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Taxi gives pets rides to their vets

June 03, 2007|By PEPPER BALLARD

During nearly 20 years in the animal-care industry, Diana Fox heard older people talk about problems they faced getting their pets to animal hospitals. Now, she's doing something about the problem.

After years of hearing older pet owners talk about the problems they faced in finding transportation for their sick pets, former animal hospital receptionist Diana Fox decided to get off the phone and get behind the wheel.

The 46-year-old Hagerstown woman, who has spent nearly 20 years in the animal-care industry, said her hope is that her business, For Paws Only Pet Taxi, will act as a bridge between the pet owner and the busy veterinarian.

"I did it so those pets can get the care when they need it," she said. "I'm just transportation."

Fox has stocked her Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo with supplies needed to transport dogs, cats, fish and other smaller pets to and from veterinarian appointments and emergency hospital visits. She also picks up prescriptions and takes animals to kennels or relatives' homes.

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No humans allowed, however: Fox is insured to transport pets, but not people, on a 24-hour basis.

The cost for such services ranges from $15 for a prescription delivery to $300 for a holiday emergency.

Fox said she will travel within 50 miles of her Guilford Avenue home to provide the ride.

Although she can check a pet's temperature and heart rate to better prepare the veterinarian, she said, she doesn't treat the animals she transports.

Over the years, Fox worked at several veterinarians' offices and at kennels and has trained horses and dogs. She has one dog, Baxter, a 1 1/2-year-old Boston terrier, and two cats, but has had several pets in her lifetime. She was born and raised on a California ranch, but has spent more than 20 years in Maryland.

The idea to start a pet taxi service came to Fox while she worked at a Baltimore animal hospital that provided 24-hour emergency care and used a pet taxi, she said.

Although she had driven a taxi for a kennel before, she said the idea to start her own service didn't develop until recently.

While working as a receptionist at a Washington County veterinary hospital, Fox said she heard a pattern in the stories she heard from clients with busy schedules and sick pets.

Often, a client would be tied up at work until about 5 p.m. and would bring a pet in afterward - at the hospital's busiest time.

"If we had a service, it could have eased one more thing on their minds," she said.

"The main reason I opened this up was mainly for the elderly," Fox said. "Once their children are grown, all they have are their pets. It's a panic when something happens and they don't want to inconvenience anyone else."

Fox said she hopes the business will grow to the point that she can get laptop computers with Web cams to use so a pet owner can communicate with the veterinarian. For now, Fox said, she will use her cell phone to connect a veterinarian with a pet owner.

Fox will sit with a pet throughout the veterinarian office visit. She said she charges $30 for one hour and $10 for every 1/2 hour afterward.

For now, Fox is the only cabbie her business employs, but she said that if the business grows, she will consider taking on more employees.

"I'm not doing this to get rich ... but I am doing it to give pets care when they need it," she said.

For Paws Only Pet Taxi may be reached at 240-674-6160. Callers may have to dial a "1" before the number depending on the area from which they are calling.

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