Northland vet now makes house callsWhen Richard and Ann Fryberger took each of their four cats to see the veterinarian on Wednesday, they walked out of their Lakewood Township home to a truck parked on their lane.
By: John Lundy, Duluth News Tribune
When Richard and Ann Fryberger took each of their four cats to see the veterinarian on Wednesday, they walked out of their Lakewood Township home to a truck parked on their lane.
Dr. Michael Hargrove, owner of North Shore Veterinary Hospital, has begun taking his practice to his clients for certain services.
“We’re calling it the mobile wellness clinic,” said Hargrove, who has practiced at the veterinary hospital since 1993 and has been sole owner since 2009. “I’m just trying to emphasize that this isn’t a mobile hospital. We’re not doing surgery. We’re not doing dentistry.”
But that leaves a great deal of work that can be done in the clinic on wheels, which is about the size of a large recreational vehicle. It comes equipped with a laboratory and exam table.
It might seem old-school for a veterinarian to make house calls. But the truck, which is adorned with the hospital’s logo and a picture of a yellow Labrador wearing a stethoscope, enables Hargrove to do more, he said.
“If I just showed up at somebody’s house with a bag in my hand, then I’m limited to what’s in my bag in terms of the services that I can provide,” Hargrove said. “With the truck, we have a mobile lab. We have a controlled environment. I have a technician with me. We can draw blood. We can do some basic lab tests.”
The Frybergers’ cats — Miss Julia (aka Orange Julius), Ivan the Terrible, Gus and Tassy — were due for some basic checkups, with Ivan the Terrible also needing a urinary infection looked into. They liked having the clinic come to them, Richard Fryberger said.
“It’s wonderfully convenient,” he said. “It’s also less trauma for the cats. Cats don’t travel well. They get in those little carrier carts and they’re a mess by the time they get there.”
Hargrove said he had been thinking about a mobile clinic for 18 years, but he’s just getting started now. The Frybergers were only his second mobile clinic clients, with two more scheduled for Friday morning. One of those will be at the home of an older woman who doesn’t drive. “So this is very convenient for her for us to come up,” he said.
He said he thinks the service also will be especially appreciated by clients who have to have their pets euthanized.
“Being able to do it in the home environment is one more way to make that a less stressful situation,” Hargrove said.
The Frybergers had a dog euthanized several years ago by a veterinarian who made house calls the old-fashioned way, Richard said, and it was appreciated.
“All that goes with that is traumatizing enough,” he said. “The long ride in the car is enough to kill you.”
Hargrove said he’s aware of other mobile clinics that serve as full-scale animal hospitals, but he isn’t interested in going that route. North Shore Veterinary Hospital, 6001 E. Superior St., has hours on Monday through Friday and Saturday mornings, with five veterinarians in addition to Hargrove. The mobile clinic will operate on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
There’s an additional charge of $30 within Duluth city limits for using the mobile clinic and $40 outside of city limits, a hospital spokeswoman said. There’s an $8 discount for each pet seen beyond the first two during a visit. The mobile clinic can’t go into Superior because Hargrove isn’t licensed in Wisconsin.
Richard Fryberger said he wasn’t concerned about an added fee.
“Frankly, it’s worth it, between the gas and having to bring the cats in sometimes one at a time or two at a time and go down and wait,” he said. “I think it’s very convenient.”