06/25/2014 12:00AM ● Published by Claudia Mosby
Photos: Brett Faulknor
At Home Mobile Veterinary Clinic Comes To You
Although for we humans, the medical ‘house call’ largely belongs to a bygone era, this is not the case for our beloved animal companions. In veterinary medicine, a home visit is just a phone call away.
“It really does go back to the idea of more personalized service,” says veterinarian Heather Evans, owner of At Home Mobile Veterinary Clinic. “When I first started in practice, I worked in a smaller hospital where I had a chance get to know my clients and their animals. Medicine has changed and it is not like that now.”
Evans, who has specialized in small animal medicine and surgery since relocating to Redding in 1996 after graduating from UC Davis veterinary school, started At Home to offer a more familiar, “old style” of care.
That old style is as much about relationship building as it is about treatment. “It’s just me, the owner, technician and pet,” says Evans. “It’s more relaxed and we can take our time and really get to know the animal and the owner(s).”
The mobile practice has been operating for two and a half years, but Evans first conceived the idea 10 years earlier when she saw a need for such a service in Shasta County.
“We receive calls all the time, whether it’s an animal that is down and cannot be put into the car or, as is often the case with cats, will not get into the car,” she says. In addition to domestics, Evans treats exotics, goats and birds (primarily parrots and chickens).
At Home patients receive treatment for routine as well as chronic conditions, ranging from eye, ear and skin problems to dental prophylaxis, which requires general anesthesia. “We do it right in the driveway and then wake the animal who can go back in the house,” says Evans. “This way there is less stress to owner and animal.”
Non-invasive therapeutic laser treatments are available for animals with arthritis, mobility and joint issues and Evans also offers acupuncture, which she says reduces musculoskeletal pain and speeds up healing time.
“There are studies that show it has helped people,” she adds. “I use it a lot for orthopedic pain and it works well for acute pain and metabolic diseases. I have used it on kitties with kidney failure and they tend to eat and feel better.”
At Home’s state-of-the-art mobile truck includes a surgical suite for routine spay and neuter procedures as well as lump removals and biopsies, abscess drainage and laceration and aural hematoma repair.
Most examinations, surgery, x-rays, blood work and ultrasounds can be performed in the mobile clinic; Evans refers those requiring advanced procedures, hospitalization and ICU-level veterinary care to Dana Park Veterinary Hospital, where she is on staff.
From the perspective of a frightened animal, a veterinarian is often the “bad guy.” To combat this, Evans always travels with one of her two technicians and says,“ Jennifer and Jessica are great. They befriend the pet, help me with restraint, assist on surgeries, and do most of the scheduling.”
While elderly and physically challenged pet parents are among the regular clientele, so are those with geriatric, aggressive or multiple animals, pets that experience severe stress-related symptoms during a veterinary visit, and those who have children or work schedules that make the convenience of the mobile clinic attractive.
“Because we are mobile and always out in the field, technology has been really helpful,” explains Evans. “Laboratory work is sent to me by email and I can access it via my smartphone. We can communicate with our clients through email and text messaging, and if I have a client that needs to refill medication, they can order it through my online pharmacy and it will be sent to their home.”
In addition to her busy practice, Evans provides spay/neutering services twice yearly as part of Saving Animals From Euthanasia’s (SAFE) voucher program.
“I bring the mobile hospital to places without one,” she says. “We do an exam, a rabies vaccine and the surgery.” At Home offered services in Lakehead last fall and again in Igo this past spring.
For harried pet parents seeking a convenient, less stressful alternative to the veterinarian’s office, At Home may be just what the doctor ordered. And an added bonus: no dog or cat hair in the car.
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