope that we could treat them to the best of our ability.”
Dr. Tracie Springer
Dr. Tracie Springer always knew she wanted to be a veterinarian. From her visit to Valley Animal Hospital with her first dog—the same place where she later volunteered and now works—she knew that she wanted to spend her days with animals. “I was science-minded, animals tend to like me and I like working with them. It took the two things that I was good at,” says Springer.
Though she isn’t a specialist, Springer has an interest in emergency medicine and dentistry. “Emergency work is no fun because it’s never a good thing when animals come in and need emergency help, but it’s exciting,” she says. “You get to stabilize them and calm the owners down and get the patient back to where it needs to be.”
Helping animals through difficult situations is something that Springer does both on and off the clock. Her pets at home can attest to that. Springer currently has two furry family members: a long-haired dachshund named Lily and a Siamese mix cat named Ash. Both entered her life in unexpected ways. “I had a client at my last practice who was diagnosed with terminal cancer. She didn’t have any close family, and she came right from the doctor and asked me to take her dogs.”
The second of the two dachshunds Springer brought into her life is no longer with her, but the animals have definitely impacted her life. “You meet these animals throughout your day and not every single one, but most of them have homes. But every once in a while, you’ll run across one that needs some extra help. It’s always nice when you can help them and take them in.”
Dr. Gary Riggs
Dr. Gary Riggs has worked with a wild assortment of animals throughout his career. Focusing primarily on exotics, he specializes in birds. The Wadsworth native practices in Norton, Wadsworth and Copley, as well as working for the Cleveland Aquarium and being a consulting veterinarian at the Akron Zoo and an exotic animal sanctuary. Riggs and his wife even have a wildlife conservation foundation where they do rehabilitation work for Stark Parks and the animals at Summit Metro Parks.
Riggs has always loved exotic animals and loves the fact that he gets to work with them daily. This passion goes beyond the walls of his office. His home is full to the brim with beloved pets, including Bruiser the Sulcata tortoise, Ernie the Blue and Gold Macaw, Oose the Toulouse Goose, Oowie the Australian Black Swan, Ozzy the White Swan, and a pair of Zebra finch brothers. He also has a dog—an Akita named Taebo—and a rescue cat named The Dude.
Each of his pets has a distinct personality, Riggs says. “If you tell someone who’s never had a rabbit that a rabbit has a very smart, distinct personality, they’d never believe it. But once you’re around them, you see that. Same thing with tortoises—my tortoise knows his name. He recognizes different people and comes when he wants something.”
From the exotic to the mundane, animals have specific health needs, and that’s where Riggs’ breadth of experience really shines. “There’s a lot of misinformation out there about these pets and often times, they have so many health problems, but it’s mainly because people don’t know how to take care of them,” he says. “If we can educate people and let these guys have a much safer and longer life, that’s really rewarding.”
Dr. Steve Scott
Dr. Steve Scott has had an interesting road through his veterinary career. Originally from California, Scott didn’t always want to be a veterinarian. He intended to become a marine biologist and was in the process of doing so, when he realized what veterinarians brought to the table. “I wanted to be more hands-on, so I volunteered at several animal clinics,” says Scott.
Scott studied at Ross University in the Caribbean on St. Kit’s before eventually ending up in Ohio at his current position, Akron-Peninsula Veterinary Office. Though he works with both cats and dogs, he has an interest in treating cats. “Cats are funny because they’re very subtle and cryptic,” he says. “You’ve got to catch the small daily changes with kitties to catch something before it happens.”
He shares his home with two cats, Ivy and Blaze, and a labradoodle named Harley Quinn. “They’re all rescues; we’re into rescues,” says Scott. “We’re not crazy cat people or dog people, but if there’s one out there, we’ll be there for them.”
Defying stereotypes, Scott says that his dog and cats are actually very affectionate with each other. “[Harley] and Ivy are best of friends. They sleep together, groom each other—I never had a dog and cat relationship like that before. They love each other.”
Dr. Mike Bridges
An emergency room can be a terrifying place. All of the occupants of that space are stressed and filled with worry as the one they love is treated for whatever ails them. Now, picture an emergency room full of your favorite furry friends. Dr. Mike Bridges works for the Stark County Veterinary Emergency Clinic where he strives to ease each animal’s pain, restoring them to a healthy, happy place. “It’s pretty amazing. Unfortunately, a lot of sadness with severe cases, but there’s also a lot of happy clients and animals too when we save lives. It’s very rewarding,” says Bridges.
Bridges lives in Canal Fulton with his wife, two children, two dogs and three cats. This may sound like a very full house, but before their children were on the scene, Bridges had 15 animals. Both Bridges and his wife are veterinarians, resulting in a deep love of their animals. “All of our pets come from one of our clinics,” says Bridges.
Several of his animals have dramatic origin stories. His youngest cat, Toggy, was dropped off at the emergency clinic near death. “It’s one of those cases where he peaked out of a box, meowed and it’s like, we have to help this guy,” says Bridges. Another of his cats, Toli, had suffered a traumatic injury involving an electric wheelchair. Once again, he recuperated and found a home with his caregiver.
The injuries he sees can be truly awful and though he approaches each situation with the clinical focus of a professional, Bridges is also a pet parent. “It’s one of those things where I need to step back. When it happens, I’m just like most pet owners where my emotions take over.”