A “where-is-she-now” look at a previous airdrielife profile.
Dr. Wendy McClelland has come a long way since she and her husband advertised her new mobile veterinarian business by distributing 1,000 flyers door-to-door in Airdrie.
From those humble beginnings back in March 2009, McClelland – who graced the cover of the fall 2010 airdrielife issue – has grown her business to include a new head office and surgery in Calgary and affiliates doing veterinary house calls from Medicine Hat to Edmonton. Last November, she received the ATB Small Business of the Year Award at the RBC Canadian Women Trailblazer Awards.
“I was coming off maternity leave with my second child, and the thought of going back to the 9-to-5 was stressful,” recalls McClelland, who decided to adopt a house-call approach to vet services. Instead of bringing your dogs or cats to an often-hectic clinic, the vet comes to your pet’s familiar surroundings.
The idea caught on and she began recruiting other women who likewise wanted to balance their veterinarian careers with being mothers.
“When I started, I assumed it would be about convenience [for clients],” says McClelland. “But the overwhelming reason they call is because it’s less stressful for their pet.
“You learn to be more observant with the pet, and gentler, and they’re in their own environment, so they’re more relaxed,” she adds. “I get to spend more time with them and talk to the client while their pet is sniffing my bags and getting used to me.”
Vets To Go now has 20 staff members, and while McClelland herself is no longer based in Airdrie, she has mobile veterinarian Dr. Kristi Jacobson taking care of clients here. McClelland also has staff in Okotoks, Red Deer, Cochrane, Medicine Hat and Edmonton and hopes to expand into B.C., but she still makes sure to spend time in the field each week.
“I still love house calls and the connection with clients and their pets,” she says. “I feel like I have the best job in the world and I get to practise veterinary medicine in a different way.
“It really enhances the client bond,” adds the doctor, “and I enjoyed creating this team of people who want to elevate quality of life for pets and their own quality of life, too.”
McClelland’s advice for entrepreneurs: “Get help before you think you can afford it and before you think you need it. I wish I’d gotten [a receptionist] earlier … when I did, it exponentially grew my business.
“And don’t be afraid to make mistakes,” she adds.