Morning Bulletin: Tragedy at the Vet’s Office, The Robot Under West End Avenue, Enormous MTA Waste


First moonrise of 2018, over the Cathedral of St John the Divine. Photo by Scott Matthews.

January 2, 2018 Weather: Sunny, with a high of 28 degrees.

Notices:
Mulchfest, where you can watch your Christmas tree be turned into mulch, and more local events are on our calendar.

Here are other ways to dispose of your real or fake tree.

News:
Gotham Veterinary Center office was fined following the death of a dog in its care, the Post reports. Update: Gotham says the Post article includes “an overwhelming amount of false information.”

Gotham Veterinary Center has sent the following information that it says corrects claims from the article: “First, the veterinary technician who pulled the dog’s tooth is a licensed veterinary technician board certified in veterinary dentistry. Second, the dog had a heart condition that the treating veterinarian, Dr. Carbonell, diagnosed and reported to the owner before the surgery, which did increase the risks of undergoing anesthesia. Indeed, before agreeing to perform the tooth extraction, Dr. Carbonell referred Ms. Colton to a licensed veterinarian board certified in cardiology. The owner chose to proceed with the surgery despite the increased risk. Third, the licensed vet tech who pulled the tooth had offered to personally drive the owner and the pet to specialists in veterinary dentistry to pull the dog’s tooth. The owner declined the offers. Fourth, and perhaps most importantly, we will never know the cause of death because the owner refused Gotham’s offer of a necropsy (autopsy), which it offered to perform free of charge. The headline and thrust of the article are false and defamatory per se. There is absolutely no basis for ascribing the pet’s death to the pulling of the tooth, or to the anesthesia. Nor did the State of New York find that Gotham caused the pet’s death. The State found that Gotham—like so many veterinary practices—permitted a licensed veterinary technician to pull the dog’s tooth, and that the pulling of the tooth should have been performed by a licensed veterinarian.”

Five Douglass Housings buildings did not have heat or hot water for several days around Christmas. “Felix Ortiz says it’s colder inside than outside her Douglass Houses apartment.”

A robot has been crawling under West End Avenue, fixing a gas main, a technique that allows mains to be repaired without shutting off the gas for customers “He and Con Edison officials say that even though the gas remains flowing, there is no danger of fire or explosion because oxygen would be necessary for a spark, and the gas mains are oxygen-free. The robot enters and exits the main through a “launch tube” from which oxygen is expelled before the robot slides into the main. The robot, controlled by a technician in a trailer on the street, goes into the gas main at the start of the workday and comes out at quitting time.”

A Ballet Hispanico and La Guardia grad won the dance world’s top honor. “[Linda Celeste] Sims has been dancing since she was very young and was trained at Ballet Hispanico in the Upper West Side of Manhattan. “Dance was always in my heart and I always loved it,” Sims explained. After graduating from the Fiorello H. Laguardia High School Of Music & Art and Performing Arts, she auditioned for a spot on Ballet Hispanico’s Dance Company and performed there for a few years before auditioning for the Alvin Ailey.”

Another infuriating article about waste at the MTA, whose performance remains abysmal. Will the state do anything about it other than asking New Yorkers for more money to line the pockets of their pals. “For years, The Times found, public officials have stood by as a small group of politically connected labor unions, construction companies and consulting firms have amassed large profits.Trade unions, which have closely aligned themselves with Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and other politicians, have secured deals requiring underground construction work to be staffed by as many as four times more laborers than elsewhere in the world, documents show. Construction companies, which have given millions of dollars in campaign donations in recent years, have increased their projected costs by up to 50 percent when bidding for work from the M.T.A., contractors say. Consulting firms, which have hired away scores of M.T.A. employees, have persuaded the authority to spend an unusual amount on design and management, statistics indicate.”

As the chill continue this week, be sure to notify 311 if you see someone who needs help:

NEWS | 30 comments | permalink
    1. Eln says:

      R.I.P. Spanky. So sad, so tragic, so preventable.

    2. Christine says:

      Regarding Gotham Vet, four years ago when my beloved dog Jennie couldn’t be saved under their care, I asked that she be euthanized, and for her ashes to be returned to me. A few weeks went by and I inquired as to when I would have her back, and Gotham reported that a mistake was made, and Jennie was still in their freezer! I was outraged and heartbroken. Someone apologized to me, and I asked to speak with Bonnie personally as I was greatly upset. The staff said she had nothing to add, was unavailable to speak with me and to do this day she never offered an apology. What a heartless ass. Obviously when I adopted a new dog I never went back to Gotham. I’m not surprised by this news report

      • Diane says:

        Christine I am sorry this happened to you
        I use Gotham Vet & have had problems and was wondering if you
        Could reccomend another vet that you are
        Happy with. Thank you

        • kitty H says:

          I’d appreciate a recommendation, too, for two small dogs living in the west 80s. We’d dealt with Dr. Khan, whom we liked, at City Vet on 72nd St., but we’d like someone closer to us now, in the upper 80s.

          • GP says:

            We visit Animal General on 87th and Columbus. The doctors and nurses are extremely diligent and genuinely caring. Their follow up after a visit is unbelievable. Whether it is a vaccine or stitches, anytime I’ve taken my dog there, they always call the next day to check up on her and will keep calling until they’ve actually spoken with you. Highly recommended.

          • Dave says:

            Love dr khan at city vet!

          • EricaC says:

            I love the vets I have worked with at Animal General – Dr. Klafin, Dr. Yang, Dr. Shea are all wonderful. They have taken wonderful care of both my pets and of me in dealing with my aging and ill pets.

            Symphony Vet is also wonderful – they’re a little further north (96th & Amsterdam), but Dr. Levison is wonderful. The other doctors there may also be wonderful, but there has been some turnover since we moved further south – but we adopted a kitten there fairly recently, and they are still lovely!

        • OhHonestly says:

          We only had wonderful experiences with Symphony Vet on 96th between Amsterdam and Columbus.

        • Elizabeth M. says:

          Diane, I have used Symphony vets for more than 15 years and have never had any issues. They have been competent and spend a lot of time explaining everything and answering all questions.
          Good luck.

        • David says:

          Dr. Fisch (9th & 52nd) is quirky, but very good.
          BluePearl (9th & 55th) very expensive, but excellent.

          • EricaC says:

            I think Blue Pearl is only for emergencies and specialist visits (at least, that’s all that I’ve gone to them for), but they are terrific as well.

    3. Scott says:

      The MTA story certainly is maddening but the solution seems obvious. Dissolve the MTA and privatize the subways. Have the company or companies operating the system report directly to the governor. Allow them to develop retail inside the stations to turn a profit.

      • Jeff Berger says:

        Funny thing is that the subways were private companies until they were merged and made public utilities.

        Now they are run by the government and it costs more, they are forced to hire more workers than they need, have more people doing a job than is needed, and go through long bidding processes to get the smallest job done.

        Unfortunately, the unions run the show (Pres. Roosevelt warned us not to allow public employees to unionize). so it is not possible to even think of privatizing the system.

        Is there anyone on this board who remembers the system before it was merged into the MTA? What are your thoughts?

      • Jen says:

        Totally agree

      • Jay says:

        The MTA already reports to the governor and that’s most of the problem. They have never cared about the long-term viability of the MTA.

        There should be a tax-payer review board made up of people whose sole purpose is to review the MTA and ensure they are acting in the best interests of the taxpayer/rider, not bureaucrats.

      • your neighbor says:

        Why have the private companies report to the governor?

        Anyways, the MTA is a big money and power center, I don’t expect any politician to give that up – even if it would help their constituents.

        • Scott says:

          Well the companies would have to be accountable to someone. Since the state is responsible for the subway, I assume the governor is where the buck would stop. I’m certainly open to alternative ideas however.

      • Paul says:

        The subways started as private companies and they went under. Mass transit has never been able to sustain a profit, anywhere.

        Most things can be done at a profit, but not all things.

        Those that can’t – but are essential— get taken over by government. However, they were “losers” long before the takeover.

      • B.B. says:

        Either some of you don’t know or what, but large parts of the original subway system *were* built and run by private companies under agreement with NYC/NYS.

        As with everything else in this state and city politics got in way of good sense; to wit city nor state governments would allow the private companies to raise the ($0.20) fare.

        https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/18/nyregion/mta-subway-cuomo.html

        Without revenue the private companies (and system overall) was starved for cash and couldn’t maintain nor expand (sound familiar?), Answer was for the city to step in and buy up the subway, buses and other private transit systems and form the NYCTA.

        Well New York City couldn’t run the system any better (or cheaper) than the private companies and yes, part of it was politics that kept fares artificially low. Then came the fiscal crisis of 1970’s…

        That event saw the city unload the NYCTA to the state (MTA). That body for the first time in decades poured billions of dollars into NYC subways, bridges, tunnels etc… and the rest as they say is history.

        No private company would touch the NYCTA much less the subways with a barge pole. Private enterprise exists to make profit. While things have increased the fare box recovery rates for NYCTA buses and subways no where approaches sums needed to run, maintain and invest in the system. And yet just as in the past no one wants fares increased.

        • Jen says:

          How come subways work fine in all the developed countries in the world? How come it doesn’t in NYC?

        • Scott says:

          The Hong Kong & Tokyo subways are managed by private companies and they’re cleaner, more efficient and better than ours. Their model indicates that private companies do well managing subway systems when they’re allowed to build out retail inside the stations. You seem to think only in terms of farebox revenue.

        • Paul says:

          B.B:
          Please reread the article you cited.
          It was about the State taking control of the subway from the City.
          The City had taken over the system from failed private ownership decades before.

    4. Daryl says:

      this idea that ” everyone allows techs to do vet work.” is exactly why i stopped using Westside Vet .. they permitted a tech to pull a tooth from one of our cats a number of years ago, the tech botched the job and it cost us a lot of $ and our cat a lot of pain … glad to hear Ms Colton got them fined but i am very very sorry it came at the cost of losing a beloved dog … i believe Dr Brown used to work at Westside …

    5. Ellen says:

      My heart goes out to the dog owner. However, I have to say that Bonnie Brown has been our vet for many years, for many dogs, and she has proven to be the most ethical, compassionate and capable vet I’ve ever had.

      • Dawn says:

        I couldn’t agree more. Bonnie Brown has been our vet for over 20 years. She and her staff have always been professional and compassionate. I have and will continue to recommend Gotham Vet.

    6. Yael says:

      Oh, Christine… I am so sorry that happened to you! How horrible. Inexcusably bad behavior of veterinarians and staff needs to be openly discussed and promptly boycotted by pet parents, everywhere! Once we start openly discussing, you will find who the few genuine good vets are. P.S. A $5k fine for a NYC vet who knowingly allowed hired help to perform surgery on someone’s beloved companion, killing the dog, is a mere wet noodle slap on the wrist. If it had been a child they killed, the staff would be in prison, where they belong. I hope this vet practice sinks like the Titanic, ASAP.

      • EricaC says:

        You know, I have to say – it sounds as though they owner may have decided to proceed notwithstanding high risk (maybe because the alternative was worth). It’s hard to know the story without paying attention to both sides.

    7. Marion says:

      Beautiful photo of the moon over the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. Congratulations to Scott Matthews.

    8. D. Olivaw says:

      Dr. Brown has provided excellent care for my dogs since about 2005, before she started Gotham. She’s always been a great vet. She was there as my first two dogs each died, in turn, over a period of several years, with each dog requiring some specialized care. She continues to care for a new dog I’ve had since 2012, and I certainly still like her.

      But I must say I’ve noticed some warning signs at the clinic in recent years. Luckily my new dog has been healthy and hasn’t required much so far, and so I’ve not been motivated to consider anyone else. But this report, and these and other comments I’ve found online make me worry.

      In my view the clinic has grown a lot since it started, and I’m happy for Dr. Brown about that. But it seems her level of care may not always extend to everyone else who works there, for whatever reason. I don’t know what the solution is, but I really do hope they get this resolved.

    9. Sarah says:

      So that’s what that Cisbot is! I’ve been wondering. Useful information from WSR.