Mobile Pet Service Brings House Calls Into The 21st Century | WABE 90.1 FM

Mobile Pet Service Brings House Calls Into The 21st Century

Feb 24, 2017

Two tiny, newborn puppies squeak as they feel out their surroundings; their eyes haven’t opened yet, but once they find each other with their little paws, they immediately get into position to cuddle. They find comfort in each other’s warmth, and they stop yipping as they rest on the soft pad of a towel.

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Their mother is nearby, being looked over by Dr. Charron Bryant, a veterinarian who takes his practice to the homes of the animals, rather than having the animals come to him.

The idea of a veterinary house call, especially one in the middle of the city may seem out of place. One might be inclined to think of a world akin to that of James Herriot’s “All Creatures Great and Small.”

But this isn’t an ordinary house call. With the use of an app, getting a vet to come to the house is just as easy as getting a burrito delivered to your desk.

Convenience

Renee Collins was in the market for a new vet for her dogs when she noticed her dog Maya was looking a little different.

“I came home from a business trip and noticed she was a little … puffy,” Collins said.  

Dr. Charron Bryant with VetPronto holds two newborn puppies in his hands as he examines them to check their health during a house call on Feb. 15, 2017.
Credit Al Such / WABE

She found VetPronto and Bryant on Yelp, and once the company heard about Maya’s condition, made an appointment to come as soon as possible.

By the time Bryant arrived on the scene, two happy, healthy, cuddly puppies had been born.

Bryant holds the puppies, which are each about the size of a granola bar, one at a time as he examines them, making sure that their mother’s parental instincts have kicked in. They’re being cleaned, fed and always kept warm, which Bryant says is essential to ensuring the puppies have a healthy childhood.

Bryant can’t help but smile as he looks on the newborns and instructs Collins on proper care and what to look out for.

Collins said she liked her first experience with a mobile vet because there was no waiting room. She felt like the visit was more personal because it took place in her home, and she liked being present with her dogs as they were being checked.

Dr. Charron Bryant examines one puppy up close, turning it one way and then the other to make sure it's being cleaned by its mother during a house call on Feb. 15, 2017.
Credit Al Such / WABE

End-of-Life Care

Mobile pet services like VetPronto spend a decent amount of time caring for puppies, but they are available to treat pets throughout the duration of their lives.

In fact, one of the first experiences most people tend to have with a mobile vet service is end-of-life care, VetPronto co-founder Joe Waltman said.

Taking a pet to a vet is an extremely emotional experience; it’s difficult for a pet owner to lose their furry companion, and many animals have bad memories of being in veterinary offices, where they have likely been poked with needles or handled by unfamiliar hands.

“Dragging a sick, dying pet into a sterile clinic where they already have a bad experience is more often than not a complete disaster,” he said.

Waltman said that when it comes to a procedure like euthanasia, owners sometimes prefer their dogs be in their own familiar territory – in front of their “happy place.”.

Bryant recognizes that the idea of in-home euthanasia might sound a little strange.

“It’s a much more personal touch,” he said, “and some people are willing to pay for that.”

Starting Up

Waltman started his house call veterinary service because of a personal experience. He and his wife were dog owners, and when the dog developed a cough, they were unable to schedule an appointment. At the time, they didn’t have the time to see a vet in the office.

“It would’ve taken half a day of our time,” he said.

As their pet’s condition worsened and once they were able to seek out treatment, they found out that the cough had developed into pneumonia. It cost thousands of dollars to treat, he said, and their pet nearly didn’t make it out alive.

“It shouldn’t be that hard and that inconvenient to have your animal taken care of,” he said.

When Bryant examines Maya, the new mother of the Yorkie couple, he makes sure she’s producing milk, makes sure she has healed properly from birth, and then takes care of her standard check-up.

He finds some calculus, or plaque, on her teeth. He mentions to Collins that her pet needs a tooth cleaning, but it can wait eight or so weeks until the pups are fully weaned.

It doesn’t seem like much, but if the plaque had gone untreated or unfound, it could lead to health complications down the line.

Doggy mom Maya looks toward Dr. Charon Bryant with pride as she nurses her two new puppies during a house call on Feb. 15, 2017.
Credit Al Such / WABE

In the present, Dr. Bryant examines Maya, the new mother of the Yorkie couple. He makes sure she’s producing milk, makes sure she has healed properly from birth, and then takes care of her standard check-up.

He finds some calculus, or plaque, on her teeth. He mentions to owner Collins that her pet needs a tooth cleaning, but it can wait 8 or so weeks until the pups are fully weaned.

It doesn’t seem like much, but if the plaque had gone untreated or unfound, it could lead to health complications down the line.

Bedside Manner

Collins said for her dogs, being seen by a vet in the home is a much easier experience than being shipped off in a crate and dragged into an office.

For Bryant, the difference between working in a corporate, brick-and-mortar practice and tending to house calls is like “day and night.”“Just seeing the environment where the puppies are – being able to look around and see things that are potentially a problem – is something that just works tremendously for me,” Bryant said.

New doggy dad (or ''The Culprit,'' as owner Renee Collins refers to him) stays near his mate and new puppies during the duration of a veterinary house call on Feb. 15, 2017.
Credit Al Such / WABE

Along with that added benefit of seeing the puppies’ environment firsthand, the dogs themselves experience less anxiety because they can learn a new face in surroundings they know are theirs.

“I can remember so many days in practice when the pets would be just literally drug into the office,” Bryant said.

Collins' dogs Maya and Marley, new puppy parents, were calm and pleasant with this house call. And the family got a clean bill of health as Dr. Bryant packed his equipment to head out for the next adventure.