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CedarTree hires a third vet during pandemic

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Mobile service: Lucy and Mark Richardson working out of their mobile vet van (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)
Lucy and Mark Richardson with their dog (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)

Since the Covid-19 pandemic began last March, CedarTree Vets Ltd has seen a surge in demand for their mobile veterinary services.

Practice owners, Lucy and Mark Richardson, took on so many new clients they had to hire a third veterinarian and a nurse assistant to keep up.

“It is because everyone wants to stay home,” Dr Lucy Richardson said. “They do not want to go out.”

And she said pandemic protocols mean that if you take your pet to the clinic, you have to wait outside in your car while the veterinarian treats your animal inside the building, which can be stressful for the pet and pet owner.

“We were struggling to get appointments for people,” Dr Richardson said. “That is why we thought we had a bigger need. It was always our policy that if someone called today they would get seen by the next day. If an animal is sick they can’t wait. They need to be seen. We were starting to struggle to get those appointments in a timely manner.”

The new hire, Lianna Aggarwal, has been a veterinarian in Bermuda for four years.

“This is the first time she has done full mobile veterinary work,” Dr Richardson said. “It has been a nice transition for her.”

They have two vans that travel the island well stocked with veterinary equipment, vaccines and medicines.

The mobile model suits the pandemic situation well.

“Instead of sitting in a waiting room the pet owner can stay in their home and have a cup of tea or keep working,” Dr Richardson said. “It takes a shorter time out of their day. The owner does not have to be involved in the examination procedure. They don’t have to hold their animal or do anything like that. Because of the Covid-19 regulations we have to keep owners at a six foot distance, at least.”

Dr Richardson said they get down on the floor, play with the animals, get their trust, and then work with them.

She and her husband, Mark, started the practice on Tee Street in Devonshire in 2012.

As the years passed, however, Dr Richardson grew increasingly concerned about the stress pets experienced in the trip to the vet’s office.

A cat’s typical heartbeat is 150 beats per minute, but when they reach the clinic their heart rate often goes up to 220bpm, the outer edge of normal.

“You are taking an animal for a wellness checkup and potentially making them more ill,” she said. “I found that was a problem.”

So she started offering mobile services in 2016.

At first, she was not sure if it would work.

“I worried that we wouldn’t be able to get around to see as many animals,” she said. “I thought it would take a lot of time.”

Instead, there was a surge of interest from Bermuda’s pet lovers.

“What I have seen is mind-blowingly great,” she said. “The animals are so much happier.”

Dr Richardson developed a better relationship with her animal patients, seeing them in their home environments.

“The animals are a lot friendlier and more relaxed and calm,” Mr Richardson said.

Dr Richardson said just that day, they did an ultrasound on a pregnant canine at the client’s home, using a mobile ultrasound machine.

And she said people are not just calling them to see dogs and cats, but for a range of animals including guinea pigs, birds and other animals.

“It is good fun,” she said.

Dr Richardson said the concept came from working with horses, years ago. Vets typically go to their equine patients.

“You take everything you need in a bag,” she said. “You go to the animal and treat it. It really is a nice way to work.”

She said the initial visit is about $20 more than going directly to a veterinary clinic, but is otherwise on par with veterinary clinic costs.

“We charge a small amount more because it takes more time to get there and back,” she said.

For more information see www.cedartreevets.com or call 333-7077.

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Published February 17, 2021 at 8:00 am (Updated February 17, 2021 at 8:42 am)

CedarTree hires a third vet during pandemic

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