Doctors Bob Foley and George Baker were friends at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. On weekends, Dr. Baker frequently visited his father Les, who lived at Captain Jack’s Trailer Park in Key Largo. There were few veterinarians in the Keys at that time so Dr. Baker began doing veterinary house calls for needy pets.
At that time, there was a horse ranch in the Key Lime grove that would later become John Pennekamp State Park. Horse owners such as Marilyn Beyer needed an equine veterinarian and this brought Dr. Foley to the Keys. Both Dr. Baker and Dr. Foley were being lobbied to open a veterinary practice in the Upper Keys by Edie Nielson of Nielson’s Aquarium in Islamorada.
In 1973, Dr. Foley and Dr. Baker were persuaded to open a store front veterinary clinic: Upper Keys Veterinary Clinic (UKVC), beside Harry Mahoney’s electronic shop at mile marker 94.5. The veterinary practice rapidly grew. Dr. Baker developed his skills in orthopedic surgery and marine mammal medicine, becoming a nationally recognized expert in dolphin and marine mammal medicine and biology.
In 1979, Dr. Foley acquired sole ownership of the practice and relocated UKVC to the present site at 87801 Overseas Highway where the iconic facility still remains as Upper Keys Veterinary Hospital - the largest freestanding veterinary center in the Upper Florida Keys.