South Mississippi Strong: Going above and beyond to help save animals

South Mississippi Strong: Going above and beyond to help save animals

BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - If you’re an animal lover who follows social media you’ve probably heard of Fur Baby’s Veterinary Hospital in Biloxi. That’s because the veterinarians who own it are known to go above and beyond to help the most hopeless of cases. Their compassion and dedication make them South Mississippi Strong.

Dr. Jason Gulas and Dr. Alice Xenachis are a husband and wife veterinarian team, working together to help animals. Dr. Gulas says it’s like a mission for them.

“We try to help whenever we can," he said. "It’s hard to give up on pets.”

They end up with some of the most unusual and difficult cases.

A young pitbull Fischer was shot in the face and lost his nose and an eye. Dr. Xenachis says he’s lucky to be alive. "It damaged the eye, damaged the teeth, nose and mouth,” she said.

They’re also known for their alternative therapies at Fur Baby’s.

A 15-year-old lab Alex is getting acupuncture to help with his arthritis. These are just some of the reasons they opened their own practice less than a year ago. They say the business is doing well and continues to grow.

This young pitbull was treated after being shot in the face.
This young pitbull was treated after being shot in the face. (Source: WLOX)

“We’ve had all sorts of surgeries, see birds, reptiles, and of course lots of dogs and cats. It has been exciting,” Dr. Xenachis said.

But because they’re extremely soft-hearted, they also see more than their fair share of animals that have run out of option— animals that others have often given up on.

Dr. Xenachis said it’s hard for them to turn away.

“It’s not planned and then we just feel sorry for the animal and then we see hope,” she said.

They work with several rescue groups and the community often pitches in to make donations for certain animals. Their Facebook page shares many of those stories, and Dr. Xenachis says the list is long.

“Dogs that weren’t able to be helped because their owner passed away, or they financially can’t take care of them,” Dr. Gulas added, “A lot of times they’re going to be euthanized for financial reasons. Sometimes we get them to relinquish them to the clinic and we get them treated and find homes for them ourselves.”

Dogs like Frankie and Johnny, whose owners died, they didn’t get along with the remaining family members’ animals. So Dr. Gulas and Dr. Xenachis were asked to euthanize them.

Instead, they asked if they could take over their care and find a home for them. They took care of them for more than two months at the clinic before a rescue group found them a home in Boston. Dr. Gulas said it was worth the wait.

“The happy endings outweigh the sad reality most of the time,” he said.

Victoria is now able to eat and drink again.
Victoria is now able to eat and drink again. (Source: WLOX)

And then there are the unwanted pets the couple end up keeping, like Victoria, an Irish Setter puppy with brain and seizure issues. She was scheduled to be euthanized, but Dr. Gulas and Dr. Xenachis asked if they could give her a second chance, and now she belongs to them.

Dr. Xenachis said taking care of her is as time-consuming as caring for a toddler, but they hope she’ll walk again.

“She’s getting a little better," Dr. Xenachis said. "She’s eating. Jason built her a stand so she can be more comfortable and stand up.”

The stand Dr. Gulas built helps Victoria recover from brain surgery
The stand Dr. Gulas built helps Victoria recover from brain surgery (Source: WLOX)

And then there’s Pip Squeak, a puppy that had been hit by a car and was slated to be euthanized. This one belongs to them now as well. Dr. Gulas said he has come a long way in a short time.

“His pelvis was crushed and he was blind when we got him. Now he’s getting around well and can see just fine,” he said.

They have seven dogs, six cats and two birds that belong to them— all of them rescues, not to mention the chickens and cows they also have on their farm.

“We didn’t plan it," Dr. Xenachis said. "We had another one we could help, and then another one. I’m not sure how it keeps happening. But we have a lot of pets now.”

They’re also known to spend the night at the clinic if they’re treating cases that need to be watched closely. And Dr. Gulas often comes in after-hours for emergency cases. The work never seems to end but Dr. Xenachis says it’s well worth it.

“It’s a lot of challenges on a daily basis but it feels good,” she said.

And while it may not be exactly what they envisioned for their future when they met in veterinary school 12 years ago in California; it works for this special couple.

“It wouldn’t be possible if I hadn’t married a veterinarian,” Dr. Xenachis said.

And for her husband, the feeling is mutual.

“She’s the love of my life. I couldn’t do it without her,” Dr. Gulas said.

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