Vet house calls helping more Central Florida pet owners

Doctors give exams, vaccinations in your home

ORLANDO, Fla. - Our pets are a big part of our family--so much so that Americans spent nearly $20 billion on trips to the vet last year.

But it's not just the cost that wears you down -- it's also the time and energy it takes to drive your dog or cat around. That's why vet house calls are becoming a good option for families.

One person who loves the service is Winter Park mom, Ellen Hencken. She's a full-time mother with three kids, and a 13-year-old lab named Monty, who suffers from arthritis.

"Getting up and down the stairs is a challenge, and getting in and out of the car is almost impossible at this point," says Hencken.

So, you can imagine what she went through every time she took her dog to the doctor.

"Diaper bags, and strollers, a baby on the hip, and then another one in the car seat, and then trying to hold a dog on a leash," says Hencken. "I just thought, there must be a better way."

The answer -- bringing the vet to her.

"It amazes me how people say I had no idea that existed," says Dr. Jacki Bert, who runs 4 Paws House Calls. The Orlando vet says that she visits more than a thousand homes every year -- doing everything from your basic exam, to bloodwork and vaccinations. In fact, the only things she can't do at your home are X-Rays and surgery.

Dr. Bert says that business is booming because this service can help almost anyone.

"I have a lot of clients who are elderly," says Dr. Bert. "Clients that have multiple pets, people with multiple children. I think it's very convenient for the clients, and then I think it's more comfortable for the pet."

She says this service can especially help cats.

"A lot of times they really don't appreciate the drive to the vet or being in the cage, so it's so nice how I can just come in, and usually within 20 minutes we're done with the whole exam."

The house call with Monty lasted just five minutes.

"If I've heard it once, I think I've heard it every single visit -- I don't know why I didn't do this earlier," says Dr. Bert.

Ellen Hencken says she'll never go to a vet's office again.

"This is a no brainer for us," says Hencken. "Monty gets to stay in his environment, the overall process is just so easy and convenient for everybody involved."

As for the cost -- Dr. Bert charges the same price you would pay at a vet's office, plus a $50 house call fee.

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