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Westmoreland veterinary chiropractor diagnoses, treats ailing cats, dog, horses, more

| Sunday, Sept. 15, 2013, 11:51 p.m.
Brian F. Henry | Tribune-Review
Certified veterinary chiropractitioner Michael G. Savko treats patient Eddie of Apollo while veterinary technician Angela Roberts holds him at the Delmont Veterinary Hospital on Route 66 on Thursday, September 12, 2013.

Horses get excited when they see Michael Savko.

They know a relaxing treatment that helps ease pain, known as veterinary orthopedic manipulation, is on its way.

“This technique is able to pick up things I can't necessarily see with my eyes and feel with my hands,” he said.

Savko, a 1989 Penn-Trafford graduate, is a veterinary chiropractor who uses the technique to stimulate nerves and diagnose problems that originate from the spine and nervous system.

He has worked on birds, lizards, rabbits and pot-bellied pigs but focuses mostly on cats, dogs and horses.

“What I'm trying to do is improve their quality of life, to some extent,” Savko said.

Savko studied at West Virginia University but didn't findhis passion before he first visited a chiropractor.

His mother was diagnosed with scoliosis, and he visited David Shields Chiropractic in Delmont, worried that he might have the ailment, too.

“I didn't even know what a chiropractor was until I was in my early 20s,” he said.

The visit was inspiring.

“His presence just affected me,” Savko said. “His happiness and his passion just struck me so much, that's how I decided to become a chiropractor.”

In 1998, Savko graduated from New York Chiropractic College and worked with humans before taking a course about the veterinary method in Philadelphia.

“I was always doing people first and animals second,” Savko said, doing work on animals for about three years in addition to human chiropractics.

He is a board certified chiropractor and veterinary chiropractory, although the method he uses is different from the manual techniques used traditionally in both fields.

Dr. Elizabeth Harr, who has owned Delmont Veterinary Hospital since 2001, said the treatment, which helps trigger the immune system, is considered “alternative” to some because of its more holistic nature.

“I think a lot of (veterinarians) are focused on what they learn at school and stick to that,” she said, but Harr invited Savko to hold regular office hours at the clinic because of his success with many patients.

As he treated Aspen, a 16-month-old Newfoundland, the chiropractor explained how he was able to diagnose a problem with the dog's right shoulder that caused a limp.

“That's tough in a young dog because they're always using their legs and jumping around,” he said.

Toni Coulter of Vandergrift has been bringing Aspen for about a year to the Delmont facility, one of four locations at which Savko holds appointments.

“As soon as we started seeing Dr. Savko, it started getting better,” she said.

Other pet owners praised Savko, who is only one of a few veterinary chiropractors in the area.

Gloria Frick of Plum has had Savko treat four dogs: one with ear infections, another with muscle spasms, a third with a bulging disc in its back, and the fourth with fractured vertebrae.

Savko not only works in a professional manner, but in a way that makes both the pets and their owners feel at ease, Frick said.

“He's really there for the animals,” she said.

Danielle Fusco of Plum had to weigh tough decisions about how to continue to care for her then-3-year-old miniature dachshund Cheyanne, which developed a bulging disc in its back about two years ago.

The dog had to be under constant supervision and in diapers once the ailment rendered her hind legs paralyzed.

After a number of months of treatment, Cheyanne runs, jumps, sits and is back to normal.

“She's a true miracle,” Fusco said, praising the chiropractor for his work and straightforward manner. “He's so down-to-earth and such a great person.”

Savko said he is glad he is able to harness his passion for his work into a better quality of life for not only the animals, but the owners who love them.

Stacey Federoff is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6660 or sfederoff@tribweb.com.

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