CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) — Dogs are man’s best friend, and you want to take care of them.
So what do you do if they get sick, and you don’t have access to a veterinarian?
MyPetDoc answers pet owners’ questions, so they don’t necessarily have to make a trip to the veterinarian.
That could mean having to take off work to bring your pet in to see a doctor. Not with this feature.
“Today’s consumers are technology savvy, and they also want answers when they need answers,” said Laura Berg, MyPetDoc. “Sometimes it’s in the middle of the night, and the vet clinic is closed, so your only option is to go into an emergency room – a $300 visit that might not be necessary.”
Berg says it started out as a texting service. Now you can use it with your Google Home and Amazon Alexa too.
“We gathered 250,000 texts between our staff of veterinarians and pet owners,” she said. “We realized that that creates a vast lake of data that an AI can consume and create a very smart voice enabled assistant that can help a pet owner 24/7, answer questions and concerns and worries about their pet.”
Most people who use MyPetDoc get their questions answered, but they can still use the service to call a vet anytime if needed.
“At the end of your conversation with the bot, she would ask, ‘Would you like to speak to a veterinarian live and get more information?’ If you say yes, you’ll be connected to a veterinarian who will assist you and support you with your question.”
Berg says even then, 90% of the time those cases don’t end up being actual emergencies. If it is, the vet will still stay with you on the line until you can get to a clinic.
It’s free to use the bot, but it will cost you to talk to a vet. It’s still cheaper than having to go to a clinic in the first place.
“Especially if it’s the middle of the night, because the emergency clinics are even more expensive,” Berg said. “Also many rural areas, the emergency clinic’s quite far away.”
In addition to the texting and voice assistant services, Berg says they’ll soon be launching a smartphone app in March.
“It will work via chat, so you can type your answers, or you can speak to it, and it will work by voice in the app,” she said. “We want pet owners, whatever platform they’re comfortable with, to be able to reach the answers they need, take control of their pet’s health, speak to a vet if they need to.”
MyPetDoc works primarily with companion animals – like dogs, cats, and fish.
Berg says later this year, they’ll launch a livestock service, where people can send in questions about their cattle, chickens, goats, and horses.
Just go to www.ask.vet to sign up for the service.