REVIEW: Pets and the City: True Tales of a Manhattan House Call Veterinarian by Amy Attas

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New York City’s premier “house call veterinarian” takes you into the exclusive penthouses and four-star hotel rooms of the wealthiest New Yorkers and shows that, when it comes to their pets, they are just as neurotic as any of us.

When a pet is sick, people—even the rich and famous—are at their most authentic and vulnerable. They could have a Monet on the wall and an Oscar on the shelf, but if their cat gets a cold, all they want to talk about are snotty noses and sneezing fits. That’s when they call premier in-home veterinarian Dr. Amy Attas.

In Pets and the City, Dr. Amy shares all the funny, heartbreaking, and life-affirming experiences she’s faced throughout her thirty-year career treating the cats and dogs of New Yorkers from Park Avenue to the projects. Some of her stories are about celebs, like the time she saw a famous singer naked (no, her rash was not the same as her puppy’s). Others are about remarkable animals, like the skilled service dog who, after his exam was finished, left the room and returned with a checkbook in his mouth. Every tale in this rollicking, informative, and fun memoir affirms a key truth about animal, and human, nature: Our pets love us because their hearts are pure; we love them because they’re freaking adorable. On some level, we know that by caring for them, we are the best version of ourselves. In short: Our pets make us better people.

CW/TW – pet ailments, diseases, injuries, euthanasia are discussed. When she was trying to get experience before applying to vet school, Attas worked for a vet and stayed on that vet’s property until said vet’s asshat husband tried to visit Attas’ room one night. Some clients appear to have mental health issues. Attas has walked in on clients while they’re in the middle of doing all kinds of things. 


I enjoy reading books about veterinarians. Some have worked better for me than others. This one is kind of half and half. Parts of it I really enjoyed while other things got more annoying the longer I read about them. 

Some of her stories are about celebs? I’d say the majority are and if the names aren’t told to us then Attas gushes on about where the clients live, what their fabulous homes look like, and what the sources of their wealth are. For most clients, it’s definitely the lifestyles of the rich and famous pet owners here. Attas burbles on about how she never asks to take selfies with her famous clients – except when she meets them when she’s not on duty taking care of their pets – but she sure name drops all over the place. Really, name drops. A lot. 

I will be honest and admit that one anecdote she told was very off putting. A famous celebrity’s dog needed immediate treatment and had been brought into the 24 hour office in which Attas worked at the time. Attas then did a happy-dance that she was going to meet this person after which she called her mom to whoop about the fact that she was about to meet this person. Only after all that does she go in and treat the poor dog. The dog was treated, was okay, and the person became a loyal client for decades and told lots of other famous people about Attas but … damn. This particular story was not a good look.     

Yet it’s clear that Attas is a very good vet, devoted to the patients, and tries to do her best for them – sometimes in the face of clients who don’t or won’t listen to her professional advice and recommendations. Dr. Amy does dish out her thoughts a lot on what she thinks is best for the pets but for me, she’s preaching to the choir as I agree that once you take on a pet, you should take on their care for life or, if there’s no other option, see to it that they are placed in a good home that will take on this responsibility. Also rescues aren’t just throwaway animals but pets looking for someone to love. And don’t buy from puppy mills. 

She pivoted from being fired by a shitty boss to running her successful business which is now over 30 years old. Attas doesn’t shy away from discussing the good, the bad, the sad, and the ugly aspects of her job. Cat owners be warned that you need to never have lilies in or around your house as even the pollen can kill felines. Also don’t let pets out on balconies in high-rises. And men who have “testes inferiority” complexes, don’t refuse to get your large male dogs neutered. I’ll give her props that she also helps some clients (a hoarder, a woman who basically breaks down after her cat is euthanized) and tries to place rescue animals with appropriate clients. Being a vet is not for everyone who ever thought or dreamed of being one (raises hand). Thank goodness there are some dedicated ones out there. C+   


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Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 25 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there’s no TSTL characters and is currently reading more fantasy and SciFi.

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