During its 38-year history, North Mecklenburg Animal Hospital has evolved into one of the largest and most comprehensive companion animal hospitals in the Lake Norman Area, serving as a center for surgery, urgent care services, and general medicine.
Dr. Robert Gochnauer and Dr. Karen Karaffa, founded North Mecklenburg Animal Hospital in 1976 in a small house in Cornelius where they focused primarily on farm animals, with pets as a smaller part of the practice. The site of the hospital was devastated by fire in 1980 and moved temporarily to the building in Davidson currently known as Campania restaurant. In 1981 they moved to 19126 Statesville Road in Cornelius, NC where the hospital remains today.
In 1996, Dr. John Schaaf purchased the building and small animal portion of the practice. The hospital was still used for performing surgeries on cattle and horses until the last dairy in Mecklenburg County closed in 1998. Dr. Gouchnauer then relocated his large animal practice to Troutman. The equine veterinarians continued to use the barn until 2011 when it was renovated, to house our professional grooming facility.
Dr. James joined North Mecklenburg Animal Hospital in 1998, after moving to the Charlotte area from England where he practiced in downtown London. He is originally from South Africa, a graduate of the University of Onderstepoort in Pretoria, South Africa. Dr. James grew up attending farm calls with his father who was a prominent veterinarian in Southeast South Africa.
Dr. Paul Kritzinger joined the hospital in 1999. Dr. Kritzinger is also from South Africa. He and Dr. James were longtime friends and classmates at the University in Onderstepoort. Dr. Kritzinger grew up in Namiba. He also spent six years in an urban practice in London before moving to North Carolina.
In 2004, Dr. James and Dr. Kritzinger became partners in the hospital.
From the beginning, the three partners had a passionate vision to create a modern center for the wellness and healing of animals that honored the bond of love between them and their people. In 2005 they began earnestly working to design such a center. What resulted was a dynamic concept created by a team of architects, engineers and the North Mecklenburg Animal Hospital veterinarians. Ground was broken on the project in October 2011 and it was completed in early 2014.
The hospital houses twelve specially designed examination rooms, three surgical suites, a special procedures room for cancer chemotherapy, and a dedicated dental suite with three dental “chairs”. There is a newly renovated area with individual suites for boarding dogs and a separate tranquil cat condo area for our beloved felines. Every effort was made in the design to eliminate fear and anxiety of the patients and their owners.