Barnegat Animal Clinic, at Your Doorstep

Veterinary Facility Introduces House Call Program
By JULIET KASZAS-HOCH | Apr 24, 2019

Barnegat — Our pets, eventually, alas, get older – and trips to the veterinarian’s office might be challenging, especially for large senior dogs. It’s also quite difficult to bring an extensive brood to the clinic. And some animals are handicapped, and some are scaredy-cats; perhaps a vet visit causes extreme anxiety. The staff at Barnegat Animal Clinic now has a remedy for its patients, and their caretakers, for whom a vet visit is physically problematic, stressful or otherwise inconvenient: veterinary house calls

Glenn Behan, Matt Schwert and Jocelyn Ruiz – three of the 11 veterinarians at the clinic – have begun home visits on, respectively, Thursday, Friday and every other Saturday. As of now, the vets will travel throughout Barnegat, Manahawkin and Waretown. However, if there is demand for Long Beach Island, they will schedule appointments there as well.

“We’re very fortunate to have a really great clientele, but unfortunately, a lot of them are getting older,” said Schwert, who co-owns the clinic with vet Andy Wurst, whose father Stephen Wurst owned the practice until he passed away in 2014. “People have been very grateful” for the service, he added. “They’re more open when we’re there, and they’re so appreciative.”

Likely, many of the pet patients are also thankful they didn’t need to leave their homes to see their vet. Schwert said the animals are typically calmer on their own turf.

There’s also something to be said for the chance to observe an animal in its own environment, as veterinarian Debora Lichtenberg wrote in a 2013 article about veterinary house calls. “For a confusing medical case or for a behavior consult, a home visit can be invaluable,” she stated.

And, she wrote, “Even if you don’t sit down to a full-course meal with your vet, having your veterinarian visit your home can strengthen mutual trust and compassion.”

This is particularly valuable when it comes to euthanasia. “We’ve had a fair number of at-home euthanasias” since the house call service began, said Schwert, including a 145-pound rottweiler who would have been tough to transport to the office. In addition, many pet owners would prefer to say goodbye to their best friend in their own home, rather than in a clinic.

Schwert, who has practiced for 19 years and currently has five cats and two dogs of his own, said he very much relates to the pain of losing a pet. As a vet who performs euthanasia, he explained, “The short answer is, you never get used to it. The way I can justify it is that this is the most humane way possible, and to think about how the animal had a great life.”

He emphasized, though, that the Barnegat clinic refuses to perform “convenience euthanasia,” for pet owners who are moving or otherwise and no longer want to care for their animal. “We have to know the pet to do a euthanasia,” he pointed out.

Other services he, Behan and Ruiz have provided since the house calls began include the more routine issues, such as diagnosing and treating skin allergies or ear infections. The vets can also draw blood on-site, but then have to bring it back to the clinic. If a pet needs a full work-up, though, with more extensive bloodwork and x-rays, that has to be done at the office.

As for the nuts and bolts of the program, Schwert said the clinic will call clients the night before the visit to offer an approximate time the doctor and tech will arrive for the appointment. Then, when on the way to the residence, the vet will call again to let the pet owner know they’ll be there soon.

The fee for a house call is $75, in addition to the regular cost of an appointment, plus anything additional, such as a shot or medication.

Schwert very much enjoys the surgery component of his work, but he also likes seeing his patients: their many breeds and personalities and idiosyncrasies. “I love fixing things,” he said. “To me that is the most satisfying. I love the instant gratification, and knowing that without my help, this animal would not have gotten better.”

Barnegat Animal Clinic is located at 530 North Main St. in Barnegat. For more information, call 609-698-2141 or visit barnegatanimalclinic.com.

— Juliet Kaszas-Hoch

juliet@thesandpaper.net

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