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Madeline Terranova, founder of animal diagnostic lab, dies

Madeline C. Terranova of Malverne, a lifelong pet lover who started an animal diagnostic laboratory in Port Washington, died Wednesday in North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset of complications from breast cancer. She was 62.

Terranova was known in the pet world as Maddie, and veterinarians across Long Island were familiar with her and her work, said her husband, Frank.

"The thing she was very proud of was the fact that she started this lab on her own," he said, referring to American Veterinary Laboratories.

She started the lab in 1997 with about a dozen workers, and it was acquired two years ago by VCA Antech Inc. of Los Angeles, one of the largest animal health care companies in the United States. Terranova continued working for the company after it was sold, and stayed on the job until a few days before she died, her husband said.

The facility is now located in Manhasset.

"She was the most dedicated and hardworking woman I ever met," said Maria Garcia, vice president of sales and marketing at American Veterinary Supply in Bohemia. "She was also very kind. She took care of the dogs as well as she took care of her children."

Terranova was born in Hartford, Conn., and graduated from the University of Hartford with a bachelor of science degree. She worked for Roche Biomedical Labs in Raritan, N.J., where she became a manager, and left to work at Laboratory Consultants in Valley Stream before starting American Veterinary Laboratories.

Her love of animals began in childhood, her husband said. "We've always had dogs," he said, adding that she also loved wolves and contributed to funds to save wolves.

"She was a nice, caring woman and she was good at what she did," said Kelly Collins, a technician at the Nassau Animal Emergency Clinic in Westbury, who had worked with Terranova.

In addition to her husband, survivors include four children, Frank of Indiana; Terese Gergyes of Douglaston, Queens; Robert of Babylon, and Maria Gonzalez of Roslyn Harbor; a brother, Nicholas of Rocky Hill, Conn; a sister, Carmen Rioux of Florida, and five grandchildren.

Services are to be conducted at 9:45 a.m. Monday in Holy Trinity Church, Whitestone, Queens. Burial will be in Mount St. Mary Cemetery, Flushing.

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