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Vet’s ‘pet taxi’ goes extra mile



Debbie Johnson is allergic to animals and her husband works long hours, so when they needed to get their grandson’s dog to the vet, they had a problem.

That was until they learned about the new “pet taxi” service offered by Four Paws Animal Hospital and Wellness Center at Cosner’s Corner in Spotsylvania County.

“It was a perfect solution,” said Johnson, who lives in the Thornburg area about 12 miles from the vet.

Veterinarian Kathy Kallay, owner of Four Paws, said she had been thinking about offering the service for years because of the challenges some clients face.

Many have trouble making it to her office because of long commutes and work schedules. Others are mothers with young children who find it burdensome to pack them up along with the pet for an appointment.

Kallay also realized some senior citizens no longer drive or have a car. And her staff suggested the service to a woman who recently had surgery and hadn’t returned to driving.

“One of our main goals for the practice—in addition to good medical care for the pets—is exceptional customer service,” Kallay said.

“This was just one more way.”

Kallay contracted with Margo Dinkins Green of Innovatus Care to transport the animals. Green and two others, all of whom are animal lovers, handle the driving for Four Paws.

Kallay trained them on how to care for the animals, which are transported in crates for safety purposes. The company is licensed, insured and bonded.

Clients who need the taxi service request it when making the animal’s appointment. They provide information on the pet’s needs at that point and then get a call from Four Paws after the animal is seen. A staff member discusses any treatment that’s needed.

If medicine or supplies are warranted, those are carried back to the home with the animal.

Kallay researched the issue before launching the pet taxi service this year and said she’s the only vet in the region offering it now.

Other companies in the area advertise pet transport, including some that will take pets to the vet and then wait for them.

Besides the Four Paws clients, Green transports pets to groomers and said she may start taking them to pet day care if a company she’s familiar with locates in the area.

Johnson was the first customer to use the Four Paws pet taxi service in mid-February and said the system worked great.

She got a call, giving her a window for when the taxi would arrive and the person showed up on time and with a crate to transport Dixie, a 1-year-old Beagle.

“They were just loving on her,” Johnson said. “They adored her.”

Johnson was also told when the crew would be bringing Dixie home.

The Four Paws pet taxi will travel up to 30 miles and can provide transportation one way for $20 or round trip for $30.

For Johnson, the service was worth the cost.

Being allergic to animals, she reluctantly stopped by the animal hospital one day to pick up something and left there wheezing, despite the cleanliness of the facility.

“I definitely would use them again,” she said.

Pamela Gould: 540/735-1972