In line with the organization’s no-kill mission and a dream of dedicated volunteers, North Shore Animal League America cut the blue ribbon to celebrate the opening of the Don and Karen LaRocca Pet Wellness Center on April 11. The new facility located at 63 Bayles Ave. offers affordable, high-quality health care to animals in the tristate area.
“About five years ago my father died and my mother got very sick immediately afterward with cancer,” said Don LaRocca Jr., explaining how the wellness center came to be. “One day out of the blue, [my mom] said to me, ‘Let’s go to North Shore. I want to build a building for daddy.’ And here it is. Unfortunately, she passed away in 2014 during the construction, but here it is. Mom and dad are smiling on it and I think it’s going to be really good for the community, the people and the animals.”
While the Alex Lewyt Veterinary Medical Center and Pet Health Center has been serving the needs of the community for more than a decade, the needs of the community have greatly increased over that time. With the Don and Karen LaRocca Pet Wellness Center, North Shore Animal League America will be able to double the amount of animals it can provide veterinary services for and expand the services it provides.
“With an emphasis on preventative medicine, it will help us keep the pet population healthier and better educate the community in caring for their animals and that in turn will advance our no-kill mission,” said Senior Vice President and Chief of Veterinary Staff Mark Verdino. “This medical facility will go beyond what we currently do in that it will offer integrated modalities—things such as physical therapy, acupuncture, herbal medicine, juvenile and geriatric care and hospice care.”
Along with the many aspects of care the facility will provide, it will also house a physical therapy suite equipped with an underwater treadmill for rehabilitation. The wellness center will also offer digatherm and nutritional counseling.
“Care for animals today is so much more involved than it was 10 to 15 years ago,” said President of North Shore Animal League America John Stevenson. “Animals are now part of the family and we want to give them a chance at a great life. Two people who really cared about it, Don and Karen LaRocca, they wanted to ensure that, and their sons, Don and Scott, made sure their parents’ wishes were carried out and this is really a wonderful facility.”
The facility is also in line with the organization’s no-kill mission. The facility will allow the community to give their pet high-quality, affordable veterinary care instead of having to face alternatives like putting their pet down or sacrificing their finances to take care of their pet, Stevenson went on to explain.
“I know in my heart that Karen would be so proud of what’s happening here today,” said Senior Vice President Joanne Yohannan. “She would be so proud of this pet wellness center. This project truly has been a labor of love for all of us here at North Shore. To see this day is like a dream come true.”
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