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Forest Hills vet makes house calls

Anyone who has tried to cram a recalcitrant cat into a carrier to go for a checkup has likely wondered why veterinarians do not make house calls.

But the Mobile Veterinary Unit on Metropolitan Avenue in Forest Hills does exactly that.

Its hours are by appointment for house calls, pick-up and delivery, but the veterinarian sees office patients between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. and again in the late afternoon between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. A vet technician makes the house calls between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m.

It treats cats and dogs for typical services, such as spaying and neutering, as well as surgery and vaccinations.

"The practice was founded in 1975 by Drs. Charles Kaufman and Kent Jaffe. Dr. Kaufman thought there were a lot of people, especially older people or those without transportation, who can't go easily to a vet," said Dr. Oswald Rojas, who was filling in while the regular vet, Dr. Howard Nachamie, was on vacation.

The practice is one of three offices in Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island to operate on the principle that New Yorkers might need a hand getting a large breed dog or a yowly cat to the vet.

"In the beginning, Dr. Kaufman traveled all over the five boroughs. Later, he refused to go to Manhattan because of the traffic, but for a short time he went," Rojas said.

Maureen and Michael Tinnirello have been bringing their pets to the clinic for more than two decades.

"This is our fifth pet coming here," Maureen Tinnirello said.

Their 18-year-old cat, Patty, has been losing weight, which worries them, and he sat nervously in his carrier awaiting his visit with Rojas.

"Cats hide problems, hide symptoms. They come to us at the last minute," said Rojas, who suspected Patty's weight loss might stem from a thyroid problem. "A blood test can reveal the problem."

Patty kept mostly still and very quiet on the examination table, even when vet technician Hugo Goenaga drew a blood sample for testing and while Goenaga and Rojas clipped Patty's claws, which Maureen Tinnirello said was typical.

"He even lets me vacuum him. It's so bad I have to put him out in the yard to vacuum the house," she said.

When the visit was completed, Patty sat in his carrier on the floor as office cat Gracie sniffed him out and his owners paid for the visit.

The office accepts American Express, Discover, MasterCard and Visa. A typical office visit costs $50, but the fee climbs if other services, such as vaccinations, are provided.

The Mobile Veterinary Unit is located at 105-06 Metropolitan Ave. near 72nd Avenue in Forest Hills. For more information, call 718-575-5152.

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