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NYer of the Week: Dr. Leilani Alvarez Helps Pets Get Back On Their Feet

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This week's New Yorker spends quality time with her pet patients so they can hop, skip or jump their way toward a new family. NY1's John Schiumo filed the following report, which was shot, written and edited by Rachel Smith.

You could say Ariel the rabbit is one lucky bunny.

Last summer, she was found in a garden in Queens, alone and paralyzed. A rescue group brought her to Dr. Leilani Alvarez at the Animal Medical Center.

"When I first evaluated Ariel, she was paralyzed. She really had no functional use of her hind legs," Alvarez says. "Today, she is not only able to move her back legs with a good amount of strength, she's starting to show ability to hop a little bit."

Alvarez says 99 percent of her patients are dogs and cats. She made an exception for Ariel, who receives physical therapy through AMC to the Rescue. It's a special fund dedicated to rehabilitating rescue animals so they can be adopted.

"There's not a lot of experience with doing physical therapy for rabbits, but since she's been here, they support her 100 percent," says Tracy Nuzzo of Rabbit Rescue and Rehab. "She gets full use of the facilities. She's treated like a little rock star."

That rock star treatment includes laser therapy, a custom set of wheels and a variety of exercises to improve Ariel's strength, balance and ability to hop.

The goal of this effort is to find Ariel a "forever home," a family willing to adopt a bunny who needs extra attention.

"They're rabbits that need a lot of care, but if you provide them with the right amount of rehabilitation, the right tools to the owner for things that they can do and modify at home, then you can really have a successful outcome of a rabbit that may be what we call special needs, but those needs can be met by a dedicated owner," Alvarez says.

A dedicated owner to take over care from the dedicated team.

So, for helping pets get back on their feet, Dr. Leilani Alvarez and the Animal Medical Center are our New Yorkers of the Week.


For more information about the Animal Medical Center, visit, and for information on adoption of Ariel and other rabbits in need of homes, visit ClientIP:, UserAgent: CCBot/2.0 ( Profile: TWCSAMLSP