When Dr. Michael Sanwald committed to a practice dedicated entirely to at-home care, he knew there would be times, like the night of a recent holiday dinner party in Fort Lauderdale, when duty would call after normal business hours. In this case, a dying patient required end-of-life care.
And, so, at 9:30, Sanwald left the dinner party and drove to Miami to help a family through their final moments with a loved one—a 20-year-old cat.
Though not every house call involves such sorrow, every visit connected to a new veterinary practice—Fetch My Vet, which services the entire tri-county area (fetchmyvet.com)—does offer the kind of peace of mind Sanwald believes is lacking for pet owners today.
“Way back when, vets went to the farms to take care of the cows, the pigs, the cats and dogs,” says Sanwald, a one-time Banfield Pet Hospital franchisee who relocated from Virginia. “Then we built a model in veterinary medicine that’s become very inconvenient for pets and clients. We force them to come to our buildings, on our timelines. It’s stressful for the pet and not easy for the owner.
“With Fetch My Vet, we’re providing a service for people who rely on public transportation, people who are homebound due to age or illness—and anyone else who values their time and appreciates convenience.”
The business side of the practice, which launched last August, can be traced to the sale of pharmacy benefit manager Envision Rx to RiteAid in June 2015—a transaction valued at more than $2 billion. Some of the multimillionaires from the Envision deal, including former co-owner and Broward resident Barry Katz, saw veterinary medicine as an entrepreneurial opportunity waiting to happen.
“I recently took my dog for a flu shot and didn’t even see the vet,” says corporate attorney Michael DeMinico, one of the investors. “With Fetch My Vet, you get the veterinarian’s undivided attention—time that can be devoted to counseling and discussing relevant issues with the pet owner.”
Sanwald and the five other vets canvassing South Florida offer a bevy of services, including wellness exams, vaccinations, microchipping, diagnostic testing and medications—as well as the aforementioned end-of-life care.
“People want to respect their pets in those last moments,” Sanwald says. “We’re uniquely positioned to do this in the household, and go through the process in a manner that’s in tune with the emotions of the event.”
Among the pets that Sanwald has examined since the launch of Fetch My Vet (along with cats and dogs): hedgehog, horse, macaw, rabbit and a bearded dragon.