These veterinarians have seen it all — here are their stories (2024)

Veterinarians have seen it all with their furry, feathered and scaly patients.

As Courtney Bellew, the CEO of Hub Veterinary Group in Port Chester, NY, put it, the real show often happens behind the scenes.

“From anal gland explosions to the comical chaos of worm wrangling, we witness it all,” said the veterinary practice exec. But “amid the mess and mayhem, there’s a treasure trove of heartwarming and hilarious tales waiting to be shared.”

Ahead, three of those touching tales.


Saving Sonny

Bellew, who is also the founder of Special Needs Animal Rescue & Rehabilitation (SNARR) Northeast of New York in Brewster, will never forget January 2019, when SNARR took in an incredible 10-year-old golden retriever mix. Called Sonny, he’d been deemed a euthanasia case because he had a very large tumor in his mouth.

The 501(c)3 rescue decided to take in Sonny and got to work on arranging his care.

“Despite him being sick, he was as sweet as can be, and a very happy boy. His appointment with the surgeon was on a Monday, so I took him home over the weekend. It was Sunday morning and my 5-year-old came running into my room telling me, ‘Mommy, Sonny’s tumor fell out on the floor!’ ” shared Bellew.

Shocked and surprised, Bellew ran downstairs and realized her daughter was right. “A large piece of Sonny’s tumor was right there sitting on our living room floor. I panicked, checked him over and he was totally fine,” said Bellew.

Sonny had his surgery to remove the rest of his tumor, and Bellew visited him afterwards.

“They walked me back to his cage and I said, ‘I’m sorry, this is not the right dog. I am here to see Sonny,’ ” said Bellew.

The care team promptly told her the dog was, in fact, Sonny.

“He looked so different without his tumor that I didn’t recognize him. The doctor and techs all had a good laugh and said they must have done an exceptional job,” said Bellew. “Sonny went on to complete radiation treatment and lived with our family as a loved and spoiled boy for over a year.”


A purr-fect rescue

Dr. Erin Bortz, medical director at Bond Vet, a primary and urgent care veterinarian clinic with locations in New York City and beyond, recalls the time a breeder brought in a 1-week-old kitten for a foot abscess.

The cat “was covered in fecal matter as well, so we cleaned her up and treated her,” said Bortz, noting that the kitten also had one very narrow nostril. “As she got older, she continued to have respiratory issues,” explained Bortz. The breeder knew they couldn’t sell her, and at only 7 months of age, brought her in to euthanize her.

Bortz knew with the proper care, the cat’s condition could be managed, so she had the breeder surrender the cat with the hope of finding her a proper home.

“I did full diagnostics and, with those results, was able to treat her appropriately,” she said. “I reached out to the rescue [organization] from whom I rescued my own cats, and they found her a home, with owners who knew her breed and condition, and would love and care for her the rest of her very full life.”


Tapping in

Earlier this month, Dr. Matthew McCarthy, who has been in practice for 25 years and is the founder of Juniper Valley Animal Hospital in Queens, saw a very nice and happy 15-month-old white golden retriever named Willow.

While Willow was in great shape, the vet was concerned that she had become a little chunky for her age, which led to a frank discussion about slashing calories, portion sizes and putting a cap on those treats, plus upping her step count.


As McCarthy wrapped up the visit, he learned that Willow has been working with a trainer who has been teaching Willow to communicate with a buzzer. Funnily enough, the pup’s preferred buttons to smack are “feed me” and “bitch.” (“Bear in mind that “as a veterinarian, the word ‘bitch’ is a professional term,” said McCarthy.)

Apparently, if her dinner’s not on the double, she slams that “bitch” button like a disgruntled customer at a deli counter, contributing to her expanding waistline.

“I recommended that they reprogram her ‘feed me’ button to suggest a healthier option of ‘walk me,’ ” said McCarthy. “As for the ‘bitch’ button, well, some habits are just too funny to break.”


Sex, the city and Oscar

Dr. Amy Attas, of City Pets Vets in New York City, will never forget the story of Oscar, a 9-month-old Cavalier King Charles spaniel, who wouldn’t take his heartworm-prevention pills.

Oscar belonged to the Shaws, a smart senior couple in Manhattan.

“Mrs. Shaw, normally quiet and reserved, called one evening in hysterics,” said Attas, author of the upcoming book “Pets and the City: True Tales of a Manhattan House Call Veterinarian” (G.P. Putnam’s Sons; out June 18). “Oscar had gotten a vial of pills from the nightstand.”

Through the process of elimination, the couple determined the dog had gotten hold of Mr. Shaw’s Viagra

“I listened while the Shaws recounted their sexual calendar in order to determine approximately how many pills Oscar had eaten. The trip down memory lane determined this proper couple had had sex 14 times in the last 21 days,” shared Attas. “And that Oscar needed immediate medical attention.”

Thankfully, Oscar got the necessary care and was able to return to his Park Avenue digs.

Mr. Shaw wasn’t about to let the opportunity for a quip slide by, though.

“What a waste of Viagra on Oscar,” he said. “You neutered him two weeks ago!”

These veterinarians have seen it all  — here are their stories (2024)
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