Inbal Lavotshkin

Keeping NYC’s Animals Safe

Walk into Dr. Inbal Lavotshkin’s office at Veterinary Emergency Group in South Brooklyn and you quickly get a sense of the level of her dedication to the care of animals.

A dog occupies Lavotshkin’s office, laying underneath her desk.

“That’s Ellie, she was abandoned after being hit by a car and she was brought here after being found injured outside on the street,” Lavotshkin says. “We treated her and, well, I fell in love!”

Now little three-legged Ellie and the veterinarian are constant companions – “we do everything together,” Lavotshkin says.

These days a lot of that togetherness is at the Veterinary Emergency Group clinic in South Brooklyn. That’s where you can find Lavotshkin, doing what she loves and loving what she does.

“While I was at Iowa State I really enjoyed emergency care,” the 2011 graduate says. “I loved helping animals and their owners when they needed it the most. It’s a very satisfying and rewarding job.”

In addition to helping pets and their owners, Lavotshkin says her job as hospital director allows her to do a variety of medical procedures – everything from stabilizing trauma cases to surgery.

"As an emergency docor, I get to do it all and that's what I love most," she said.

After graduating from Iowa State, Lavotshkin went back home to New York, completing a one-year rotating internship before she was hired as an overnight ER vet. Today her South Brooklyn clinic is the only 24-hour hospital serving a large portion of Brooklyn. As a result “there’s no normal day” for Lavotshkin.

“Our doors are always open,” she said. “We get patients from local shelters and the NYPD will bring us animals – strays that need shelter or dogs that have been involved in fights. We’ve worked on hoarding cases with 40 to 60 animals in a small apartment. We frequently get animals that have been hit by a car.”

That’s how Lavotshkin came to become attached to Ellie.

“Ellie was hit by a car and didn’t have a family that wanted to provide her care,” she said. “She had a punctured lung and her left leg was paralyzed.”

Lavotshkin says the police and local citizens will find dogs roaming throughout the city and her clinic works with the local ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) to provide critical care for animals.

The ASPCA has been so impressed with the level of care and dedication that Lavotshkin has given to animals that they honored her alongside members of the NYPD. This is the first time the ASPCA has honored a veterinarian for “helping keep New York City’s animals safe.”

“That line really means the most to me,” she said. “I’m truly dedicated to keeping animals safe, especially those who have no one to look after them.”

Lavotshkin says she works hand-in-hand with the ASPCA and the NYPD on extreme neglect or abuse cases. She is quick to point out it’s not her job to prove the abuse but instead be an advocate for the animal.

“We get a couple of cases a year that could be termed as abuse cases,” she said. “We keep our eyes open. I don’t take this responsibility lightly, but I try to remember I’m an advocate for animals that can’t speak up for themselves.”

One such case was in the Brooklyn clinic when this interview was conducted. A homeless dog was brought in with a severe leg injury after being mauled by another dog on the streets.

“I really wanted to save its leg, I really felt for the dog,” Lavotshkin said. “I worked hard to save the leg and it’s amazing how he’s recovered.

“This case brought me so much satisfaction to get results like this. What I enjoy most about my job is helping ease these animals suffering.”

November 2019