Find Orlando Family Magazine on Facebook! Follow Orlando Family Magazine on Twitter!

A Family Affair

It’s no secret that owners think of their beloved pets as true members of their family, showering them with love, attention and care. And just as one would seek out the best pediatric care for their child, choosing the right veterinarian is of the utmost importance for pet parents. Luckily, for the last four decades one area practice has distinguished itself from the rest by providing exceptional care and service for their human and pet families.

Dr. Robert Hess started with Winter Park Veterinary Hospital (WPVH) back in 1981 and took over as its owner two years later. Since then, he has further established WPVH’s devotion to serve its clients, patients and team, all while giving back to the community. WPVH is also proud to remain family-owned and -operated as a large majority of veterinary offices are being absorbed by bigger corporate entities. 

“A significant trend in the veterinary industry is that offices are being sold to large private equity groups.” says Billy Hess, Dr. Hess’ son and hospital manager since 2011. “These corporations purchase hospitals and keep the same name and do their best to recreate the perception of a privately owned practice. In reality their goal is to hide the true ownership from their clients.”

Dr. Caitrine Hellenga mentored with Dr. Hess over 20 years ago and has served as WPVH’s medical director for the last seven years. She is proud to come to work every day and make sound decisions that are in the best interest of the pets she and her veterinary team treat.

“We look at how we can best serve our clients’ needs and there are times when we make decisions that we put profits behind providing exceptional care,” she says. 

That deep-rooted commitment is why WPVH touts itself as “Your Vets for Life,” aiming to serve pets and their owners during sickness and in health. “We want to be part of our client’s family and we value that relationship,” adds Dr. Hellenga.

In addition to the extensive treatments and services found at WPVH, they also offer doggie play camp and overnight stays which allows pet parents to know their pooch is interacting with other canines and expending some energy in a fulfilling and safe way. It’s all part of the comprehensive approach that has made the practice one of the most trusted in all of Central Florida. 

To be able to better serve their patients, Dr. Hellenga keeps WPVH on the forefront of veterinary medicine by staying up to date on the latest research. In addition, WPVH utilizes cutting-edge technology to ensure the highest quality experience for their patients. They are one of the only small animal hospitals in Central Florida that has its own CT scan machine, which allows them to administer dental procedures more quickly and with a higher degree of clarity, all while using less anesthesia. 

“As a private business, we are able to always put our team, put our patients and put our clients first. Our standard of care is a choice and it helps us differentiate ourselves,” Billy Hess says. 

WPVH is also very active in the community, supporting key organizations such as the Boys and Girls Club, WWF, Unicef and the ASPCA among others. What’s more, Dr. Hess began working with the Audubon Center Birds of Prey 30 years ago and has helped tens of thousands of animals during that time. WPVH has also lent its services to care for various wildlife, something Billy Hess says is another point of pride. 

“We get to help our friends in the wild that don’t have a voice and we have the knowledge and skill to take care of them. Squirrels, rabbits, possums, turtles, baby birds; you name it, we’ve probably seen it,” he says, before adding: “In the end, our success and our ability to impact the community goes back to being a family and working hard every day toward our goal to be ‘Your Vets for Life.’” 

Dr. Hellenga echoes that sentiment, saying it’s one of the reasons she remains so fiercely dedicated to the practice.

“When you have a team that really buys into what the business stands for, they can really feel like they’re part of something bigger and this hospital is one of those places,” she says.

This passion helped WPVH get its team, patients and clients through the pandemic. The hospital remained open throughout and was a haven for so many pet parents who were turned away or otherwise unable to find the veterinary care they desperately needed.

“The team at Winter Park Vet really sets us apart and does amazing things day in and day out,” according to Billy Hess. “They worked so hard for the dedicated clients who have trusted us for years with their pets’ care, while also continuing to serve the broader community as smaller hospitals limited hours, appointments and in the case of two local hospitals, just closed due to the stress of COVID. 

“They are heroes and I am unbelievably humbled and proud to work with them.”

Winter Park Veterinary Hospital

1601 Lee Road

Winter Park

(407) 644-2676