The HousePaws Story
Q & A with Dr Lisa Aumiller,
founder of HousePaws
Q: Where did the idea of HousePaws come from?
One of my first jobs was working in a video rental store. An older customer I’d often help bought me a book called All Creatures Great and Small to thank me for helping him pick out good movies. James Herriot’s novel is about a young veterinarian in rural Britain, and the poignant and often humorous positions he found himself in within this community of people and animals as he traveled the English landscape to see his patients. This man knew I wanted to become a veterinarian, so it seemed an apt gift, but I don’t think either of us realized at that point how much that book would shape my views of veterinary practice in the community, and specifically, the creation of a modern veterinary business model.
Twelve years into my career, I left traditional hospital-based practice due to the frustrations I had with being a vet in a building: long shifts without seeing daylight, unhappy clients who felt like they weren’t getting quality service due to the revolving-door experience of traditional veterinary medicine, and working as part of a team who felt overworked, underpaid, and under-appreciated. I became a veterinarian because I am passionate about caring for animals, and I enjoy educating owners about how to help their furry family members live long and healthy lives. I realized the current model that many vets work in isn’t conducive to living this passion that brings many to a career in veterinary medicine, and that it also isn’t the best platform to teach owners. With the romantic stories of James Herriot in mind, HousePaws, the modern veterinary housecall service, was born!
HousePaws started out as Dr Lisa’s Mobile Veterinary Service in 2010, with me and one veterinary technician working from my minivan. After developing a business plan and working with some community business partners in getting over hurdles of funding and incorporation of the new practice, we were on the road! Word quickly spread about what we were doing in the South Jersey area and the business really took off. We needed to hire more mobile veterinarians to keep up with demand, so we decided to change the business name to HousePaws Mobile Veterinary Service in 2012.
Q: When did the hospitals come in to play? Why does a mobile practice need hospitals?
Much of what we do in practice can and is done on the road in the homes of our patients. Some things, like surgery, dentistry and some radiology procedures still require clinical facilities. And some of our patients prefer to come to the hospital for a variety of reasons. For a while we rented space in other practices, but as we became busier, we just felt like we needed our own hospital ‘home’.
In 2013, HousePaws opened our first brick and mortar hospital at the intersection of Creek Road and Centerton Road in Mount Laurel, NJ. The former law office was redesigned by my husband, Dr Brad Anderson, with modern surgery, kennel, radiology facilities and a suite of exam and consultation rooms–all with a comfortable home-like feel. We wanted to bring that feeling of comfort to our hospital. Not too long after that, our expanding business in new service areas led to the creation of veterinary hospitals in Atco, New Jersey and Morrisville, Pennsylvania. More recently, HousePaws started mobile service in the Bergen County, New Jersey area.