Dr. Donald Zantop Passes
Dr. Donald W. Zantop,
co-owner of the Fallston Veterinary Clinic who was noted
for his avian rescue work, died Oct. 13 in a diving
accident off Bald Head Island, N.C.
Dr. Zantop, who was born in Arlington, Va., and raised
in Allen Park, Mich., had aspired to a veterinary career
from the time he was 7 years old. He was an Eagle Scout,
and after graduating from Allen Park High School, he
enrolled at Eastern Michigan University. He later
transferred to Michigan State University, where he
earned his veterinary degree in 1976.
Dr. Zantop worked in a
veterinary practice in Silver Spring for three years
before becoming part-owner in 1979 of the Fallston
Veterinary Clinic, where he specialized in treating
small animals. He also was an avian and exotic animal
"Don's death is so tragic. We go back many years to the early
1970s, when he came into the area not long after I started my
career," said Dr. John E. Brooks, a veterinarian who is the
former owner of Fork Veterinary Hospital and now manages Bel Air
"He had a strong affinity for avian medicine and was one of the
pioneers … certainly in our area. He was the go-to guy in this
field," said Dr. Brooks, who served as state deputy secretary of
agriculture from 2003 until 2007. "He was committed to his
community and veterinary community. He was the full package and
the consummate veterinarian."
"Dr. Zantop was one of the 100 board-certified avian experts in
the world," said Sharon Pfeiffer of Crofton, whose macaws,
African gray parrots and cockatoos were cared for by Dr. Zantop.
"We were very lucky to have a vet like him in our area, and has
been mine since 1997. He was just phenomenal. Some vets are good
with animals and not people, but he was really good with both,"
said Ms. Pfeiffer. "He was a really good guy."
"He had a worldwide reputation as an avian veterinarian," said
Dr. Greg Harrison, a veterinarian and friend of 30 years, who is
also the founder of The Bird Hospital in Florida, and Harrison's
Kathy Woods founded Phoenix Wildlife Rescue in 1997, a
Jacksonville, Baltimore County, nonprofit wildlife rescue
"Don was the No. 1 … avian specialist in Maryland. He was a
bigger-than life person who taught us our wildlife credentials,
and that was more than 20 years ago. He was so damn smart," said
Ms. Woods. "I was so inspired by him, and I wanted him to be
proud of me when I was in the field. He was my hero and always
treated me like a peer."
Since 2004, Ms. Woods has been state-certified to handle the
recovery of injured bald eagles.
"He was the vet in Maryland who treated bald eagles. He'd do a
$10,000 bald eagle surgery and only charge me 31 cents for the
X-ray. He never charged us what he should have. He was always
behind us and knew that we were a nonprofit," she said.
Dr. Zantop was the avian specialty exam chairman of the American
Board of Veterinary Practitioners and president of the
Association of Avian Veterinarians, the Mid-Atlantic States
Association of Avian Veterinarians.
For the last 35 years, he had been a member of the American
Veterinary Medical Association and was president of the Maryland
Veterinary Medical Association and was secretary of the Maryland
Veterinary Foundation. He was also a member of the Greater
Baltimore and Harford County veterinary medical associations.
Dr. Zantop wrote widely on avian veterinary matters in the
Journal of the Association of Avian Veterinarians and was a
co-author of "Avian Medicine: Principles and Application."
In addition to Phoenix Wildlife Rescue, Dr. Zantop provided pro
bono medical care at the Patuxent National Wildlife Refuge,
Wildlife Rescue and the Carrie Murray Nature Center in Leakin
"Don was truly what we all aspire to be. We're far better off
for having him in our lives. He gave us so much in making us
better people," said Dr. Brooks. "He also reminded us that life
is so fragile."
In addition to diving, Dr. Zantop was an avid sailor and who
enjoyed boating in the Chesapeake Bay as well as the Caribbean,
Belize and Thailand. He also was a world traveler.
A memorial service was held at 4 p.m. Oct. 28 at St. James
Episcopal Church, 3100 Monkton Road, in Monkton.
In addition to his wife, Dr. Zantop is survived by his daughter,
Ettienne H. Zantop, a junior at Salisbury University; his
father, Harold Zantop of Martinsville, Ind.; his mother, Barbara
Wray of O'Brien, Fla.; three brothers, Michael Zantop of Fort
Lauderdale, David Zantop of Belleville, Mich., and Douglas
Zantop of O'Brien, Fla.; and two sisters, Melissa Zantop of
Littleton, Colo., and Melanie Zantop of O'Brien, Fla.
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