When the folks from La Jolla Veterinary Hospital make a house call, it just might take all afternoon. On their recurring visits to the nearby White Sands La Jolla continuing care retirement community, the animal docs sometimes see 10 to 20 pets, mostly cats.
It's all part of La Jolla Veterinary Hospital's regular arrangement to provide services for animal owners who live at White Sands who may not have the means or an easy way of transporting their cat or dog for treatment.
Here's how it works, according to Dr. Marilyn Seals, one of La Jolla Veterinary Hospital's four veterinarians (the others are owner Dr. Julie Breher, Dr. Lidja Gillmeister and Dr. Carrie Bone): the director of resident activities at White Sands, Pat Guerrero, puts a paragraph in the living center's newsletter, "The Sandpiper," announcing that it's time for a visit from the vets (along with a technician). Residents then call Guerrero and arrange to have their furry friends examined or given a check-up.
"We realized that there are people who couldn't get in (to the hospital) with their pets because of not having a car," explained Seals, "and they'd have to ask other people for help." The service is also designed to help White Sands pet owners who might have difficulty managing heavy dog or cat carriers or in merely getting the animal to come out from under the bed in the first place.
So when La Jolla Veterinary Hospital doctors and technicians visit White Sands, usually every two or three months, they bring all the equipment they'll need with them, everything from stethoscopes to a scale for weighing the animal.
Instead of an examination table at the hospital, the vet will "use kitchen counters, coffee tables, bathroom counters, even floors," said Seals. Clients pay the same as they would if they'd taken the pet to the hospital on Fay Avenue.
The program's been going on for "eight or nine years," Seals said, so she knows many of the White Sands residents by name. "I just love to go," she said. "I love to give them hugs afterward. It's just rewarding for us to be able to help them. They are so grateful."
It's not surprising, Seals added, that so many of the seniors have pets living with them in their apartments. "They're such good companions," she said. "Most of these people are single or widowed. To have somebody there with them all night long is wonderful."
La Jolla Veterinary Hospital has been around since 1948 and offers in addition to basic care, dentistry, surgery, grooming and more. Seals herself owned the business for 10 years before selling it to Breher.
Although she only works two days a week now, Seals savors the visits to White Sands. "When I first started going, I just took myself and a technician. Now the technician is skilled in everything, so I just kind of sit and chitchat with the client and talk about things in their lives."
You can bet that the pets are a major part of those conversations.
La Jolla Veterinary Hospital, 7520 Fay Ave., is open 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Friday; 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday; 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. (858) 454-6155. lajollavet.vetstreet.com
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