Dr. Lawrence Buchholz & Roselle “Ro” Camaligan
From the 1870s to the 1960s, downtown Jersey City was filled with horses and barns. The Jersey City Police Department used mounted police to patrol where cars and motorcycles couldn’t easily travel. Someone had to care for all those horses.
“My father was an honorary police captain because he took care of the mounted police horses. He even had a badge and a gun,” said Dr. Rosemary Manziano of her father Dr. Clarence F. Manziano, Jersey City’s first veterinarian.
“He lobbied to keep mounted police. A horse can go anywhere. They keep things in check and they’re beautiful to look at.”
In 1952, Dr. Clarence Manziano bought a beauty parlor on West Side Avenue. By the following year, he had converted it into the Jersey City Animal Clinic. And for four decades, he ran the only veterinary clinic in Jersey City.
But Manziano wasn’t your average animal lover - his contributions to the field extended far beyond Jersey City. Early in his life, Manziano worked with cattle in Oklahoma. He attended veterinary school at Middlesex University, now called Tufts University, but left the country before completing his exams when he learned that students of Italian and Jewish decent were being denied the right to obtain a veterinary license. In protest, Manziano went to Italy and completed his final six months of veterinary school at the University of Pisa. When he returned to the United States, he lobbied against this practice and was responsible for the passage of the "Manziano Act," making it possible for veterinarians of Italian and Jewish descent to sit for the veterinary exam in New Jersey and thus practice veterinary medicine.
He also served as senior veterinarian for the Mexican American Foot and Mouth Commission, was the U. S. delegate for the United Nations Commission on Foot and Mouth Disease, worked for the U. S. Agriculture Department, and served as veterinary epidemiologist for the New Jersey State Department of Health.
In short, Dr. Manziano was a pioneer in Veterinary science. He worked with human doctors who performed laminectomies, a surgical procedure to remove part of the vertebral bone, to develop methods for operating on paralyzed dachshunds. For eight years he took care of beagles with severe mammary tumors, injecting the dogs with an experimental medication that shrunk the tumors to such a small size that they could be removed with hardly any effort.
At the age of 89, in 2008, Clarence Manziano passed away.
His daughter Rosemary, who has her own holistic veterinary practice in Colts Neck, NJ, reflecting on her time working at (and running) her Dad's clinic in the early 90s, remembers “a lot of fun and crazy stuff.” Cases included dogs with gunshot wounds, dogs that fell into boiling water, and a severely malnourished monkey that had been fed only bananas.
Rosemary Manziano was born in 1956, just four years after her father purchased the clinic. She spent a significant portion of her life working at the clinic and learning her father’s craft. As the age of 16, she was already sewing up animals.
“My father was very serious, and my uncle Dr. John Manziano (who also worked with us) was funny. My father was Mr. Doctor, and my uncle was more laid back, smoking a cigarette and resting it on the side of a counter. He was a wonderful guy.” Rosemary recalls.
When it was time to attend college, Rosemary followed in her father’s footsteps by enrolling in the veterinary program at the University of Pisa. When she graduated, she began working immediately with her father and uncle. Later, she completed post-graduate work at the University of Missouri and ran the clinic from 1991 to 1994 after her father retired.
“My father was quite an entrepreneur, a forward thinker. He was one of the first people who had a computer. I didn’t even know computers as well as he did. I’m talking 1985, maybe before that. He was always on top of things. We always had the best equipment,” said Manziano. “He really lived a full life.”
Today, the clinic is owned by Dr. Lawrence Buchholz, D.V.M. and goes by the name Animal Clinic & Hospital of Jersey City. Continuing the Manziano legacy, Roselle “Ro” Camaligan, who was a beloved technician on Rosemary Manziano’s team, now manages the animal hospital.
The clinic offers standard veterinary services in cardiology, dentistry, dermatology, oncology, radiology, vision care, and senior pet care. They also offer micro-chipping, pet nutrition guidance, wellness exams, spaying/neutering, grooming and boarding.
Dr. Buchholz treats all species of animals. Some of his strangest patients include a 14-foot python, goats brought in by the Board of Health, a falcon, and seagulls. In the nearly 20 years that he’s practiced in Jersey City, Buchholz has noticed how the community has changed.
“People are more concerned about animal care than they once were. You can tell how a city treats its people by how it treats its animals. People just care a lot more so I guess that’s good for the whole city,” said Buchholz. “In the tri-state area, we think of our animals differently than in other parts of the country. Animals sleep in our beds, for example. Around here people treat their pets like family members.”
In fact, Buchholz and his staff members have their own four-legged and furry family members. Just recently, Buchholz adopted a beagle mix from See Spot Rescued, a non-profit dog rescue based in Jersey City.
“There are tons and tons of dogs and cats that need homes,” says Buchholz, “We work with Liberty Humane Society, Hudson County Animal League, See Spot Rescued… whoever comes to us. Anyone that’s a rescue group we try to help.”
He, his wife (who is also a veterinarian), and two children also care for a hairless cat, another dog, and a hedgehog.
“A lot of our staff pets have been adopted or saved from abandonment,” said Roselle Camaligan. “I want to take them all home. I feel bad for the shelter because they’re swamped. It never ends for them.”
Camaligan and the team at the clinic have taken in several pets, including Fatty Mama, Turbo, and Mr. G.
Fatty Mama is a cat who was left in her carrier by an owner who could no longer keep her. She lives in the office above the clinic and spends quality time with Camaligan. During lunch, Fatty Mama cuddles with staff members on the sofa.
Turbo is a Russian tortoise brought to the clinic by a postal worker who happened upon her wandering in the hallway of an apartment building. So beloved is Turbo that in the summer, one of the technicians grew a vegetable garden with special vegetables just for her. When the weather is warm, Turbo wanders around the waiting room wearing a flag made from a tongue depressor to warn people that she’s coming.
Mr. G. is another cat brought in by a passerby who noticed a severe hind leg injury. At the time, Mr. G was only four weeks old and not a good candidate for amputation. He required hourly care until the surgery could be attempted. Currently, Mr. G is a seven-pound three-legged king of the castle.
And, in the Manziano spirit of simultaneously working on several fronts to forward the interests of both the human and the animal communities, the clinic is also dedicated to working with groups who are addressing the concern of feral cats.
“It seems like it’s impossible. There are just so many feral cats,” said Buchholz.
According to Jersey City spokeswoman Jennifer Morrill, the city’s feral cat population is estimated to be between 4,000 and 6,000.
“Our Chief Animal Control Officer recently picked up a cat in the Heights. Someone walking by saw that it was limping and that it didn’t look right. So the woman called it in and waited with it,” said Morrill. “Dr. Buchholz examined it and found the cat was elderly. In addition to a damaged paw, it had a serious ear infection and a variety of other issues. So instead of suffering and dying in the cold, on the street, its last moments were in caring hands, in a warm office, and pain-free.”
In mid-January, PetSmart Charities, a non-profit animal welfare organization, awarded Jersey City’s Department of Health and Human Services a $100,000 grant to provide low-cost spay/neuter surgeries for dogs and cats, many of which will happen at the Animal Clinic and Hospital of Jersey City.
“The PetSmart Charities grant [should] have a huge impact. We estimate that it will allow spay and neuter for more than 60% of the dogs and cats in the area. That means fewer animals in need of informal adoptions, fewer strays, fewer abandoned animals, and less stress on the families that care for these animals,” said Morrill.
The grant location covers spaying and neutering for dogs and cats from the area of the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail tracks to Fulton Street, as well as between Kennedy Boulevard and Garfield Avenue. This neighborhood was chosen because of the large number of strays that live there and because approximately 20% of residents live below the federal poverty guideline.
More than 1,000 dogs and cats and 150 feral cats will benefit from the grant. Pet owners, depending on their income level, will pay as little as $10 per cat and $20 per dog.
“We participated last year,” said Buchholz. “As a Jersey City vet, I’m able to work and do the job I love so I want to give back. I feel good about working in Jersey City. It’s been good to me over the years, and it’s allowed me to do something I love.”
The Animal Clinic & Hospital of Jersey City is located at 603 West Side Ave. and can be reached at 201.435.6424. For more info visit them online at jerseycityvet.com
Photos by Josh DeHonney
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