Debbie Gross Torraca

Debbie Gross Torraca, DPT, MSPT, CCRP,CCMT, Board-Certified Orthopedic Clinical Specialist Emeritus Owner and Founder

I believe EVERY dog deserves the best quality of life for the longest time possible – does not matter if they are 8 weeks of age or 18 years of age. Wizard of Paws focuses on that with every animal that walks in the door.

My education started in human physical therapy but while I was going through physical therapy school, I quickly realized that my family dog as well as all other animals could benefit from the science of physical therapy as much as people could.  As I continued with my human physical therapy career, I kept the dream of treating animals in the back of my mind while focusing on the sports medicine and orthopedics. While I was doing this, my quest for animal therapy continued and I studied as much canine anatomy, movement and treatment as I could.

Over the years, I worked at a veterinarian practice and reduced my hours at my human clinic.  At some point, I realized my mind and heart was with the animals and left the human practice. Twenty five years later, here I am.  I love working with animals and their owners in the clinic, virtually, and teaching.

I have been very fortunate to have so many people support me along my journey – and have made everlasting friends.  Our family owns two Clumber Spaniels and a rescue Cocker Spaniel, along with a multitude of salt water fish, and a chameleon.

Speaking and Publishing Highlights

Dr. Debbie Torraca has authored many chapters in veterinary textbooks, and writes for professional journals as well as magazines dedicated to the dog enthusiast. She is a regular contributor for Clean RunDog SportWorking Dog Digest, Dogs Naturally, and various breed magazines. You may have seen her on Good Morning America or heard her on Ask Martha’s Vet with Marty Goldstein. She has been quoted in many newspaper articles, television shows, professional journals, and magazines.  She has recently published ground breaking research on Degenerative Myelopathy as well.

She was a speaker at the Second,Third and Fifth International Symposiums for Veterinarians and Physical Therapists and at Brian Mulligan’s First International Symposium on her application of the Mulligan principles to dogs and produced an educational dvd on these principles with him.

She has taught at many veterinary conferences including the American College of Veterinary Surgeons (ACVS), North American Veterinary Conference (NAVC), Atlantic Coast Veterinary Conference (ACVC), and many state conferences.

A long time member of American Physical Therapist Special Interest Group, Debbie has held the office of President. She is also a member of the International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management (IVAPM).

She is one of the founders and core instructors for the first and only university-based program in canine physical rehabilitation, University of Tennessee’s Certificate Program in Canine Physical Rehabilitation. She teaches throughout the year for this program with live courses and webinars.  She is also currently an instructor at the Fenzi Dog Sports Academy and teaches throughout the year.  She leads the Canine Certificate Manual Therapy program through the University of Tennessee’s outreach program.

Dr. Torraca is available through her clinic or virtually.  To make a virtual appointment, please go to the store to set up.

Ashley LaPenta – Clinical Manager

Ashley LaPenta

I graduated from the University of Connecticut in 2015 with my Bachelor’s in Animal Science. While I was in school I worked at a veterinary clinic as a technician, and I am still working there part time. While finishing up my degree at UConn, I discovered canine rehabilitation and I was fortunate enough to get in touch with Debbie and have been working with her and the rest of the Wizard of paws staff since I graduated. I have fallen in love with canine rehab, and now I cannot imagine my life without it!! I’ve always been very drawn to animals and always knew I wanted to work with them but, I hadn’t quite found my niche until I found canine rehab and Wizard of Paws! I am now currently taking classes to get my veterinary technician license (LVT) and my Canine Rehab certification (CCRP), which I hope to complete by the end of 2019.

I, too, have animals of my own. My little shepherd/basenji mix, Nala, is a delight and a handful at 8 months old but I love her so much and will probably talk about her a lot. I also have two cats that live at home, Mackenzie and Lily. Both are getting up there in age at 11 and 16 respectively, but both are still very loving when they want to be, as cats often are.

While I was in college I played softball, and so I was very familiar with physical therapy for myself and the field really interested me, and when I discovered that there was a way to help animals in the same way I was amazed. Combining two of my passions into one has created my dream job!! I feel so honored and privileged to be apart of this team and helping dogs achieve the best quality of life possible!

Charlie Duffy -Veterinary Technician

Charlie Duffy
Charlie Duffy

I grew up in a veterinary clinic, both of my parents are veterinarians and own a private practice here in Connecticut. My entire life I have spent a significant amount of time around animals. If I was not in the clinic with my parents I was out hunting with with my dad and our family’s Brittany Spaniels.

I went to school for sports medicine and have an advanced background in anatomy and physiology. I love understanding why the body works the way it does and how proper function plays an incredible role in our (and our pets) health. Which is what led me to canine physical therapy where I found Debbie and Wizard of Paws!

Until recently I was working full time at my family’s clinic as a veterinary technician. Now, I am studying to complete my Canine Rehabilitation certification and working at Wizard of Paws under Debbie’s guidance. My goal is to offer rehabilitation at my family’s practice.

During my days outside of the office I can be found hunting, fishing, traveling, or hanging out with Burress, my Brittany Spaniel puppy, and my buddies.