House call veterinarian offers holistic approach for in-home care

Abby Strobbe examines Minnow, a cat owned by Tasmyn Jones and Chris Witte, in their home. Strobbe started a veterinary house call business earlier this year. 

Frances Myers

While many ISU veterinary medicine students are studying and preparing to perhaps get a job in a veterinary clinic, Abby Strobbe of Ames is offering a different approach in veterinary care: a house call business.

Strobbe’s practice, Abby’s Road Veterinary Care, started up a few months ago after Strobbe moved to Iowa with her husband.

“It’s kind of morphed over the last few months, but it’s something I’ve been thinking about doing for a while,” Strobbe said.

Strobbe attended college at the University of Illinois, graduating in 2002. Then she practiced at a referral clinic outside Chicago for a year and after that she did a post-graduate internship in small animal medicine and surgery at Purdue University. She worked part-time at a few small animal clinics in Illinois for a while before moving to Maine for five years, working at two different clinics there.

“That’s when I started acupuncture training and some different things,” Strobbe said. “We just moved back to this area in January when my husband got a job with Practical Farmers of Iowa.”

In the apartment of Tamsyn Jones and Chris Witte, Strobbe went right to work, examining their two cats, Minnow and Ramses, also known as Ramey.

“It’s definitely more relaxed being home,” Jones said. “If we were in the vet’s office, one of [the cats] would be hunkering under the table or sitting on a lap cowering.”

Jones said Strobbe’s visit was the first house call she had ever had.

“We’ve always just visited a traditional vet, I never really until recently realized there were house call vets,” Jones said. “I really kind of saw that that was out there because I work with [Strobbe’s] husband. I really like the idea of it though, because I just hate the stress it puts on the cats. … We hate the thought of them associating the car with going to the vet.”

Strobbe said she decided to do a house call veterinary care business because of her priorities as a mother.

“I had to be inventive because traditional practices don’t really fit with me,” Strobbe said. 

“I like to focus more on holistic care and I have a child that I want to spend more time with, so rather than be in a building all day, I’m able to take care of my son, and doing house calls nights and on the weekend.”

With her house call practice, Strobbe can perform most services a traditional veterinarian can perform, except for a few things such as perform X-rays, surgeries or dentistry. 

However, she will usually direct patients who are in need of these services to other ‘traditional’ veterinarian practices, whom she feels “are likeminded in their holistic opinions.” 

She said one of these veterinarians is Dr. Charles Felz at Somerset Veterinary Hospital in Ames.

“I can do most everything a traditional clinic can do,” Strobbe said. “Vaccines, bloodwork — I FedEx it and get it back within 12 hours. Many clinics don’t offer acupuncture, food and herbal therapies, traditional counseling. I can do most everything.”

Jones said it was Strobbe’s approach to medicine that interested her.

“I like the whole holistic approach and advice,” Jones said. “I live my life that way and I want to do it for the cats. We’re not always able to get that at a traditional vet.”

Strobbe said she has performed acupuncture on numerous patients, primarily dogs and cats, but organic dairy cattle have also been part of the mix.

Strobbe said one of the best parts of running a house call veterinary practice is the flexibility as well as being more personal one on one with her customers in an environment where both they and their pets are most comfortable.

Other than offering services within the home, Strobbe said her practice varies from the traditional vet clinic in the fact that she strives to give proactive preventative care, rather than focus so much on reactive care.

“I’m trying to keep pets healthy along the way and not fix problems that arise so I’ll talk to people about what food they’re feeding, I offer vaccine titers rather than just doing vaccines,” Strobbe said. “It’s more preventative care in a natural fashion than what I used to do.”

Currently, Abby’s Road Vet covers the Ankeny, Ames and Des Moines metro areas. However, Strobbe said she has gone out and done work in other various areas, charging a cost for mileage on top of care.

 Until Oct. 31, she is also offering ISU students a 25 percent discount for care.