A new veterinarian is settling in on County Road 30A, under the banner 30A Vet.

However, Dr. Tonia Shatzel is not new to the area.

Shatzel has visited here for 10 years, and in fact, she photographed, compiled and published the book "Dogs of 30A" in 2010 with the help of her partner, Rob Wood.

Shatzel was the photographer in that venture, which grew from her love of dogs and being impressed by the many dogs she encountered up and down 30A when she visited.

Several years ago she talked her dad into buying a cottage in Freeport so that she could come down more often and have a place to stay. However, once she was able to visit often, her wheels began turning as she tried to figure out a way to move here permanently.

In compiling her "Dogs of 30A" book, Shatzel became friends with Julie Brown, owner of Furry Fanatics pet store located at Gulf Place. When Brown told her the unit next to her shop was available, Shatzel and Wood decided the time was right to make the move.

Weeks were spent remodeling the downstairs to make it suitable for a veterinary clinic, and the state gave its stamp of approval two weeks ago. While remodeling, Shatzel began establishing her clientele by operating a mobile clinic.

Refurbishment is still underway upstairs for the living quarters.

Shatzel opened 30A Vet as a boutique, full-service veterinary hospital that offers unique services such as non-anesthetic dentistry, therapeutic cold laser, and digital dental x-rays. She prides herself on partnering with every pet owner to create a treatment plan that is uniquely suited for their pet.

Shatzel has worked as a vet for 15 years, and for the last year, saw animals in Atlanta and South Walton.

She primarily focuses on the care of dogs and cats, and "the occasional pocket pet."

"Any small animal," she said, but no birds, lizards, reptiles, or fish.

As a full-service veterinary clinic, Shatzel offers wellness checks, shots, performs surgeries, spays and neuters, and has begun working with Alaqua Animal Refuge when needed, taking x-rays, dentistry, and donating left-over meds.

The native of Tennessee remembers always wanting to be a vet. However, she studied aerospace engineering until she realized she could do this.

"I am fascinated with science and biology. I enjoy problem solving and being my own boss," she said. "I enjoy teaching people about things. These pets are a member of their family. It's very fulfilling and I am trying to be different than your average vet."

One of the ways Shatzel is thinking out of the box is her offering non-anesthesia dental services performed on pets while they are awake. The pets are wrapped in a towel and taken into a dark room for the procedure. They are whispered to as the clinician removes tartar and cleans and polishes the teeth, which takes about 20 minutes.

"I am the only one in the Panhandle offering this," said Shatzel. "It is a lot less expensive than when it is done using anesthesia. There is always a small risk when anesthesia is used. But it is not for every pet. If an extraction is needed, we have to put them under. And they have to be somewhat cooperative."

Shatzel offers this procedure once a month.

30A Vet is located at 56 Spires Lane at Gulf Place. Call 660-1892 for an appointment.

The clinic is open Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. 

Attend Dr. T's grand opening Aug. 29 from 5 to 7 p.m. and enjoy food, drink, and music.