Jonathan Turetsky, V83

Turetsky with a patient

Good friends come in all shapes and sizes, a truth well known to Jonathan Turetsky, V83, recently selected by the New York State Wildlife Rehabilitation Council as the 2012 Veterinarian of the Year. Turetsky, who has practiced veterinary medicine in East Hampton, New York, since 1987, spends his days caring for all types of animals, from dogs to dairy cows, at his primarily pet-focused practice. He also finds time to work at a nearby Long Island wildlife rehabilitation center, where he treats birds, deer, raccoons, and other animals needing medical care before they are returned to the wild.

Prior to opening his practice, Turetsky worked briefly in Lexington, Mass., and Sharon, Mass., after completing his degree at the Cummings School in its earliest years. He says his Tufts education not only equipped him with the skills to take care of animals, but a course in human-animal relations also prepared him to help owners of sick or dying animals. “At the time, that was a novel thing to include in a veterinary curriculum,” he adds.

His work can be an intellectual and an emotional challenge. In the late 1980s, Turetsky would often see clients with AIDS who wanted to learn how to safely care for their pets—sometimes their only companions in communities that did not accept them, he says.

But the job is rewarding. Take the time a family came in with their comatose, but otherwise healthy, young puppy. The dog had been chewing on something at the beach before falling into a deep sleep. After some investigating, Turetsky discovered that the dog had gnawed on meat from a beached whale that wildlife rescuers had tried to save, but had eventually sedated with barbiturates before euthanizing it. After a few days of rest, the puppy was back on her feet. And the story had made the local news.

Fortunately, not every case requires such deduction to diagnosis. Most days, Turetsky is busy with routine cat or dog care, helping local families keep their animal companions happy and healthy.

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