Doc at the Doorstep

House-Call Vet Will Show Up Anytime to Ensure Your Companion Animals Are Healthy

By A.J. Giangola--Special to New York Resident

A man has kept a dead cat in his Upper East Side kitchen freezer for a few months. Take heart. The city does not have a Jeffrey Dahmer of the animal set walking Second Avenue. We do have Dr. Larry Putter (917-762-8389), a talented veterinarian who will jump the moon--and rearrange his refrigerator--for devoted clients and their pets.

In the case of the expired feline marking time next to the Haagen Dazs, the cat's distraught owner, a client of Putter's, couldn't decide between burial or cremation. Interpreting the saw "the customer is always right"--in the broadest sense, Putter held the cat until its owner chose an appropriate funeral. "New York is a busy place, but it can also be a lonely place," Putter said. "When people have animals to fill a void in their lives, it can create a tremendous bond."

Keenly understanding and appreciating the complex connection between human being and pet, Putter is one of only a handful of New York vets who makes house calls. In the past 10 years, he has visited Maria Buncick's apartment well over 100 times to care for her cats. During beloved Mau Mau's fight with cancer, Putter was a fixture at Buncick's kitchen table, setting up shop to take blood and administer chemotherapy once a week. "It was like a Red Cross station in here," Buncick recalled. At 17, after beating the cancer for three years, the spirited Mau Mau took a turn for the worse. Buncick summoned Putter. Foilowing a full day at his "other" job--performing emergency medicine--he consoled Maria for several hours. Mau Mau was put to sleep at 2:30 a.m. "Nobody else would do that," Buncick said. "You try to keep a clinical face. But it is hard when you become close to the families," Putter said. Putter grew up in Bayside, Queens, a lover of nature and animals. He had a shepherd-husky dog and "an epiphany" to become a vet. He graduated from Cardozo High School, attended McGill University in Montreal, and earned his veterinary degree at Tufts.

He is at ease removing a tumor from a hedgehog or curing a bunny's eye ulcer. Treating humans, however, would be too intimidating, he says.

Fido's Physician: Putter provides home pet care

Vet house calls make a lot of sense for big-city denizens. People such as Buncick can have multiple pets. A dog can be humongous--like 120-pound Kiera, a Tosa Inu purebreed resembling a Rhodesian Ridgeback and now on a highfiber diet for gastrointestinal relief. Of course, there are the special cases, such as the Brazilian restaurateur with two exotic male cats. The felines, who are part Malaysian leopard, enjoy climbing the wallpaper up to the ceiling. To subdue the boys for neutering, Putter hid behind a sofa, dangled a toy, and surprised the cats with a needle jab. Soon he will declaw them.

Most house calls don't require SWAT-like maneuvers. Felicia Tashkovich recently asked Putter to check an infection on Kiera's paw. Big, lovable Kiera wagged her tail and batted around an old ball. The doctor took a look. The paw got a thumbsup. House calls "make life so much easier," Tashkovich said. "Larry will call to double check on Kiera, even on weekends. It builds a more personal relationship and much more personalized care.

Amy's Answering Machine

Messages from Mom
Dr. Putter is quoted in the popular book
Amy's Answering Machine
by comedian Amy Borkowsky.
All text and images ©2002-2024 Lawrence Putter, DVM. Site credit: Search Partner Pro.