The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

House calls a growing trend among veterinarians; clients pay more but love concierge treatment

  • Print

LOS ANGELES, Calif. - Two kids, two pets, two jobs, too much.

That's how it felt to Erin McCarthy when it came time to drag her cat and puppy to the veterinarian. So she jumped on a growing trend among veterinarians and called the vet to her.

House calls are a growing trend among the country's 85,000 veterinarians, said Dr. Bonnie Beaver, a professor at Texas A&M University's College of Veterinary Medicine and director of the American College of Veterinary Behaviourists.

It's been a life-saver for McCarthy, whose cat Duke was so afraid of the vet he had to be tranquilized to get there. When he was joined by a Shih Tzu puppy, Pooch, they found a vet who makes house calls, Elisabetta Coletti. McCarthy has made liberal use of text-messaging when a house call isn't necessary.

"When Pooch ate a peppermint patty last week, she was there with instant advice that got us through the night," said McCarthy, a teacher in Brooklyn, N.Y.

The trend is a return to tradition, Beaver said: "We used to call them farm calls." While the vet was taking care of cows and horses and other livestock, he would take care of the family dogs and cats too, she said.

"House calls used to be the bread and butter part of our business," agreed Dr. Margarita Abalos, a relief and concierge vet in Los Angeles.

Then clinics and hospitals, where X-rays could be taken and surgeries performed, became the norm.

Now house calls are making a bit of a comeback, at least in bigger cities and higher income areas, said Abalos, who handles several ranch pigs, goats and sheep in addition to smaller animals.

Seeing an animal at its home enhances the bond between vet, pet and owner, the veterinarians say.

It starts with less stress, said Lisa Beagan in Severna Park, Md., the Mobile Pet Vet. There is no waiting, driving, loading or getting hot and cranky for kids or pets, she said.

"For a lot of animals, it's stressful to go into a strange hospital with all kinds of smells. Cats and dogs are so smell-sensitive, it's like getting bombarded with a kaleidoscope of colours. At home, they don't realize they are having an exam or shots," she said.

House calls help vets solve behaviour problems, too.

Beagan had a client who couldn't figure out why her cat was peeing outside its box. Seems the litter box was next to the cat's pet door and when it came through the door and went to the box, the flap on the door would hit it on the behind. Removing the flap solved the problem, she said.

Other pet owners may need a reality check.

"I had a client who, bless her, had these fat, fat cats. I had been at her for years to deal with their weight. She kept saying they were only getting a certain measured amount of food each day," Abalos said. So she made a surprise house call. "There were bowls of food everywhere. I caught her red-handed." They were able to start working on the problem together.

Beagan said many of her pets and owners are geriatric and have trouble getting in and out of cars, so house calls help them all.

House calls can cost twice as much as an office visit, but every vet is different. Charges have to be higher because sometimes the vets can only make it to three or four homes in a day and they have to limit client numbers.

In New York, house calls may be as necessary as they are convenient, Coletti said, because many cab drivers won't stop for someone with a dog or cat and many New Yorkers, including Coletti, don't have cars.

Coletti makes her house calls on bicycle, with her cocker spaniel Milo in the front basket and supplies and equipment in a rear trailer.

Coletti helped Carrie Dirks Amodeo through the death of her cat, Delphi, several months ago. At the same time Delphi got sick, Dirks Amodeo had her second son. She had to leave Delphi's care to Coletti.

"She would come after the kids went to bed and take care of the cat, then she'd let herself out," Dirks Amodeo said.

When Delphi had to have surgery, Coletti went with Dirks Amodeo and the boys.

And when the time came, Coletti put Delphi down.

Vets who make house calls say home euthanasia is one of the most important parts of their practices.

"That was so important. We were heartbroken. She was able to come so we could have our time with the cat without being rushed and pulled in a lot of directions," Dirks Amodeo said. "She was as invested in respecting him as we were."

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Key of Bart - The Floodway Connection

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A goose flys defensively to protect their young Wednesday near Kenaston Blvd and Waverley -See Bryksa 30 Day goose challenge- Day 16 - May 23, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • A young goose gobbles up grass at Fort Whyte Alive Monday morning- Young goslings are starting to show the markings of a adult geese-See Bryksa 30 day goose challenge- Day 20– June 11, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Will you miss Grandma Elm?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google