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Meet Sarah Burkindine of KC Mobile Vet

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sarah Burkindine.

Hi Sarah, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
I graduated from Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine in 2002 and moved to Atlanta, GA to do my year-long internship before moving back to Kansas City. I worked at State Line Animal Hospital (Leawood) and Noah’s Ark Animal Clinic (Brookside) before deciding that I wanted to start a mobile clinic. I consider myself a medicine nerd as I’m fascinated by how bodies work and how the disease affects the body. But, I am also a people person and truly enjoy building relationships with my clients and patients.

I felt that starting a mobile clinic would allow me the time to get to know my patients and their people and to educate people about the ailments that affect their pets. I also knew that I wanted to do so in a far less stressful environment where I could completely focus on each appointment without distraction. Buying my truck and driving to my clients’ houses seemed to be the perfect solution.

I opened my clinic on Halloween 2016 and, six weeks later, I found out I was pregnant with my third child. So, within the first year of business, I had Scarlett and took just two and a half weeks off after my c-section, and then she and I went back to work. For three weeks, I would see appointments while my mom or my husband drove me and I had to nurse in between appointments. I think that experience helped give me the strength and courage to continue to keep my head up while dealing with all of the trials and tribulations that come up when you own a business.

I drive a 26′ RV-style work truck that has two separate rooms where I can do surgeries and dental cleanings as well as sick and well pet exams. Once on the truck, most people forget that they are in a truck and not in a brick-and-mortar clinic. While driving this big rig around Kansas City can be tricky at times (especially on windy days!), I don’t think I’d ever want to work in a brick-and-mortar clinic again.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I’ve alluded to some of the problems in the first question, but definitely being pregnant and having to take only 2.5 weeks for maternity leave in order to get back to work to pay the bills was probably one of the bigger challenges. I never knew much about RVs and thus, didn’t know how fragile they can be. From the get-go, my truck has provided some major problems. I’ve definitely learned a lot in the last five years. As most of my clients can attest to, each year, I’ve had new issues with the truck.

However, RV people usually nod their heads and say, “yep, that’s pretty standard for RV’s” whenever I complain. This year, I’ve replaced the transmission, parts in my generator, a water pump, a battery and then bought an entirely new generator. I’ve been stranded on the side of the road for a total of almost 5 hrs between two different instances and been without the truck for half the summer while getting everything fixed. With the pandemic, I think everything has been more challenging for everyone, but as veterinarians were deemed essential, as was my husband, So, I had to figure out how to homeschool for several months in 2020 and still work.

Even when the kids went back to school, I was concerned about sending my then-three-year-old to daycare for fear of her not wearing a mask well and bringing covid home which would force me to shut down. So, I made the decision to bring her to work on the truck with me for the 2020-2021 school year.

Clients loved seeing her (and some of the animals liked her too), but trying to potty-train a 3-year-old on a truck without a bathroom and keep her entertained all day while I saw patients in the middle of a pandemic pushed my stress level to the max. Driving that large a truck in some of the older neighborhoods can be problematic as well since they were built during an age where large trucks like mine didn’t drive into residential areas.

Appreciate you sharing that. What should we know about KC Mobile Vet?
KC Mobile Vet is a full-service mobile small animal clinic (dogs and cats only). I travel to clients’ homes rather than clients coming to me. My clients love the convenience of having the vet come to them so that their pets don’t have to drive in the car and sit in a crowded waiting room with other nervous pets.

Unlike housecall vets who work out of their own car and can do sick/well pet care, but cannot do surgeries or dental cleanings, I bring the whole clinic to the clients.

We’re always looking for the lessons that can be learned in any situation, including tragic ones like the Covid-19 crisis. Are there any lessons you’ve learned that you can share?
I’ve always known that I have truly amazing clients, but when I had to change my hours to accommodate homeschooling, they didn’t blink an eye. Everyone was very understanding and patient. In addition, I’ve come to realize that, while I was absolutely made for taking care of others, I am horrible about taking care of myself.

It was my clients who kept telling me that I needed to take breaks from time to time and take care of myself. In taking these next two weeks off, I’ve gotten so many emails, texts, and other messages from clients who not only support me taking this time but tell me how proud they are of me for doing so.

Despite the fact that this crisis has done so much damage, I’ve been humbled by how much love and support we can show each other.

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Image Credits
Keith Gard

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