Many Lower East Side dog owners seem to be happy about a new animal hospital’s recent opening in the neighborhood, but some of them expressed concerns about the price.
The new facility, the Lower East Side Animal Hospital at 241 Eldridge St., filled a two-year vacuum of veterinary services in the neighborhood, as the old veterinarian C W Schaubhut, who occupied the same location for more than a decade, left in November 2011, due to finance and lease issues, according to dog owners and a local news website. The space was vacant until the new hospital opened on Aug. 26.
Veterinary visits for dogs went up in the United States about 10 percent from 2006 to 2011, with an average of 1.6 visits per year in 2011, according to a nationwide study conducted by American Veterinary Medical Association. With more and more demands in veterinary services, it seemed the new hospital arrived in the neighborhood right on time.
Some residents had started to tire of having to commute more than 10 blocks to the nearest animal hospital on St. Mark’s Place.
“Now I can walk up two blocks and take Roo to the vet. I’m happy to see the new hospital,” said Joe Hubbard, 73, the owner of a 12-year-old dog named Roo and a former customer of veterinarian Schaubhut.
“I have bad shoulders. I can’t lift heavy weight. And I had to get a car. It would cost me $9 for the trip by taxi, and $5 for the carrier for Roo, and that’s only one way.” Hubbard said, explaining how much money the new hospital could save him.
Christina Berry took her dog to the new hospital last week, and she said she was very satisfied with the experience. “I have to say they are fantastic. [The vet] called me today just to check on the dog, which I never had my vet do that before,” Berry said.
“It’s more high-tech, much in line with what it should be nowadays.” Berry added, comparing the new hospital to the old veterinarian in the neighborhood, whom she described as “old-school.”
However, some pet owners in the neighborhood worried about their wallets as the new hospital comes with a higher price tag.
Cheryl Freeman, a dog owner on the Lower East Side, said she didn’t think every pet owner in the neighborhood could afford to go to the new animal hospital.
“The demographics of the neighborhood is complicated,” said Freeman, standing in front of the hospital on Eldridge Street. “We have housing projects a block down the street,” she explained, pointing to the nearby intersection of Stanton Street and Eldridge Street, where a group of Housing Authority buildings are located. “But we have Whole Foods on the other side.”
Freeman said she took her dog to the veterinarians at the Humane Society of New York in midtown, where the prices were lower than the ones at the Lower East Side Animal Hospital.
According to the price sheets acquired from the two institutions, an office visit for examination on weekends costs $45 at Humane Society of New York, and $99 at Lower East Side Animal Hospital.
Dog owner Carmen Rodriguez lives in one of the Housing Authority buildings at 190 Forsyth St. He said he thought $99 for a regular check-up was a little expensive. However, since the new hospital was only one block away from his home, he said, “I might go there to see if they’ll lower the price.”
Marc Siebert, the owner and veterinarian, said, however, that he didn’t plan to offer a discount for people who couldn’t afford it. He suggested they seek help from financing tools such as CareCredit.
“I’m not unaware that this is a mixed neighborhood,” said Siebert. “I don’t really have a solution.”
He continued, “We are offering a high-end veterinary experience. Is it for everybody? Nothing is for everybody. You can get a five-dollar cup of coffee, and you can get a one-dollar cup of coffee. It depends on what you’re looking for.”