Veterinarian Jack Heller, who had been on the staff of the West Hills Animal Hospital in Huntington for more than 13 years, embarked on his new practice in Westhampton Beach in early April.
Dr. Heller, a general practitioner known for his compassionate care of animals, studied veterinary medicine at Tufts University. He gained additional expertise through an advanced training post graduate internship in small animal medicine and surgery that he completed at the University of Missouri.
Saying that starting up a practice in Westhampton Beach just felt right, Dr. Heller said he has purchased Dr. Diane Bucalo’s practice, Westhampton Beach Animal Hospital.
“There were a lot of things about the town that captured my imagination. My wife, Stacy, grew up in Sag Harbor,” Dr. Heller said, adding that the couple has two children.
While his family currently live in Smithtown, he said, a move to Westhampton Beach may be in the cards.
"Westhampton Beach is a great place to bring up a family," said Dr. Heller.
Dr. Heller described Dr. Bucalo as “a tireless veterinarian” who has devoted herself to the welfare of the local pet population and he says she will remain associated with the practice that she maintained for the past 14 years.
“I’m excited to be out in Westhampton Beach helping people care for their pets,” Dr. Heller said. “Diane and I feel that the transition is going very smoothly.”
While most of his patients will be dogs and cats, Dr. Heller said he will also be caring for ferrets, rabbits and hamsters and looks forward to sharing the knowledge that he has garnered both as a doctor and as a pet owner.
Dr. Heller, who had a large mixed breed dog, three cats, and one rabbit at home, recently welcomed two French Bull dogs into his family. He spoke of the steps that he and his wife took to avoid the pitfalls of animal sibling rivalry.
Dogs are pack animals, and Dr. Heller and his wife had to take into consideration that the older mixed breed dog, Goldie, would be the dominant member of the new animal social hierarchy.
“The dogs had to meet off-site. We didn’t introduce them at home,” Dr. Heller said, adding that as an additional precaution, they boarded Goldie at the animal hospital while the two French Bull dogs roamed the house, leaving their scent.
The Hellers make sure to divide their attention evenly between their pets, and although they feed the Goldie first, as Stacy says, “They all get treats at the same time.”
Westhampton Beach Animal Hospital, 126 Montauk Highway, is open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., and on Saturday and Sunday's from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. To make an appointment, call (631) 288-8535.