House Calls

Posted On May 8, 2015

Convenience is just one factor offered by the mobile vet practice of Island Veterinary Care


Dr. Shannon Barrett is on the road a lot for her job. And that’s just the way she likes it. She began her mobile veterinary practice, Island Veterinary Care, in the spring of 2012.

Dr. Barrett “saw an opportunity to provide a service people have not enjoyed since the days when doctors made house calls.” She explains, “Many pets get stressed while at the veterinary clinic due to unfamiliar sounds and smells, and others get stressed just from riding in the car. This stress may cause our pets to act differently than they might act at home. I loved the idea of bringing the clinic to them. Seeing my patients in their natural environments, their home, leads to better diagnostics because I can see subtleties in behavior and symptoms.”

She says her service is also convenient for pet owners with hectic work schedules, or those with small children, so they do not have to plan their day around the trip to the vet. “Also, client communication is essential for their pets' health. Explaining why we give certain vaccines, or describing complicated medical diagnoses in the comfort of my clients' homes, makes it easier for them to fully understand the information since there are fewer distractions.”

“I love being a mobile practice because the scenery always changes. We bring everything we need with us to appointments (vaccines, scale, microscope, medications, heartworm/flea prevention), so that we are able to treat our patients for just about everything.” She says that the only real challenge for her is seeing as many patients as a clinic might see in a typical day. “With a house call, the doctor is there throughout the entire visit. In a clinic setting, technicians often take preliminary information and the doctor has a limited amount of time to perform the exam, give vaccines or treatments and answer client questions.” While this is a challenge, she gladly accepts it because she feels her clients get more convenience, education and value out of the visit.

Dr. Barrett adds that going mobile allows her to work with people and animals “and hopefully strengthen the human-animal bond.” She says, “Pets bring so much to our lives―companionship, unconditional love, stress relief―and they cannot tell you what they need. Luckily, my owners know their pets very well and can tell when they are 'off.' So we work together using the owner’s history and exam findings to keep them healthy. It is great to be a part of this relationship.”

Prior to opening her practice, Dr. Barrett worked with several veterinary clinics in California and the Carolinas. Before working as a veterinarian, she worked as a product manager for a biotech company in the San Francisco Bay area, where she helped design software for vision testing equipment. Dr. Barrett earned her DVM from Western University of Health Sciences and her two undergraduate degrees from Clemson University and California State University. Dr. Barrett is also on the advisory board for new cloud-based veterinary software, Vetter Software, in San Jose, Ca. 

Dr. Barrett and her staff operate out of a “well-organized SUV,” which contains all the medications and equipment they might need during a typical day. “We see a lot of skin cases in the summer (skin infections, ear infections) and therefore always carry a microscope, so we can check for bacteria and yeast infections. Monitoring the weight on patients is very important to make sure that they maintain a healthy weight, and are not losing weight too quickly from illness. So we carry scales that can accommodate dogs up to 250 pounds and smaller scales for kittens and smaller dogs.” 

Since preventative medicine is important, Dr. Barrett brings blood tubes and syringes to draw annual bloodwork and perform heartworm tests as well. She also carries most medications that can be purchased at a standard clinic, including medicated shampoos and conditioners. The only services she does not offer are X-rays and surgery. For these procedures, she refers patients to clinics that she partners with in the area.

Dr. Barrett loves her job. She explains “I feel so lucky for the owners who have welcomed us into their homes, and allowed us to be a part of their lives. We want to be a part of their pets’ lives from puppyhood to grey whiskers!” 843-628-1941, islandvetcare.com