A SOUTH BROOKLYN VETERINARIAN, ON BREAKTHROUGH TECHNOLOGY AND OTHER INDUSTRY CHANGES BY AMANDA McCOY PHOTOS
BY AMANDA DOMENECH
Though it’s not uncommon for a child to grow up with an affinity for animals, in the case of Stephanie Gambino, DVM, she also felt compelled to help them. “My first real childhood memory was of a love for animals,” explained Dr. Gambino, now a veterinarian with Brooklyn Veterinary Group in Bensonhurst and Bay Ridge. “We had stray cats walking up and down the block. I would go to McDonalds every day to get French fries and sit outside and feed them. My parents thought I was crazy [laughs], but I had no fear.”
When she was eight years old, career aspirations took hold inside a vet’s office during the family dog’s routine checkups. She volunteered at a local animal clinic as soon as she was old enough, cleaning cages and walking dogs. When the Sheepshead Bay native began undergraduate studies at Brooklyn College, she knew the next step would be attending veterinary school, and wanted to continue hands on clinic experience. A search on Craigslist revealed an opening as an assistant with Brooklyn Veterinary Group, and the young Gambino eagerly applied.
“As an assistant, I started down in the kennel,” she said, “but over the course of three years also learned the upstairs tasks and the tech side. I began helping draw blood and assisting with surgeries.”
Once armed with a degree in Veterinary Medicine from Cornell University, the physician began looking for a professional home, and as luck would have it, that former employer was hiring. “I didn’t even have to think about it,” she added.
Operating out of two offices in the southern stretch of the borough, Brooklyn Veterinary Group is a general animal practice that offers a broad range of services, from X rays and surgery to routine wellness exams and immunizations.
According to Gambino, much has changed in the industry since she began her work as an assistant in 2008, from the rise of veterinary specialists to the accessibility of pet insurance.
“Ten years ago, when you walked into the hospital, 75% of our cages in the back were filled with sick animals,” she said. “Today, most of the cages are empty. We really only keep animals if they need to stay for the day. The standard of care now is to keep them under 24 hour watch and monitor their fluids, so, as we’re not open 24 hours a day, we can refer clients to facilities that keep pets overnight. In the case of complicated surgeries, like large tumors, we can also refer them to a specialist.”
Pet insurance has also been a game changer, especially as medical technologies have made treatments not only more effective, but often much more expensive.
“I tell every puppy owner that walks through my door that they should get insurance,” said Gambino. “It’s very affordable, especially when you look at care costs. It makes decisions a lot easier for people, because in our world, as with other medical offices, people have to think about money.”
Another area of rapid growth is dental care. The Bay Ridge office originated as a satellite location, though proprietors have recently distinguished it with a considerable dental upgrade, including a state of the art suite equipped for X rays, drilling, and surgical extractions.
Though acknowledging the benefits of the march of technology, Gambino expressed a firm belief that the secret to exceptional veterinary care extends beyond procedural training and other veterinary education. While the focus remains on the pet’s wellbeing, vets, she explained, can’t forget the human aspect.
“It’s so important to build relationships with pet owners. My goal is to advocate for the pet, of course, but I’m also there to hold the owner’s hand and help them make decisions. I strive to recommend treatments and guide them in a way that shows I don’t only care about their dog.”
Brooklyn Veterinary Group
7624 New Utrecht Avenue / 718.331.7775 /
8207 5th Avenue / 718 680 VETS brooklynvetgroup.com