Modern Medicine Meets Traditional Chinese Veterinary Care

April 12, 2010

Animal Wellness Centers LLC unveiled its flagship Santa Monica, Calif., location at a star-studded launch party in mid-February. The facility—its founder says it combines modern animal health care and traditional Chinese veterinary medicine—is envisioned to be the first of many such centers.

Attendees of the event, which benefited the Humane Society of the United States, ranged from reality TV stars Stephanie Pratt (“The Hills”) and Bridget Marquardt (“The Girls Next Door”) to animal industry names Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the HSUS, and Louise Murray, DVM, director of medicine for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Animal Wellness Centers was founded by Annie Harvilicz, DVM, who serves as the chief medical officer. She and the center’s other full-time veterinarian, Erin O’Leary, DVM, provide animal care largely through house calls. The new facility is dedicated to retail space and has room for behavioral classes and other educational programs.

Retail offerings include Dr. Annie-branded products such as natural alternatives for treating anxiety along with joint aids and ear cleansers.

The center’s design revolves around the animal’s point of view. “From 4 feet and below, the animal’s natural world is emphasized, with curves, round edges and earth tones and shapes,” Dr. Harvilicz says. “There are mirrors and mazes for play. It’s been compared to ‘Disneyland for Dogs.’ ”
Above 4 feet, the space is modern and open, featuring straight, clean lines in a Japanese minimalist style.

Harvilicz says community culture had a lot to do with the decision to locate the flagship in Santa Monica. “We chose the Ocean Park neighborhood because of its cultural sensitivity to our approach and attitude toward animals generally and animal wellness specifically,” she says. 

Indeed, much of the emphasis on animal wellness revolves around traditional Chinese veterinary medicine (TCVM) principles, which Harvilicz says include four main aspects: acupuncture, therapeutic massage, food therapy and herbology.

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“[TCVM] is used to relieve pain, reduce inflammation, strengthen the immune system, regulate hormones and treat disease of the intestinal tract, respiratory system, neurological system and skin,” she says. “Essentially, in the hands of a trained professional, TCVM can treat any disease conditions and prolong healthy living without side effects.”

In the near term, Harvilicz is looking to broaden the offerings to include full-service in-house veterinary care. She plans to open a hospital in Los Angeles in 2010 and hopes to offer acupuncture services at the Santa Monica center in the near future.


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