He makes house calls.
Dr. Sunil Gupta’s Aboite Animal Housecall Practice offers on-site, total veterinary care for smaller animals covering services ranging from routine physicals and exams to vaccinations and surgeries.
by Scott Kolesar
Fictional character Dr. Doolittle may have talked to the animals, but he didn’t take the initiative to do it while making house calls on the critters. That role is being played however by a real Fort Wayne animal doctor who is doing quite a lot these days talking to and taking care of pets and the owners in the comfort of their own homes.
Dr. Sunil Gupta, owner of Aboite Animal Housecall Practice started providing in home veterinary services in 1991 to the Fort Wayne area. Today, after more than a dozen years working as a veterinarian around northeast Indiana, Gupta attributes his practice’s recent growth and success to a life influenced by equal passions for science, animals and family.
Gupta was born in Ithaca, New York in 1962, the middle of three boys whose father was then obtaining his PhD in entomology at Cornell University. When he was 2 years old , Sunil left the United States with his family and went to live in his father’s native India, growing up there and eventually attending veterinary school. He graduated at the top of his class in 1985 from the College of Veterinary Sciences Haryana Agriculturial University, and soon returned to the US and took a staff position at Fort Wayne veterinary a practice.
Although he hadn’t always aspired to be a veterinarian, Gupta says that during his first year of college he realized it was the field for him after a lifelong education enriched by science. “ I saw the surgical cases and loved it, and the whole interest took off from there, “ says Gupta, who entered a very specialized field like many of his peers and family members who were involved in science, engineering and business.
Today, Gupta operates Aboite Animal Housecall Practice and offers on-site, total veterinary care for smaller animals, covering services ranging from routine physicals and exams to vaccinations and surgeries.
As can be expected, Gupta’s two biggest groups of patients are dogs and cats, although many kinds of “exotic” animals are also becoming more popular. Gupta says that rabbits, guinea pigs and especially ferrets, animals he affectionately calls “pocket pets” are all on his expanding patient list. So far in his career though, Gupta says the most surprising creature he has encountered in his house calls is one family’s pet hedgehog.
Like any kind of doctor, Gupta naturally comes to any housecall fully prepared with traditional medical supplies, in addition to some surprising items as well. He carries the usual stethoscopes, thermometers and tourniquets, but also totes a portable EKG machine and a healthy supply of dog biscuits and other treats for his furry patients.
Gupta schedules all of his on-site appointments at his client’s convenience, which means he works many evenings and weekends, often traveling all over Fort Wayne for more than 12 hours a day. Two veterinary assistants work with Gupta on some surgical cases and patient housecalls, which helps Gupta have the time to perform several surgeries each week.
This hectic pace is kept moving by Gupta’s involvement with ongoing education and training, a constant requirement in any veterinary career. “Medical technology, treatment modalities and medications keep changing, and veterinary doctors have to know it all to best treat their patients,” says Gupta.
In addition to learning how to use new medications such as dog heartworm treatments with fewer side effects, Gupta sometimes also has to learn about treating different breeds of animals. “With more unique pets today, we need to learn about them all,” says Gupta. “When I was in school, I just never imagined having to fix a broken leg on a guinea pig, but no matter what the animal is, good treatment is essential because it’s someone’s pet.”
Typical pet ailments that Gupta treats include problems such as treating dogs and cats for seizures, car accidents, pregnancies and colds. Of all the duties he performs during his housecall visits, there is one veterinary service that saddens Gupta and virtually every veterinarian he knows, euthanasia.
Early in his practice, pet owners began requesting that Gupta make house calls for the unfortunate task of putting their pets to sleep, which he says seemed to help make a difficult process easier for many people. “Regrettably, all vets have to do it as a way of helping pets to end their suffering, and I’ve found that visiting the home makes it more comforting for owners and their pets,” says Gupta. “It’s so precious and emotional and difficult to bring your pet to a veterinarian’s office for that final visit, and many pet owners feel they can make their pet more comfortable by doing it in their home.”
This interaction with people and their pets—in both healthy and challenging times—is what Gupta says make his career so rewarding. Having grown up with dogs his entire life, he knows very well the bond that is created between people and their pets. Today, Gupta and his wife, Teri, are the proud owners of four dogs themselves, all Maltese and some actually former patients of Gupta’s.
One of Gupta’s dogs, Dynamite, was a Valentine’s Day gift from Teri six years ago, after being a patient whose owner could no longer care for him. Another one of their dogs, Casper also faced weeks of tube feeding and surgery to repair a cleft palate.
Like with Dynamite, Gupta bought Casper to care for it himself, and says he felt honored to have the help of a local medical doctor, plastic surgeon Dr. Geoff Randolph, who kindly volunteered his time to assist Gupta in the delicate and rare surgery on his newest pet. Today, together with their other two dogs, Champion and Popcorn. The Guptas are very happy with their healthy pet family. During the rare time when he is not working or playing with his dogs, Gupta says he also enjoys photography, table tennis, and golf.
In addition to learning from his peers in the area through local and regional veterinary associations, many veterinarians will refer new clients to Gupta because most don’t make regular housecalls like he does.
Gupta says he is very driven to succeed and is excited to continue Aboite Animal Housecall Practice with every new patient and pet owner he assists. “People and their pets need help, and I can’t tum them down no matter how busy I get,” says Gupta, “because I love what I do and it never gets boring.”
I’ve always wanted to help other people and their pets, and I’m thankful to Lord for what he has helped me to do. I feel very fortunate.” BP