San Mateo County Times

This doctor makes doghouse calls
Saturday June 12, 1999

By Liz Garone

FOSTER CITY -- Veterinarian Petra Drake is the Peninsula's only mobile vet with the wheels to prove it: a $125,000, 26-foot-long, Ford E-450 van with a super-duty chassis. Inside is the most upto-date equipment available, including a high-tech operating room, a darkroom for X-rays, a microscope and a centrifuge for spinning blood.

"We have everything you'd find at a tra ditional veterinarian hospital -- plus more," said Petra's husband, Greg Drake, who serves as driver, assistant, business and marketing manager.

"More" means little touches like an oxygenator and an ultrasound tooth scraping machine. Many dental offices -- for humans -- don't even offer the new scraping equipment yet.

"More" also means curbside service.

As any cat owner will tell you, just get ting a cat out of the house can be a trying task. Foster City resident Kris Pohly should know; she has three cats and three kittens.

"Dragging them to the vet is pretty trau matic, a nightmare," said Pohly.

But the days of catching the cats to get them into their cages, piling them into the car, driving to the pet clinic and waiting to see the vet -- all the time risking that they will catch something from another animal -- are over for Pohly, a regular client of the Drakes.

"This service is a pet lover's dream," she said.

Both Pohly and her husband work during the day. So the Drakes pull their van up curbside in the evening or on the weekend.

"Convenience is worth everything to us," said Pohly. "And I haven't found any thing more convenient."

Petra and Greg, who live in Redwood City, bought the mobile lab four months ago from LaBoit, a company based in Ohio that deals exclusively in mobile vet erinary equipment.

About 100 veterinarians around the country operate without a fixed office, in stead using a fully-equipped van, like the Drakes, according to Jody Blais, LaBoit's vice president.

"But the numbers are growing all the time," he said.

Blais attributes the growth in popu larity to three factors: a growing retire ment community, more two-income families, and more owners with multiple pets.

The Drakes charge about the same as other veterinary clinics for service. They don't charge extra for the house call. For example, they charge $38 a standard checkup.

The Drakes make their rounds to homes -- from Burlingame to Palo Alto -- seven days a week, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

"We try to take a few hours off here and there," Petra Drake said.

<<<< Back to my Index page.