Petra Ford, P.T., CCRT (Certified Canine Rehabilitation Therapist)
Petra graduated from UMDNJ School of Health Related Professions 20 years ago with a degree in physical therapy and has experience working with an extremely varied caseload including pediatric through geriatric clients with a vast range of diagnoses. Her areas of expertise include in-patient rehabilitation, orthopedics and neurology. Petra attended the Canine Rehabilitation Institute in 2007 and is a certified Canine Rehabilitation Therapist. Petra is fully certifies in Canine Acupressure and is a Reiki Level 2 Practitioner. Petra raced bicycles at the professional level and participated in international events. She is now an avid runner, competing in half marathons and she practices yoga.
Petra has trained and trialed her Labrador Retrievers in obedience, agility, field and nosework. Her black Labrador Retriever, Tyler, has the distinction of being the 2008 and 2009 National Obedience Champion and First Runner Up in 2010. In 2012, Petra and Tyler became the first American team to win the Obedience World Cup (they placed second in 2010). Petra’s dogs have earned field titles (MH, QAA). Currently she is competing at the Master’s Level in agility with Zaidan. Zeal has earned his OTCH (Obedience Trial Champion) in Obedience and was Second Runner Up at the 2017 National Obedience Championship. Petra has written several articles on canine conditioning, canine injury prevention, competing with your dog and more. She has been published in a number of magazines including Clean Run, Front and Finish, and Whole Dog Journal.
Laurie Shepherd, CCMT (Certified Canine Massage Therapist)
For as long as Laurie can remember, animals have been her number one priority in life going back to when she was a child. She worked as a veterinary technician for over 23 years in several different animal hospitals. In her time as a vet tech she has learned the importance of acute care for animals whether you’re dealing with disease, surgery or just routine care. After seeing so many different cases over the years she has decided to take a different turn in the field. The importance of aftercare and rehabilitation has become a big interest for her. Aqua therapy, laser therapy and massage therapy are so important in an animal’s continued life quality whether it is post-surgical, arthritis or even disc disease due to age. So, with much excitement, she has decided to join the Aqua Paws team and learn as much as she can in this part of the field. She recently earned her Canine Massage Therapist Certification through the Brandenburg Massage Therapy School in Ohio.
Outside of work she is kept very busy with her two children Cameron 13 and Collin 11. She also has 5 dogs and 3 cats who keep her on her toes daily. When she finally has some time of her own she loves to go to the barn and spend time with her horse Rio. Now that is the best therapy around! She recently earned her Canine Massage Therapist Certification through the Brandenburg Massage Therapy School in Ohio.
Sara Giovenco, CCMT (Certified Canine Massage Therapist)
Ever since I was a child I have always loved animals. I have had different varieties including a cat, a few dogs, always at least one bird to a hedgehog, bearded dragons, chameleons, frogs and many colorful and exotic fish. I have always wanted a job involving animals. Finally, I took a veterinary assistant college course. After doing an internship in a vet’s office, I decided it might not be the path I wanted to take after all. We had, however, also learned about animal therapy during the college course and when I was given the opportunity to work at Aqua Paws Rehab, I knew it was definitely what I wanted to try! Being able to rehabilitate and help dogs in this way has been a very fun and rewarding job so far and I look forward to the challenges it will bring, and hope that I can learn from my coworkers and become a certified canine rehabilitation therapist myself! I have completed my canine massage therapist certification through the Brandenburg Massage Therapy School in Ohio and am excited to use my skills to help dogs recover and feel better.
In my free time I enjoy video games, reading, swimming and playing with my Yorkie, Gabby and my bird, Luna.
Throughout my life I have always experienced the love of animals. As a child my family had dogs, mostly German Shepherds, that they rescued from homes that couldn’t keep them. They joined our family and we developed connections and history with them and they greatly improved our lives. As an adult I have continued that, and always have at least one rescued four-legged family member with me because they bring so much joy and comfort to my life.
Sadly, a couple of years ago my twin sister was diagnosed with cancer. At the time, I worked in banking (for over 30 years) and I took off to be with her for treatments and other support. When she passed away I reevaluated my life. I decided to follow my passion and incorporate it into my life. My passion is, and always has been, animals. In looking for a new career, I found it at Playful Paws at Petra’s and at Aqua Paws Rehabilitation. I truly enjoy my new career path. My current family consists of 5 dogs, all different breeds, a German Shepherd, Pitbull, two Hounds and a Rottweiler) and one cat.
Just like when I grew up as a child, my current family is blessed with the love of our dogs and our lives are enriched by our canine family members. They fill my heart and even though I rescued/ adopted them, on very many occasions they have rescued me. I consider myself extremely blessed to call my four-legged dogs and cats my family. I am truly a person who loves animals and has been greatly impacted by them.
I am 34 years old and have three children and two little Chihuahuas. I have been in love and fascinated with animals since I can remember. Growing up my family lived close to a brook and patch of woods that was just filled with small creatures for me and my friend to catch and observe. We caught crayfish, tadpoles, pollywogs, frogs, snakes and anything else that wasn’t fast enough to get away. I learned how to handle animals gently to without me or them getting hurt. I joined 4H at a young age and was taught more skills on how to take care of animals. My dream as a young child was to be a Veterinarian. In my science class in high school my teacher kept an Iguana and corn snake in the classroom all year. Every day I could, I would hold the snake and slowly get the Iguana to let me pet it. Eventually I was able to hold the Iguana. My teacher told me she was amazed at my patience because the Iguana would never let anyone near him.
I’ve owned and cared for many pets through the years, from dogs to snakes. My love for dogs has inspired me to pursue a career with dogs. I’m currently enrolled in online classes to become a Vet Tech. I’m excited to be working at Aqua Paws helping animals heal and get stronger so they can live their lives to the fullest. I’m also happy to be working at Playful Paws at Petra’s caring lovingly for the dogs as if they were my own.
Dr. Brian T. Voynick
I am incredibly excited to announce that we will be working with Dr. Brian T. Voynick of American Animal Hospital. He is a perfect fit for the Aqua Paws mission, vision and treatment approach. Dr. Voynick combines holistic with traditional veterinary medicine. He is an invaluable resource, especially with orthopedic and holistic treatments.
Dr. Brian T. Voynick has owned and directed the American Animal Hospital in Randolph, NJ since 1986. Dr. Brian T. Voynick takes an integrative approach to veterinary medicine, using modalities such as digital diagnostic x-rays, ultrasound, laser surgery, stem cell therapy, endoscopy as well as acupuncture and herbal medicine.
Since 1997, Dr. Voynick has hosted “The Pet Stop,” a half-hour weekly television show on News 12 New Jersey, which is enjoyed by 2 million viewers in New Jersey and airs every weekend. The program educates pet owners about advances in veterinary medicine, responsible pet ownership, specialty care, and adoptable animals from area shelters.
Drs. Hallihan and Casulli
I am thrilled to announce that we will also be working closely with Drs. Hallihan and Casulli of Animal Care Center right around the corner! This married couple runs a thriving business with two locations: 96 Bartley-Flanders Rd, Flanders, NJ 07836 and 175 Lakeside Boulevard, Landing, NJ 07850. Drs. Hallihan and Casulli are compassionate and highly experienced. They are supporting and supervising both our boarding kennel, Playful Paws at Petra's and Aqua Paws. With their convenient location and exceptional veterinary care we are grateful for this working relationship. It is a wonderful resource for all of our clients.
Several years ago my 13 1/2 year old Duncan suddenly became ill while I was working at Aqua Dog. My regular vet at the time was on vacation so I rushed Duncan to the Animal Care Center. Even though we were not clients at the time, they took us right away. After a thorough exam we realized Duncan's time had come. They were incredibly empathetic and supportive. I will never forget how wonderful they were at a time when I was so distraught. It was clear that they cared deeply about Duncan and my relationship with him.
"As pet owners ourselves, we understand the vital role a pet plays in the family. Our common goal is to offer client education, preventative care and medical treatment that best services the needs of our patients and their families. Since 1998, Animal Care Centers has provided, with a gentle hand and a compassionate heart, the same quality care expected for our own pets." I am confident that with their experience, knowledge and support we will be able to continue to providing all of our clients with excellent care.