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WOOLWICH — Philadelphia Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins is no stranger to rehabilitation.
After being sidelined with a string of injuries for nearly half of the 2010 season, he worked his way back to health in time for a playoff run.
On Saturday, Rollins and his wife, Johari, as well as hundreds of Phillies fans, attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a state-of-the-art rehabilitation facility that’s not for athletes or fans, but rather for their four-legged friends. The new Johari & Jimmy Rollins Center for Animal Rehabilitation brings cutting-edge treatments to the Saint Francis Veterinary Center and Swedesboro Animal Hospital on Kings Highway in Woolwich, where the couple have been taking their dogs for years.
“The human body has to be in balance and so does an animal’s body, and they don’t get there by themselves,” the three-time All-Star said.
Rollins said he didn’t know much about animal rehabilitation until finding Kato, a male Akita, laying in the backyard, barely about to walk. The dog was diagnosed with a degenerative spinal condition and the couple asked Dr. Mark Magazu, chairman of the Saint Francis Veterinary Center, to do everything he could.
A twice-a-week rehab regimen — including therapeutic laser treatments, treadmill work and walks on hills — was developed for the dog.
“Seeing the progress he would make with rehab every week was amazing,” Johari Rollins said.
Dr. Mark Newkirk explained that the center’s underwater treadmill is a key piece of equipment for such rehabilitation because it gives the animals buoyancy, which takes pressure off their joints during treatment.
Additionally, the facility uses a dry treadmill with a computerized belt to analyze an animal’s gait, which can be used to track its progress. For those seeking alternative healing methods, the facility includes a room for acupuncture, complete with candles and a machine that plays soothing sounds.
Newkirk said the facility is one of only two offering such amenities in South Jersey and the only one in the tri-county area (the other one is near Atlantic City).
As for the Rollins’ dog, Kato went from whimpering on the ground to running like nothing was ever wrong until his death at age nine in October.
“They did a great job to improve the quality of life before he finally passed,” Rollins said.
The couple is considering taking in another furry companion for their surviving Akita, Kayla, which their 11-month-old daughter, Camryn, absolutely adores.
When the opportunity came for the couple to lend their names to the center, Rollins said the decision was a no-brainer.
“They are the perfect partner for our animal rehabilitation center,” Magazu said.
A spokesman for the center declined to disclose the amount donated by the couple.
Phillies owner David Montgomery and Reps. Frank LoBiondo, R-N.J., Pat Meehan, R-Pa., and Chaka Fattah, D-Pa., also attended the opening.
Reach Andy McNeil at firstname.lastname@example.org or (856)486-2458.
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