Bay Street Animal Hospital

718-420-9100 | 999 Bay Street | Staten Island, NY 10305
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Cosmos, Cats, and Other Reflections

On Wednesday evening, January 16, guests at Thomas Wm. Hamilton’s book signing and informal talk at Bay Street Animal Hospital were treated to refreshments and a fascinating, diverse presentation by one of the most interesting people on the planet — and possibly many other planets, depending on the number of worlds with intelligent life that NASA finds.

The conversation that flowed around the book signing represented a reflection of the author’s own rich background and multifaceted life experiences.

Mr. Hamilton, who recently celebrated his 80th birthday (we did not forget a cake at the book signing), is a prolific writer, scientist, educator, and cat rescuer. His written work includes books and articles on astronomy, an alternate-history/time-travel science fiction novel, and two anthologies of science fiction, fantasy, horror, and satire.

A complete listing of Mr. Hamilton’s written work may be found here. His official Website is

The author worked for three years on Project Apollo (the NASA program to land people on the moon) determining orbital characteristics, fuel usage, and radar accuracy requirements. An asteroid is named after him.

He taught astronomy for 34 years at Wagner College, the College of Staten Island, and St. John’s University, while running planetariums and training generations of students to enter the planetarium field.

A long-time resident of Staten Island, Mr. Hamilton has helped save and nurture hundreds of feral cats in our area. He is a certified and trained Trap, Neuter, and Return specialist, and helps provide daily care for a community of over 90 (and still growing) rescued cats.

A significant development that grew out of Wednesday’s book signing was the idea to form an umbrella organization to coordinate the work of all of the cat rescue groups in the various neighborhoods of Staten Island.

A Story about Leptospirosis—a Deadly Threat to Pets and Humans

By Heather Delice (Coordinator, Bay Street Animal Hospital)

This is the story of my dog Portland and how we found he had Leptospirosis, a deadly bacterial disease caused by the Leptospira bacteria, which is found in contaminated water and soil.

Portland is our 9½-year-old Labrador Retriever, who up until the fall, was in good health. We live in the Westerleigh neighborhood of Staten Island. On nice days, I like to walk Portland and our other dog Pretzel, an 8½-year-old Cockerpoo, in Clove Lakes Park. But for the most part, we stay in the neighborhood. I’m careful to keep my dogs away from puddles or stagnant water and feces. Working in an animal hospital, you learn this early on: Bacteria and parasites are commonly found in puddles, so it is best to steer clear!

In October, Portland started to lose interest in his food, which was odd for him. He will pretty much eat anything and everything — especially fruits and vegetables. Otherwise, he was acting normally. I thought his loss of appetite was due to his getting older and possibly being bored with his food. I tried other brands. He would get excited about each new brand for a day or two. Then he stopped eating altogether. He was sleeping more and acting sluggishly.

I became increasingly worried and brought him in to Bay Street Animal Hospital for blood tests. The initial testing showed elevated kidney levels of urea and creatine, which means his kidneys were not working properly. He was started on intravenous fluids immediately and hospitalized for about a week for observation. It seemed that he might have early kidney disease. I was devastated.

After a week on fluids, his kidney levels actually went down a little, which was promising; however, a few days later, his levels shot back up. A number of other tests were run, including a SNAP 4DX Plus Test (checks for tick-borne and other parasitic diseases); urinalysis (assesses health of kidneys and urinary system); and the SNAP Lepto Test (checks for the presence of the Leptospira bacteria). The Lepto test came back positive! Now we had an explanation of what was making Portland so sick. Now we had hope.

Until very recently, Lepto is not something that we had seen often in veterinary medicine, and Portland had not been showing the common symptoms, except for his decreased appetite. Armed with the new knowledge of the underlying cause of Portland’s illness, a new treatment plan was started. We were hopeful he would recover. Letpo is contagious to other pets and people as well. We tested our other dog, and luckily, he had not contracted Leptospirosis.

It has been three months since the onset of Portland’s illness. He is doing really well. We have his kidney levels routinely checked, and they do show some damage. We are giving Portland kidney supplements, and he is on a special kidney diet. But he is back to his old healthy self again.

After reading up about Leptospirosis to help understand the disease, certain things come to mind. Lepto is most commonly transmitted by the infected urine of other animals, which can be found in contaminated water and soil. This made me think of how much rain we had in August and September and how our yard flooded a few times.

I also remembered a small cut Portland had gotten on the bottom of his paw during one of our walks. At the time I didn’t think anything of it and soaked it in Epsom salt daily until it healed. But maybe that is how he was exposed — the open wound coming into contact with contaminated water.

The reason I wanted to share our story is to create awareness of an uncommon, rarely talked about deadly cross-species disease for pets and humans, which may be on the rise. In the past six months, we have treated at least three other cases of Leptospirosis at BSAH. 

Unfortunately, our pets cannot tell us when something is wrong. If I hadn’t brought Portland in for testing when I did, he most likely would not have survived. It is important to look for odd behavior and other signs and symptoms that something is off with your pet it in order to help get treatment when needed. In the case of my dog Portland, the treatment was life saving.

More information on Leptospirosis may be found at

February Is National Pet Dental Health Month

And the three top reasons to help us celebrate

  1. End bad breath (tartar build-up) and give your nose a break!
  2. That odor you smell may indicate a serious health risk to your pet — damage to your pet’s teeth, gums, and bronchitis. Senior pets (age 7+) are especially vulnerable.
  3. To celebrate, Bay Street Animal Hospital is offering a 20% savings on your pet’s dental exam, pre-dental blood tests, and dental cleaning procedure with dental x-rays, if necessary. And we’ve extended the offer an entire month through March 31!*

The veterinary team at Bay Street Animal Hospital provides exceptional dental care, which starts with a thorough oral exam. A professional cleaning and polishing may be recommended.

This procedure is done under anesthesia and a blood test is necessary to ensure your pet has no underlying health issues. X-rays may be performed to help the veterinarian locate problems below the gums, such as infections, abscesses, or periodontal disease.

While recovering from the anesthesia, your pet will rest comfortably and be monitored until fully awake. The amount of recovery time varies for each pet.

In most cases, pets go home the day of the procedure and should be offered small amounts of food and water that night to start off. It is perfectly normal for some pets not to want to eat until the following day.

Call us today at 718-420-9100 to make an appointment.

*Dentistry patients must be current on their vaccinations, which will be updated at the pre-dental exam, if necessary. Some patients may require extractions or other services, such as x-rays at additional cost. Although all additional dental procedures will be discounted, basic prices quoted are subject to the actual procedures that are completed under anesthesia. Discount is being offered on dental appointments scheduled before March 31, 2019 and may not be combined with other discounts.