PEOPLE OF INTEREST
The VOCAL VETERINARIAN
SAND AND SEA
Cristina Maldonado, a veterinarian in Stuart, is passionate about taking care of animals and the local waterways.
BY DONNA CRARY
Cristina Maldonado, a veterinarian at Monterey Animal
Clinic in Stuart, lives her dream job by caring for dogs
and cats and doing everything to keep them healthy.
The daughter of Dr. Carlos Maldonado, a well-known general
surgeon in Stuart, she remembers wanting to work in animal
medicine since she was 4 years old.
“It was something that I got in my head as a little girl
and there was never anything else that I wanted to do,” she
Becoming a veterinarian was a natural fit for Maldonado,
with her passion for animals and seeing the powerful impact
that they have on their owners.
“I love the human-animal bond,” she says. “I love to see
the relationships that people have with their pets. It’s pretty
incredible what pets can do for us.”
In August 2018, Maldonado took on an activist role as a
veterinarian when an animal health crisis began in Martin
County. Within a two-week period, six dog owners who lived
near the St. Lucie River woke up to a nightmare. Their pets
became deathly ill after coming in contact with cyanobacteria,
better known as blue-green algae, which was present in
Early on in the crisis, Maldonado received a phone call
from a friend of a friend who owned one of the dogs.
“She said, ‘This just happened to my dog. Can you go over
there and find out what’s going on?’ ” she remembers.
Immediately Maldonado went to the Martin County Emergency
Clinic, where Finn, her friend’s sick black poodle, was
being treated. Within a few hours after exposure to the toxin,
the dog began to vomit and develop extreme fatigue. Death
came quickly as a result of acute liver failure.
The other five dogs developed the same symptoms. They
eventually survived after undergoing extreme supportive
care that involved IV fluids and plasma transfusions to repair
During that intense two-week period, the emergency
veterinarians hadn’t determined the cause of their illness. But
Maldonado had a hunch.
“I knew in my heart and in my gut that it was the river that
was poisoning these dogs,” she explains. “All the signs were