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Mohawk Alley Brings Passion For Pet Care

Rachel Cohrs |
October 18, 2014 | 10:05 a.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

Bobby anxiously awaits being taken back to the treatment area. (Rachel Cohrs/Neon Tommy)
Bobby anxiously awaits being taken back to the treatment area. (Rachel Cohrs/Neon Tommy)
Walking into the Mohawk Alley Pet Hospital was a relaxing and inviting experience; festive Halloween decor was hung, a doormat reading “woof” greeted patients at the door, and friendly receptionists were seated with a smile. But for Corgi-Chihuahua mix Bobby, Mohawk Alley is his least favorite place on earth.

As soon as the technician came out with open arms, little Bobby visibly showed his terror. He refused to move one single step, and obstinately remained motionless, regardless of any encouragement or coaxing.

This was one of his first visits to Mohawk Alley, where his owner brought him because of the proximity after the grand opening in December 2013. “It’s a nice place. We haven’t gotten shots here yet though, so we’ll see how that goes...It’s ironic that it hurts him, but it’s good for him,” Bobby's owner said.

The journey to getting Mohawk Alley ready to treat patients like Bobby was by no means short or easy. Beyond the lobby, Mohawk Alley is a relatively new hospital with a small neighborhood cat rescue service. It is run by two driven doctors with a dream: to make owning their own clinic a reality. 

“I really didn’t sleep for six months. Or eat. There were so many more important things to do,” Mohawk Alley veterinarian and co-founder, Dr. Diane Tang, said. 

The Beginning

Tang started out working in a different industry, but didn’t find the fulfillment she was looking for. After deciding to become a veterinarian, she got a job as a receptionist at the clinic where the other Mohawk Alley co-founder, Dr. Michelle Zoryan, was working at the time. Tang attended veterinary school and interned at the clinic over the summers. After her graduation in 2011, she was hired as a veterinarian at the same clinic where she began.

Tang was born in the Phillipines and is half-Chinese. From these cultures, she drew inspiration and a desire to open her own business. 

“Back in the day, they didn’t have big corporations for you to work for. You just opened up your own thing...I wanted something I could put my stamp on and call my own,” Tang said. Zoryan shared her vision and passion for animal care, and Mohawk Alley Animal Hospital was born.

Mohawk Alley Animal Hospital shows its Halloween spirit. (Rachel Cohrs/Neon Tommy)
Mohawk Alley Animal Hospital shows its Halloween spirit. (Rachel Cohrs/Neon Tommy)

Opening up a clinic was a bit more complicated than they had anticipated: the pair had their licenses, found a building, and got a contractor, but the work didn’t end there. There were countless permits and details to take care of.

“Everything was unexpected. We didn’t know about all the little intricacies,” Tang said. 

The Vision

Finding passionate people was an essential part setting up the clinic, and something that both Tang and Zoryan didn’t want to compromise. Although most people in the industry like animals, they wanted to find people who shared their vision of providing really excellent animal care. “The patients are already so nervous, we don’t want to add to it by having bad vibes or energy around,” Tang said.

Fortunately, their search was a success. Tang listed the staff as one of her favorite parts of coming to work every day.

The pair also want to give back to the community, and decided an effective way to do that would be opening up a “Kitty Rescue Room.” They take in stray cats from the neighborhood, make sure all their vaccinations and health needs are taken care of, and then try to get the cats adopted. Due to limited space, Mohawk Alley can’t take in every stray that comes along, but they try to make an impact on the scale that they can. 

READ MORE: Los Angeles Mulls Allowing More Pets Per Household

Sometimes, the team gets attached to the rescue animals. “Whenever we have pets come in from the rescue, we always are scrambling and fighting for who gets to name them. I don’t know that the names always last, but it’s at least nice to give them names and personalities while they’re staying here,” Tang said.

Mohawk Alley’s efforts to improve how they run things hasn’t ended, and Tang hopes they never do. Whether it comes to streamlining lab procedures or making appointments, “every day if you’re not striving to be better, you’re just becoming complacent,” Tang said.

For Zoryan and Tang, the clinic is the realization of a dream. Tang has found the job satisfaction she was seeking, and loves everything about working at Mohawk Alley.

“Except the paperwork. I really don’t like doing paperwork,” Tang remarked.



Craig Gillespie directed this true story about "the most daring rescue mission in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard.”

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