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Dr. Amy Attas
Vet to the Stars
by David Tumbiri
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Dr. Amy Attas is the founding veterinarian of City Pets, a house-call only veterinarian service in Manhattan. You needn’t be the poshest pet in Metropolis to get a house-call, but you can bet that celebrities turn to her for all their animal needs. Cher, Joan Rivers, Tommy Tune, Kate Hudson, Naomi Campbell, and Wayne Gretzky among others have all summoned the good doctor to their homes or hotels to care for their canines.

For eleven years, Dr. Attas has practiced in-home services, a somewhat unique but highly prized arrangement. “Our clients, because of the nature of the business, tend to be self-selecting. They are totally devoted to their pets. People are always amazed to find out how efficient we can be on a house call. We don’t need an office – we carry everything with us. We carry a cooler with all the vaccinations and antibiotics, and I have a 29 inch Tumi suitcase with all the supplies. Everything usually stocked in a veterinary office—instruments, utensils, medicines—just not the exam table. We use kitchen counters, tables, dining room tables, whatever.”

The animal patients couldn’t be happier because they don’t have to deal with the insecurities of being in a strange environment, medicinal smells, or a waiting room full of other animals. Attas says the human clients like it, “because it doesn’t disrupt their day, they don’t have to try and hail a cab in the rain that won’t even stop for you if they see a Great Dane. Best of all, if the doctor is behind schedule, as I can be, they’re not stuck wasting the day in an office, they are at home taking care of kids, watching TV. They can be productive while they wait. Also, after we meet the client the first time, we don’t ever have to see them again. If there is a doorman or someone to let us in, once we know the pet, we just go in and do our thing, and the client never has to take the day off work, they can be out of the loop.”

The setup appeals to busy people of all stripes, especially the celebrity set. A City Pets story oft repeated is about how Cher called from the plane en route to New York from Italy (after working on Tea With Mussolini) where she had rescued a stray dog on her last day of shooting. The Diva needed Dr. Attas to see the pooch upon landing…at midnight, so off the doctor and her bag of tricks went.

Dr. Attas laughs when asked if people and pets start to look alike, “I don’t know if that holds true. Do you know what Tommy Tune looks like? He’s about seven feet tall – well he has Yorkshire Terriers. You couldn’t get much more opposite than that. I think there are two ways of looking at that. Some people do select pets they are similar to – there’s the classic Winston Churchill bulldog – but then I think some people select a pet they wish they looked like, like a very overweight person owning a Saluki. Naomi Campbell looks nothing like her dog, but I guess Kate Hudson, who has two gorgeous blondish dogs, the smaller one with a delicate, beautiful face, might be similar…and I have been told I look like a pug.” She rescues, though certainly doesn’t resemble, pugs, including Leonardo (completely blind but amazingly able) and Winston who are now part of her family.

As far as traveling with animals, Dr. Attas has mixed feelings. “We (the U.S.) maintain the highest level of health for pets and people. That’s just not the case elsewhere. People want to take their dog to the islands, for instance, but in warmer places there is a higher instance of flea and tick problems we don’t have here. People should also know that vaccine protocols don’t automatically address all things a pet might encounter outside the U.S.

“Clients should always have their animal’s medical records and know how to contact a vet at the destination before they even leave. We are in a world in flux. For international travel, rules change constantly. People should always contact the consulate themselves to know the most recent changes.

“I often think people travel with their pets because they want their pets with them, not because it is the best thing for the pet. On an airplane, people need to appreciate that it is a difficult thing for pets. Just like we get dehydrated, animals are smaller and have more body surface area proportionately, so they dehydrate even more quickly than us. In hotels, pets often need to be left alone, and most hotels don’t want that even if they say they’re dog and cat friendly. You have to think if your pet might not be more comfortable if left at home.”

[Updated: April, 2008]

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Dr Amy is so wonderful words can't describe. She saved my elderly white shepard; but the convenience, the promptness, the supreme competence and trust level that she inspires, allowed me to feel like she saved my life at the same time. Love this Vet!!
- Joan Price , New York , NY

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