SUNBURY — Dr. Anna Peterson was pleasantly surprised to watch her 14-year-old mixed-breed dog named “Wheatie” after the K-9 had just one session with Dr. Willa Weisel.
“She ran around the whole (animal) hospital after her last treatment,” Peterson said of Wheatie. “She definitely is more mobile. She has had a lot of weakness in her hind leg.”
Weisel said reactions like that are common after animals have attend chiropractic sessions with her.
A chiropractor, Weisel recently joined the staff of Sunbury Animal Hospital and treats animals on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
She holds a Doctor of Chiropractor degree, along with a certification in animal chiropractic care.
“I was born in northeast Kansas, on a farm,” Weisel said. “We had a few animals. I came to love them.”
She developed an interest in chiropractic care after her father injured both of his hips.
“The only real relief he got was from going to the chiropractor,” Weisel said. “I thought it would be a very satisfying (career). I went on to chiropractic college.”
She received her doctoral degree — to treat humans — from Palmer College in Davenport, Iowa.
“I had a professor who would sneak animals in,” Weisel said. “He would teach the importance of treating animals as well (as humans).”
Weisel noted that a veterinarian was also in her class.
“She came to chiropractic college because she saw the importance of treating animals as well,” Weisel recalled. “I thought she was really great to have that degree and sacrifice three or four years to get another degree.”
Weisel received her certification in animal chiropractic care from Palmer College in Dallas, Texas. In order to receive the certification, she said an individual must already be a chiropractor or veterinarian.
In total, she has worked as a chiropractor for 33 years, and has treated both humans and animals. Her years in the field include working for 20 years in Fresno, California.
Weisel also worked in Oklahoma, where she noted that animals do not need to receive a veterinarian’s referral to be seen by a chiropractor. Nevada is the only other state where that is the case.
Throughout her career, Weisel said a majority of animals she has given chiropractic care to are show animals or those who are involved in athletics.
“People who are involved specifically with their animals... they are very interested in having that dog perform at the highest level,” Weisel noted.
While she was working in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Weisel said a national dog agility contest was held there.
“I was invited to be the (chiropractic) doctor for the dogs,” she said. “(The competitors) really get into (the competition).”
Second to treating competition and show animals, Weisel said she treats a number of animals who have been injured or are aging.
“We can have (an animal with) a singular trauma that doesn’t put us out of commission,” Weisel said, adding that they can be treated with chiropractic care.
Before an animal at the Sunbury Animal Hospital is referred to her, Weisel said they are examined by a veterinarian.
Throughout the course of her career, Weisel has treated a variety of animals, including dogs, cats, show pigs, llamas, horses, chickens and a duck.
Chiropractic treatments given to dogs are similar to those given to humans, Weisel said.
“A dog doesn’t have a clavicle,” she said. “Beyond that, they have what (humans have). The only difference is, they have four legs.”
Weisel said chiropractic treatment helps to restore normal joint function and relieves pain. Treatment is performed by hand, in a gentle manner using little force.
Weisel noted that she and her husband, Rich, moved to Pennsylvania about one month ago to be closer to his family.
She approached Sunbury Animal Hospital, offering to provide chiropractic care to animals seen there.
“I’m amazed at how they put service first,” Weisel said, of the animal hospital. “I really admire that. It’s a good match.”