It’s apparent to me who’s in charge when I enter the Animal Medical Center and Bird Clinic of Hollywood;  There are three good-sized cats eyeing me intently — one on the counter, one on the sofa, and one sniffing around my feet, daring me to go any further.

But I am not deterred.  I’ve come to meet Dr. Bob Schachner and his wife Bretta, who’ve owned this place for 19 years.  And I must admit, I’m less interested in the dogs and cats, which are the majority of their business, and want to know more about the birds and other “exotic” animals that they treat.

“The sign was on the door when we got here,” explained Bretta, a nurse by trade, who runs the business side of the medical center so the doctor can concentrate on getting the animals healthy, “so we never changed it. And we do get some…interesting patients.”

Prior to purchasing the practice, Dr. Bob worked as an Assistant Professor of Surgery at UM, doing transplant /diabetes research. Watching him work though, today on a more than usually sluggish tortoise, it’s clear that his love is working directly with the animals, exotic or not.

“Dogs and cats are really about 85% of the pets that we see here,” noted Bretta.  “Only about 15% are birds and others.”  Among the others have been monkeys, possums, peacocks, chickens, ducks and goats.  “Alligators too,” Dr. Bob added, “and marmosets, reptiles and miniature pigs.”

As veterinarian on call for the Everglades Holiday Park, the Sawgrass Recreation Park and in the past for a large cat sanctuary, they have often made house calls for larger animals and sometimes brought patients home overnight to monitor them.  

“Our kids were used to being around lions and tigers,” Bretta recalled.  “One year our holiday card showed the family with lion cubs!”

The Schachners, who met in college, have two children; their son Benjamin is at USF getting his masters of science in anatomy and applying to medical schools, and their daughter Rebekah is a junior at UCF and would like to pursue a graduate program in occupational therapy.  They are proud that both have chosen to go into the health professions like their parents.

Asked about some of his most interesting cases, Dr. Bob is hard-pressed to say, as there have been, he said, so many.  

“We spayed and neutered Thunder and Lightning, the miniature horses at the Calder Race Course,” he said.  “I amputated a leg on a Key deer, and removed a tooth from a white tiger in Southwest Ranches.  I worked on a chinchilla just yesterday.  Around here, every day, you just never know what’s going to come through the door.”

But the majority of the patients who come to see the doc are indeed ,house pets, cats and dogs, and the love that Doctor Bob has for them is evident in the photos lining the walls of the office and in the care I see as he examines his latest patient.  19 years in the same location on US1 in Hollywood and lots of happy, long-term customers also tell the tale. (tail?)

The Animal Medical Center and Bird Clinic of Hollywood is located at 521 N Federal Hwy, Hollywood, 33020

They’re open six days a week, closed on Sunday.  For further information, please call 954-920-2400 or visit animalmedicalcenter-hollywood.com