A couple years ago our dog Buddy was having problems with his eyes. We went to see our vet, Scott Luckow at Broadway Animal Hospital in Riverdale (Bronx, NY) and he referred us to an ophthalmologist. He told us to get a diagnoses from her, and then he could provide ongoing treatment.
It’s now two years later and Buddy’s condition is clearly chronic, but well managed by the drops the ophthalmologist prescribed for us to give him each day. A couple weeks ago Dan realized he was running out of the drops for Buddy and called the ophthalmologist for another prescription. The ophthalmologist wanted Dan to bring in Buddy since it had been a while since she had seen him. That was understandable, but since the condition is chronic, Dan wanted to have our regular vet, Scott Luckow take over the ongoing care and only go see the ophthalmologist if something changed.
So Dan called Luckow’s office, explained the situation to them (that he wanted Luckow to take over ongoing care for Buddy’s eyes as Luckow said he would), and scheduled an appointment. I took the dogs in for their annual checkup on Saturday. That’s when the problems started…
Let’s just say that they were familiar enough with what was going on that when I went in the receptionist asked how Buddy’s eyes were. They knew dealing with that issue was the primary reason for the visit. However Luckow refused to give me the prescription saying he wanted to talk to Dan first, and that Dan should call him on Monday during his authorized time for calls (it’s often difficult to actually get through at the designated times). He also indicated that he wanted Buddy seen by the ophthalmologist again.
The problem was we’d been close to running out of the drops for a week and a half and we needed at least a stop gap prescription to tide us over until we could have the issue resolved. When I got home and told Dan, he called his office and waited for a callback. Finally he figured he’d just drive up there and talk to Luckow in person. While he was in the car they returned his call and said, “no” – they wouldn’t give a stop gap prescription. Since Dan was already on his way, he continued up. In our eyes this was an urgent matter. If Buddy doesn’t get his drops, the next day his eyes are all red, and the day after that they’re oozing puss and he can’t open them fully. Running out of drops wasn’t OK with us.
When Dan got there the receptionist (Luckow’s wife) told him to wait – that Dr. Luckow was “reviewing labs”. He made Dan wait a full hour. It would be one thing if he were in the middle of seeing a patient, or if he were in the middle of surgery, but the fact that he wouldn’t step away from paperwork to talk to a customer for a couple minutes made Dan even more livid than he already was.
When Luckow came out he wanted Dan to sign a piece of paper saying Dan was not getting the proper medical care for Buddy and that Luckow would not be held responsible for anything that happened. This was completely baffling to Dan… We had gone to see the ophthalmologist Luckow told us to go see and now he wouldn’t take over the ongoing treatment when he had all of the paperwork with the diagnosis in his files.
Scott Luckow talks about being a country vet in the city, but when push comes to shove he apparently won’t do anything outside his narrow credentials. All he had to do when we called and explained the situation initially was make a call to the ophthalmologist (he told us to go to in the first place) to coordinate the handover of care. But he didn’t do that. He knew we had been trying for a week and a half to get the situation resolved and that we were running out of medication, and he knew how quickly bad things happen when we did run out of medication. Yet he played a game of telling us to call in, then saying “no” over the phone, and when pushed to the wall by an in-person visit he pulls out a liability waver form to give even a single stop gap prescription when he knows the diagnosis and knows what we’re asking for is an accepted treatment for the problem.
We have heard of other people who have had issues with Dr. Luckow. We knew he was a bit quirky and could be “opinionated” at times, but he seemed generally competent. However this puts a completely different perspective on things. When you really need him – he just won’t be there for you. That’s just not acceptable.
And how can a vet deny a stop gap prescription for a chronic condition and then blame the owner for not taking proper care of the dog when the owner’s been trying for a week and a half to deal with the issue? In a letter I received from him today he said Dan “made it perfectly clear that Buddy was ‘just a dog’ to him”. If Buddy were “just a dog” to Dan, do you honestly think he’d have tried so hard to get Luckow to write a stop gap prescription? IMHO, it’s Luckow who didn’t properly care for Buddy…
Dan considered a number of other vets that neighbors suggested, but in the end he took my advice and went back to the vets I had gone to for years with my previous dog, Sherlock – West Chelsea Veterinary Hospital. The vet at West Chelsea was wonderful. She took a look at the reports from the ophthalmologist and wrote the prescription without hesitation. They’re a bit more expensive and somewhat inconvenient for us to get to, but they’re good, competent, no-hassle vets and that’s worth the extra cost and hassle getting there.
UPDATE: I’ve gotten some feedback on the post and want to clarify a couple of points…
First, this isn’t about money. The vet we’re going back to costs about 50% more than Luckow. Had Luckow given us a stop gap prescription we would have spent the money and gone back to see the ophthalmologist. The issue was his refusal to give us medication when we were running out and needed it urgently. And the secondary issue was his poor customer service.
Second, Luckow’s final claim that there were liability issues is ridiculous. The vet Dan went to see today did what we asked Luckow to do and did it without hesitation. Both are experienced vets in established practices. We simply can’t fathom why Luckow didn’t give us the same level of service as the other vet.
I had a similar experience with Luckow years ago. We moved from Manhattan to Yonkers and wanted a local vet. When our geriatric cat needed care Luckow refused to help us because the 12 year old cat was not his patient. We went elsewhere and found an excellent vet, Norma Hunter in Scarsdale.
These people need their head examined.
1/12/10…I called Luckow’s office this morning, frantic over my aging cat visibly deteriorating by the hour. Two years ago, I lost 3 cats in the space of 6 months, and paid Dr. Luckow in excess of $600.00 for his “services.”) Well, I happen to be momentarily down on my luck, and BEGGED his moron-receptionist to please accept half payment today, and the other half ONE WEEK from today. Her nasty, cold-blooded response? “We don’t do payment plans, take her to the ASPCA.” I do not know if Luckow is even aware of this conversation, so I will not yet condemn him. But if that’s the way he allows his office to be run ~ cold, callous, flippant “people” completely without mercy ~ he not only just lost a loyal customer, he has no idea that I am a professional writer and have already researched all I need to know to discredit him ALL OVER THE INTERNET. Sorry, but in these economic times, you DON’T dismiss good people, and ESPECIALLY helpless animals because of $$$$$. As far as I’m concerned, he’s toast. And with all his money, I sincerely hope he invests in a new wig since he looks like he has a long-dead animal sitting on top of his fat head.
I’ve known vets like this. They are not eccentric. They are completely egotistical, defending thier fellow vets in a misguided manner, or just crazy. He sounds like all three with a lot of nonsense thrown in. Someone recommended him to me for my dog. Not a chance. He reminds me of a vet I got away from as fast as possible some years ago who almost let a kitten die in the waiting room because it didn’t have an appointment. If it hadn’t been for the people in the waiting room giving him a hard time, the kitten would have died.
I got a good laugh from the liability form he wanted Dan to sign. Typical. I’m sure the opthoomologist and he were working together to protect their own long before you went to his office.
He sounds like it’s time to retire.
@Carrie Ann – We have no problem with the ophthalmologist – we’ve gone back to see her since the incident with Luckow – she’s fine.
Dr. Luckow has been my vet for over 15 years–for one dog and three cats. I have the utmost respect for him. He has been a caring, knowledgeable and compassionate vet. I have had nothing but excellent care.
@Sara – Yeah, we USED TO like him too… Then everything went bad…
Jay who do you use now? I’d like a referral as my cat has some issues that need ongoing care. I used to love the Humane Society but then I have to wait for an appointment and pay for parking or take a cab.
We use West Chelsea Veterinarian Hospital. They’re absurdly expensive, but most of the time they give the correct diagnosis (or say they have no clue). And they’re never a hassle.
I used to like Luckow, then I got on to his awful personality. I took my cat to Dr. Luckow, who has the best clinical skills I know of, but the worst, quirky personality. He recommended the Animal Medical Center who then recommended (and it is stated in writing in their contract) that we return to Dr. Luckow for followup care. He refused to see my beloved cat. I withdrew both my pet’s records from him and no longer see this creep! He also hides behind his wife’s skirts. There are many excellent vets out there – you just need to research them out and get recommendations. The Luckows are much too odd for me to waste time on them!!!
I’ve been to a LOT of vets in the NYC area. Luckow is reasonably priced and DOES care about people’s pets. But, yes, when it comes to prescriptions and the simple manner of trusting patients he’s known for years, that’s where he fails.
My sense on this is that he has no instincts. That is, he simply cannot discern the good, trustworthy owners from the ones that are just panicky pains in the ass. And then this lack of trust and instinct has him hesitate on important decisions that should be a snap.
In this case, it sounds like he didn’t trust you guys for some perhaps unfounded, ridiculous reason and every step he took was about covering his own butt. Who knows why, perhaps he was sued a few years ago, and it’s made him skittish.
With that said, don’t forget that this guy DOES care about the animals and that alone is sadly a really rare find in NYC.
However, I do not blame you one iota for getting a new vet.
Dr. Luckow was the vet for our four animals when we lived in Riverdale. We’ve since moved but recently went to him for a second opinion about one of our dogs. He has been a great vet over the years. It seems like something else has gone on here between you and Dr. Luckow that is not written in your description of the incident. This simply is uncharacteristic of the vet I have come to know.
Buddy is cute, btw!
@John – We thought Dr. Luckow was pretty nice too… Then this happened. There are two sides to the man.
From what I understand from this post you are upset that Dr. Luckow did not give you medication for your dog’s eye condition. Ok, valid. However, he was not seeing your dog for this particular issue YET. He said he would, but even you state that he had not been brought on except for the opthalmologist referral. He had not taken over the car for your dog with this condition. For those who think it’s petty that Dr. Luckow asked for a waiver to be signed — you should see how sue-happy people are and what they try to do with their healthcare and who they try to make responsible. You can’t go to a human doctor’s office with a condition that the doctor hasn’t assessed personally yet and want to just pick up a stop gag Rx just because he knows you have the condition. The doctor has to officially be your doctor for the condition, assess the condition, prescribe and treat the condition. I’ve worked for a doctor’s office and it sounds to me like you wanted to go around the routine procedure and get special treatment, which Dr. Luckow was not willing to supply. I trust Dr. Luckow’s judgement implicitly (he is the one with the vet degree) and have taken my dog to him for 5 years (husband took past dogs to him for over 10 years). But that’s just me and my opinion. You have every right to seek treatment for your dog wherever you like especially if you are not happy with the treatment or service you are getting. But blasting a good vet online for what looks like sour grapes, is pretty harsh.
@DachshundMom – No, he didn’t do his job. He didn’t do what we were paying him to do. He said he wanted an initial assessment from a specialist, and then he could take over routine care. Then he refused to take over routine care as he said he would.
He’s a vet. We pay him to care for our animals. Other vets at more expensive practices had no problem doing exactly what we asked Lukow to do.
The point is, when push comes to shove, Lukow will let you down – even when the health of your animal is at risk. That is anything but a great vet.
I worked for Dr. Luckow for many yrs. We didn’t part on good terms and yes some of his ways may be a bit strange but he is the best vet I’ve ever worked for. Since I worked for him I have seen many strange things take place in vets offices (even bird put in microwaves to make owner think it just died). Money can be an issue but lets face it you can’t run a hospital on charity! I personally saw cops once bring in a dog that was hit by a car Dr. Luckow did treat it when the owner got there she denied ownership and never paid the bill. Also regular clients have on occasion been given payment plans. Remember nothing in life is free you get what you pay for. There is no such thing as a free ride. Dr. Luckow is an excellent Doctor. Phone hrs. DO WORK that system of his is also the best I’ve seen.
Do you suppose Luckow was paid a referral fee by the ophthalmologist? If Luckow took the same patient back, for the same condition, it might have required him to return the fee (under the deal he had with the ophthalmologist). This may explain why he wanted you to sign something indicating that the ophthalmologist was not providing proper care. Either that, or Luckow pegged you as litigious (perhaps unreasonably) and was fearful of bringing your dog back under his care.
I’m an optpmetrist have 2 dogs a cat who dr luckow takes care of., i have perspective on this. when you came in first the initial likelihood is some form of conjunctivitis, you take drops it goes away. But when dr luckow looked at body something worried him, it wasnt routine. That he reached out for opthalmological consultation is laudable. H was doing the best thing for buddy. You got the drops, but it didnt go away. That suggests either allergy or some form of uveitis. If it was just allergy there would be no pus, he would be itching, dr luckow would have treated it. Uveitis is tricky, it has systemic implications. It should be treated my an opthalmologist.You havent seen thousands of cases like dr luckow. what if he gave you the drops, buddy developed sarcoidosis, got a lung infection, died? Who would be blaming then? Dan shouldnt have gone over there at all once you were told dr luckow insisted on consultation prior to treatment. that was his clinical professional opinion. He wanted to get to the bottom of this, something could be wrong and just masking with more drops might not be in buddys best interests. whether or not the opthalmologist rxd same drops is irrelevant. he needed her diagnosis. Also, as a vet dr luckow doesnt have a “narrow range of expertisevets have a broader range of practice than any other kind of health care professional. Theyre tops , in it for compassion, not money. Its much harder to get into vet scool than medical school than anything else. I understand your frustration, but honestly you have neither the judgement knowledge experience to judge dr luckows clinical decisions. Dan tried to bully him into doing the wrong thing. He wouldnt have it, good for him,i think he’s a mensch.
@alan – Buddy has Panis – a life-long condition that never goes away. Dr. Luckow knew this because a opthamologist told him that was the case. Your comments suggest you simply don’t know what you’re talking about.
BTW, it’s now years later and Buddy is still on the same drops as before. His vision isn’t as good as when he was young, but it still half way decent – which is excellent for his age and with his condition.
Literally just today, I had essentially the same thing happen to me. Awful. Never going back.
I also Had the same thing happen today. I use to take my dog to him and he even posted a picture on his wall of her. I’ve been down in Florida and now returned to New York. I called this morning and was told that I had not been there for a while and that they could not find my records. I stated my girl really needs to be seen she has develop a growth could they just see her . They stated they would call back yet no one ever did. I’ve gone ahead an made an appointment with another vet in the area . It saddens me for I really liked Dr. Luckow but his -receptionist I just don’t have words for someone who would state we’ll call you back and never did. My Dog life matters
Yup. Ironically, I just found this site. Primarily because a friend of mine just had a bad situation with her vet (a different doctor in Yonkers.) Someone she knows had recommended Luckow. Which made me think back to what happened to us about 10 years ago.
To be fair, it was only one occurrence. And we liked Luckow up until that. But…
Our lab-terrier mix, Max, had developed an inoperable tumor pushing against his spine (he was 12 and a trooper – who had made it very successfully through two bladder crystal surgeries before.) One night – it got to the point where we needed to end his suffering. It was *right around* vet closing time, and we called Luckow’s office because Maxie was *screaming* in pain. But were told that they wouldn’t stay open for us. We’d have to wait.
We rushed him to the first vet we could find. Which turned out to be Riverdale Vet Clinic. And we’ve been there ever since. Yes, they’re expensive. But they care.
My poor baby didn’t deserve to have to suffer through the night in agony. And that’s why WE left Luckow.