Special/Signature Issues » Top 40 Under 40

Lori Pasternak, 37

Veterinary Surgeon
Helping Hands Veterinary Surgical
and Dental Care

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Spend thousands of dollars on surgery, or euthanize your otherwise healthy pet? Lori Pasternak believes pet owners should be spared that choice.

At her unique Carytown veterinary practice, Pasternak offers low-cost surgical and dental procedures, with no-interest financing for those who qualify.

Clients who truly can't afford to pay can have part or all of the bill paid from the practice's good-citizen account, which is funded with a $5 contribution from every service provided. These clients must repay Pasternak's kindness by volunteering with an animal organization — one hour for every $10. No sob stories, no excuses. “Pay the money or work it off,” Pasternak says.

So far the business model seems to work. One client, a soldier whose dog swallowed a pacifier, didn't have time to complete his volunteer hours before being deployed. He called from Afghanistan to pay the bill with his credit card — and to thank Helping Hands.

Pasternak runs the practice with business partner Jacqueline Morasco, whom she affectionately calls her “Jackie of all trades,” and office manager Thor, a diminutive white Chihuahua. Since opening in February, Pasternak has treated more than 600 pets and become the darling of Richmond animal groups.

When Jodi Urban arrives one afternoon to claim her two cats, Chloe and Two, she's told she owes nothing more than the $155 she's already paid per cat. “This is incredible,” she says, hands clasped as in prayer.

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