Our Story

Mahwah Veterinarian Groom & Board is a family business founded by Dr. Rita Rivero, Jan Rivero, and Joe Owens, but you’ll encounter the whole Rivero/ Owens gang (kids and all!) on the premises here at 346 Forest Rd. Dr. Rita, Jan, and Carmen are the Rivero sisters, born and raised in Brazil by their pet activist mother Wanuza. The three sisters have lived their whole lives surrounded by pets because Wanuza rescued unwanted pets, big and small. In the early 80s, Joe Owens found himself in Rio de Janeiro on the international tour of West Side Story, where it was love at first sight between him and Carmen.

The whole bunch followed Joe back to New Jersey in the late 80s, where Dr. Rita founded Demarest Veterinarian, Jan founded Jan’s Dog House in Demarest, and Joe and Carmen got married and founded Kidz Musik (educational music classes for kids, including songs about kindness for pets and all living things). Jan’s husband Ed Ramalho, a high ranking retired officer from the Brazilian Navy, is also on staff, combining his love for pets and disciplinary skills to launch a state of the art Dog Training School here at Mahwah Veterinarian Groom & Board in the future.

In their experience in the pet care industry, Jan and Dr. Rita saw a need and wanted to come up with the solution. Why should pet owners have to go to three or four different places to get their pets medical care, grooming, boarding, day care, etc.? Why not go to one reliable place? Well, Dr. Rita and Jan looped in their brother-in-law, Joe, who with his many years of experience as a business owner, was up for the challenge. However, with a whole family as passionate about pets as this one, no one wanted to be left out, so you’ll meet everyone on site! Thus, Mahwah Veterinarian Groom & Board was born— your one stop shop for all your pet’s needs.

Our Staff

Dr. Rita Rivero - DVM & Co-Founder
Dr. Rivero (the eldest of “The Three Brazilian Sisters”) received her D.V.M. from the University of Oklahoma and was the Veterinarian In Attendance with the American Kennel Club and Kennel Club of Northern New Jersey, All Breed Dog Show. She is also the owner and head veterinarian of Demarest Veterinarian and has been serving Bergen County for years. What makes Dr. Rivero stand out is her effort to to provide the best possible care to patients unconditionally. In 2016 she started the Wanuza Pinheiro Cruz Animal Medical Care Foundation to provide pro bono and low cost care to patients in need, in honor of her late mother who was an animal activist. Dr. Rivero believes that her patients are entitled to the same quality of service that any human would expect of his or her own care.

Jan Rivero - Co-Founder & Director of Grooming Department
Jan Rivero (the youngest of “The Three Brazilian Sisters”) has been a groomer for over 10 years and received her groomer certification in 2007 from the NY School of Dog Grooming. Her care and pure compassion for animals is what sets her apart from other groomers. Jan has pets of her own and understands how some can feel uneasy when they're away from home so she treats your pets with extra special care to make them feel as comfortable in our salon as possible.

Jan is also the Owner and Head Groomer of Jan’s Dog House in Demarest and oversees our entire grooming department to ensure that your pet has the most pleasant grooming experience possible.

Wanuza Pinheiro Cruz AMC Foundation

Dear Animal Lover,

It is my pleasure to introduce the  Wanuza Pinheiro Cruz Animal Medical Care Foundation Inc. We are a federally-recognized 501(c)3 not-for-profit institution whose mission is to provide healthcare to companion animals in under-served parts of New Jersey.

This organization was founded to subsidize free and low cost veterinary care to animals who require treatment beyond routine medical care. American pet owners spent $14.37 billion on general and specialty veterinary care in 2013. This figure represents a 5.1 percent increase from $13.67 billion in 2012. The  WPCAMC Foundation was created  in response to the growing concern that many dogs and cats are being left behind, with lifesaving medical care denied to them simply because their owners can’t afford it.  Many of these animals are euthanized despite the fact that they could live full and rich lives with proper treatment.

Dr. Rita Rivero, our President, has provided pro bono veterinary care for years through her private practice. With the establishment of this  foundation,  we  hope  to  create a  new  kind of veterinary  healthcare  institution  designed  around  the needs of neglected and underserved populations.


Our short term goal is to support the  work of  rescue  groups and to provide direct aid to responsible pet owners. Our long term goals are as follows:

  1. Implement free mobile popup clinics inside under-served neighborhoods
  2. Build a state-of-the art medical facility in New Jersey
  3. Promote prevention and well-being with community outreach and education
  4. Create an advocacy arm to lobby for animal welfare issues

Thank you for your consideration.  If you have any questions or would like an in-person meeting, please feel free to contact us any time. We need your help to improve the lives of New Jersey’s companion animals.

We offer internship opportunities for students interested in becoming veterinarians. Please contact us if interested.

Please make check payable to Wanuza Pinheiro Cruz Animal Medical Center Foundation. If you would like to make a direct donation, please call us at (551) 223-2256.

Wanuza Pinheiro Cruz Animal Medical Care Foundation, Inc.

Contact Us / Make a Reservation

Mahwah Veterinarian Groom and Board is open year-round. Please call or text us at (551) 223-2256 with any questions or to make your reservation.