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Pa. veterinarian makes house calls

October 30, 1997

By LISA GRAYBEAL

Staff Writer, Chambersburg

SCOTLAND, Pa. - Pet owners who dread trips to the veterinarian now only have to travel as far as their driveway.

With their fully equipped 29-foot mobile clinic, under the name Keystone Mobile Veterinary Services, local veterinarian Dr. Matthew Murphy and his technician wife, Brenda, have been making house calls for nearly three years, saving pet owners time and travel and making it easier on the animals.

"Sometimes animals get so upset you can't examine them. This way, they don't have to have a car ride. It's a lot less stressful for the animals," Brenda said.

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"People also just like the convenience of coming to their house," added Matthew.

Besides those pets that don't like to travel, the Murphys often take on aggressive animals, including those that have been banned from visiting regular vet offices, and they visit households with a lot of pets. On a recent trip to a farm, they spayed and neutered 22 cats.

The service is also convenient for older pet owners who don't drive, and the Murphys have responded to calls at truck stops to treat pets that ride along with their owners.

"There's really a need for this," Matthew said.

Complete with exam tables, a surgery area, tiny laboratory and closet-turned-pharmacy, the veterinary clinic on wheels can accommodate most of the Murphys' clients, though they've been known to treat some large dogs on the floor.

A few exceptions have been made, like the time the couple was called to Harrisburg, Pa., to treat an infection in a camel, or the trip to the pot-bellied pig farm in Lancaster, Pa.

The traveling veterinarian can perform most services, including regular checkups, blood tests, X-rays, dental work and routine surgeries.

"We can do complete vet work right at your house," Matthew said.

The husband-and-wife team travels about 30,000 miles a year with coverage throughout central Pennsylvania, including Franklin County. They schedule an average eight to 12 visits per day.

"We can be there and gone in 20 minutes," Matthew said.

The schedule also lends itself to spending more quality time with clients when needed, he said.

And if they're running a little late - mostly due to traffic tie-ups - pets and their owners need only wait at home.

Matthew, a Washington native, got his start at Chambersburg Animal Hospital after graduating from the University of Georgia. He also worked in a Waynesboro, Pa., veterinary practice before starting the mobile clinic.

"It's a lot different than being in an office all day ... It's not a routine. We don't see the same thing, we don't see the same animals every day," Matthew said.

The couple's three children - Adam, 16, Jarred, 13, and Anna, 10 - accompany their father during the summer. It allows them to see a lot of different animals and cures their need to have them, Matthew said, though the family has two dogs, a cat and a hamster.

The family plans to expand the business by adding another mobile unit in order to increase the coverage area.

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