More than 11,000 veterinary clinics have registered with MyVeterinarian.com, the AVMA's new online directory that allows the public to search for clinics by location, species, and services.
Among the early registrants was Woodman Drive Animal Hospital, a two-veterinarian small animal practice in Dayton, Ohio.
"The idea that we could put out information in a readily available format was great," said Dr. Bradley Middlebrooks, owner of the practice. "We could put doctors' information, hours, a little bit about the type of animals we took care of, and ultimately have a link to a website, too. And that's a new area for us; we just expanded to that three or four years ago."
The AVMA launched MyVeterinarian.com in late 2010 through early 2011 as a free resource to help members market their clinics on the Web. Dr. Kevin Dajka, director of the AVMA Membership and Field Services Division, said the site is a tangible member benefit that serves as one avenue to connect people with veterinary care.
"We've got a lot of members who want to have a reliable search tool out there for veterinary practices, some of which don't have any online presence or marketing," Dr. Dajka said.
He added that the membership division receives a substantial number of calls from the public regarding finding a veterinarian.
In late 2010, the AVMA started promoting MyVeterinarian.com to veterinarians to build up the directory. The outreach to veterinarians has included postcards, email, and a sign-up kiosk at the AVMA booth at veterinary conferences.
In early 2011, the AVMA began promoting the website to the public. The campaign features Google and Facebook advertisements. Ads ran on buses during December 2011 in Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Seattle. The AVMA is developing plans to increase outreach to the public over the next 12 months.
When talking with members about MyVeterinarian.com, Dr. Dajka has found "an overwhelmingly excited response that this is available to them."
Jodie Taggett, AVMA corporate relations director, said the AVMA has been able to provide the website as a free resource partly because of initial funding support from Bayer, Pfizer Animal Health, and Iams Eukanuba.
Heather Jensen, assistant director of marketing in the AVMA Communications Division, said the primary target of MyVeterinarian.com is pet owners—including pet owners who are relocating, traveling, or looking for emergency services as well as people who have adopted a new pet.
The AVMA introduced the website to animal shelters with a booth at the meeting of the Society of Animal Welfare Administrators in November 2011. About 100 shelters signed up to receive additional information about MyVeterinarian.com. The goal is for shelters to refer adoptive pet owners to the website to find a veterinarian.
||The AVMA ran advertisements to promote MyVeterinarian.com on buses in Chicago and seven other cities during December 2011.
(Courtesy of Titan)
"Shelters have an interest, as do veterinarians, in making sure that shelter pets get veterinary care," Jensen said. "Everybody wants the animal to stay in the home."
Pet owners who visit MyVeterinarian.com can search by city and state or by zip code to find veterinary clinics within a 5-, 10-, 20-, or 50-mile radius. They can check a box if they are looking for emergency services. An advanced search allows them to narrow results by species or services.
The search results feature a map of clinic locations alongside a list of clinics by distance. Clinics can provide the facility name, address, phone and fax numbers, any website, hours of operation, species, services, and veterinarians practicing at the facility.
Taggett said MyVeterinarian.com also allows pet owners to compare services of up to three clinics at a time, so she encourages clinics to provide as much information as possible.
"While there are numerous sites with similar search services available, MyVeterinarian.com seems to be the most comprehensive and in-depth search tool to date," Taggett said.
Dr. Middlebrooks registered his clinic for MyVeterinarian.com immediately after learning about the directory. He has turned to the website himself for various reasons, such as helping clients who are relocating to find a new veterinarian.
Most of Dr. Middlebrooks' new clients find him via word-of-mouth, but he believes people are looking more and more to the Internet for information about veterinary clinics. He knows some of his new clients have looked up his clinic's new website before visiting the clinic.
Dr. Middlebrooks said the directory at MyVeterinarian.com is a reliable Internet resource that comes from the veterinary industry for the benefit of veterinary practice.
"It's a very innovative step forward that allows people to have a resource to efficiently narrow down choices for veterinarians," Dr. Middlebrooks said.
Dr. Dajka noted that, as the AVMA enhances the technology of MyVeterinarian.com over the next one to two years, another benefit of the website will be to provide the profession with more data about the distribution of clinics and needs of clients by location, species, and services.
Of clinics that had registered with MyVeterinarian.com as of Feb. 8, more than 10,000 each reported offering services for cats and dogs. About 1,700 offered services for horses, 1,300 for pigs, and 1,200 for cattle.
The most common medical service was wellness examinations, while the least common was laser surgery.
Clinics that have not registered for MyVeterinarian.com may do so by visiting the website, clicking on "Clinic Login," then on "Not yet registered?"