- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 12, 2004

Dr. Gary Weitzman is keeping tabs on the health of Washington’s pets as the new director of the Washington Animal Rescue League’s Veterinary Medical Center in Northwest.

Dr. Weitzman, a 44-year-old veterinarian, runs the clinic, which is part of the Washington nonprofit animal welfare organization. The clinic holds up to 200 animals and sees about 3,000 pets of low-income residents annually.

Dr. Weitzman signed on to the job about six months ago after serving a one-year stint as the program evaluations director in the U.S. Army’s congressionally directed medical research program at Fort Detrick, Md. Dr. Weitzman, serving in a public health position, assessed Army research programs that sought to cure diseases such as breast cancer.

Before that job, Dr. Weitzman served in the U.S. Air Force after working as a veterinarian in a private practice in the Boston area.

At the Veterinary Medical Center, Dr. Weitzman heads up a team of three veterinarians and seven animal-health technicians, taking care of shelter animals at the hospital and performing surgeries, dental cleanings and orthopedic treatments.

His patients are D.C. residents who can’t afford to take their pets, most of them dogs and cats, to other clinics. “One of the great things about our mission is we get to take care of animals for the low-income community,” which generally receive little care, he said.

Dr. Weitzman also runs welfare programs out of the Washington Animal Rescue League, such as a free spay and neuter program for pets of D.C. residents. The program started in May after another free neutering program shut down.

Scotlund Haisley, the organization’s executive director, said Dr. Weitzman’s ability to get the program off the ground in his first few weeks on the job showed he has been the best candidate to run the clinic.

“Gary has 15 years of experience as a vet and other experience in public health positions, which is necessary for this job because it’s more than just being a vet. He’s directing a hospital and using veterinary medicine for shelter animals,” Mr. Haisley said.

Dr. Weitzman said his bigger challenge is educating low-income residents on pet care.

“It’s really important to care for the animals and give them the best medical treatment, but educating the community about pet hygiene and care and reducing animal overpopulation is really the greater goal,” he said.

Dr. Weitzman lives on Capitol Hill with his partner.

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