a 2002 graduate of Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine, created WVG from a vision in 2008. His legacy lives on, “Improving the lives of pets and their humans”.


Dr. Mike graduated with a doctor of veterinary medicine from Ross University in 2002. Dr. Mike Rushed into veterinary ownership with a “spirit with a vision” that began with a housecall practice out of the back of his Toyota Tacoma. He bought Animal Birth Control in Lomita on April 1, 2008, renaming it Western Veterinary Group and eventually relocating to Torrance. Today, WVG cares for every pet that comes through the doors with the same kindness and compassion for which Dr. Mike was known.

Dr. Mike slipped through a crack in the universe on December 9, 2017, well before his time. He will be forever loved and forever missed in the hearts of animals and their owners everywhere.


Thank You from Shanna and Family,

Dear WVG Friends and Family,

Thank you from the very bottom of my heart to everyone who attended – in person or in spirit – Mike’s memorial on January 21. I wish I had had the presence of mind to pause for a second before speaking and really take in all your faces. I’m so grateful that I got to speak to so many of you and grieve together, and I very much look forward to meeting those of you I haven’t yet. I can hardly begin to tell you all how very much your support and love for my husband, and our family by extension, means to me.

More than ever, I want to assure you that Western Vet Group will continue as part of Mike’s legacy, and our doors will always be open as a second home to you and the furry ones you love – the same as it is a second home to Dani, Hannah, Kiki, Drew and myself. I can’t promise you won’t feel the void of Mike’s absence because how could you not? We all feel it. But I can promise you that every single doctor, technician, technician assistant, receptionist, manager, and administrator lives Mike’s vision every single day at WVG.

For those of you who had very special one-on-one relationships with Mike, please know that there is absolutely no interruption in McKenzie’s position as patient care liaison, and she looks forward to seeing you through this difficult transition. The WVG staff and I hope you’ll also reach towards others on our care team and see us as extensions of my husband and the exceptional level of care, compassion and medical expertise he practiced. There isn’t a single person on our WVG team who doesn’t carry a piece of Mike in his or her heart, and together with you, we can all help each other heal.

In an effort to help you find a path to the other special members of our care team, over the next few weeks you’ll notice a few new additions to the WVG home when you come through our doors. On the wall in the lobby, you’ll see photos and names of all of our truly outstanding veterinarians. Personally and professionally, I couldn’t ask for a better group of people to lead our medical team. Mike’s photo will be featured as WVG founder, followed by Dr. Anne-Marie Reikes – Medical Director, Dr. Eileen Ng, Dr. Tiffaney Higashi, and Dr. Lisa Mori. I also encourage you to take a look at our staff page on the WVG website, so you are familiar with the faces taking care of your pets behind the scenes: http://westernvetgroup.com/staff.html

I realize too that many of you may not know each other, but I’d like you to. We are all part of a shared experience at WVG, so I encourage you to talk to one another in the lobby and share your stories. For those of you willing, our staff will take a quick photo of your pet with you and/or one of our doctors or staff members. We will start featuring your pictures in a perpetual slideshow on the television screen in the lobby. Mike was extremely good at organizing and sharing our Zareski family pictures, and it’s just as important that we do the same with our WVG family photos.

Soon, we will also be posting the core values for Western Vet Group. Mike’s original list of 5 has existed since April 1, 2008, when he and I clinked coffee mugs filled with cheap champagne in the treatment room of Animal Birth Control toasting the purchase of his first vet practice. I know you’ll recognize them in your memories of Mike and also in the care your pet receives from every single member of our team.

  1. Provide Exceptional Veterinary Care
  2. Pride in the work we do day in and day out. Belief that our efforts really do make a difference in the lives of our patients and their owners.
  3. Unquestionable Passion for Animals
  4. Enjoyable work environment with respect and integrity for each team member.
  5. Sense of community.

While not part of the WVG vision or Mike’s core values for the practice, I want to sign off with some words from Mike’s favorite band, Rush. Manny – WVG Technician Supervisor, shared a love of music with my husband and saw Mike in these words:

Album – Hold Your Fire

Hold your fire
Keep it burning bright
Hold the flame
‘Til the dream ignites
A spirit with a vision
Is a dream with a mission

– Rush

Shanna, Dani, Hannah, Kiki, Drew, cats Delilah & Skippy, and all of our WVG care team