Beloved Heights pet clinic closes abruptly

Beloved Heights pet clinic closes abruptly
Photo by Elizabeth Graham

An esteemed Brooklyn Heights veterinarian abruptly closed his animal hospital after 30 years of rescuing furry creatures, saying the death of a former partner prompted his earlier-than-expected retirement.

Richard Turoff — known for his compassionate, old-school style — abruptly shuttered the 50-year-old Heights Veterinary Hospital on Hicks Street last week, leaving the pet-centric neighborhood without one of its longest-serving animal docs.

Turoff — a motorcycle-driving general practitioner, who treated sick puppies and made house calls to old folks homes — said the recent death of one-time co-worker and friend Bernard Wasserman, who lived above the business, influenced his decision to leave.

“It seemed to be the end of an era,” Turoff said. “It’s a terrific neighborhood — full of people who take incredible care of their pets — but it’s time to go.”

Turoff slapped a sign on the door of the pet hospital at Cranberry Street then shuttered the neighborhood mainstay on Jan. 1, telling few clients or neighbors. He later transferred files belonging to his four-legged patients to the nearby Atlantic Animal Care.

His sudden departure disappoints animal-loving neighbors, who love Turoff’s casual-yet-thorough approach to treatment.

“He reminds me of an old, country vet,” said Andrea Demetropoulos, a client. “He wasn’t money-hungry and he didn’t suggest treatments if he didn’t believe they would work.”

Turoff took over the animal hospital — which was first owned by Wasserman — in 1985, after the two vets worked together for four years.

He went on to treat nearly every pet imaginable, tending to sick exotic snakes, dehydrated Yorkies and pregnant goats.

“My philosophy was never to put a healthy animal to sleep,” he said.

Turoff also made house calls to the Pierrepont Houses for the Elderly on Hicks and Pierrepont streets to help clients who had trouble leaving home.

But everything changed after Wasserman died in November. Turoff said the sad event firmed up his decision to retire, although it’s “hard to say why.”

Now, he will spend time learning about zoo medicine and hanging out with his cat at his home in Prospect Park South.

“I was torn at first,” he said. “But it’s time to move on.”

Reach reporter Natalie O'Neill at [email protected] or by calling her at (718) 260-4505.