Dr. Rizal Lopez, Chief Veterinary Officer

After more than a decade in private practice, Dr. Rizal Lopez was looking for a new challenge when a position opened up at SPCA Tampa Bay in 2011.

With prior military and veterinary hospital experiences, Dr. Lopez provided leadership to the veterinary services team and produced a unified standard operating procedure that guides the veterinary services team today. The measures that he put in place have helped SPCA Tampa Bay find more animals homes and has kept thousands of animals healthy. For example, in American shelters upper respiratory infection (URI) in cats is a major issue. Through an aggressive campaign to improve vaccination protocols, cleaning protocols, and housing choices, URI is rarely the problem it was for cats when he first arrived at SPCA Tampa Bay.

Before joining SPCA Tampa Bay in 2011, Dr. Lopez was an associate veterinarian for Northeast Animal Hospital in St. Petersburg. He previously served as chief of staff at the North Austin Animal Hospital in Austin, Texas.

Dr. Lopez’s military experience as a nuclear engineer in the U.S. Navy helped form his leadership style, work ethic, spirit of teamwork and sense of integrity. After serving six years in the Navy, Dr. Lopez followed his talent for science and love for animals and returned to college to become a veterinarian. He earned his Bachelor of Science in biology from California State Polytechnic University and a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from the University of California, Davis.

After a few short years as a practicing veterinarian, Dr. Lopez joined the local veterinary association and within two years had been elected to serve on the local board, and as a county representative to the California Veterinary Medical Association. During that time, Dr. Lopez was also asked to return to UC Davis to serve on the Admission’s Committee, an unusual honor for a recent graduate of the program.

Dr. Lopez remains active in the veterinary industry as a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association, the Pinellas County Veterinary Medical Association, the Florida Veterinary Medical Association, and the Association of Shelter Veterinarians. In 2014, Dr. Lopez won the Tampa Bay Business Journal’s Health Care Hero Award in the veterinary category.