I was reading about a veterinarian in Texas who is in trouble for practicing veterinary medicine by giving advice on a website to “patients” that he has never actually seen. The Texas Veterinary Practice Act requires that a veterinarian see the animal before providing veterinary care. The veterinarian claims that this requirement violates his First Amendment rights; the Texas Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners says that better pet care will be provided if a veterinarian actually sees a patient before giving advice about what to do. While there is always a healthy tension between the old ways and the new, we’re not so sure that this tension is healthy when it comes to pet care and here’s why.
For years, “traditional” pet care facilities like Pet Camp in San Francisco – you know the kind of place where you can talk to someone both in person and on the phone, take a tour, ask for a donation for your kid’s school – have been under pressure by the “pet care apps” like dogvacay.com and rover.com. You know, those glitzy web pages and really cool user interface apps that you can download to your smart phone. Let me admit that I both have a smart phone and I use apps to get some things done (like banking). But I have been plenty frustrated when I’ve both wanted to use an app AND wanted to ask a real person a question. Most apps simply don’t want you to speak with someone. That’s the reason I don’t use an app for those things that require a discussion with someone about what I want and where customization is the key to having a good experience.
So what does this mean to the veterinarian in Texas or the camper at Pet Camp? I think it means that we understand that we need to speak with you, to meet you and your pet, and to allow you to meet us (actually meet us, not just see us on an app hosted out of state) to ensure that you get the experience you want for your camper. Sure an app is fine for something – like making a reservation for dinner at a fancy restaurant; but it’s not so good for actually cooking the meal or providing you the amazing service you expect at that fancy restaurant.
Thanks for reading!