Service still curbside only as Gaithersburg veterinarian navigates pandemic

At the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, most veterinarians started curbside service only. One Montgomery County, Maryland, clinic started using technology to make it work.

All pets have to be dropped off outside of Muddy Branch Veterinary Center in Gaithersburg.

That’s been the standard for most local vets as they navigate how to care for animals and take coronavirus precautions.

“It was a little bit of trial and error,” said Victor Katz, head veterinarian and owner at Muddy Branch Veterinary Center.

He said it’s been difficult as it’s more work for everyone to coordinate drop-offs. But, they haven’t had a positive coronavirus case and they’ve even started telehealth for some services.

“Sometimes it’s just easier,” Katz said. “Because that way they don’t have to bring the dog that gets really stressed or the cat that’s really stressed into the office, we can easily do telemedicine and see what they’re doing. It was just our way of trying to help out where we could.”

He said they’ve also been video chatting with pet owners who are waiting outside. Katz said it helps to be able to talk to them, since they can’t come inside the exam room.

“We actually do some FaceTiming with some of the clients … we have it set up where we have an iPad set up, so that we can talk with them while we’re in the exam room,” Katz said. “So, it’s like they’re there. We’re adapting the best we can.”

While he’s excited to get back to a new normal, Katz said he isn’t in a rush to let customers back in until it’s safe.

“It’s not going to go back to where it was January 2020. That’s going to be a while,” Katz said. “Luckily, we’ve done pretty well this entire year, because we have protocols, and we’re really careful about it.”

Valerie Bonk

Valerie Bonk started working at WTOP in 2016 and has lived in Howard County, Maryland, her entire life. She's thrilled to be a reporter for WTOP telling stories on air. She works as both a television and radio reporter in the Maryland and D.C. areas. 

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