Dr. David Tayman, a longtime Howard County veterinarian and pet columnist, dies

Dr. David Tayman helped establish a shelter for pets of domestic violence victims.

Dr. David Tayman, a longtime Howard County veterinarian and former owner of VCA-Columbia Animal Hospital who conducted the “Ask the Vet” column for The Baltimore Sun’s Howard Magazine, died from complications of Parkinson’s disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease May 28 at Howard County General Hospital. The Columbia resident was 75.

“David set a tone of excellence but never rubbed your face in it, and people were inspired by him to do things the right way,” said Howard Weinstein, a longtime client. “He was always so friendly and outgoing and gave you a handshake. Also, he never rushed you in and out, because he wanted to chat.”


David Tayman, son of Oscar Tayman, a liquor store owner, and his wife, Florence Posner Tayman, a homemaker, was born in Baltimore and raised on Park Heights Avenue and later the Ranchleigh neighborhood near Pikesville.

After graduating from Baltimore City College in 1964, he earned a bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University in East Lansing, and his degree in veterinary medicine in 1969, also from Michigan State.


“When I graduated from Michigan State University with my veterinary medicine degree in 1969, I could not have predicted the great experiences ahead of me, how much the practice of veterinary medicine would change — and when my personal journey might conclude,” Dr. Tayman wrote in his farewell “Ask the Vet” column in 2016 in Howard Magazine. He started the column in 2007.

“Back in ‘69, we still dialed rotary phones, astronauts had just landedon the moon, the Vietnam War raged, and there were no cellphones, home computers or Internet. In medicine, we still administered injections from reusable glass syringes — and had to sharpen our own hypodermic needles! Compared to today, both human and veterinary medicine were still in their relative infancy,” he wrote. “At school, I was honored to be on the heart bypass surgery unit for animals.”

After working in several animal hospitals, Dr. Tayman established Columbia Animal Hospital in Columbia in 1974, and thereafter opened several other animal hospitals in the area.

“Over nearly 50 years since. I felt as if I were on a rocket ride, witnessing and participating in an unprecedent boom in technological development and human knowledge,” he wrote. “Use of plastics revolutionized medical practice as it became the norm for such simple but crucial tools as syringes and IV catheters. Better vaccines evolved. When I started, cats were considered old by 10 or 11 — now we have pets living into their twenties.”

Dr. Nancy L. Kelso became medical director of the practice when Dr. Tayman retired in 2016.

“I first met Dr. Tayman as a child when I brought my dog to him in 1976,” Dr. Kelso said. “He was such an inspiration and he had a great love for animals. He always was constantly learning new things and he was exceptional in that regard. He was very progressive.”

When a client’s dog swallowed a bone that became lodged in his esophagus and he was unable to save the animal, he studied endoscopy and purchased the equipment to spare future animals from a similar fate.

Dr. Tayman learned how to measure blood pressure in pets in order to detect and prevent cats going blind from feline hypertension, and embraced the use of ultrasound in his practice, which became a standard diagnostic tool.


“Pets now benefit from pacemakers, kidney transplants, arthroscopic surgery, laparoscopy, rapid in-house diagnostics and advancements in therapy and surgery we only dreamed about back then,” he wrote. “So much scientific progress — and the best is yet to come.”

In 2006, he sold his practice to VCA Animal Hospitals but remained medical director for a decade until retiring.

“I moved from New York in 1989 and I loved my vet who I left behind on Staten Island,” Mr. Weinstein said. “David was like an old-fashioned doctor and that’s why we picked him. He set the tone for his practice and showed an interest in people. I’d rather go to him for medical care than a regular doctor.”

When Mr. Weinstein’s Corgi Annie was at the end of her life and suffering from dehydration, he called Dr. Tayman.

“It was a Sunday and he said he’d open the office and to bring her in,” he said. “That’s the kind of person he was.”

In 1998, when Mr. Weinstein proposed conducting weekend dog training classes, Dr. Tayman wholeheartedly embraced the idea.


“He told me to write a proposal and then gave me the code and key to his office and never charged me a thing. All he asked me to do was clean up the office after training sessions,” he said. “Another mark of his medical practice was that his staff tended to stay for a longtime because he treated them like family.”

Dr. Tayman’s borrowed a phrase from a favorite professor, Dr. Wade Brinker, and made it his own and emblematic of his workplace philosophy: “Treat each pet as if it were your own.”

When one of his medical technicians, Vera Case, 31, of Mount Airy, who was abused and later shot in a domestic violence-relating killing in 1998 by her husband, Dr. Tayman told The Sun he hought she was afraid to “leave him in part because she did not want to lose her beloved dog.”

After killing Ms. Case, her husband took his own life.

The Morning Sun


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In the wake of his colleague’s death, he started a program called PetSafe, which boarded pets of domestic violence victims in an undisclosed location away from batterers while they sought assistance from the county’s Domestic Violence Center.

“I don’t want another Vera,” he told The Sun.


Dr. Tayman was very active in the community. He served as a member of the Howard County Board of Health, the Hospital Foundation, and Chamber of Commerce. He also developed the Mutt Mitt public health program, which was a system of stations throughout Howard County for pet waste disposal.

In 1986, he served as president of the Maryland Veterinary Medical Association, and was named Veterinarian of the Year in 2001.

Dr. Tayman’s interests included wildlife photography and exercising at the Columbia Athletic Club.

Services were private.

He is survived by his wife of 41 years, the former April A. Koch, a retired Howard County educator; two daughters, Elizabeth J. Shipe of Clarksville and Jacqueline E. Wineke of Jessup; and four grandchildren.