For many pet lovers in Philadelphia, a new company now will enable them to bring the care they'd get at the vet's office into their own homes.
Vetter Pet Care is a Philadelphia-based business launched in August 2017 that allows pet owners to schedule in-home veterinary appointments. All the veterinarians at Vetter Pet Care are Penn graduates, although it is not a prerequisite for applying for a job there.
Founder Ryan Connell said the business was born out of frustration with having to take time off work to bring his pet to the veterinary office, only to have a long wait time.
While he is not a vet by background, his wife, 2016 Penn Vet graduate Rebecca Bernstein, is a veterinarian by profession and thus he was exposed to the career tangentially.
He said they have been “spoiled with the great institution of Penn in our backyard.” The work covers wellness visits, sick visits, and vaccines — anything outside of anesthesia, seizures, and surgery. They perform 90 percent of what is typically performed at a general practice veterinary hospital, excluding emergency situations.
The company strives to modernize the delivery of vet care, Connell said. It is a new side of vet medicine that has a simple and convenient process primarily online. Philadelphia resident and dog owner Justin Hastings said booking his appointments around five days in advance is like "booking a haircut."
Online, customers can upload any old medical records and see medical records after the appointment online as well. In the future, they hope to have an integrative tele-medical feature for the customer, rather than a back-and-forth email correspondence when the customer has questions about their pets.
"Manilla folder and looseleaf days are gone," Connell said.
They have done over 700 home visits so far.
Hastings said that the convenience factor is what really drew him to Vetter Pet Care. He works a standard 9-5 job that would require him to take time off work to bring his dog to the vet. He said Vetter Pet Care is also ideal for pets who have anxiety while traveling in a car because the appointment takes place at home.
Hastings uses Vetter once a year for just the basic shots, more or less like a dog physical, he described it.
“What I really enjoyed was not waiting. Pretty much any doctor’s office whether for humans or pets, you go in and wait 20 to 30 minutes," Hastings said. "With Vetter, I made the appointment both times at five and they showed up right on time."
Hastings also said that having home appointments can avoid inter-pet conflicts that may happen at a veterinary waiting room. For example, his dog does not like interacting with cats while waiting for appointments.
Vetter Pet Care's core of operations is in Philadelphia but has recently expanded to Baltimore within the past four months.
2014 Penn Vet graduate Arielle Camp said there's "a ton of familiar faces" while working at Vetter Pet Care. She added that there are benefits for vets to make home appointments, too.
"For us it’s nice to be interacting with the animals in their own environment where they’re a little less stressed," Camp said.
"Going to the vet is a stressful and sometimes emotional process," Camp added. "So going back to the idea of trying to reduce both the animal’s and client’s anxiety makes appointments a much more positive and relaxed experience and that makes my job more enjoyable."