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Hilltown Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, August 26, 2010

New vet makes house calls and farm calls

By Melissa Hale-Spencer

EAST BERNE — Rebecca Kryzak is a generalist and proud of it.

After graduating in May from Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine, she has opened an unusual practice, tending to both small and large animals throughout the Capital Region. She travels from her Hilltown home to the homes and farms of her clients, packing her medical gear in a cooler.

“I had worked in several different clinics and seen how frustrated clients can be bringing their elderly pets in,” she said. Having the vet come to the animal, said Kryzak creates “less stress for the animal and the owner.”

With fewer than 30 accredited veterinary medicine schools in the United States producing, on average, fewer than 3,000 graduates annually, veterinarian services are in demand. So far, most of Kryzak’s clients are in the Hilltowns, she said, but she’s eager to expand the practice that she opened on June 28.

The cost for a house call depends on the mileage, but Kryzak’s fees are in line with area clinics, she said. “It evens out,” said Kryzak, “because the cost for a physical exam is cheaper.”

Kryzak grew up loving animals. Her parents had a hobby farm in Kingston, N.Y. “I grew up with horses and some strange animals…ducks, chickens, goats” as well as dogs and cats, which, she said, “We treated as part of the family.”

Kryzak came to the Capital Region to attend the University at Albany, where she majored in psychology. She chose Kansas State for her veterinary training, she said, because “they offer a well-rounded education — I wasn’t forced to track small or large animals.”

Her husband, Matthew Kryzak, grew up in Altamont. “His family is still in the area. He works in his uncle’s construction business,” said Kryzak.

She decided the area was lacking in vets who made house and farm calls and set up Cottonwood Creek Veterinary Services from their home in East Berne. Her home phone and business phone have the same number — 956-0551.

Kryzak sees her niche practice as a throwback to the way veterinary medicine was practiced decades ago, but with some modern additions.

“The vet would come to the farm to vaccinate the horses and the barn cat that was there and the dogs, too,” she said.

“I have hours from eight to five,” Kryzak said, but she will see people by appointments other times. “I’m very flexible,” she said.

Krysak went on, “I do provide some emergency services, but can’t provide hospitalization or x-rays.” She fields calls in an emergency and, if the animal needs hospitalization, she sends it to an emergency clinic.

Making house and farm calls, Kryzak carries a cooler with a thermometer and vaccines. “I can take blood samples,” she said. “I have a lab in the house,”

Describing a typical procedure, she said, “Recently, I had a dog that had a skin mass on its leg. I did a fine-needle aspiration, sucking up cells. I put that on a slide, stained it, and looked at it under a microscope.”

She also sends samples out to a lab for a second opinion if needed.

If she wants to consult on a case, she said, “I have a lot of close colleagues. I feel like I have a great support system. In 2010, we’re so lucky with the Internet and phone calls; someone’s always a phone call or an e-mail away. I can send a picture of, say, a skin condition, and get feedback from colleagues.”

In August, Kryzak began using Twitter, to send tweets to her clients. The messages range from philosophical thoughts — “Thousands of years ago, cats were worshipped as gods; cats have never forgotten this” — to practical tips, like a link to the ASPCA on the top 10 pet toxins. This includes human medication and foods, like grapes, avocados, and chocolate; plants like lilies and azaleas; rodenticides; heavy metals; and chemical hazards like antifreeze.

She also linked her clients to advice on how to keep pets cool in hot weather, and to an Aug. 17 news story on the opening of the nation’s first dog water park, in Los Angeles.

“I feel like I’ve found a great balance,” Kryzak said of her practice. “At school, I loved being on the road and making farm calls. I like to see a mix of animals.”

She concluded, “This is my dream job. I’ve wanted to do this since I was little.”

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