(Bloomberg Business) — When a beloved pet falls ill, the owner has little choice about what to do next.
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“Even if your pet has a minor issue, you really have no option today but to rush to the vet,” says serial entrepreneur and investor Diwaker Singh. “Even though in more than 30 percent of cases the animal never needs to be there – the vet could address the problem over the phone.”
That’s where Singh believes PawSquad comes in. The startup says that its telemedicine system can help owners get their pets the right level of care, when they need it.
Owners can sign up to have a 20-minute Skype-like video conversation with a vet without the need to put their pet into an animal carrier and transport it to the nearest clinic. The virtual appointments cost 15 pounds ($23), cheaper than a typical visit to a bricks-and-mortar surgery, which can cost 30-40 pounds ($46-62).
Singh, who founded the company five months ago, says that PawSquad will act a first line of defense. “If your pet is not well at the weekend or you have a question about a behavioral problem or vaccination, we can let you speak to a vet as soon as possible. If the animal needs to go to a clinic, we can help make the appointment,” Singh says. Under U.K. law, PawSquad cannot prescribe any medicatio, -unlike the human equivalent services such as ‘doctor in your pocket’ app Babylon. This means the service will be limited to triage and guidance in non-critical care.
PawSquad has a panel of 20 certified vets who offer consultations from 6am to midnight every day. The plan is to build the database following an “Uber concept” to allow vets with spare time to sign up and, after a face-to-face interview and credentials check, earn additional money from home.
“Many vets live in rural areas and don’t get enough work to be fully engaged, while a large number of vets are women with family commitments who want to work but don’t have the opportunity to do so,” Singh explains.
Like Uber, PawSquad comes with a ratings system so users can see how a vet has been reviewed by others, as well as the vet’s qualifications.