By Libby Hopkins

The Alafia River Animal Hospital has been part of the Brandon community for over five years. Dr. Ellen Matheson purchased the hospital in 2008 and in 2010 she opened a new facility with many luxuries for her four-legged clients. The hospital is located on 4.5 acres of land in Lithia with flower gardens that are cared for by Matheson’s mom, Beth. “My mom maintains the beautiful gardens in front of the clinic,” Matheson said, “I am always getting compliments on the gardens.”  The hospital offers multiple large playing areas for dogs. The dogs also have a boarding area with porcelain title flooring and glass-front kennels. There is an automated drainage system the flushes the drains every 30 minutes to keep the kennel smelling fresh. Matheson’s feline clients have very nice boarding accommodations as well. They are separate from the dogs and have multi-level condos with windows that overlook the receptions area. The cats get to watch videos on a computer to feed their curiosity.

Matheson offers a great puppy daycare package for new a dog owner that includes 30 days of puppy daycare and all core vaccines. In addition to the daycare and vaccines, the package has fecal testing for intestinal parasites and routine de-worming for hookworms and roundworms. “The cost of the package is $600 so, basically you are paying for 30-days of daycare at $20 a day and getting the vaccines and de-worming for free,” Matheson said. Her two Labradors are also on hand at the hospital to play with the puppies and teach them manners.

Matheson recently purchased two horses that have become pets for her daughter, Gillian and son, Keenan. Rowan and River are permanent residents at the hospital. She said River is a mini horse that is full of personality. “Rowan came already named ‘Rowan’ and the kids named River,” Matheson said, “They have cousins named Rowan and River and now they have horses named Rive and Rowan.”  The horses have jobs at the hospital. They are in charge of weeding the landscape and Matheson said they are doing a great job. For more information on the services offered at The Alafia River Animal Hospital, you can check out their website at or call Matheson at 643-1002. The hospital is located at 7021 Lithia Pinecrest Rd.


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Libby Hopkins
Libby Hopkins has been a part of the Brandon community for more than 30 years. She is a graduate of USF with a degree in journalism. She has been a freelance writer for The Osprey Observer Newspaper since 2008. She also the Executive Director of Center Place Fine Arts and Civic Association. She is a dog mom to her rescue dog, Marshall. She loves being a part of the Brandon Community and she loves sharing positive news about our community.