The Animal General of East Norwich has been named “2021 Veterinarian of the Year” by the Long Island Orchestrating for Nature (LION) organization. LION is the leading animal advocacy organization on Long Island; they were founded at the end of 2012 according to John Di Leonardo, the Founder, President, and Director of Campaigns for LION.
They have systematically arrived at fairs showcasing wild animals with LION having managed to convince all of them to end the use of wild animal acts. They have also taken on circuses such as the Ringling Brothers and Cole Brothers Circus.
“We had such a big impact on people not buying tickets for Cole Brothers. We ended up turning away thousands of dollars of ticket sales,” stated Leonardo.
About a thousand animals are rescued per year from different types of abuse. In order to maintain the well-being of their rescues, LION works with different veterinarians. Their primary veterinarian is Animal General of East Norwich. According to Leonardo, the animal hospital puts in “tremendous efforts and dedication to providing free and low-cost veterinary care to wildlife and domestic fowl rescued from cruelty.”
For the past four years, LION has been going to Animal General as their primary veterinarian. Both domestic and wild birds are taken to them.
“Animal General is very knowledgeable and has a very good reputation. We’ve been very impressed with their services, it’s very hard to find a very knowledgeable avian vet. Especially for the issues that we deal with. We bring them to Animal General, and we are always confident that they’ll know what to do. They guide us in the appropriate treatments for these animals. Over the years, they have been discounting our services substantially, and even provide us with a lot of pro bono services. I’ve been wanting to recognize them for a really long time. We are very proud to have presented them with LION’s Veterinarian of the Year for 2021,” commented Leonardo.
The plaque awarded to the animal hospital featured an image of a chicken, and LION also gave a plant-based care package from Cindysnacks Vegan Market.
The medical director at Animal General of East Norwich, Dr. Ellen Leonhardt, and veterinarian Dr. Danielle Perrone, are on the advisory board of Volunteers for Wildlife, a local wildlife rehabilitation organization.
Leonardo stated, “Whether we are asking them to carefully remove duct-tape from a goose who was strapped with fireworks, amputate the wing of a chicken maimed by animal sacrifice, bring back to life ailing birds saved from live slaughter markets, or treat animals suffering from years of neglect at Long Island petting zoos, we know that our rescues are in good hands when we bring them to Animal General for an appointment.”
Dr. Leonhardt added, “VCA Animal General of East Norwich is proud of our on-going collaborative efforts, working alongside John Di Leonardo, Long Island Orchestrating for Nature (LION), and numerous other wildlife rescue groups within our community. We pride ourselves in helping the underserved, moving towards a healthier and safer environment for these delicate creatures, each deserving individualized care, attention, and veterinary medical expertise.”
Animal General is the second veterinarian in Oyster Bay to be named “Veterinarian of the Year” by LION. The first award was presented to Massapequa Pet Vet in 2018.
Other successful efforts by LION include preventing the expansion of SeaQuest Aquariums’ mall chain from being in Oyster Bay in 2019. Also, they have recently rescued thousands of animals within a week in Huntington.
LION recently worked with the South Huntington School District regarding a drain project the district was doing in a nearby sump.
“There were thousands of animals there. We talked to them, they actually halted the project, and they worked with us to relocate the animals from that habitat so they would not die. We ended up relocating about 20,000 minnows and tadpoles, about 150 bullfrogs, and about 2,000 goldfish,” said Leonardo.
The South Huntington School District was presented the “Humane School District of the Year” award from LION.
According to Leonardo, “in places like Plainview, Syosset, Old-Bethpage areas, it’s a big dumping ground for abandoned fowl.”
They are always open to volunteers of all ages who want to get involved with helping animals in the community and to help LION.
LION is looking to obtain new property according to Leonardo.
“The property we have right now is very nice, and I’m very proud of it but I would really like to expand and have a place that is open to the public.”
On their new property in the future, they would like to have an education center for animal advocacy projects, and people can learn how to help animals in their community. LION wants their future location to be more publicly accessible.
“The two locations I am most interested in are either on the East End or in Oyster Bay. I would love to be in Oyster Bay so we can be close to our primary vet,” Leonardo stated.
As the number of cases increased for LION since the beginning of the pandemic, their donations have decreased. “It’s been quite a struggle with a lot more rescues, and a lot less donations. We are proud to do the work that we’re doing, we’ve kept it up, and we keep leveling up. I think the location we have in Riverhead is a big upgrade even though it is not permanent,” Leonardo said.