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woman with his service dog


Nonantum Veterinary Clinic

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Those of us with pets (or service dogs!) understand that veterinary care can be expensive. Some members of the CPL community push the limits with the number of pups in their furry families, but imagine having to pay for vet care for 60 puppies each year! CPL has about 60 puppies in their first year of training annually. That means 60 sets of vaccinations, wellness visits, flea/tick and heartworm preventative, spays/neuters, Penn Hip x-rays, and more. To help offset this cost, CPL enlists veterinary sponsors who provide these services free of charge for one, or sometimes multiple, CPL puppies during their first year of training.

One of our earliest and most engaged veterinary sponsors is the Nonantum Veterinary Clinic in Landenberg, PA. Nonantum has sponsored more than 40 CPL puppies in the many years they have been a part of the CPL family. Nonantum is a small animal veterinary practice with six doctors which has recently “evolved into a modern practice in a beautiful new facility.” In a statement from their website, “The physical change has been enormous, but we remain committed to a practice philosophy that the Nonantum staff and clients have developed together over many years: to provide the best patient care in a compassionate, enjoyable learning environment.”

In addition to the clinic sponsoring CPL puppies, Dr. Suzanne Michel, an associate veterinarian at Nonantum, serves as CPL’s kennel veterinarian. In 2001, after years of working with Nonantum, CPL Executive Director, Darlene Sullivan, made a request for a kennel veterinarian and Dr. Michel jumped at the chance to fill that need. She told us she wanted, “to serve a larger need out in the community. I feel that the relationship has been a ‘win-win-win-win’ for the CPL dogs (and cats and guinea pigs), for Nonantum, for CPL as an organization, and for me!”

Dr. Michel graduated from Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine and practiced as an equine veterinarian for 12 years before transitioning to small animal practice. After three years of relief work for several practices, Dr. Michel joined Drs. Deborah Roberts and Chris Manning at Nonantum. Dr. Michel travels to CPL each month to examine the kennel dogs in addition to all the new puppies in CPL’s breeding program before they leave at 8 weeks of age for their puppy homes.

Nonantum then performs Penn Hip x-rays, takes care of any in-hospital cases, and performs the occasional C-section for breeding program dogs. Dr. Michel says, “It has been a delight to see the breeding program grow over the years and to witness the puppies’ amazing transition into talented service dogs! It has been a great pleasure to be associated with CPL for over 15 years, and to see the organization grow and provide such a wonderful opportunity for those in need to maintain their independence.”

Dr. Deborah Roberts, an owner and partner at Nonantum has this to say about the clinic’s relationship with CPL. “For 26 years, it has been our great privilege to know and help care for the wonderful animals (and their people) who make CPL’s mission possible. We see firsthand the devotion and selflessness of puppy raisers, the courage and determination of service dog owners, and the loving care of families who adopt released or retired service dogs. We honor you all on our Canine Partners wall of fame here at our clinic.  The Canine Partners for Life graduation ceremonies are among the most moving events of my adult life. All of you are an inspiration to all of us who cheer you on from the sidelines!”

If you, or anyone you know would like to assist CPL as a veterinary sponsor, please contact Puppy Program Coordinator, Jen Swank at or 610-869-4902 ext. 226.

CPL also works with a corporate partner to offset the veterinary costs for our dogs. For the past several years, Merial has provided in-kind donations of vaccinations as well as flea/tick and heartworm preventative for the puppies in our program who do not have vet sponsors, as well as pups in their second year of training at CPL’s campus.