The Dirt on Vets



153 Prospect Park SW brooklyn ny 11218

Neighborhood: Brooklyn, Park Slope

My cat Pancho had been throwing up for two weeks and my dog Mack was still scratching his ears after the ear mite treatment, so, in search of a new brand of cat food and some anti-itch supplements, I ended up at the local pet store just across from Prospect Park on the Southwest side. I was rung up by the owner, a fortyish woman who keeps young by using plenty of eye makeup and sporting these long fingernails that always click loudly against the cash register keys.

“Do you have Fatty Acid supplements?” I asked her.

“Yeah, right behind you, lots of it. Everyone’s Best Friend. Grizzly Salmon Oil. Lipiderm. What’s wrong with your dog?”

“He’s itchy. He’s either got allergies or some sort of yeast thing. I’m looking for this shampoo too–Chlorhexiderm Max.”

“You should try the Emu Oil. It’s the best thing for itching–the best thing. When the guy sold it to us I thought he was nuts, and now people get upset every time we run out, they come in asking, ‘do you have that stuff, the?..’ and I say, ‘The Emu Oil?’”

“Yeah, well they say the yeast feeds on oil, so I’m trying to find something that gets rid of the oil.”

The pet store owner shrugged. “What’s going on with your dog?” she asked. “Is he rubbing his chin on everything like that? Is it in his ears?”

“Yeah, and I think I got overcharged by my vet, Dr. R–”

“Wait. Wait. Now why did you even go there in the first place? That’s the real question.” She shot me an impatient look, her brow arched “I don’t want to say anything disparaging about anyone. I don’t want to give anyone a bad name. But, I’ll put it this way, his license was pulled in Queens. Do you know why? Because he was declawing a cat and it bled to death.”

“Wow. He sold me three times the medication I needed so instead I just went to the 7th Ave Vets–”

“Wait. You went to the 7th Ave. Vets?” She shook her head. “Let me put it to you this way, there are whole web pages, whole web pages devoted to problems with the 7th Ave. Vets.”

“Really? I just wanted to get away from Dr. R. because every time I went in it was two hundred bucks.”

“Let me put it to you this way, we had one Dr. R’s former vet techs come in here and she said he never used the +++++,”

“The +++++, what’s that?”

“It’s the sterilization. This girl said she never, never saw this guy wash his instruments. She’d be in there trying to wash them with hot water and he’d say, ‘No, no, you’ll rust them.’ He wouldn’t give enough anesthesia. The dog would wake up in middle of the operation.”

“Wow. What’s wrong with the 7th Ave Vets?”

“Let me put it to you this way, one of my customers took his little dog in there and he knew it was on its last legs, you know. And the vet tech left him in the room with the dog and by the time she got back it was dead. So the tech checked the dog’s pulse and said ‘Yeah, he’s gone,’ but then proceeded to, get this, shoot the dog with the stuff to put him down. They charged the guy three hundred dollars to put down a dog that was already dead. Then another friend left them her credit card to do a tooth extraction on her cat. She came back and all of her cat’s teeth were pulled and she had a thousand dollar charge. She said, ‘You were only supposed to pull one,’ and the girl at the desk said ‘oops.’”

“Are there any good vets around?”

“There is this one right around the corner. Everyone gets it mixed up because his name is Ketcher but the guy who had the office before him was Kirshberger and the guy before that was Karchner. So, I’ll get some old guy in here talking about something he did for his dog in 1960. Now, he’s good but he’s not a people person. Let me put it to you this way: I had this one woman come in, and, now, she is very, very heavy, and it’s not just a metabolism thing I’ll tell you because every time she comes in here she’s got like a piece of pizza or an ice cream cone in her hand–every time! And she came in here so indignant saying she’d never go back to Ketcher. ‘Do you know what he told me?’ she asked, and when she told me I had to keep from laughing because her pets are really overweight too–when she brings them in she’ll say ‘aren’t they beautiful’ and the dog’s belly pretty much drags on the ground, and so anyway, she said, ‘That vet told me: ‘You may want to dig your grave with your fork, Miss, but your pets don’t have to.’ ”

I took Ketcher’s card from her and walked out into a bright autumn day filled with the sounds of breeze through the trees and children shouting at the park playground. I felt lucky to have my tiny problems, my puking cat, my itchy dog.

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