Allene Gagliano, M. D.
It’s not uncommon for an office visit with Allene Gagliano, M.D., to run longer than 20 minutes.
When Dr. Gagliano sees patients at LG Health Physicians Family Medicine Buck and Family Medicine Willow Street, the conversation often turns to animals. Since her residency, the family physician has fostered, transported or adopted countless rescue dogs.
Caring for her four rescue spaniels -- and helping to find new homes for others -- is Dr. Gagliano’s main passion outside of medicine. In addition to helping her connect with patients, her dogs are a great source of companionship and stress relief.
“I count my blessings every morning,” she said. “I wake up surrounded by dogs, and I have to giggle. They entertain me, they’re always happy to see me and they love me no matter what I look like.”
Dr. Gagliano grew up in a family of animal lovers, with childhood pets that included dogs, cats, birds, rabbits and various other small mammals, a pony, a cow and even a monkey.
“My sister and I would find strays and sneak them in through the bedroom window and keep them in our room with the door closed,” she said. “It was like a zoo at our house.”
Dr. Allene Gagliano shares her home with four rescue spaniels: Remington McGruff (from left), Pipsqueak, Rum Tum Tigger and Carey.
Dr. Gagliano got her first cocker spaniel, Punkin, from a pet shop before medical school. (She has since learned a lot about pet shops, puppy mills and breeders, and now would never encourage anyone to purchase a pet.)
During residency in Pittsburgh, Dr. Gagliano met a neighbor who was involved in animal rescue. She volunteered to foster a dog, and her own involvement – and her furry family – grew from there.
Of her current canine crew, red cocker spaniel Rum Tum Tigger came first, in 2012. He lived with a homeless family in a car before landing in a high-kill shelter. “He’s the stabilizer of the family,” she said. “I can hold him, and my blood pressure goes down.”
Carey, a white cocker spaniel, was found as a malnourished stray in Baltimore. With heart problems and possible cerebral palsy, he was thought to have a limited life expectancy when he joined the family in 2014. “Everyone loves him because he’s just goofy,” Dr. Gagliano said.
Black-and-white Pipsqueak, now 14, arrived just after Thanksgiving 2015, via a flight from South Carolina with the rescue transport group Pilots ‘n’ Paws. A “love bug” with a severe heart condition, he wears a red doggie diaper due to incontinence.
Remington McGruff, a 5-year-old purebred Clumber Spaniel -- the largest breed of spaniel -- was neglected by his former family. “I’ve wanted one of these dogs since I was in med school,” she said. “They’re very rare. I wanted him to have a regal English name.”
A dog sitter takes care of the dogs when Dr. Gagliano is seeing patients. Originally from the area, she practiced in Virginia before settling in a 100-year-old farmhouse just outside Lancaster city in 2015.
“I knew the minute I drove in the driveway that this was my house,” she said. “It’s such an enchanting house, with so many charming features. I just love it.”
Dr. Gagliano recommends petfinder.com as a good starting point for people who are looking to adopt. Her future plans to expand her family include a Sussex spaniel, pit bull – “There aren’t bad dogs. There are bad owners,” she said – guinea hens and miniature donkeys.
“There will always be more,” she said.