Sheffield — Dr. Tracey Fahey’s promise of ultra convenient animal care is no joke. The Sheffield veterinarian’s newest venture, Berkshire Barks & Purrs, is a full-service clinic that offers exceptional veterinary medicine at your doorstep—literally. “Anything you can do in a stationary clinic, I can do here,” said Fahey with a sweeping gesture toward the 26-foot Ford E-450 Triton parked in her driveway on Miller Avenue that serves as her office/exam room/lab/surgical suite rolled into one. “But from your driveway,” she added with a grin. Fahey’s advertising cuts straight to the chase: less stress, no fear, ultra convenient. In short, the concept is brilliant.
While on the one hand Fahey is offering boutique veterinary medicine, on the other hand, her practice is a total throwback to the good old days when the local vet made house calls—and answered the phone. “I’m turning convention on its ear, and people are floored,” said Fahey of her new practice, one that marries convenience with complete lack of stress for pets and pet owners alike. Fahey responds to emergencies seven days a week and, when you call her number, you get to speak to the vet immediately, because Fahey answers all the calls herself. “It really takes people aback,” said Fahey, who has been on the road just eight weeks. For all intents and purposes, she has taken a step back to the way vet practice used to operate, to the delight of pets everywhere.
Liz Gore of Great Barrington—and her three cats—would concur. Gore, a professional businesswoman, found Fahey’s service to invaluable. “She took all the stress out of going to the vet,” said Gore, who was one of Berkshire Barks & Purrs’ first clients. The three cats, who were adopted from a no-kill animal shelter, are “almost part feral.” As a result, going to the vet became an ordeal of epic proportions, one that was not only difficult but also stressful. “They would cry, become anxious and lose their fur,” said Gore—not to mention the time and stress involved in crating the cats, driving across town to the vet and waiting. Gore’s experience with Fahey was one she called comforting. “She actually came inside my home, did the exam, gave [the cats] their boosters all within a matter of 15 minutes. She is so loving and kind with the animals, giving them 100 percent of her attention. This is such a wonderful service—one of the best experiences I have ever had [as a pet owner].” Stephanie Ullrich of Sheffield agreed. “Tracey is an outstanding veterinarian. The love and kindness she shows to her patients and their families is unrivaled. The convenience of having her come to our home or even place of work is amazing! It’s one less thing to worry about. I could go in for pages about her ethics and qualifications, but the bottom line is that I’m thrilled to have her in the area and have her caring for my fur babies!”
“I feel like I’ve helped so many more pets in seven weeks than I have in seven years of corporate veterinary practice,” said Fahey with an audible sigh of relief. Corporate medicine in the veterinary world has changed everything, often putting the number of patients that can be seen in an hour above the needs of pets and their owners. Case in point? Fahey explains that that the heart rate for dog in a vet clinic is “through the roof,” while the same heart rate for the same animal on its couch is three-quarters of that. “Seeing animals in a much more relaxed environment—in their home environment—means you are going to pick up on presentations you might miss in another [clinic] environment,” Fahey explained. In fact, she is adjusting to a new normal, one that has dogs wagging their tails at her rather than cowering beneath chairs in the waiting room. And the benefits do not stop there.
Since she hit the road Oct. 8, Fahey has been able to reach pets and pet owners who might not have sought veterinary care in the past. Elderly pet owners who might otherwise have been physically unable to maneuver their pets into the car for a trip to the vet now have options; for those who work long hours and can’t take time off to take their pets to the vet, Fahey will visit at their place of work; for the anxious dog who empties its bladder when put in the car, Fahey has created a solution; and for pets other vets might not see—like feral cats, for instance—Berkshire Barks & Purrs has you covered. Not to mention that, in the absence of crossing paths with other dogs and cats—standard practice at traditional veterinarian clinics—your pet is less likely to catch something contagious like influenza, fleas or kennel cough.
Fahey is not the only mobile vet clinic in the Berkshires—others do exist—but what sets her apart from the rest? “This mobile clinic allows me to give my patients and clients [not only] stress-free medicine, [but] when they are sick, it also allows me to both diagnose and treat the pet [in one place.]” Fahey, who travels with her certified vet tech, Amanda Leavenworth, has a particular affinity for internal medicine and surgery. “I love working up cases,” she said, pointing out the full gamut of equipment on board her mobile clinic, ranging from oxygen, isoflurane (anesthesia) and IV fluids to digital x-rays and a full pharmacy. “The super-cool thing about this truck is that I come to you,” said Fahey, whose services range from annual wellness visits and vaccines to bloodwork, laceration repairs and routine surgical procedures. “I can do it in your driveway, they recover and into the house we go,” she explained. It’s as easy as that.
Fahey travels within a 25-mile radius of her home base in Sheffield and the convenience factor is key: You and your pet have the luxury of waiting for the vet in the comfort of your own home—perhaps the most alluring selling point, considering that a trip to the vet clinic can take hours as opposed to one hour or less with Fahey’s Advanced Mobile VetCare. Fahey also offers in-home, end-of-life counseling and care for pets in addition to in-home euthanasia. “We’ve really helped a lot of people and a lot of animals [with achieving] a peaceful ending for all involved.”
“There are so many things we can accomplish,” said Fahey, “and wrapping heads around how much we can do [has been] the stumbling block.” To remedy this, Fahey took her mobile vet clinic to Sheffield’s Trunk or Treat in October, and she will be on hand in Great Barrington for the Holiday Shop, Sip and Stroll Saturday, Dec. 8. “People just don’t understand what is in that truck,” Fahey said with a smile, so she will invite them in. And people are in awe. As I stood in her spotless space, the concept made perfect sense. If I didn’t know better, I would have thought I was in an exam room at the vet’s office.
Fahey has lived in the Berkshires for 18 years, and attended the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University outside of Boston. Prior to going into business for herself, she worked with canine clients—among others—at Sand Road Animal Hospital and VCA, both in Connecticut; for the last six years, she was the medical director at a four-doctor veterinary practice also in Connecticut. To find out more information about Fahey and her extensive services or request an appointment, call 833-VET-BARK.