Getting Erin Verteramo’s cats to the vet is a hassle.
Her two cats — Percy, a gray tiger pushing 2 and a 14-year-old calico named Thelma — fight their owner on their way into carrier crates.
“It’s just redonkulous,” said Verteramo, of Rotterdam. “I hate doing that to them.”
So that’s where Anne Fay comes in.
Fay, a veterinarian in the Capital Region, started a mobile vet service at the end of June. Though she is the only vet she knows of that makes house calls in the area, her effort is part of a nationally expanding service, marked by its convenience for both pets and pet owners.
Her mobile venture has been a few years in the making, but really got off the ground about a month ago when she started advertising in newspapers and asking for referrals from different vet offices. She also has a website, mobilevetaf.com. Verteramo heard about Fay from a friend.
Fay caters her service to a large range of clientele, from pets who get anxious and potentially violent at a regular visit to the elderly and other pet owners who physically can’t bring their animals to a vet. She said she recently helped an older female client who had a hip replacement and a big dog that needed a checkup.
The services Fay offers are just as vast. Her car is filled with a wide array drugs and medical supplies. She’ll do shots and checkups, but also render pet hospice care. If any blood work needs to be done, she heads to a lab. She said she can’t do everything, however. She won’t do a home visit for surgeries and certain emergencies, for example an animal that was hit by a car, but she can perform surgeries with an appointment at a veterinarian office, where she works part time.
She has been practicing in the area for six years, but said she felt there was a void she could fill with a mobile vet service.
“I think some vets will do it for established clients in this immediate area, but there’s nothing for other people,” she said. “There’s a big need for it.”
A website for The American Association of Housecall and mobile Veterinarians backs that up. The site lists five New York state vets that offer a mobile service, with three in the New York City area and two in Central New York. In all, the AAHV catalogues more than 150 housecalling services in 39 states.
Brian Collins, a lecturer at Cornell University’s College of Veterinarian Medicine, said the practice is becoming more and more common, which makes it easier on clients and their pets.
“People love their pets, and they’re looking to get them treated like they would members of their family,” he said. He added that Ithaca, where Cornell is situated, has a lot of services catering to pet lovers, including mobile vets, trainers and even acupuncturists.
There is one service that sets a housecalling service apart from the traditional vet’s office: In-home euthanasias. Collins and Fay agree that putting a pet to sleep can be stressful, and being at the home makes everything more comfortable.
“It’s a big deal for a lot of clients. You could be sitting there with your pet in a waiting room full of people. They don’t like to do that,” said Fay, who also offers cremations. Collins said pet euthanasia is one of the more common reasons people want a vet to come to their homes.
For Verteramo, she’s already thought of that possibility. She said she’s put other pets down, and said some of the situations were “disasters.”
“You don’t want them to suffer,” she said.
The accounting is different in a mobile service, Fay said. She has two other people on staff, but she thinks of it in terms of not having the expense of a big payroll. She also doesn’t pay overhead on an office building.
For clients, she charges by the half hour and for services rendered, as well as mileage if the client is more than 15 miles outside of Fay’s base location in Glenville.
Verteramo said the fees were comparable to a visit to a vet’s office, even with the mileage tacked on. You can’t beat the convenience, she said. Even paying for the visit was easy — Fay has an attachment on her smartphone that reads credit cards.
She said she would use Fay again with her two dogs, Oliver and Thurman, two rat terriers who can’t bear to be separated when they go to the vet.
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