Our History

Veterinary medicine does not rely on health insurance, government support, or large-scale charities –- commonplace in human medicine — to support families who cannot afford the cost of life-saving care for their beloved pets.

For many years, an informal system existed where each veterinary practice shouldered as much charity work as they could.

Thanks to leaps in veterinary medical knowledge and sophisticated treatments and technology over the past several years, the quality of veterinary medicine has improved remarkably. With these changes, small solo practices gave way to larger group practices — and the challenge to provide financial assistance for pets from families without resources became almost overwhelming.

The doctors and staff in Tampa at Florida Veterinary Specialists (renamed in 2010 as BluePearl Veterinary Partners), founded by Dr. Neil Shaw, quickly discovered these challenges. Many patients who came to their doors needed care, but the costs of administering to critical emergencies or providing specialty services were sometimes out of reach of the families. The ability to provide for these pets was stretched beyond reasonable limits. And still, with discouraging frequency, they came: animals with treatable conditions who could not be helped due to lack of funds.

Many charitable organizations exist to provide care for strays, abused pets, and relinquished or abandoned pets, but there are few alternatives for pets belonging to loving and responsible families who simply are unable to pay for an unexpected pet illness.

The Veterinary Cancer Foundation was started by Dr. Shaw in 1999 with a mission to save pets with cancer. But the reach and mission of the foundation was broader: to raise money and help pets who would otherwise suffer without proper care or be euthanized due to their families’ lack of financial resources.

In 2008, our foundation’s name was changed to Frankie’s Friends to honor the spirit and vitality of Frankie, a beautiful greyhound, cherished by the Edward DeBartolo Jr. family of Tampa, Florida.

Frankie’s Friends is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation (federal EIN 59-3581823). Our gift-processing office is located at 3000 Busch Lake Boulevard, Tampa FL 33614. We are registered with Guidestar.org, a web-based organization that verifies and provides information on thousands of charitable organizations in order to advance transparency, enable users to make better decisions, and encourage charitable giving.