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VOL. 124 | NO. 125 | Monday, June 29, 2009

Mobile Vet Expands Practice

By Eric Smith

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PUPPY LOVE: MobileVet Memphis owner Dr. Amy Serino Moffat takes a look at her own dog, Rocket, an 8-week-old Golden Retriever, inside her custom-built traveling veterinary clinic. Only six months after starting the business, Moffat has hired a vet tech and expanded into North Mississippi. -- PHOTO BY ERIC SMITH

Veterinarians measure their success in the number of dogs, cats and other animals they heal during a career, and while Dr. Amy Serino Moffat is no different in that regard, she has another way to gauge her accomplishments – the odometer.

As the owner of MobileVet Memphis LLC, Moffat spends her days driving around town to visit clients and their pets in a custom-built $250,000 van, which is capable of handling most veterinary services. So far, she is racking up the miles.

Moffat launched MobileVet Memphis, www.mobilevetmemphis.com, in November after a few years of kicking the idea around and few months of planning once she decided to move forward. She had worked at McGehee Clinic for Animals from July 2002 through the end of last year, falling back to part-time as her business start date drew nearer.

Creating a mobile vet clinic offered a more flexible schedule that gave Moffat and her husband, Mark, more time with their children, ages 3 and 5. Also, as a vet in a traditional clinic for more than six years, Moffat saw that many clients needed the doctor to come to them.

“I started noticing people coming in that were either bringing pets in for an elderly family member who couldn’t get out (of the house) or for people with disabilities who have trouble getting to the clinic,” Moffat said. “I had already been thinking about it, but then the more and more I practiced, I realized a need for veterinary medicine to be at people’s homes where it’s more convenient and for some people that would be the only way they could have direct interaction with the doctor.”

House calls

In her first few months, Moffat already has found plenty of success. The business now has 200 clients, many of whom own multiple pets. That scenario is perfect for MobileVet, because one house call can accommodate all of the critters at the same time so the clients don’t have to load them all up in the car.

Moffat recently hired vet technician Elizabeth Disney to help manage the growing client list.

Since word of mouth about MobileVet has spread quickly, Moffat now serves clients south of the state line in places like DeSoto and Marshall counties. She recently became licensed in Mississippi after two trips to Jackson, Miss. – one for an interview and one for the state board exam earlier this month.

“We were getting so many calls from North Mississippi, and without a Mississippi license I couldn’t go down there,” Moffat said. “It’s something I thought I would eventually do, but I just decided to do it as soon as I could so I wouldn’t have to turn calls away, and there’s obviously a need there.”

Moffat’s custom-built van was built by LaBoit Inc., an Ohio-based company that designs vans for all kinds of mobile services, including dental and medical. The vehicle comes equipped with a host of features, including a surgery suite and dental cleaning tools, portable ultrasounds and digital X-rays.

MobileVet also stocks a full line of medication for pets and offers home delivery for prescriptions and other pet nutrition products.

“I really wanted to be full service from the time I opened and not cut corners,” Moffat said. “There were certain things I was used to having to practice and I didn’t want to be without those.”

Added responsibility

Not only is the van her traveling office, but it also serves as a billboard of sorts. Wherever she goes, her company name, Web site and phone number are visible to other motorists. That has helped attract clients.

“We’re certainly growing and the word’s getting out,” Moffat said.

Moffat is a native Memphian who attended Kenyon College in Ohio before moving back home and getting her undergraduate degree from the University of Memphis and her veterinary degree from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.

As a general veterinarian, Moffat does refer pets to another vet for special needs, whether it’s a dental vet or canine oncologist, or if the pet requires an extended hospital stay.

But Moffat said being mobile gives her a better understanding of the pet’s home life, and the one-on-one time with the client makes the job more personal. And more than anything, this venture has brought new opportunities – and new ways to measure success.

“Going from being a veterinarian to being a business owner is almost a career change,” Moffat said. “Before, I just had to do the medicine side. Now, I’ve got to run a business as well as being a vet. That’s been a big challenge, but fun.”

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