About Dr. Spiegel

Born in Beth El Hospital in Brooklyn, New York, USA at 10:36pm on May 19th of 1965, I… David Scott Spiegel lived in the East Flatbush section of Brooklyn on 57th street between Ave. K & L.

I lived with my mother, Lynda, father, Albert, and my older brother (by 4 years), Steven. [Steven is now an attorney/dealmaker in Orange County, New York. Albert is an orthodontist in Hyde Park, NY, and Lynda is a physical education teacher in a Hyde Park Parochial school.]

Among my earliest memories are the waiting room in the office where my father was working as a dentist. Upon the walls were the most exquisite hunting trophies. I, all of 2 or 3 at the time, didn’t know of hunting and all the beauty of the sport {sarcasm}. But I did know what I liked, and I loved animals. We didn’t have a pet until we came home one evening in the pouring rain when I was 4, to find a young female mixbreed looking very wet and pathetic. She was all black and I believe mostly English Spaniel. She was named Princess, and she was dearly loved and badly spoiled. She got quite fat, and it affected her health in the latter part of her life. But that’s another story.

Before we had Princess, however, my canine exposures were at my grandparents house in Oceanside, NY. My grandmother was a huge animal lover. When I was born they had Lady a very loving female boxer. But I knew and loved best their German Shepherd, Brandy. Brandy was a lover of a dog. You could do just about anything to her and all she wanted was to give you kisses (licks).

I believe I was 3 when my Grandmother, Choochie, brought me along with Brandy to her vet. Needless to say I was left with a very formidable impression when the vet showed us one of his patients who also had come in that morning… a live, full-grown tiger.

I grew up with a collection of little plastic animals, of all kinds, and I played with them almost endlessly amongst the buildings and bridges and assorted constructions of my wooden blocks. My room and bed were adorned with a variety of stuffed animals, and animal pictures were hung and taped upon my walls.

Its probably true of about 80% of us (vets), but for as far back as I can remember, I think I always wanted to be a vet.

When I went to college at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, I began volunteering in the Emergency Service at the Veterinary Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. After a semester of volunteer work, they began training me as an E.R. Technician, and I then worked weekends from midnight to 8am, and then 8pm to 4am. The learning experiences were tremendous.

One night a 170 lb. Great Dane came in with a G.D.V. (gastric dilatation volvulus), also known as Bloat. This is an extremely painful and life-threatening condition in which the stomach becomes filled with gas and foam, and sometimes twists onto itself. We were lifting the dog onto the table to get IV lines in and fluids running. I had the front end, another tech had the back end. As we were lifting the dog, a well meaning 3rd year vet student, decided he would help, and started to lift the dog from the middle. The pain must have shot straight up into his C.N.S. (central nervous system), and he just began chomping on my arm. I found out later by the hand specialist, that the jaws of a Dane can generate a force of 700 lbs psi (per square inch). Animals in pain, or who are otherwise irritated, unquestionably have a lower tolerance threshold when it comes to eliciting aggression.

As an undergraduate I majored in something called the Biological Basis of Behavior. There were a wide variety of core courses that were required for the major, but for the most part, I was able to pick and choose from multiple departments: psychology, biology, sociology, anthropology, etc…

My favorite classes included Neuroethology, Behavioral Medicine, the Psychology of Personal Growth, and Animal Communication.

My senior year, I found out about Victoria Voith, who at the time was the director of the Behavior Clinic at the Veterinary Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. If you haven’t heard of her, Vickie Voith is a veterinarian with a PhD. in comparative psychology. She is well recognized as one of the founders of, and foremost contributors in, the field of clinical companion animal behavior.

I volunteered with Dr. Voith and after a few months she hired me as her clinical assistant. I worked with Dr. Voith for a year and a half, during which time she didn’t have a resident in her residency program. Vickie essentially took me under her wing and became my mentor. It was during this time, that I became certain of what I was going to do with my life.

And so when I was accepted into the Veterinary School of the University of Pennsylvania in 1987, I knew that after I earned my veterinary degree, I was going to focus completely on behavioral therapy.

My behavioral veterinary practice was founded in 1993 in Northern Delaware. Shortly thereafter, in early March of 1994, I began writing a regularly featured column in the sunday paper for Delaware’s News Journal, and then later wrote for the Philadelphia Inquirer. A complete library (4 years worth) of these columns is available for your enjoyment and edification in the “Articles” section of this site.

It was, also, during those 4 years of column writing and behavioral practice in Delaware that I established this domain. The name for this site came into being on the sidewalks of midtown Manhattan in the early spring of 1996. I had just finished a breakfast meeting with a lifelong friend. And as we were about to part, we set to brainstorming a name…. it took just less than a minute, and petpsych was born.

In 1999 I moved my practice about 10 miles north to the town of Swarthmore, Pennsylvania. And after 6 months of careful planning and construction, in the spring of 2000, I opened the doors of my custom designed behavioral office. Most of my initial consults are still scheduled as House Calls, as it is highly advantageous to observe animals in their home environment. I travel within an hour’s radius, which covers the geographic regions of Delaware, Northeastern Maryland, Southern New Jersey, and Southeastern Pennsylvania [The Philadelphia Tri-State Region]. In certain situations I do travel outside of this area to see cases with appropriate compensation. My work day runs from 9:30am to 9:30pm Mondays through Fridays.

Most of my cases come to me as referrals from over 50 veterinary hospitals in the region, in addition to referrals from area shelters, obedience schools, and word of mouth from clients I have served.

So here I am, already very busy. Why am I putting myself out here in cyberspace?

I have created a highly specialized niche for myself along with many others whose lives are devoted to service in this global community. My primary concerns are for the animals. Quality of life for animals varies widely from culture to culture, as it does within a given culture. My objective is to continue to push the scales in the direction of the positive for individual animals and the people with which they live. The benefits of utilizing my services can be as dramatic as saving animals that would be destroyed if problems were not resolved, and as subtle as providing the means through which your pet will view you with greater affection and enjoy listening to you.

Treatment plans are custom designed to meet the individualized needs of a given animal’s situation. I typically use a multifaceted approach to specifically address all of the factors influencing a given problem.

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