Pets 2010: Healthcare Services

In a city known for world-class hospitals, Boston also boasts excellent vets and animal medical facilities.

Photograph by Jessica Scranton

Photograph by Jessica Scranton

The Make-It-All-Better Mecca

Each year the Angell Animal Medical Center in Jamaica Plain treats some 51,000 patients, including zoo animals, police K-9s, and Keith Lockhart’s Labradoodle. As this nationally renowned MSPCA-run facility closes in on the century mark, we take a look at some of the people and services that make it unique.

Emergency Care: Open 24/7, Angell sees roughly 60 ER cases daily, from car accidents to “a swallowed rubber duckie,” says Dr. Kiko Bracker, whose department also encompasses intensive care — a unit founded in 1959 as the first of its kind.

Surgery: Whether it’s neutering or neurosurgery, Angell has five full-time surgeons on the case. Among them is Dr. Sue Casale (one of the few local vets certified in animal stem-cell therapy), whose most unusual cases to date include a fracture repair on a wolf.

General Medicine: This is the part that feels most like your vet’s office — that is, if your vet were right down the hall from oncologists, ophthalmologists, and other specialists, and technology like one of the nation’s few animal MRIs. Resources bonanza aside, section head Dr. Joel Kaye takes pride in Angell’s wellness program, which he helped develop and which aims to keep pets healthy through their lifespan.

Connections: Angell’s national profile stems in part from the legions of interns it trains. Longtime mentor Dr. Doug Brum, a 25-year Angell veteran, also works to strengthen the hospital’s ties to the outside world by assisting scores of local vets seeking referrals.

Mission: For every paying client, there is a homeless animal receiving the same quality of care, thanks to Angell’s role in the MSPCA. “The biggest misconception about us is that Angell makes a lot of money,” says MSPCA-Angell president Carter Luke. “But the depth of services here, the great staff — it takes charitable contributions to keep it all going.” 350 S. Huntington Ave., Jamaica Plain, 617-522-7282,

Local Vets Who Get Those Tails Wagging

Dr. Paul Constantino, South Bay Veterinary Group 
A fully digital x-ray system and an in-house lab help keep this South End clinic and its Beacon Hill satellite office on the cutting edge. But what’s earned raves for co-owner Constantino is his old-fashioned knack for handling skittish animals — a skill he says he honed as an intern at Angell. 617-266-6619,

Drs. Maija Mikkola Curtis and Emily Neenan, Harbor Vets
You can skip spelling out that trip to the “V-E-T” — these docs bring their practice to you. Bearing a creatively packed suitcase of equipment and meds, they travel across Greater Boston to visit dogs and cats in need of anything from annual checkups to hospice care. The unrushed, low-stress house calls, Neenan says, “allow us to be the doctors we always wanted to be.” 617-336-3232,

Dr. Hugh Davis, Boston Veterinary Care
A calm vet makes for calmer patients, and the laid-back manner of this Texas native goes over big with critters and people alike. Plus, with more than 25 years’ experience in veterinary medicine and surgery, Davis brings professional chops to this Animal Rescue League–associated clinic that any for-profit practice would envy. 617-226-5605,

Dr. Amy Johnson, Jamaica Plain Animal Clinic
Shelter pets have a special place at Johnson’s bright, cheerful two-year-old practice, where a pair of MSPCA foster cats lounge in the window. The doc — who owns two dogs and two cats adopted from shelters — worked for animal-welfare organizations as well as private practices before opening her clinic, and she and her staff treat every patient like a VIP. 617-524-7300,

Dr. Christopher Ulrich, Huron Veterinary Hospital
It’s not easy to get in to see this Inman Square vet, and not just because he’s running a one-man show. He also likes to schedule longer appointments — 30 minutes or more, compared with the standard 15 — which means more time for “Dr. U” to get down and crawl around on the floor with your delighted pet. 617-661-9553,