Most entrepreneurs in Forest Hills would say that running a business in Queens comes with a unique set of challenges.
But very few of those owners have ever had to treat a nearly two-story tall snake in their office.
Stephen Wyler, owner of Trylon Vet Care on Austin Street can make that claim, and is happy to do it. He's a veterinarian with nearly four decades of experience in Queens and Long Island, and a passion for making pets well.
St. Francis of Austin Street
Wyler knew at the tender of age of four that he wanted to spend his life saving animals — and told his parents as much at the time.
After a young adult life spent attending schools on both sides of the Atlantic, Wyler settled in New York with an eye on helping animal lovers make good, healthy choices with their feline, canine, avian and other best friends.
He compared his client base to a United Nations of pet owners. People from different walks of life, from different parts of the world who speak different languages all have one thing in common: a deep love and concern for their pets.
"We have the most diversified, eclectic mix of nationalities," Wyler said. "We will have Russians or people from Uzbekistan, and then we'll walk into the next room and we'll be speaking Spanish with people from South America."
Wyler's staff rises to the challenge of serving those communities by working to learn new languages to help ensure that doctor's orders are followed by clients who would otherwise be at a loss.
Rising From the Ashes
Loss is something Wyler himself, and his staff, is very familiar with. Up until last year, Trylon was located in Rego Park, near Tower Diner on Queens Boulevard. The office was destroyed in a fire with 30-foot sky-licking flames that shut down his practice for months.
Wyler, undaunted, worked to find a new home and ended up on Austin Street in Forest Hills. While the transition took longer than he had hoped, the change has ultimately been for the best, he said.
"Everybody was upset. It was a very emotional thing to see our practice, which everyone had worked so hard to build, go up in flames," he said. "My reaction after the fire was, 'don't worry, we'll be back bigger and better. You've gotta have faith,' and that's exactly what happened."
Now, pet owners with an animal in distress can park a car in a garage and don't have to hike up stairs to a four-legged emergency room. It's all in one place, and easier than ever to provide care.
A Walk on the Wild Side
Wyler makes a point of treating exotic animals — both the winged and scaled varieties. It's an enterprise that many vets in the borough don't tackle, and it makes the Trylon offices more exciting than your typical vet.
He said his most challenging experience with a pet was when a Queens man brough a 15-foot Burmese python into the office with a respiratory infection.
"Basically he came in with a large Rubbermaid container — of course he didn't say anything when he called," Wyler said. "And it took approximately five people to help to restrain the snake to take a throat culture. That's somebody who is into his snake, but is living on a tightrope."