Whether your dog or cat is sick or due for its annual wellness exam, there is a new veterinarian in Winter Garden ready to welcome pets and their people.
Dr. Pedro Santiago opened Wintermere Pointe Animal Hospital in early December in the plaza at the corner of Winter Garden Vineland and Tilden roads. Santiago has been practicing in Central Florida since 2008 and is eager to provide quality care for local pets.
Santiago grew up in Puerto Rico, where he began volunteering at veterinary clinics at age 14. His interest in medicine and love of animals meshed, and he attended undergraduate school in Puerto Rico before completing his education in veterinary medicine at Alabama’s Tuskegee University.
“I just love medicine,” he said. “I love the science behind it, but also the pets. … Pets are fun — they’re funny, they’re happy, they’re your best friend. I wanted to become a doctor for the medicine, but it’s always fun to (take care of) pets.”
Upon finishing veterinary school, Santiago relocated to Central Florida and has worked at different clinics in the area. But about two years ago, he decided it was time to open his own practice.
“I think I was ready, emotionally and professionally, to do this,” Santiago said. “I see it as a challenge — I can bring ideas as to what I want to do. … I think veterinary medicine is moving along very quickly, and we have so many things to offer to the pets right now that were not available 10 years ago. As an owner, I can keep up with the times and offer clients and their pets the newer stuff, like equipment and new medications.”
The 1,600-square-foot clinic took about seven months to build, but for Santiago, it was worth the wait. He currently is living in Longwood but plans to move to Winter Garden with his family in the coming months.
“This is an up-and-coming, wonderful area, and I saw the need there was for a local veterinarian in this area as the population continues to grow,” he said. “I love the area and look forward to moving here soon.”
Santiago and his staff will care mainly for dogs and cats and can perform anything from routine wellness services to dental work, surgeries and X-rays. Other services include diagnostics, vaccinations, dermatology, nutrition, behavioral counseling, pharmacy, microchipping and end-of-life care. The team also has contacts with local specialists, who can come in and perform services such as ultrasounds and orthopedic surgeries.
“We offer very personalized, individual care,” Santiago said. “We have state-of-the-art equipment, quality medicine and good pain management. I just want (clients) to understand what we do and take the time to explain things so they can see the value of what we do. At the end of the day, you just want the pet to do well and feel better if they’re sick. We’re here to help.”
Santiago looks forward to building long-lasting relationships with his clients and their animals, as well as providing care for pets at every stage of life.
“That’s the beauty of the profession, to a certain level — you get to know a client and their pets throughout the years,” he said. “Some of them feel like family, and you kind of grow with them. It’s a fantastic thing.”