Donna Rozycki, her daughter Katlyn Hanson and their three dogs have had a long road to recovery since they narrowly escaped the fire that consumed their rented home in Roselle during Thanksgiving weekend 2012.
After the firefighters who ensured they all got out of that house with their lives, Rozycki most credits veterinarian Jeffrey Bloomberg and his Schaumburg Veterinary Hospital for their ability to start getting their lives back on track.
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It was Bloomberg, after several other practices turned her down, who agreed to start caring for Rozycki's injured and traumatized pets without immediate pay at a time when her finances were in turmoil.
"I called four other vets and asked if they had a payment plan," Rozycki said. "They said, 'Oh, no, we don't do that.' I don't care how much they tell you they love animals, they love money more than they love animals."
Rozycki and her high-school-aged daughter were on the brink of despair when they called the Schaumburg Veterinary Hospital and Bloomberg agreed to take their dogs on as new clients immediately.
"Rarely will you find a doctor who just cares about these animals and doesn't care about if he gets paid or when he gets paid," Rozycki said. "He is just exceptional! He's just a sweet man."
Bloomberg, who's run the practice with his wife and fellow veterinarian Katie for nearly seven years, said their industry is one in which people regularly seek free treatment. Often this takes the form of sneakiness or trickery that all looks the same after a while.
But Rozycki's case was so different from that, so clear-cut, that he agreed without hesitation.
"The dogs needed some medical attention," Bloomberg said. "The dogs smelled like they were in the middle of a campfire."
Their practice has always done work to help area shelters, though not private individuals as often, Bloomberg said. But both he and his wife had earlier worked for practices where they wished more pro bono work could be done .
"Now we get to call our own shots," Bloomberg said.
Bloomberg also could relate to Rozycki's troubles.
"Her story kind of hit close to home for us," he said. "My brother-in-law's house burned down in early 2012. His family, too, barely escaped. So we wanted to help (Rozycki)."
Though the family suffered more unrelated mishaps in the year after the fire, Rozycki believes she's beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel and is eager to repay $700 she owes Bloomberg.
She said the veterinarian also was a big help when her oldest dog, 14-year-old Tucker, lost his eyesight and the question of euthanasia came up.
"He totally mentally and emotionally put us at ease," Rozycki said. "That kind of compassion, social skills and way to explain things took a load off our minds."
Bloomberg said that while there are cases in which an animal is clearly suffering, Tucker's situation is not as cut and dried.
"I tell people that my job is not to tell you what to do but to give you the pros and cons of each option and let you make an educated decision," Bloomberg said.