Dr. Sanford R. Blum started the Blum Animal Hospital in 1951 in Lakeview and in the decades that followed made it one of the premier pet care facilities in the Chicago area.
"He always told me, 'Every time you go into the exam room, put yourself in the shoes of the person on the other side of the table. Always treat them the way you would want to be treated,'" said Rob Dann, a veterinarian who took over the practice in 1984
"When Dr. Blum eventually retired from clinical practice, scores of his loyal clients were devastated. Even now, many of the pet owners I work with that were children when their beloved pets were brought in to see Dr. Blum tell me miraculous stories of how he saved their pets' lives or set their fractures."
Dr. Blum, 91, died of colon cancer Sunday, June 29, at Friendship Village, a senior living facility in Schaumburg.
After retiring from his practice in 1988, Dr. Blum was the commissioner of Chicago's Animal Care and Control department and also served as a veterinary consultant and volunteer at Shedd Aquarium.
Known as "Sandy," Dr. Blum enjoyed his role as a volunteer public interpreter at the aquarium, where he explained exhibits to visitors.
"Sandy was a fountain of knowledge on anything having to do with animals in general," said Betty Goldberg, manager of Volunteer Services at Shedd Aquarium. "He was an engaging and had a wonderful banter back and forth with our guests. There was never a question he couldn't answer, and the talks he gave were so well-researched, informative and entertaining."
Dann said he was a veterinary student when he was recommended for an interview with Dr. Blum by one of his professors.
"Having been well aware of the reputation of Blum Animal Hospital as one of the top animal hospitals in the Chicago area, let alone the state, my mouth dropped open, and I jumped at the opportunity," he said. "Dr. Blum became my first mentor. I was often told that a graduating veterinarian's first job out of school would be their most important one in that it helped one develop their skills both in clinical practice and how to deal with clients effectively. I'm so glad I heeded those words."
Dr. Blum began his practice on his own with one part-time kennel assistant. Known as a consummate professional, ("I don't think I ever saw him without a jacket and tie," Dann said.) his little practice turned into an award-winning hospital with nine veterinarians and a support staff of more than 40.
"He was the Marcus Welby, M.D., of veterinarians, a country-style doctor with years and years of experience backing him up," said his son Bruce Goldberg (No relationship to Betty Goldberg.), referring to a star physician in a 1970s TV show. "He was a natural. He could check a dog's gums and know instantly what was ailing him."
One of nine children, Dr. Blum was born and raised in Jersey City, N.J. After earning a degree in veterinary medicine from Middlesex University in Massachusetts, he served for two years in the Army as a member of the Veterinary Corps, caring for and training military dogs, during World War II.
Following his military discharge, he came to Chicago and worked in the meat and dairy inspection industry before opening his own practice.
In his retirement, Dr. Blum wrote a pet column for the Chicago Sun-Times and volunteered at the Lincoln Park Zoo and Museum of Science and Industry. For 41 years, he also served as a judge at the annual Chicago Public Schools Student Science Fair.
"He was one of those people whose life should be celebrated and his passing not mourned," his son said. "He did so much for so many."
Other survivors include another son, Michael; daughter, Rony Lipovetsky; brother, Harold; sister, Bryna Bronstein; and three grandchildren.
Services were held.