Dr. Fabrizio Castellani: Animal Healer

Story by Tiffany Hoffman

Dr. Fabrizio Castellani walks back to his operating room where a sleeping feline lies on a shiny-steel operating table. The Cagli Italy, veterinarian’s bright orange scrubs hang from his lean, 6 feet-5 inch frame.

“I just finished operating on a cat. Her name is Pisola, meaning little nap,” he says, gently petting the limp cat that is recovering from a recent amputation.

Cagli is a small town but there are plenty of Cagli animals that Dr. Fabrizio cares for in his daily schedule. From surgeries and amputation to everyday care, the life of the veterinarian is never the same nor dull.

Dr. Fabrizio grew up in Fano, a beach town in the Le Marche region of Italy.  His father was an architect, and his mother was an interior designer.  Knowing he did not want to pursue architecture like his father, he followed his love and passion for animals and decided to study veterinary medicine.  He attended the University of Bologna, the oldest university in Italy. 

“The program is a five-year program,” Dr. Fabrizio says laughing. “But no one makes it through in five -- it took me nine years.”   However, his love for animals and his perseverance got him through the long, hard years that veterinary school requires.   

Upon graduating, Dr. Fabrizio heard there were no veterinarians in Cagli.  In 1996, he opened his practice, Ambulatoro Veterinario, located in New Cagli.  Since then, he has been the only vet serving the residents of both New and Old Cagli.  His practice focuses on the care of domestic small animals -- mostly dogs and cats.  Dr. Fabrizio splits his workweek between Cagli and Calcimelli, which is about 16 kilometers away. His partner, Alessandra Giovanelli, fills in for him on the days he is away. 

On the walls of Dr. Fabrizio’ small waiting room, a few posters depicting different breeds of animals hang on the wall. A door off the waiting room leads into an open room that houses both the office and the examination table.  To the back of the building is an austere operating room that holds only the necessities for operations.  Except for surgeries, appointments are unnecessary. When people need Dr. Fabrizio’s expertise, they simply drop by the clinic. 

Pointing to the x-ray illumination of Pisola’s left leg, Dr. Fabrizio explains the situation. “She’s 15 years old and had a tumor on her left paw,” she says. Within 15 days it had metastasized, spreading further up her leg.”  It’s difficult operating on an older animal, he says.  “I won’t give her any antibiotics until I know she is going to make it.”

Pisola’s owner arrives for a report. He steps closer to the operating table as his hands cautiously brush the cat’s fur. He looks up at the doctor. Pisola is still hooked to the IV, and the shaved, stitched, nub-of-a-shoulder socket marks where her left leg once was.  Every so often, the cat takes a tiny breath, signaling that she is still hanging on. The owner awaits the prognosis. Pisola will be fine, says Dr. Fabrizio confidently.  “She should be able to recover fully and walk on her three remaining legs.”

Life as the Cagli veterinarian keeps Dr. Fabrizio busy, but the job is a rewarding experience, he says.  “I love my job, and I love working with animals.” 


Dr. Fabrizio looking at Pisola after her surgery.

Dr. Fabrizio looking down at Pisola after her surgery.

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