Dr. James Bowen leaves Island Animal Hospital to Pursue His Many Interests
By Don Manley
Dr. James Bowen may have stepped away from the workaday world, but please don’t describe the move with the dreaded “R” word.
“I don’t even like the word retirement,” said Bowen, until recently, the owner and veterinarian at the Island Animal Hospital. “How shall I put it? Working less.”
Bowen has sold the practice and is moving on to enjoy his varied interests on an almost fulltime basis. But he’ll still keep his hand in the game as a “relief veterinarian” on Florida’s East Coast, where he and his wife, Donna, will live after calling Marco Island home since 2001. A vet for 35 years, he opened Island Animal Hospital in 2002 after the family’s moved to the island from Rhode Island.
Bowen cited several reasons for – well – stepping away last week.
“I’m coming up on 67 and I want to be young enough to do the things I imagined doing in retirement, like getting a big sailboat and following the sun around, and I want to get into photography and artwork,” he said. “I like cooking, so maybe I’ll take a few lessons and cook for my wife. I’m not the kind of guy who’s going to retire and just sit in the corner and shrivel up. That’s not me.”
The practice’s new owner is Dr. David “Dr. Dave” Bongiorno, a veterinarian for 20 years in suburban Chicago.
Bowman advertised the practice’s availability on The Veterinary Journal and selected Bongiorno from a pool of 11 respondents.
“Dr. Dave stood heads and tails above the rest of them,” said Bowman. “It became an obvious choice, as to who was going to come in here. He brings a lot of experience. He brings advanced diagnostics, in the way of ultrasound and endoscopy. People typically have to go to a specialty hospital to get those services and now they’ll be able to get them right here, at a much more reasonable price, as well.”
Bongiorno said he knew that after meeting Bowen, examining the practice and working with him for one week, he knew the fit was a perfect one.
“He does things the way I like to do them,” said Bongiorno. “He does a complete exam and I love that, head to toe, and that’s the way it should be done.”
Bongiorno received his veterinary medicine degree from the University of Illinois. He and his wife, Cari, reside in Naples with a menagerie of pets. He said he wanted to head south after finishing his education, but instead returned to his hometown.
“A job opportunity came up and it made sense to take it,” he said. “I stayed there for five years and then I opened up a practice of my own for 15 years. You kind of get stuck and then it’s ‘How do I get to where I want to be?’”
So Bongiorno put his practice on the market and found a buyer. “It made this opportunity possible for me,” he said. “This is where I’ve always wanted to be, Florida. We looked at California, we looked at the other coast, and the people in Naples and Marco are different. They’re more Midwestern.”
His professional special interests include ultrasound scans, endoscopy – nonsurgical examination of the digestive tract – orthopedics and exotics animals. “I’ve found that there aren’t a lot of veterinarians, even up North, that like to get involved with reptiles and small mammals and that’s something I’ve been doing for 20 years,” said Bongiorno.
Bowen kept a limited schedule, but the Island Hospital is now open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, and from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Wednesday and Saturday.
It is one Bowen’s varied interests that is behind the move to Jupiter, Fl. “I’m a fishing and boating guy, and the boating and fishing over there are absolutely tremendous,” he said. Bowen is also looking forward to spending more time at the couple’s summer home in Rhode Island.
“I’ll miss the people, I’ll miss the practice,” said Bowen. “The people who come in here are really, really nice people, salt of the earth. If they walk through our door, they have concerns about their animal, so they fit right in with our mindset.”
Island Animal Hospital is located at 860 Bald Eagle Drive. For more information, call 394-8080.