Monday, July 23, 2007

Vet Wars in NYC

DON'T miss this fascinating article in the New York Times about the "new kid in town" in veterinary referral centers:

WHEN his 6-year-old St. Bernard developed a limp, Seth Weinstein noticed immediately. A real-estate developer who has never married, he takes his 140-pound dog everywhere, from job sites to his home in Stamford, Conn., and to his pied-à-terre on Central Park West.

A veterinarian on the Upper West Side gave Mr. Weinstein the bad news — X-rays showed a likely tumor on Molly’s left leg, which could mean amputation. The veterinarian offered Mr. Weinstein two choices of animal hospitals with the best specialists in the city.

He knew of one, the Animal Medical Center on East 62nd Street, long recognized for its pioneering treatments and its annual Top Dog charity gala attended by Manhattan’s social elite. At one soiree,
Barbara Walters told of how Brooke Astor, an honorary trustee, famously said, “If I ever get really sick, take me to the Animal Medical Center.”

Mr. Weinstein had taken a previous St. Bernard of his to the Animal Medical Center, where, he said, the dog received excellent, if slightly impersonal, care. But he was intrigued by the second choice: NYC Veterinary Specialists, a for-profit hospital that opened last fall on West 55th Street.

“As soon as I walked in,” Mr. Weinstein said, “it seem liked it was a great place. It was clean. You could pull up with your car right in front, and the receptionist was nice.”

Doctors performed a groundbreaking “limb spare” surgery on Molly, sawing off the tumor-ridden section of her radius and grafting another bone in its place, saving the leg and, by all indications so far, eliminating the cancer.

Mr. Weinstein’s choice of hospital cost the Animal Medical Center the $25,000 he has spent on Molly’s care and the chance of allowing its student doctors to learn from a fascinating case.


A new player has arrived in New York, a city more obsessed than most with its pets and willing to spend lavishly on them. While it is not quite a cat- or dogfight that has broken out between the grizzled 97-year-old Animal Medical Center and the puppy-eager NYC Veterinary Specialists, vets around the city say the two are using every weapon in their arsenals to be considered top of the heap for advanced — frequently expensive — animal care.

If the competition gets too out-of-hand, maybe they'll call in the Special Forces:

And back to the NYT, don't miss the accompanying Reader's Opinion question: To what lengths have you gone to care for your pet? Currently, the comments are at 262 and rising.....

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