Helping Pets: A Way of Life for Phil Klein
By David S. Chartock
Holistic pet care is more than a business for 71-year-old, U.S. Army Veteran Phil Klein. It’s a way of life.
Twenty-five years ago, Klein and his wife Randy, bought Whiskers, a 300-square-foot pet supply store in Manhattan’s East Village neighborhood. Today, Whiskers Holistic Pet Care, Inc., has two locations, the Manhattan store, which was expanded to 1,000 square feet 15 years ago by taking over the space once occupied by a Japanese sushi store, and the second store, which was opened ten years ago, at 19-25 Ditmars Boulevard in Astoria (Queens), N.Y.
Holistic pet care, Klein said, “is 180 degrees opposite of what a pet caretaker is told by a traditional veterinarian. It’s working not only with an animal’s symptoms, but with the entire animal, including its physical, mental and emotional well-being.”
“Our mission is to bring the benefits of holistic wellness concepts to the universe of companion animals through the education of pet caregivers, and to foster the research, identification and introduction of pet products and methods to further that aim,” said Klein, who is a certified Tellington TTouch Practitioner. He described the Tellington TTouch as a hands-on healthcare method that offers a gentle approach to the care and training of any being with a spinal column.
But, Klein was not always engaged in helping pet parents improve the health and well-being of their companions.
It all began a quarter-of-a-century ago when Tiffany Anne, Randy’s collie-mix rescue dog “was misdiagnosed” and placed on what he called “garbage food.”
“When we realized what had been done, we began to research alternatives, and found my ‘guru’ vet.
That veterinarian was Dr. Marty Goldstein in Smith Ridge, N.Y., just 90 minutes from Manhattan. “He told us Tiffany Anne, then 12 years old, had cancer of the ankle. When we realized that the cancer wasn’t going into remission, for this 125-pound ‘Lassie’ lookalike family member, we decided to let the vet amputate the dog’s leg,” he continued.
“But big dogs do not do as well as amputees as small dogs. So, sadly, Tiffany-Anne’s lust for life dwindled away until she told us that it was time to let her go. And she was put to sleep,” Klein noted.
At that time, Klein said, we had a document production business called WordServ. After 20 years, it was a business that had run its course. Everyone had a computer and could do what we did.”
So, being very impressed with Dr. Goldstein’s treatments and concepts, the Klein’s decided to enter a field related to animals. “And the only way to do that was to educate pet caregivers on holistic alternatives,” he explained.
Continuing, Klein added that he and Randy found a “For Sale” ad for a tiny pet supply store in Manhattan’s East Village and bought the store. Since then, Klein said he has literally helped thousands of pets get well. “People come to us when their pets are on the wrong side of the bell curve. Usually the animals are too far gone. However, by using holistic pet care, we are able to significantly reduce the severity of the pets’ symptoms, and, based on experience, offer them a baseline protocol that I know would be helpful in alleviating problems,” he added.
Once problems had been reduced in severity or alleviated, then “we continued on a course to improve the pet’s health,” Klein said.
Continuing, Klein noted that “generally, the pet parent follows up with us, and if it is needed, we go to the next step or make any necessary changes, with everything done on an individualized basis.”
With regard to the mental and emotional help for a pet, Klein explained that a good portion of the problem with dogs and cats is that they are fed poorly and they never get the exercise that they really require. Sufficient exercise is necessary for the physical, mental and emotional well-being of a pet, he noted.
Helping pets, which has not only included dogs and cats, but birds, hamsters, rabbits, mice and other rodents as well, has helped to make Klein’s life fulfilling because he actually sees and is praised for the results of his work.
“When someone comes to you with their pet that is severely debilitated for one reason or another, and the pet parent comes back because of the positive results, it keeps me going. It’s the fuel for my fire. If I didn’t do that I do, I’d rather be driving a cab.”
In the past 25 years, Klein has helped to prolong the life of thousands of pets many years beyond a traditional veterinarian’s prognosis. This has included pets afflicted with cancer, pancreatic, arthritis, disease of the liver and kidneys – “almost any disease an animal can get, we have worked with it,” Klein added.
Their work does not stop at holistic pet care. The Kleins also promote pet adoption by giving food and money to many pet rescue organizations that have included, but not been limited to: the North Shore Animal League, Linda’s Ferals, and Social Tees. Each store also has a “Rescue Ranch” space to house cats for adoption. Over the years, they have “re-homed” hundreds of animals. And, they have provided space in the front of their stores for rescue groups to bring their orphaned animals for adoption.
Klein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The company’s website is: 1800whiskers.com.