The LIVS Story

A Dream That Came True.

In the early 1990s, Dr. Meyer “Mike” Kaplan, a well-known and beloved veterinary surgeon who owned Levittown Animal Hospital, saw that Long Island needed a veterinary specialty center. So he formed Island Veterinary Referral, operating out of Levittown Animal Hospital with Dr. John Sapienza (veterinary ophthalmologist), Dr. Rada Panich, (veterinary dermatologist), and Dr. Dominic J. Marino (veterinary surgeon).

Dr. Kaplan had it right—the demand for specialty services was so great that the new referral center soon had to relocate in order to ease crowding at the Levittown facility’s popular general practice.

Sadly, during the planning to build the new center, Dr. Kaplan was diagnosed with a fatal brain malignancy. Although he would never work at the facility that became Long Island Veterinary Specialists, he was closely involved in its development, imparting a wealth of advice to the three young, enthusiastic specialists who were committed to bringing their shared vision to fruition.

In June 1998, LIVS—Long Island’s first veterinary specialty center and fully equipped emergency and critical care hospital—opened its doors with a staff of 24 employees. Within weeks, extra telephone lines were installed to handle the heavy call volume, and the staff was nearly doubled to 40.

Since then, LIVS has continued to grow, with the original three doctors joined by talented specialists in almost every discipline. The practice has invested in sophisticated diagnostic and treatment technologies, and our specialists perform some of the most advanced procedures—from brain surgery to intraocular lens implantation, cancer therapy and allergy testing.

Today, LIVS is a respected regional resource not only for pet owners, but also for primary care veterinarians, local veterinary specialists, and even veterinary schools. We see referrals not only from the tri-state region, but also as far away as Florida, Texas, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Alaska and California.

LIVS has never closed its doors to animals in need. Nor have we ever refused a case, choosing instead to work with pet owners to help find the most cost-effective way to ensure their pet’s continued good health.

Before his passing, Dr. Kaplan visited the new facility and smiled, commenting, “I always knew it would be successful.”

LIVS – A Chronology


Solx gold shut implants used for canine glaucoma.


Canine Chiari Institute at LIVS is organized bringing together researchers in human, veterinary, biomedical engineering, and computer science in center to collaborate on a national level.


Endolaser glaucoma surgery for the treatment of primary and secondary glaucoma in dogs. The first in the NE USA.


Development of the nation’s first veterinary “Electronic Brachytherapy” program makes radiation therapy accessible and affordable for LI pets.


LIVS expands to 20,000 sq/ft and adds rehabilitation services with human physical therapists for pets and “Gate Analysis Laboratory” equipped with LI’s only computerized force plate system to assess lameness in dogs.