By STEPHEN FLANAGAN JACKSON
Dr. Steve Harris, with his freshly-minted veterinarian degree from Auburn University firmly and confidently in hand, took off about 35 years ago for his first professional practice in expansive, scenic but sparsely populated South Dakota, a 1,400 mile one-way adventure. It was a positive and practical large-animal professional experience for the Southerner, who had attended Catholic High School and AUM in Montgomery, Alabama, but after a year and a half, he said good-bye to the Badlands and its extremely cold winters and headed south—way south.This time Harris landed in the balmy, tropical Florida Keys, a trip of some 2200 miles one way. During his time in the keys, he was associated with three vet practices. His next professional move took him to the Tampa Bay area, working for 18 years at an extensive small-animal clinic.
When he scoped out the need for a vet to serve the Sun City Center area and the nearby communities of Wimauma, Balm, Summerfield, Ruskin, Palmetto, Ellenton and Parrish, Harris decided not only to relocate but to open a small-animal veterinary clinic. A few months ago, he celebrated the grand opening of his Sun City Veterinary Clinic in a patient-centered, state-of-the-art facility in a newly-built, comprehensive veterinary practice at 971 E. Del Webb Blvd., parallel to U.S. 301 and just north of S.R. 674 in back of the plaza housing Regions Bank, McDonald’s and Publix.
Ample, spotless, and modern, the Sun City Center Veterinary Clinic is staffed by an office manager, receptionist, experienced technicians, and a surgical technician, as well as Harris, who specializes in small animals, cats and dogs for the most part. For residents of SCC, the clinic offers golf-cart access. In addition to general practice and wellness care, Harris’ clinic provides urgent care, internal medicine and surgery.
Commenting about his chosen profession, Harris says being a veterinarian for 35 years is like being a member of any other skilled profession in the medical field: it offers the satisfaction of personal growth, the opportunity to develop personal applications of traditional techniques, and the responsibility to maintain an up-to-date familiarity with new developments in medications and surgical techniques. “For me, it is significantly rewarding to develop a personal rapport with my clients.”
Harris’s early volunteer work with Friends of Animals and United Humanitarians has set him on a course of contributing to similar organizations. That commitment continues to this day. He is married with two children; their family also includes three cats, one dog, and three horses, all of whom enjoy their own personal vet — Dr. Harris himself.
Asked about his outlook on the South Shore and its future, Harris responded with an eye for the present and the future: “One of the definitive reasons I chose to open my practice here in Sun City Center was that my business consultants’ and actuaries’ research clearly showed the positive growth the South Shore area will experience in the coming decade.”