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Zephyr needs help: Service dog injured in St. Petersburg hit-and-run to receive surgery

TAMPA, Fla.  –  A 7-year-old shepherd mix who works as a service dog is in the intensive care unit at BluePearl Veterinary Partners hospital after he was injured

Zephyr in the ICU at BluePearl Veterinary Partners

Zephyr in the ICU at BluePearl Veterinary Partners

during a reported hit-and-run.

The dog, named Zephyr, is scheduled to undergo surgery Wednesday to repair three fractures to the right side of his pelvis and to reattach the left side of his pelvis to his spine, said Dr. Merrick Fultz, who is overseeing Zephyr’s care.

Zephyr’s owner, Paul Kostora, exhausted his resources and paid $1,500 toward his beloved pet’s care. Now Frankie’s Friends, a national pet charity, is stepping in to help with the cost, which is estimated to be about $8,000.

They are asking for the public’s help to pay for Zephyr’s surgery. Those interested in contributing are encouraged to click here.

Kostora said he was walking in the crosswalk near the 500 block of 3rd Street S. in St. Petersburg early Tuesday morning when a car struck Zephyr. Kostora said the driver didn’t stop, and the car rolled over Zephyr, dragging him about 10-15 feet.

Kostora adopted Zephyr from a shelter in New Mexico when the pup was just seven months old. The pair have traveled the country together, and Kostora even set up a Facebook page for Zephyr. He said the pup acts as his service dog because he suffers from PTSD.

“He’s just an amazing dog,” Kostora said. “I know everyone thinks their dog is the best, but there’s really something special about him.”

Now Kostora is working as a clerk at Palms of Pasadena, and says Zephyr always accompanies him to the hospital. The dog’s sweet and calm demeanor charms patients as well as members of the staff, said Janice Wishart, a director at the hospital.

Paul Kostora comforts his dog, Zephyr, who was injured in a reported hit-and-run accident.

Paul Kostora comforts his dog, Zephyr, who was injured in a reported hit-and-run accident.

“It’s really the highlight for everyone when Zephyr comes through the halls,” Wishart said. “He has a very calming presence. Everyone just loves him.”