MOUNT LAUREL, New Jersey (WPVI) -- "For so many people, animals are almost the world to them," said veterinarian Robert Mankowski. "Never before have you been more part of our family than they are today."
Mankowski is the owner of Mount Laurel Animal Hospital. As part of its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, they shifted to curbside care and eliminated house calls. However, they are now beginning to bring veterinarians back into people's homes.
"The pandemic led to a pet-population explosion, so that increases our workload tremendously," Mankowski said. "And having an increased workload has put a huge stress on the entire veterinary field."
There's enough stress to stretch across everyone involved in caring for a pet, including the animal itself. That's why house calls had been such an important resource for locals with finicky furry friends.
"There are some pets who really truly do better in their homes, whether it's the stress of the car ride or the stress of all the other animals in the hospital," said Erika Sweigard, the head of the Primary Care Department. "There are some clients who just can't physically get to the hospital. So, we're happy to be able to offer that again."
Clients like Vincent Tripicchio are thrilled to see the service return. Being the owner of Herron Real Estate, his schedule is in a constant state of flux.
We've been a longtime client of Mount Laurel Animal Hospital for at least 20 years," said Tripicchio. "The in-home care is such a convenience because it's unparalleled medical service at the time when we all need a little help juggling our busy schedules."
While Mount Laurel Animal Hospital will now be offering this service, it will come at a cost of time and resources. Mankowski says that the pandemic has increased demand for pet care while reducing the supply of available staff across the veterinary industry.
"We've seen an increase in caseload, especially in our emergency department," he said. "Other animal hospitals may have a reduced ability to see emergency patients, so they are sending them often to their emergency hospital, which is what we are."
Despite the challenges, Mankowski hopes that clients will be understanding.
"I just want to thank everybody for being patient with us," he said. "We really have a purpose in this community to take care of some of the most well-loved family members out there."
To learn more about Mount Laurel Animal Hospital and to learn which of their services is most appropriate for you, visit their website.