The Coastal Star

Paws Up for Pets: Veterinarian’s house calls relieve stress on pets, owners

ABOVE: Steve Teisch, center, and his technician, Chris Griffin, make a house call in Boynton Beach to perform an annual checkup on Shada Overton’s 13-year-old dalmatian, Hannah. Tim Stepien/The Coastal Star.  BELOW: Teisch’s client Elizabeth Ackerly of Ocean Ridge and her cat, Lily, who prefers not to travel in a car. Photo provided

By Arden Moore

Is there a veterinarian in the house? That question is asked by more and more pet owners for a variety of reasons.

And it is why Dr. Steve Teisch left a steady gig as a veterinarian in a clinic to make house calls full-time to dogs, cats, birds, lizards, pot-bellied pigs and, yes, even a couple of camels in Palm Beach County.

“I started part-time making house calls about 10 years ago for additional income,” says Teisch, who operates All About Town Pet House Calls. “Now, it is beyond full-time and I need to hire another veterinarian.”

Each morning, Teisch and Chris Griffin, his head veterinary technician, hop in Teisch’s blue Mini Cooper and go to houses, apartments, condos and even assisted living areas to treat pets on their home turf.

He represents a new breed of veterinarians in Palm Beach County and across the nation who recognize the need to provide care for far too many pets that never put a paw inside a veterinary clinic.

Especially frightened felines.

“We see a number of cats whose owners can’t get their cats into carriers or the car to take them to a veterinary clinic,” Teisch says. “And we make house call visits for some dogs who get carsick every time they get into a car. We see all age groups from all socioeconomic levels. The more people hear about house call veterinary care, the more people want it.”

Elizabeth Ackerly of Ocean Ridge first met Teisch years ago at a dance class. In between dance steps, she discovered he was a house call veterinarian.

“My cat, Lily, hates to go in the car, so having Dr. Steve come to my home is just the best,” says Ackerly, a retired commercial airline pilot. “He was just here a few days ago to treat Lily for an allergy. He comes in wheeling a big toolbox full of instruments and medications and then places a towel on the dining room table and does his examination on Lily.”

Ackerly guesses Lily is about 15 or 16 years old. Lily may not rush up to greet Teisch when he arrives, but she maintains her composure during examinations and treatments.

“Most animals do not like going to the vet, and many people do not want to have their pets go through the trauma of the car ride, the lobby and the exam room,” says Ackerly. “Dr. Steve has a very good tableside manner with Lily. He is very sweet to her, scratches her ears and makes her feel loved during the house call visit.”

One of Teisch’s clients is Pippi, the resident cat that roams inside The Coastal Star office.

“I just was there at the newspaper office to give Pippi her annual visit and she is all healthy,” Teisch says. “She is a good kitty and a real news queen.”

Teisch maximizes space in his car to bring his veterinary supplies, including a portable X-ray machine. Tapping into the client’s home Wi-Fi, he can retrieve the pet’s cloud-stored medical records quickly on his laptop. He is in the process of obtaining an ultrasound machine and plans to perform therapeutic laser treatments in homes. On rare occasions, he will perform spays and neuters and other surgical procedures in an office he rents in Lantana.

What you won’t see him do is swap his Mini Cooper for a mobile veterinary van.

“The veterinary clinic on wheels concept is not what we do,” he says. “We make house calls. We are not interested in driving up in a van, parking it in a person’s driveway and bringing the pet into the van for examinations or treatments. We feel it is much more comfortable for the pet as well as the owner to treat inside the comfortable, familiar setting inside the home.”

In-home dentistry is growing in popularity among his clients. Depending on the size of the pet, Teisch sedates the pet and performs the dental procedure on kitchen islands, dining room tables or the floor. Once teeth are cleaned and, if necessary, a tooth or two is extracted, he wakes up the pet slowly and safely with a reversible sedation medication.

He recently cleaned the teeth of a 10-year-old mixed breed dog named Pixie who had receding gums and a deep dental pocket that needed to be treated. Within 20 minutes of waking up after the procedure, Pixie was relaxed and ready for a nap.

Another major reason people seek house call veterinary care is for euthanasia. Also, owners with multiple pets don’t relish the idea of booking multiple trips to the veterinary clinic.

“The multiple pet household — that’s where a house call practice really shines,” says Teisch. “Instead of making multiple trips to the vet office, I come to you and take care of all the pets in one appointment.”

The majority of pets he treats are cats and dogs, but he provides medical care for a number of pot-bellied pigs as well as rabbits, lizards, birds and snakes. A recent house call request came from a person who owns a pair of camels.

“Fortu­nately, I have some knowledge of camels, as one of my professors at Colorado State had llamas and I got to work with him,” says Teisch, whose service covers Palm Beach County and northern Broward. “Camels are similar to llamas. The two camels I am caring for here are good-natured.”

To learn more about Teisch, visit www.allabouttownpethousecalls.com.

Arden Moore, founder of FourLeggedLife.com, is an animal behavior consultant, editor, author, professional speaker and master certified pet first-aid instructor.  She hosts the Oh Behave! show on PetLifeRadio.com. Learn more by visiting  www.ardenmoore.com.

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