animal lover's profile
Frankie’s Friends By Nancy Dewar Sponsored by Brandon Langel, Realtor,
PureWest / Christie’s International Real Estate
When he agreed to do this article, I put together a loose list of questions. I started our conversation with something like, “This will be a fun story. Having four dogs, obviously you’re an animal lover.” And then I never looked at any of my questions, as Mr. D simply opened up about “everything dog” and the soft spot he has in his heart for canines!
Mr. D grew up in Youngstown, Ohio, and got his first dog at the age of 5; a miniature Schnauzer. This dog was followed by 2 miniature Poodles in the early 60’s and then a white German Shepherd. He married Candy, his high school sweetheart, in 1968 and they were “without dogs when the kids were little.” Dogs came back into their lives big-time once the kids grew up. Mr. D rattled off a litany of names of dogs they had over the years including Frisco (a miniature Schnauzer) Johnnie (a terrier mix), Cleo and Chloe (Great Danes), Frankie, Sami, Annie and Frannie, all Greyhounds. I love that they all had ‘people’ names, a tradition that continues to this day! Frankie’s Friends is named after the DeBartolo’s first greyhound. At the age of 8, Frankie was diagnosed with osteosarcoma; bone cancer. Their two Great Danes, Cleo and Chloe, also had this cancer and lived less than a year following
their diagnosis. They reached out to Dr. David Lurie, a world-renowned veterinarian who specialized in treating canine cancer. He felt Frankie had a good chance of survival if his back, right leg was removed. The DeBartolo’s followed their vet’s advice with great hope. “She did amazing,” Mr. D said. “Frankie was a real trooper. She ran as fast as ever on 3 legs and had another 3 years of quality life, with ‘quality’ being the most important to us.”
The initial concept of Frankie’s Friends was created (under another name) by Tampabased veterinarian Dr. Neil Shaw, Co-founder of BluePearl Veterinary Partners. He formed a non-profit in 1999 to provide health care to pets whose families could not afford the necessary treatment. Following the loss of Frankie in 2005, Mr. D, Candy and their daughters Lisa and Nikki became passionately involved in Dr. Shaw’s non-profit and offered substantial support. The foundation’s name was changed to Frankie’s Friends to honor the legacy of their beloved Greyhound. To date the organization has raised over $5 million in donations to help pets in need. Mr. D explained a bit more about Frankie’s Friends. “This is basically like a St. Jude’s Hospital for dogs. We offer financial assistance for any form of a treatable illness to people who can’t afford the treatment for their pet."
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The DeBartolo family continues to actively assist Frankie’s Friends to help it grow. It started in Tampa, and there are now affiliated non-profits in 19 states. Mr. D continued, “This is a great tribute not only to Frankie, but to everyone involved and our family.” In addition to personal family involvement, support is also provided by the DeBartolo Family Foundation. Frankie's Friends helped save the lives of more than 2,200 pets in need of lifesaving emergency and specialty veterinary care in 2016. The foundation also has a variety of other pet-related programs such as national research grants, K9 Heroes first-aid courses and insurance
Somehow through the grapevine I came across Frankie’s Friends, a wonderful non-profit foundation that helps save pets' lives by providing grants to cover the cost of life-saving or life-enhancing specialty care for pets whose families cannot afford the costs. This discovery led me to Mr. Edward DeBartolo, Jr. (a.k.a. ‘Mr. D’ to many) who is known by some in the Valley as the Hall of Fame former owner of the San Francisco 49ers and also known for his spectacular annual 4th of July celebration! However, many do not know that Mr. D is passionate about dogs, provides tremendous support to animals in a variety of ways and is majorly involved with Frankie’s Friends.