By: Jen Russon
The future of South Gate Veterinary Clinic is unknown following the sudden death of Dr. Micheal Horbal, DVM, who ran the animal clinic with two assistants.
When Horbal, 65, failed to show up to work on the afternoon of April 29, his vet tech, Kasia Palmer, drove to his Margate home to check in on him and was devastated to discover him dead.
Since then, she has been working out arrangements with his family for a safe and socially distanced funeral service in the coming days.
Horbal lived alone and owned three dogs, now in the temporary custody of his employees. Like their boss, Horbal’s vet techs stayed long into the night and were always available to animals in need.
Horbal especially loved canines and is remembered by the people who knew him best as ‘the guy with a dog’s head sticking out of every open window’ on his way into work.
Licensed since 1995 as a DMV, Horbal’s reputation revolved around the idea that animals come first. He often undercharged, and sometimes, for pet owners in financial straits, did not charge at all.
“He used to say ‘don’t worry about the money. It’ll come back to me. Let’s just fix your pet,’” said Horbal’s close friend and client, Donald Rame.
Rame and his wife, Stacey, have four dogs — all of whom were patients of Dr. Horbal.
“We’re devastated, but we know Dr. Mike has crossed the Rainbow Bridge where so many of the pets he took care of are waiting for him,” said Stacey.
The Rame’s were among the longest-running clients of Horbal’s and are working with Palmer to arrange a donation drop-off for friends and clients of the South Gate Veterinary Clinic.
Stacey said a drop-off point for Purina Pro Plan, which Horbal’s dogs’ love, has been established less than a mile from his clinic in the Spring Lakes community.
On Monday, dozens of clients visited the closed animal clinic in Tamarac Town Square to leave flowers and cards.
Some chose to tape pictures of their late pets, along with a note.
“Now I share heaven with you, one of my favorite people. Thank you for always taking care of me up to my last breath,” said one.
Two other women, clients of Dr. Horbal, also paid tribute, saying they will miss the ease of easily filling prescriptions for their pets.
Though there was a 2-month waiting list to bring your pet to him, owners said it was worth the wait.
“Other places would make me do hundreds of dollars worth of testing just to refill a simple Rx my dog desperately needed. When I came to Dr. Mike, he just filled that for us,” said Sharon Terry.
Horbal is survived by his son, Joshua, an ex-wife, and two sisters.
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- Jen Russon is a freelance writer and English Language Arts teacher. She has published two novels to Amazon Kindle and lives in Coral Springs with her family.
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