Does your cat love going to the vet? Do you love taking them to the vet? As a kitty mama, I am all too familiar with the stress it puts on cats to get them to the vet. Ally hated being in the carrier – even worse, she hated being in the car and meowed the entire time. Worst of all, I knew she was stressing as we sat in the waiting room with lots of other animals (she was an only child). Loud dogs of all sizes and other cats meowing were all around and one thing I knew about Ally – she hated all other animals. Knowing she was upset, in turn, upset me. As if we weren’t both already concerned enough for whatever reason we were AT the vet, there were these added factors.
I have recently learned of an amazing concept. The Mobile Vet! Back in the “old days”, it was very commonplace for vets to visit a client’s home and check in on their pets. Over the years, this practice was phased out in lieu of an actual veterinarian office, which has its own merits as well.
However, there are still some amazing people in our communities who are bringing this service back. Here in Athens, GA, our vet of amazingness is Sharon Wong. She owns Best Friends Mobile Veterinary Services, LLC.
I had some questions for her and she was gracious enough to take the time out of her super busy schedule of taking care of many pets in the area to answer them for me.
Tina: Tell us a little about yourself.
Sharon: I am a life-long pet owner and small animal veterinarian. I have had a mobile veterinary practice in Athens, GA for twenty years. I graduated from the University of Georgia.
I decided to become a mobile veterinarian because I wanted to have a work/career/family balance and deliver veterinary health care at home. I enjoy seeing patients and their clients in their own home. I treasure the relationships and rapport I have with families.
When I’m not making house calls, I enjoy ice dance, ballroom dance, golf, and taking my dogs to the park. I have always enjoyed activities which allow people and animals to interact. I enjoy traveling, being outdoors, and cooking with my husband.
Tina: Tell us a little about your pets.
Sharon: The pets I have at home include two dogs, a parrot, and an aquarium of African Cichlids. All of our pets were chosen by my husband and sons. I have always said to mothers, “If you are not willing to take care of a ______ , do not get it. It will become your pet.”
Our first dog’s name is Easton. She is a 12-year-old Rhodesian Ridgeback. Our son was into baseball when he named her. She and I share the same birthday.
The second dog is Shady. He is a 6-year-old Pug. His owner named him “Slim Shady” after Eminem. Pugs have lots of personality. He loves toys.
Our parrot’s name is Pablo. He is a Caique. Our family had to read 3 books on Parrot behavior before we got him. Prior to having a pet bird, I didn’t know that the smaller the parrot, the shorter the lifespan which is opposite to dogs. His birthday is Cinco de Mayo. His life expectancy is 20-40 years.
My husband wanted African Cichlids because we have had saltwater fish, turtles, and tropical fish over a 20-year period. They are colorful and from Lake Malawi, Africa. The water in the tank must be changed once a month.
I have always had dogs and an aquarium. I acquired my first cat when I was a pre-vet student in Athens. Minx was a scrawny, undernourished kitten I found underneath my car. She was my collegiate cat.
Tina: What inspired you to start a mobile vet business?
Sharon: I decided to become a mobile veterinarian because I wanted to open my own veterinary practice and I saw there was a need for at-home veterinary care.
Clients have various reasons to seek out a house call veterinary practice. Some clients are unable to drive their pets to a clinic or their pets don’t ride well. Others are multi-pet households who find house calls more convenient.
Some clients prefer not having to leave their homes or work. They value having professional services provided around their schedule.
Others have needs such as euthanasia. Whatever your pet’s needs, I work with my client to keep their pet in optimal health. When I have to relieve a pet from suffering, I provide compassion, dignity, and intimacy.
Tina: How long have you been in this business?
Sharon: I have been a mobile veterinarian for 20 years. I serve Athens and the surrounding counties. My motto has been “keeping pets healthy & their best friends happy since 1997.”
I’ve been fortunate to achieve a life/career balance. I’m glad I’ve been able to be involved in my children’s school, my husband’s work, our community, and pursue my interests. I also get to spend my lunch hour with our pets!
Tina: What benefits have you seen in your clients and their pets?
Sharon: I help others overcome obstacles to pet care because I come to their home. My very first house call was with a family who owned a Cocker Spaniel and two ferrets. The owners were not able to drive. Other situations I have helped with are pets who have behavioral changes once they enter a veterinary hospital. For instance, some pets become aggressive when in the company of other animals, but are fine at home.
Pets are less stressed when they are seen at home. They don’t shed and seem to accept me in their home. Benefits to the owners are no waiting room or pet hair in their vehicles. There is no exposure to sick pets or people. Being at home, both pet and owners have better blood pressure levels.
Tina: What are some of the challenges?
Sharon: The most challenging house call is treating an aggressive patient. There are some pets that become territorial at home. Another challenge is coordinating care if a pet needs a radiograph, hospitalization, ultrasound, or a specialized surgery.
Tina: Do you work with any animal groups or rescue groups in the area?
Sharon: Right now, I am not working with a particular animal group, but I have been asked to participate in career day at local schools in the Athens area.
Tina: What is your favorite part of being a mobile vet?
Sharon: I enjoy being a mobile veterinarian because house calls are never monotonous. Every day and every house call is different. I enjoy the flexibility and creativity I use to personalize each pet’s check-up. I enjoy being a mobile veterinarian because pets and owners are more relaxed at home. This is the stress-free veterinary visit clients prefer.
Tina: What kinds of services do you offer?
Sharon: The services I offer are preventative care such as annual wellness visits, vaccinations, dietary counseling, microchipping, spay/neuter, travel certificates, medications, and euthanasia.
Tina: Thank you, Sharon, for taking the time to share with us a bit about your business and why you love doing what it is that you do. Thank you for the wonderful service you provide.
I think the idea of a mobile vet is an amazing concept on so many levels, especially for those who are unable to drive or get out of the house or for those who suffer from anxiety. If you have cats, especially, this might be something for you to look into in your area.
About the Author
Tina Whitehair currently works as an Administrative Specialist
to the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs at the UGA School of Law in Athens, GA. She grew up in West Virginia where she had multiple cats for most of her life. She loves both cats and dogs (and baby elephants). She currently has two rescue cats: a 2 year old male Maine Coon mix, Stormy, and a 2.5 year old domestic long hair female, Sunny. Her hobbies include crocheting, writing, martial arts and Thai Fit kickboxing.