You need a flu shot. Fido needs his rabies shot. You now can get both at the same place, at the same time, in South Florida.
Mobile animal care clinics run by The Pet Stop regularly set up shop in the parking lots at select local Walgreens on Wednesdays and Saturdays. No appointments are required and the prices, ranging from $15 for a rabies shot to $72 for a full set of vaccines, can be less than a private vet would charge, because there is no office visit.
Tina Zambrana, who founded The Pet Stop in Miami about a year ago, said the service follows the decision many drug stores and supermarkets have made to offer flu vaccines. The draw for pet owners and flu-shot recipients is the same: Convenience.
"We make it clear we are not here to replace the customer's primary veterinarian. It's like going to Walgreens for your flu shot," Zambrana said. "It's just easier than having to go to the doctor's office and wait."
Apparently, some pet owners agree. Zambrana has expanded the operation from one truck and six employees to three trucks and 25 employees in the year the service has been offered. Her three teams, each headed by a licensed veterinarian, dispense most vaccines and booster shots for dogs and cats, as well as deworming and heartworm tests. Clients can buy heartworm and flea control products at the clinics, and refill orders online.
Pet Stop refers clients to local veterinarians for ongoing care, Zambrana said.
Some South Florida pet stores have been offering vaccine clinics for years at their facilities, and local animal shelters or rescue groups host discounted animal care events.
Zambrana said she came up with the idea to partner with a business already associated with drop-in patient care when she read about pet vaccinations being offered at drug stores in California. Pet Stop's South Florida program, which operates from Boca Raton through the Florida Keys, is the only one of its kind nationwide for Walgreens, said spokeswoman Vivika Vergara.
Pet Stop also does occasional clinics at Navarro Discount Pharmacies inMiami-Dade County.
For vaccination clinic schedules and information at Walgreens and Navarro pharmacies, go to petstopclinic.com or call 877-577-3878.
Several dozen pet owners usually show up on shot days, Vergara said, which primarily are on Saturdays with a few on Wednesdays. The Pet Stop visits about 185 pharmacies in South Florida, some more frequently than others. The drug store chains receive a percentage of what the clinics take in.
Walgreens, which builds stores along major commuter routes, has offered its popular flu shot program for the past seven years. Walgreens pharmacists are certified to give the vaccines, Vergara said, and offer whenever a store is open in advance of the flu season. The chain dispensed 6.4 million shots last year.
Pet Stop, like all mobile veterinarian clinics statewide, is licensed and regulated by the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation. State guidelines require limited-service vet clinics doing vaccinations to have a veterinarian present, to follow sanitation standards and keep client records.
While Walgreens has no current plans to expand its pet services, Vergara said the program has been "well received."
A March report from the American Veterinary Medical Association found many mobile vaccination clinic patrons still used a primary vet. But some veterinarians were concerned that the growing number of mobile units could keep full-service practices from getting new clients, the report, as pet owners often first come to them for vaccinations.
Discount pet care
These groups may host vaccination clinics, or offer low-cost spay and neuter services.
County animal care and control agenices:
In Broward County, call 954-359-1313 or go to broward.org. In Palm Beach County, call 561-233-1200 or go to pbcgov.com.
Non-profit rescue groups. Go to flaspay.com for locations in your area. Run by the Coalition to Educate Alternatives to Senseless Euthansia.
The Pet Stop:
For vaccination clinic schedule at Walgreens and Navarro pharmacies, go to petstopclinic.com or call 877-577-3878.
Copyright © 2011, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
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