Pets, like humans, can feel anxiety when going to the doctor.
The car ride, other patients, unfamiliar rooms, noises and smells can make even routine checkups nerve racking experiences for animals.
That is why Shannon Merry, a Pullman veterinarian, decided to bring her expertise out of the clinic and into people’s homes.
“I saw a need for it in nervous pets,” Merry said.
In October, Merry started the mobile veterinary service Traveling Tails.
The former Alpine Animal Hospital veterinarian now packs up her vet supplies in her Subaru and makes house calls to Pullman residences and to surrounding cities, including Moscow, Colfax, Colton, Uniontown and Palouse.
She works with dogs and cats and performs physical exams, vaccinations, microchipping, behavior consultations and wound treatments. She also offers ear cleaning, nail trims, bloodwork and other diagnostics.
For more intensive procedures, especially emergencies, pet owners should still take their animal to a clinic, she said.
Merry, who attended Washington State University for its College of Veterinary Medicine, said in addition to making checkups less stressful for pets and their owners, a mobile veterinarian can also aid those unable to make it to a clinic.
For example, an arthritic dog can be difficult to transport to a clinic. Plus, some owners may not have available transportation to get to an animal hospital.
When the pet is at the end of its life, Merry will also euthanize the pet in its home so that it can be surrounded by familiar people in a familiar environment.
“It’s kind of a loving send-off,” she said.
On average, Merry visits about three homes a day, sometimes with the help of two vet assistants, and spends about an hour with each client.
One of her favorite parts of Traveling Tails is having the time to build relationships with her clients.
She can spend an hour at a time with them as opposed to 20 minutes she may spend with them at a clinic.
“I’ve met some great people,” she said.
Additionally, seeing where the pet lives can give Merry more effective clues in determining how the owner can better take care of their pet, such as noticing their pooch’s food dish is not elevated enough.
“You get so much more information when you see a pet in their own environment,” she said.
Merry said among her clientele are busy parents who would rather a veterinarian come to their home so they can keep an eye on their children.
Aside from dealing with certain challenges, like getting lost on the way to a person’s home and coordinating schedules, Merry said her new job is everything she wanted from a veterinarian career.
“I’m madly in love with what I’m doing,” she said.
Anthony Kuipers can be reached at (208) 883-4640, or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.