OXFORD, CT–The towns of Seymour and Oxford recently congratulated Dr. Tara Nanavati for providing 35 years of service to the Valley community, and its animals in need. The Seymour Board of Selectmen presented him with a plaque during the monthly meeting in Town Hall in summer, while a similar presentation took place the week prior in Oxford.

Nanavatis with plaqueDr. Nanavati opened a veterinary practice in 1980 when he converted a former hot dog stand on the Ansonia-Seymour line into a small veterinarian office. He promptly began rescuing animals in precarious situations: a dog stuck on an icy pond near the Naugatuck River in Seymour; an injured swan who had swallowed a fish hook and required surgery; and helping to care for the puppy named Amazing Grace, a victim of abuse. Just a few weeks ago, a kitchen fire severly damaged an Ansonia house, and the two dogs residing there needed a place to stay while their owners recovered for several days. They were taken to the Ansonia Animal Hospital and to Dr. Navavati’s care.

He has helped many of the region’s animal shelters and animal control officers, run rabies clinics with proceeds donated to charitable causes, including St. Michael’s Church in Derby, the Methodist Church in Seymour after a devastating fire, the Woodbridge Dog Pound and the Ansonia Nature & Recreation Center.

During the last five years, Dr. Nanvati has taken on charitable work that extent well beyond the region. In 2010, he collected 3,000 pounds of medical supplies, clothing, bedsheets, shoes, and toiletries for the survivors of the recent earthquake in Haiti. The donations were picked up by the Haiti Relief Fund Inc. of Lynbrook, New York. In 2011, he followed up with a collection for the Japan Tsunami victims, and he helped with the settlement of Nepalese refugees in the region. In late August 2013, he completed another clothing and personal item collection to benefit the survivors of the Oklahoma tornadoes that killed 23 people and injured nearly 400 earlier that May. The Salvation Army of Hamden picked up more than 100 boxes and furniture that were donated and stored by Dr. Nanavati.

For Dr. Nanavati, the collections and donations bring an immense sense of satisfaction, since he knows what it is like to lose a home and live in a tent city: This happened when he was a child in India, and he still remembers the horrible living conditions. Like many immigrants, Dr. Nanavati left his native India for the United States young (30), eager to establish a practice, and nearly penniless ($100 in his pocket). He had studied veterinary medicine at the University of Udaipur in India, and continued his studies in Virginia while working for a veterinarian. He passed the state board exams in 1978, then began a one-year internship in Kentucky with another veterinarian.

In 1980, Nanavati settled in the Valley, opened his veterinarian practice, and returned to India to marry four years later, bringing his wife to America. In 1988, he opened the Ansonia Animal Hospital at 876 South Main Street in Seymour. Three years later, he renovated a house at 105 Oxford Road (Route 67) and opened a second animal hospital there. Nanavati now splits his time between the two busy offices.

Nanavati, an Orange resident, is joined at his practice these days by his wife, and Becky Mahon, a veterinary assistant who has been a staple at the animal hospital for nearly eight years. She said there are numerous adult cats and kittens available for adoption; call 203-735-9915 for more information. She said she has a soft spot for the cats and has taken home a few over the years, as well as provided foster homes for several cats and dogs. The Clinic Cats, a well-fed group of felines who found their way to Dr. Nanavati – and to Becky – and have never left.

When asked what he plans to do, now that he has completed 35 years of service, Dr. Nanavati said he will try to make it to 40 years, since there is always an animal, and a community, in need.