The ARK at JFK: Ready for takeoff

March 20, 2017
Mindy Valcarcel, Editor, Medicine Channel Director
Mindy Valcarcel, Editor, Medicine Channel Director

Mindy Valcarcel is the Medicine Channel Director for, Vetted and dvm360 magazine.

Veterinary hospital located within the ARK at JFK at John F. Kennedy International Airport is preparing for a flood of first-rate service for all domesticated species.

All aboard for the ARK. (Photo by Anthony ARK at JFK provides all things for all creatures great and small-boarding, quarantine facility, veterinary care-all in a refurbished airport terminal at one of the busiest airports in the world. The facility is accessible without entering the airport-and parking is free! Some aspects are operational now, while others should be ready this summer.

The imports and exports

Equine export stalls at the ARK. (Photo by Anthony ARK Import-Export Center, which includes the ARK Pet Oasis, equine export and in-transit quarantine center, has already begun its first phase of services:

  • The ARK Pet Oasis provides a place for companion animals travelling through JFK to get the rest, care and attention that they require.

  • The equine export stable offers luxurious stalls enabling horses to rest before flight as required by the USDA.

  • An in-transit aviary quarantine allows shippers to route avian shipments through JFK. The birds are cared for within the bonded and biosecure quarantine rooms for several hours to overnight.

The lobby of the ARK Pet Oasis. (Photos by Anthony next phase of the center's services will start Spring 2017 and include:

  • An equine import quarantine-48 state-of-the-art, independent quarantine stalls for horses entering the United States, fulfilling the need for mandatory quarantine.

  • An avian quarantine center, providing facilities for 30-day quarantine of pet and commercial birds entering the U.S.

The boarding

Coming later this year is a large pet resort called Paradise 4 Paws, featuring 24-hour cageless boarding for dogs and cats, training and grooming. And don't forget the most fun part of a vacation for all kids in the family, four-legged or not-the swimming pools.

The veterinary hospital

One of our own veterinary hospital design aces, Heather Lewis, AIA, NCARB, of Animal Arts in Boulder, Colorado, is preparing the veterinary hospital for prime time, which will be called AirHeart Pet Hospital at the ARK at JFK. Expected to be ready by summer 2017, it is part of the Compassion-First Pet Hospitals group that also includes Red Bank Veterinary Hospital in Tinton Falls, New Jersey.

If some unfortunate incident or illness should befall a pet while boarding on the ground at the ARK or during flight, they can be whisked right over to the hospital for top-notch veterinary care. The hospital will also be a much-needed resource for the required veterinarian-authorized health certificates and documentation necessary for domestic and international pet travel.

And the hospital is not just for pets whose owners are off for a high-flying adventure. The hospital will also provide general wellness and emergency care for pets from JFK and the surrounding community-the JFK employees, the Port Authority and the surrounding Queens, New York, community. Lewis says, “The JFK airport employs about 60,000 people-which is remarkable-so it is really a town.”

Another beneficiary of the compassionate veterinary care will be the dogs that work at the airport-the police dogs, the TSA dogs, the bomb sniffers-those true heroes of the terminal that you always want to pet so badly but can't because, “Hey, I'm working here.”

A few design details: The finished hospital will take up just 6,000 square feet of the massive 178,000 square-foot ARK complex. “It is mostly a general practice right now but has specialty elements-the surgery rooms are very nice, well outfitted,” says Lewis. “There will be opportunities for diagnostics to be performed on the site as well-ultrasound, x-ray and some in-house lab work. So it will be a very hardworking hospital for the square footage.

“I do think that the idea of veterinary care on airport property in itself is pretty innovative and pretty brilliant,” continues Lewis. And the ground-up building within the hangar is exciting for Lewis as well. “We're getting a chance to really design it as efficiently as possible.”