Gilbert mobile veterinary business expands as pet parents try to cut costs

The business launched in 2016 and has expanded recently, as pet parents search for ways to stretch the budget.
Published: May. 19, 2022 at 1:44 PM MST
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GILBERT, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - Stephanie Lawler rescued a cat she named Bobby two months ago off of the roof of an industrial building in Casa Grande. “His entire litter was up there, and they were on the brink of death,” she said.

Lawler runs a small cat rescue and has helped about 75 cats find new forever homes this past year. “We run on a very tight budget,” she said. When she can, Lawler says she schedules spay and neuter appointments for the cats she has rescued at mobile veterinary clinics such as Dr. Kelly’s Surgical Unit. “The cost savings is significant,” Lawler said.

On the day of Bobby’s appointment, Dr. Kelly’s unit was parked in Gilbert. “Each day we go to a different location,” said Douglas Patriquin. He and his wife, Dr. Kelly, have six units, and appointments are available for several types of lower-cost surgery and dental care. “By offering just a narrow band of all those veterinary services, we could specialize in it--create some efficiencies that allow those efficiencies to drop down pricing for the clients. That’s how we’re able to offer things for about half to a third of the price of what might be a regular full service practice for the same services,” Patriquin said.

The business launched in 2016 and has expanded recently, as pet parents search for ways to stretch the budget. There are plans to continue growing the company to meet demand. “We’re getting a lot more calls coming in looking for our services,” Patriquin said. “We’ve basically expanded our capacity by 50% over the last three months.”

At Friends for Life Animal Rescue in Gilbert, they’ve noticed the need. “It’s not just the cost of food. It’s not just the cost of medical. Everything is rising,” said Friends for Life’s Barb Savoy. “All of the organizations throughout the Valley right now are feeling the pressure of people who need help remaining united with their animal companions.” Patriquin believes the mobile model may help bridge the gap for pet parents like Lawler, who are on a budget.

Lawler typically re-homes the animals she saves, but she says that to her, Bobby is different. “I love this guy. He is amazing,” she said. “We decided we’re going to keep him.” Even if you don’t have a big veterinary expense on the horizon, just having a pet is expensive. ASPCA estimates the annual cost of owning a dog is about $1,400, and it’s about $1,200 for a cat.