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Vets help four-legged friends affected by Sandy

Dr. John Charos (r.) and doctor's assistant Richie Vespoli provide free consultations for pet owners outside a Long Island Rail Road station in Long Island. Photo courtesy Central Veterinary Associates
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The impacts of Hurricane Sandy have reached beyond only humans, leaving some animals at risk of becoming stranded or abandoned.

And as Queens continues to rebuild in the aftermath of the storm, five of the six remaining animal clinics for Central Veterinary Associates started accepting donations to benefit pet owners affected by Sandy.

“There was a lot of devastation,” said Dr. John Charos, chief operating officer of CVA and lead coordinator for the New York City Veterinary Emergency Response Team and Animal Planning Task Force. “There is a lot of need out there and we have taken a lot of animals in since the storm.”

By Sandy’s departure at the end of October, CVA’s Belle Harbor location had been completely decimated, Charos said, sustaining more than $160,000 in damages between lost equipment and other supplies.

Another nearby clinic in Far Rockaway was knocked temporarily out of commission with minor damages, but was restored within days. But other clinics in areas including Bayside, at 36-43 Bell Blvd., and Valley Stream, at 73 W. Merrick Road, remained functional.

In an ongoing effort to provide relief to pet owners affected by the storm, Charos said CVA’s 24-hour Valley Stream, L.I., emergency pet hospital has been accepting donations to be given to those in need at its Rockaway clinic, at 18-33 Cornaga Ave. The group has been accepting pet food, bedding and blankets, extension chords, flashlights, water, batteries and other necessities as well as offering 20 percent discounts on all vet services and pet boarding to owners living in severely affected areas.

“We saw a lot of injured and abandoned animals,” Charos said. “We urge anyone who can help pet owners who are without power or who have been displaced because of Hurricane Sandy to give whatever they can at our Valley Stream location.”

Despite the intensity of the storm, CVA’s central location in Valley Stream remained open with help from generator power, while its Bayside and Forest Hills locations opened for regular hours within days along with other spots in Great Neck and Mineola.

“When we face natural disasters such as this, we sometimes forget that our pets can be affected,” Charos said. “They also need food and shelter the same way humans do. If your pet becomes ill, please also remember that our Valley Stream hospital is available 24/7.”

The group has been collaborating with the New York City Veterinary Emergency Response Team and Animal Planning Task Force to provide relief in hard-hit areas, including the Rockaway Peninsula, where Charos said some residents were taking in animals who would have otherwise been left stranded or needed to be put to sleep.

“The community there is phenomenal,” Charos said. “Everyone is working together.”

Anyone interested in scheduling an appointment with CVA can call 1-888-4CVA-PET.

Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at pcorso@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

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